India’s only double coconut tree artificially pollinated

Recently, scientists at the Indian Botanical Garden in West Bengal’s Howrah district have carried out artificial pollination of the only double coconut tree in India.

  • It bears the largest seed known to science.
  • This artificial pollination is a result of decades of work by scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of the plant, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction. This takes place in the angiosperms, the flower bearing plants.

About double coconut tree ( Lodoicea maldivica ):

  • It is one of the rare and globally threatened species of palm. The tree was planted at the botanical garden in 1894.
  • The tree took almost a hundred years to mature.
  • The Double Coconut tree not only bears the largest seed known to science — weighing around 25 kg — but this unique species is also the longest surviving palm which can live for as long as 1,000 years.
  • The tree also bears the largest leaf among palms and one leaf can thatch a small hut.
  • This species of palm is diecious (where male and female flowers are borne on different plants).
  • The palm tree is located in the large palm house of the Botanical Garden which has the largest collection of palms in South East Asia with around 110 palm species.
  • This rare tree can be found in only two of the 115 Seychelles islands and is also called Coco de Mer (coconut of the sea).

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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A.P. petitions CWC against two TS projects

The Andhra Pradesh Government has petitioned the Central Water Commission to restrain the Telangana government from undertaking any activity that was contrary to the mandate of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

  • In a letter to the CWC Chairman, the AP Government, referred to Telangana taking up Palamaru Rangareddy and Nakkalagandi lift irrigation schemes on the surplus Krishna waters and said that unilaterally proceeding with any new project, pending adjudication of the references by Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II, without approval by Krishna River Management Board and the Apex Council will be tantamount to violation of principles laid down in the Act.

About Central Water Commission:

It is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.

  • The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
  • Central Water Commission CWC is headed by a Chairman, with the status of Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India.

Sources: The Hindu, CWC.

Preliminary work on shifting Tipu’s Armoury begins

Preliminary work on shifting the 18th century armoury belonging to Tipu Sultan’s period at Srirangapatna has begun. The project will cost about Rs. 13.66 crore.

Why is it being shifted?

  • The 900-tonne historical armoury, made of lime mortar and bricks, has been hampering the work on track-doubling between Bengaluru and Mysuru, as it bisects the alignment of the second track.
  • The track doubling was necessitated by increase in number of commuters between the two cities. As many as 19 trains, including 13 expresses, run between the two cities every day .

The monument will be shifted to a new site with technical support from the National Design and Research Forum, and the consent/supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India and the National Monuments Authority. The Department of State Archaeology, Heritage and Museums had identified a new place about 100 metres away from the existing location for the monument.

Sources: The Hindu, BS.

PM reviews progress of Swachh Bharat Mission

Prime Minister Modi recently reviewed the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission at a high-level meeting attended by officials of the Urban Development Ministry, the Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Ministry, the NITI Aayog and the PMO.

  • The Prime Minister said that spiritual leaders should be associated with this initiative, especially during major congregational events such as the Jagannath Yatra in Odisha and the Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh.
  • He also called for leveraging the huge interest that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has generated among the Indian diaspora.
  • The Prime Minister also said that motivational incentives such as awards should be instituted to give a boost to flagship government schemes requiring people’s participation.
  • To promote awareness about these schemes in rural areas, he suggested that quiz competitions be held among students.

About Swachh Bharat Mission:

It was officially launched on 2 October 2014 and is India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive.

  • The mission seeks to achieve clean India and aims to provide access to toilets to all households in the country.

Objectives of the mission:

  • Eliminate open defecation,
  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  • To bring about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices,
  • Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
  • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
  • To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.

The components of the programme are:

  • Construction of individual sanitary latrines for households below the poverty line with subsidy (80%) where demand exists.
  • Conversion of dry latrines into low-cost sanitary latrines.
  • Construction of exclusive village sanitary complexes for women providing facilities for hand pumping, bathing, sanitation and washing on a selective basis where there is not adequate land or space within houses and where village panchayats are willing to maintain the facilities.
  • Setting up of sanitary marts.
  • Total sanitation of villages through the construction of drains, soakage pits, solid and liquid waste disposal.
  • Intensive campaign for awareness generation and health education to create a felt need for personal, household and environmental sanitation facilities

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Bimal Roy, statistical institute chief, sacked

Accusing him of indiscipline and expressing apprehension that he may indulge in acts of administrative and financial impropriety, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation has removed Bimal Roy as director of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).

  • He was conferred with the Padma Shri award this year.
  • Roy’s term as the head of the ISI was set to expire in July.
  • He has been replaced by director-designate Sanghmitra Bandyopadhyay who was scheduled to take charge on August 1.

About Indian Statistical Institute:

  • Indian Statistical Institute (ISI)is an academic institute of national importance as recognised by a 1959 act of the Indian parliament.
  • It grew out of the Statistical Laboratory set up by Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in Presidency College, Kolkata.
  • Established in 1931, this public university of India is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions focused on statistics.
  • The institute is now considered as one of the foremost centres in the world for training and research in Statistics and related sciences.
  • ISI has its headquarters in Baranagar, a suburb of Kolkata, West Bengal. It has four subsidiary centres focused in academics at Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Tezpur, and a branch at Giridih.
  • Primary activities of ISI are research and training of Statistics, development of theoretical Statistics and its applications in various natural and social sciences.
  • Originally affiliated with the University of Calcutta, the institute was declared an institute of national importance in 1959, through an act of Indian parliament, Indian Statistical Institute act, 1959.
  • ISI functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) of the Government of India.
  • Key areas of expertise of ISI are Statistics, Mathematics, Computer science, quantitative Economics, Operations Research and Information Science and it is one of the few research oriented Indian schools offering courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

P C Mahalanobis, the founder of ISI, was deeply influenced by wisdom and guidance of Rabindranath Tagore and Brajendranath Seal. Under his leadership, the institute initiated and promoted the interaction of Statistics with natural and social sciences to advance the role of Statistics as a key technology by explicating the twin aspects – its general applicability and its dependence on other disciplines for its own development.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.