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Nature's Narrative Vol. I(4)

News Snippets (Part 4):


Indian Land Update


According to a report filed by the District Magistrate of Datia, all illegal sand mining using submarines (underwater machines) in the Dangra village of Datia district (Madhya Pradesh) has been stopped.


Historical Overview


The villagers of Dangra, Datia district said illegal sand mining in the village was done through the use of submarines (underwater machines), which affected the aquatic life and climate. The extraction of sand is extensively done from submarines from the Pahuch river, which originates in Dhamna Ghat.


Chambal Police had unearthed an illegal underground mining unit at Sindhi River in Datia District in May 2014. The police had seized heavy mining equipment including diesel and a large quantity of illegally mined sand from the site.


Current Status


The villagers had applied to the NGT for illegal mining of sand, which was detrimental to water life and the climate.

In an inquiry conducted by the district magistrate and the Madhya Pradesh State Pollution Control Committee, it was found that the Sarpanch of Dangra, was engaged in illegal mining operations using submarines.

On 20 August 2019, the district magistrate immediately revoked the mining contract. The report said that the mining department was monitoring the area and that there was no illegal mining notice so far.


Legal Background


Sand is a minor mineral under Section 3 of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Section 15 of the same act empowers State Governments to make rules for regulating the grant of mining leases and licenses. Section 23(c) empowers the state government to make rules against illegal mining. The MMDR Act, 1957, was amended in 2015, and came into effect on 12 January 2015, by MMDR Amendment Act , 2015. The Amendment Act imposes stringent restrictions on the fight against illegal mining. Illegal mining has been punished with a jail term of up to five years and a penalty of up to five lakh rupees per hectare.



Extraas


Lonar lake , also known as lonar crater , is a saline and alkaline lake .It is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument, saline (pH of 10.5), Soda Lake, located at Lonar in Buldhana district, Maharashtra.The colour of Lonar lake water in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district turned pink due to a large presence of the salt- loving Haloarchea microbes.

Haloarchaea microbes-

Haloarchea or halophilic archaea is a bacteria culture which produces pink pigment and is found in water saturated with salt. It is assumed that absence of rain, less human interference and high temperature resulted in the evaporation of water which increased its salinity and pH.

Discoveries-

  • This bacteria, which produces a pink pigment, is ingested by these birds like flamingos and they get carotenoid-rich food, because of that their plumage is pink in colour.

  • It was also discovered that the pink colour of the water was not permanent. Once the biomass of the microbes settled at the bottom, the water became transparent during one such experiment at the labs.


National Biodiversity Update


Scientists have found Giant Sea Cockroaches in the Eastern Indian Ocean.


The scientists of Singapore reported the discovery of the first “Super Giant Isopod” species in the eastern Indian Ocean. The scientists reported their findings on July 8 in the peer-reviewed, open-access biodiversity research journal ‘ZooKeys’.


“The epithet is the Indonesian word “raksasa” word for giant that alludes to its enormous size and the meaning of its finding,” wrote the authors of the paper, Conni M Sidabalok, Helen PS Wong and Peter K L Ng.


What is with this ‘Cockroach’?


The cockroach is of the Bathynomus genus. It has 14 legs and they crawl in search of food along the bed of the oceans. This has a length of 50 cm and is bigger than isopods. Generally speaking, isopods up to 50 centimeters long are referred to as supergiants. The Raksasa consumes dead fish, whales and other marine animals. They may also survive without food for long periods. This is a common feature that raksasa shares. The giant isopods are distantly related to crabs, lobsters, and shrimps (which belong to the order of decapods), and are found in the cold depths of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Significance


The Bathynomus giganteus, typically found in the profound waters of the West Atlantic, is the only member of the isopod population bigger than the size of raksasa. Until now, the scientific community knew of five supergiant species, two of which are found in the western Atlantic. The discovery takes the number of known giant isopods to 20. As the Bathynomus raksasa reveals its secrets, it will contribute towards increasing knowledge about the deep.


Mission


They have been researching 63 sites over two weeks and returned with 12,000 deep-sea specimens, ranging from jellyfishes, sponges, worms and molluscs to crabs and starfish and urchins, using techniques ranging from trawling to dredging. 800 species, 12 of which were unknown to scientists were confirmed to be on the ship.

The Himalayan butterfly named “Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus)” has surpassed the “Southern Birdwing (Troides minos)” after 88 years to become the largest butterfly in India.


Why in news -


Recently, a Himalayan butterfly known as Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus) has been discovered as India’s largest butterfly after 88 years. It has replaced an unknown specimen which a british army officer Brigadier Evans had recorded in 1932. Golden Birdwing is followed by Common Windmill (Byasa polyeuctes) at 98 mm, Great Windmill (Byasa dasarada) at 96 mm, and Common Peacock (Papilio bianor) at 78 mm- all from Uttarakhand.


Measurement and Description-

The only measurement used in the study of Lepidoptera is wingspan in which butterflies are measured from the wing base to the tip.

  • The female species of the Golden Birdwing has a wingspan of 194 mm that is 4 mm larger than that of the Southern Birdwing with 190 mm wingspan while the largest wingspan in the male species of the Golden Birdwing is 106 mm.

  • Discovered -

  • The female Golden Birdwing was recorded from Didihat in Uttarakhand, the largest male was from the Wankhar Butterfly Museum in Meghalaya capital Shillong.

Key points-


Golden Birdwing is followed by Common Windmill (Byasa polyeuctes) at 98 mm, Great Windmill (Byasa dasarada) at 96 mm, and Common Peacock (Papilio bianor) at 78 mm- all from Uttarakhand.


Significance -

  1. Rich biodiversity- Abundance of butterflies represents biodiversity at place.

  2. Indicative species- The butterfly acts as an indicator species. Indicative species provides information on the overall condition of the ecosystem and of other species of the ecosystem. They reflect the quality and changes of the environmental conditions .

  3. Acts as pollinator.


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