Saltie census 2023
According to the annual reptile census, the population of saltwater crocodiles in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas in Odisha’s Kendrapara district has marginally increased in 2023.
About the Census:
- The total count of crocodiles remained at 1,793.
- These included 20 whitish individuals. Last year, officials had sighted 1,784 reptiles.
- The peak winter, exposure of more than 50 per cent of mud banks and the lunar cycle are suitable periods for counting the reptiles.
- The crocodile species found in India:
- India is home to three crocodile species – Gharial, Mugger, and Saltwater Crocodile.
- Usually spotted on banks of the aquatic systems, crocodiles are cold-blooded animals that spend a large part of their day basking under the sun.
- o Crocodiles too are facing threats due to climate change, habitat degradation, irreversible development activities, and illegal poaching.
- In order to conserve crocodiles in the wild, the Government of India initiated the Crocodile Conservation Project in 1975 to rebuild the crocodilian population.
- Numerous breeding centres have been established along their native habitat that rear hatchlings and reintroduce them upon maturity.
- Other action interventions, including building of artificial nesting and basking sites, are also being carried out.
The saltwater crocodile:
- It is also the largest reptile in the world. The species inhabits a few coastal regions in India including Odisha, West Bengal, and the Indian Islands.
- A long and powerful tail, webbed digits, and powerful jaws make the animal an excellent predator in aquatic habitats.
- Protection status:
- o It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 1996.
Gandhi Smarak Bhawan
A day after lodging an FIR against Dev Raj Tyagi, the former in-charge of the Gandhi Smarak Bhawan in Punjab, and 12 others facing charges of registering a trust in the name of Gandhi Smarak Bhawan, and allegedly diverting the funds received in the name of the original trust to his individual trust.
- It was inaugrated by Dr. Zakir Hussain then Vice-President of India.
- Dr Rajendra Prasad, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Shri Jagjivan Ram, among others, were the founder trustees.
- It is being run by GANDHI SMARAK NIDHI PUNJAB, HARYANA & HIMACHAL PRADESH & since its inception.
- It aims in contributing its share spreading Gandhian thought and Idealogy through Seminar, Meetings, Discussions and personal contacts.
- In 1963, the Punjab State Gandhi Smarak Nidhi was registered as an independent trust named Gandhi Smarak Nidhi Punjab.
- From 1952 to 1959 the work of the GSN was conducted from Delhi.
- Later in 1962-63 separate state bodies were established and registered as a State Gandhi Smarak Nidhi.
- The Bhawan has a public library which has about 5,000 books on Gnadhi Ji and by Gandhi Ji and other allied subjects and national topics.
- Besides, there are about 18,000 selected books on such diverse subjects such as literature, History, Geography, Religion, Science and Sociology.
Neelakurinji sanctuary stays on paper
Polity and Governance (GS-II)
India’s First Centre Of Excellence to be set up in Shillong
The sanctuary was announced in Idukki in 2006, but its demarcation is yet pending. After 16 years, the proposed sanctuary is still on paper.
- On October 6, 2006, former forest minister Benoy Viswom had announced a 32-sq km Neelakurinji sanctuary at the Kottakamboor-Vattavada area in Devikulam taluk, Munnar.
- The park aimed at protecting Neelakurinji plants.
Significance of the region:
- Neelakurinji are flowers that are believed to bloom every 12 years.
- They grow at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 metres.
- Neelakurinji or 'Strobilantheskunthiana' blooms in 40 or so varieties, a majority of them being blue in colour.
- 'Neela' literally translates to 'blue' and kurinji is the name given to it by the tribals of the area.
- Last seen in 2018, the time for viewing them begins in August and lasts up to October.
- In Munnar District, these flowers bloom across the region of Kovilur, Kadavari, Rajamala and Eravikulam National Park.
- All these neelakurinji species are endemic to the Western Ghats and spread over nearly 200 acres of the Kallippara hills.
- In fact, the neelakurinji population here can be considered one of the biggest of the species after the protected areas of Munnar.
The Centre has released country’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE) for online gaming would be set up in Meghalaya’s Shillong by March this year.
About the initiative:
- The CoE will be set up under Digital India Startup Hub through the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).
- The STPI was set up in 1991 as an autonomous society in the field of Science and Technology under the MeitY.
- The MeitY has set a target to skill around 60,000 youth in Tripura and 35,000 in Nagaland under PMKVY 4.0.
- Recent developments:
- The government has implemented various projects for the development of the North-East region.
- In a move to accelerate connectivity with the region, the government has set a target of 500 days to provide complete telecom connectivity in the region by end of 2023.