India signs motor vehicle pact with three nations

India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh recently signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for the Regulation of Passenger, Personnel and Cargo Vehicular Traffic among the four South Asian neighbours in Thimpu, Bhutan.

  • This pact is the first stage of the $8-billion road connectivity project set to begin in October.
  • Myanmar and Thailand have agreed to develop a motor vehicle pact on lines of the draft SAARC Motor vehicle agreement, to pave the way for greater economic cooperation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

According to this agreement, the four countries would carry out a six-month work plan from July for the implementation of the BBIN MVA in accordance with the agreements and protocols. The staged implementation of the historic pact would begin in October this year.

Motor Vehicles Agreement:

The SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement has wider scope for movement of all types of vehicles across SAARC member States and will be a path breaking endeavour. This agreement paves the way for a seamless movement of people and goods across their borders for the benefit and integration of the region and its economic development.

What are the benefits?

  • The agreement will allow passenger, personal and cargo vehicles to travel along designated key routes in the four SAARC countries without the need for trans-shipment of goods and passengers at the border crossings.
  • The agreement will reduce costly and time-consuming unloading and loading of people and goods at the border crossing points making cross-border trade more efficient.
  • It would help transform transport corridors linking the four countries into economic corridors and enhance people to people contact.
  • This agreement would facilitate the transit of all types of vehicles between the contracting parties as is prevalent in other common markets like the European Union.
  • It would promote tourism and people-to-people interaction.

The following three routes have been identified for the bus service in the first instance:

  1. Kathmandu – Bhairahawa – Sunauli – Gorakhpur – Lucknow – New Delhi.
  2. Kathmandu – Bhairahawa – Sunauli – Azamgarh – Varanasi – New Delhi.
  3. Pokhara – Bharahawa – Sunauli – Gorakhpur – Lucknow – New Delhi.

Private and non-regular passenger vehicles would be entitled to use all established entry and exit points in the agreed upon framework envisaged under the Draft Agreement.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

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Motor Vehicle Agreement

The Union Cabinet has approved signing of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic amongst BBIN.

  • The agreement will be signed on 15th June at the BBIN Transport Minister’s meeting in Thimpu, Bhutan. This agreement is similar to the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) draft with minor changes.
  • Each participating country will bear its own costs arising from implementation of this agreement.

Benefits:

  • Signing of the BBIN agreement will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.
  • BBIN countries will be benefited by mutual cross border movement of passenger and goods for overall economic development of the region.
  • The people of the four countries will benefit through seamless movement of goods and passenger across borders.

Sources: PIB.

Nepal parties reach long-awaited deal

Nepal’s rival political parties have struck a historic agreement to end years of deadlock on a new constitution that will divide the country into eight provinces. This paves the way for a new federal structure.

Background:

  • Nepal’s lawmakers began work on a new national constitution in 2008 following a decade-long Maoist insurgency that left an estimated 16,000 people dead and brought down the monarchy.
  • But the political parties were unable to reach agreement and the resulting uncertainty left Nepal in a state of political limbo.

However, the agreement has left the crucial issue of the provincial borders unresolved — an omission which critics said would create future problems.

Details of the agreement:

  • Under the deal, Nepal will continue with its current system of national governance which includes an executive Prime Minister and ceremonial President.
  • A new federal commission will be tasked with drawing up internal borders and submit a proposal for approval in Parliament.
  • The agreement includes a commitment to hold the country’s first local elections since 1997.

Sources: The Hindu.

Nepal snow leopard gets a radio collar

Nepalese conservationists recently announced that they had successfully radio-collared a second snow leopard near Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain.

  • Data received from the satellite collar will enable conservationists to identify critical habitats for the elusive species, including trans boundary links across India and China.
  • The collaring expedition was led by the government of Nepal in partnership with the WWF, the National Trust for Nature Conservation, the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project and citizen scientists from the local Snow Leopard Conservation Committee.
  • The radio collaring was especially vital in helping identify snow leopard hotspots and managing local logistics.
  • There is an estimated 350 to 590 snow leopards in Nepal as per 2009 population data on the species.

Snow Leopards – Quick Facts:

  • They are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • They inhabit alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m (9,800 to 14,800 ft). In the northern range countries, they also occur at lower elevations.
  • The snow leopard is the National Heritage Animal of Pakistan.
  • Their habitat extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. China contains as much as 60% of all snow leopard habitat areas.
  • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
  • The snow leopard, like all big cats, is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries. It is also protected by several national laws in its range countries.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, WWF.

3 more NDRF teams leave for Kathmandu

Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 118 personnel, including doctors and nursing staff, have left for Nepal from India.
It has carried medical supplies, communication equipment and devices to rescue people trapped under debris.

NDRF:

  • The Disaster Management Act has made statutory provisions for the constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.

Why was it constituted?

  • Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act on 26 Dec 2005.
  • NDRF has been proving its importance by highly skilled rescue and relief operations, regular and intensive training and re-training, capacity building & familiarization exercises within the area of responsibility, carrying out mock drills and joint exercises with the various stakeholders.

ROLE AND MANDATE OF NDRF:

  1. Specialized response during disasters
  2. Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations
  3. Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills
  4. Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills
  5. Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards)
  6. Community Capacity Building Programme
  7. Public Awareness Campaign
  8. Exhibitions : Posters, Pamphlets, literatures

Why it is said to be a UNIQUE Force?

  • It is the only dedicated disaster response force of the world.
  • The only agency with comprehensive response capabilities having multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled, high-tech, stand alone nature.
  • Experienced paramilitary personnel specially trained and equipped for disaster response.
  • Capabilities for undertaking disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building.

Sources: PIB, ndrfandcd.gov.in.

NEPAL Earthquake

An earthquake with an intensity of 7.9 on ritcher scale with epicenter 77 kilometer north-west of Kathmandu has been experienced in some parts of India.

  • The impact of the earthquake has been felt in almost all northern States in India particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal.

NEPAL EARTH QUAKEDetails:

  • The Earthquake has occurred at a depth of 10 Km with its Epicentral Region located in Nepal about 80 Km NW of Kathmandu.
  • More than 30 aftershocks have also been reported.
  • In geological terms, the tremor occurred like clockwork, 81 years after the region’s last earthquake of such a magnitude, in 1934.

Specific cause of the Earth Quake:

  • It was triggered by the India tectonic plate, which is moving northwards into central Asia.
  • This results in thrust-faulting and has thrown up the Himalayan mountain range.
  • The India tectonic plate moving north at about 45mm a year is pushing under the Eurasian plate beneath the  Himalayas.
  • Two tectonic plates meet beneath the Himalayas along a fault line.

  • It has triggered several other significant earthquakes in this region, including the
    • 1934 quake at Bihar, which reached a magnitude of 8.2;
    • 1905 event at Kangra in a magnitude 7.9;
    • 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which reached 7.6.
  • The Indian subcontinent collided with the Eurasia plate about 40 million to 50 million years ago.

Effects of the Earthquake:

  • As the plates push against each other, friction generates stress and energy that builds until the crust ruptures.

Why Nepal?

Nepal is prone to destructive earthquakes, not only because of the massive forces involved in the tectonic collision, but also because of the type of fault line the country sits on.

  • Normal faults create space when the ground cracks and separates.
  • Nepal lies on a so-called thrust fault, where one tectonic plate forces itself on top of another.
  • The most visible result of this is the Himalayan mountain range.
  • The fault runs along the 1,400-mile range, and the constant collision of the India and
  • Eurasia plates pushes up the height of the peaks by about a centimeter each year.

Terminology:

  • Earthquakes

are the manifestations of sudden release of strain energy accumulated in the rocks over extensive periods of time in the upper part of the Earth.

  • Aftershock:

An earthquake that follows a large magnitude earthquake called, ‘main shock’ and originates in or around the rupture zone of the main shock. Generally, major earthquakes are followed by a number of aftershocks, which show a decreasing trend in magnitude and frequency with time.

  • Fault:

A weak plane in the Earth’s crust and upper mantle along which two blocks of rock mass rupture or slip past each other. Faults are caused by earthquakes and earthquakes are likely to reoccur on pre-existing faults, where stresses are accumulated.

  • Epicentre:

It is the point on the surface of the earth, vertically above the place of origin (hypocentre) of an earthquake. This point is expressed by its geographical Coordinates in terms of latitude and longitude.

Sources: PIB, ET, Google, IMD.

Army Launches Operation Maitri

As part of the Nation’s overall relief effort for Nepal, Indian Army has launched Operation Maitri.

  • The following resources have been allocated so far as part of Operation Maitri, in support of the Nepalese Army’s relief effort:-Medical Teams.
  • Engineer Task Forces(ETFs) consisting of manpower, skid steers and JCBs.
  • Blankets and 1,000 tents are on standby.
  • 10 INMARSATs for satellite communications have reached Nepal.

Sources: PIB.