Satya S Tripathi appointed as Assistant Secretary General & Head of New York Office of UNEP
• Veteran Indian development economist Satya S Tripathi has been appointed as the Assistant Secretary General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by UN Chief Antonio Guterres.
• Tripathi, who will succeed Elliott Harris of Trinidad and Tobago, served as Senior Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at UNEP since 2017.
• Tripathi has been working for the United Nations since 1998 in Europe, Asia and Africa on strategic assignments in sustainable development, human rights, democratic governance and legal affairs.
Punjab Assembly passes Bill seeking life sentence for sacrilege of religious texts
• Punjab state Assembly unanimously passed Bills for an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) to make sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment.
• The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 inserted Section 295AA to the IPC which says that, “whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life.”
• The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 inserts section 295AA stating that ''injuring, causing any damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with an intention to hurt the religious feeling of the people.''
• The amendments now need the assent of the President.
G. Satheesh Reddy appointed as Secretary, Department of Defence R&D; and Chairman of DRDO
• Dr G Satheesh Reddy was appointed as Secretary of Department of Defence R&D (DDR&D) and Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
• Prior to this appointment, he was scientific adviser to defence minister and Director General of Missiles & Strategic Systems (DG MSS).
• Union Government in May 2015 bifurcated post of scientific adviser to defence minister-cum-DRDO chief, which was held by one person till then.
• Reddy is well known for his significant contributions to indigenous design, development, deployment of diversified missiles and strategic systems, guided weapons, avionics technologies.
Vision document on Taj Mahal should take into account pollution in TTZ: SC
• The Supreme Court ruled that the vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal in Agra should be prepared taking into account issues like pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and industries operating there.
• The TTZ is an area of about 10400 sq km, spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
• A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said authorities should look into the larger perspective while dealing with the issue of protection of Taj Mahal.
• The Uttar Pradesh government told the court that they will respond to the Centre's communication within a month.
Deputy CM Chawna Mein introduces Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board Bill, 2018
• Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chawna Mein introduced the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board Bill, 2018 in the State Assembly.
• The Bill will streamline the process of recruitment to Group C posts in different government departments.
• The State Food and Civil Supply Minister Kamlung Mosang laid the Arunachal Pradesh Food Security Rules 2015 on the table of the house.
• The Arunachal Pradesh re-organization of Districts (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was also introduced. The Bill will pave the way for creation of three new districts Lepa Rada, Pakke Kesang and Shi Yomi.
India’s first biofuel flight conducted by SpiceJet
• India’s first first-ever environment friendly biofuel powered flight between Dehradun and Delhi was propelled by blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel.
• The 43-minute flight was operated by SpiceJet’s Bombardier Q-400 aircraft, with 20 officials and five crew members on board.
• The plane carried blend of 25 percent of bio jet fuel (derived from jatropha seeds) and 75 percent of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in one of the two engines of plane, while other carried only ATF.
• The flight was technological demonstration that bio jet fuel can be used in flights.
• The blend of bio jet fuel and ATF has potential to reduce fuel costs by 15-20 percent.
River Ganga drying up in summers due to groundwater depletion: Study
• According to recent study conducted by IIT-Kharagpur, River Ganga witnessed low levels of water in several lower reaches in last few summer seasons.
• The study was carried out under IIT-KGP Science and Heritage Initiative (SANDHI) Initiative, which focuses on river systems and its relationship with settlement system.
• Drying of Ganga River in recent years during summer seasons is possibly related to groundwater depletion in Gangetic aquifers.
• The decline of groundwater inflow is also impacting health of river.
European Space Agency launches world’s first wind-sensing satellite Aeolus
• European Space Agency (ESA) successfully launched wind-sensing satellite named ‘Aeolus’ into orbit on board of Vega rocket from French Guyana.
• It is world’s first wind-sensing satellite dedicated to map Earth’s wind on global scale in particular tropical winds which are very poorly mapped.
• The satellite is named after guardian of wind in Greek mythology.
• It will be placed at altitude of 320km above the Earth.
• It is part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations.