Current Affairs Jan 6

Western Dedicated Freight Corridor

Why in News?

  • Prime Minister will dedicate to the nation the 306 Km New Rewari – New Madar Section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) on 7th January 2021.
  • Also flag off the world’s first Double Stack Long Haul 1.5 Km long Container Train hauled by electric traction from New Ateli -New Kishangarh during the event.

New Rewari – New Madar Section of WDFC

  • The New Rewari – New Madar section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor is situated in Haryana (approx. 79 Km, in Mahendragarh and Rewari districts) and Rajasthan (approx. 227 Km, in Jaipur, Ajmer, Sikar, Nagaur and Alwar districts).
  • The opening of this stretch will benefit various industries in Rewari – Manesar, Narnaul, Phulera and Kishangarh areas of Rajasthan & Haryana and will also enable better usage of the container depot of CONCOR at Kathuwas.
  • This section will also ensure seamless connectivity with the western ports of Kandla, Pipavav, Mundhra, and Dahej situated in Gujarat.
  • Earlier the 351-km New Bhaupur- New Khurja section of the EDFC was dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister on 29th December 2020.

Double Stack Long Haul Container Train Operation

  • It has been designed for DFCCIL by RDSO’s wagon department.
  • Trial runs of BLCS-A and BLCS-B wagon prototypes have been completed.
  • The design will maximize capacity utilization and uniform distributed and point loading.
  • These wagons on a long-haul double stack container train on the WDFC can carry four times in terms of container units compared to the current traffic on Indian Railways.

About Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL)

  • A government enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways, is at present carrying out the construction of 3,342-km eastern and western freight corridors for exclusively movement of goods trains.
  • DFCCIL will run freight trains at the maximum speed of 100 km/per hour as against the current maximum speed of 75 kmph on Indian Railway tracks whereas the average speed of freight trains will also be increased from existing speed of 26 kmph on Indian Railways lines to 70 kmph on DFC.



Advanced Biodigester Mk-II Technology in Metro Rail Network

Why in News?

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MAHA –METRO), a joint venture company of the GoI and Government of Maharashtra are working together to conserve water and protect the environment by installing DRDO’s eco-friendly biodigester units (a non-sewered sanitation technology) in its facilities.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

  • Between MAHA-METRO and DRDO through which DRDO will render technical support for the implementation of its advanced biodigester Mk-II technology for the treatment of human waste (night soil) in the metro rail network.

About Biodigester

  • DRDO’s biodigester is an indigenous, green and cost-effective technology.
  • A customized version of this MK-II Biodigester, suitable for treating human waste generated from houseboats in Dal Lake was successfully demonstrated by the DRDO to J&K Administration.
  • The implementation of Biodigester MK-II in Srinagar is being monitored by a committee of experts constituted by the High Court of J&K under the Chairmanship of Dr E Sreedharan.
  • This technology is upgraded through improvements in the bio-degradation efficiency, design modification and addition of secondary treatment module.
  • The new reactor is designed to provide more path length with increased biological reaction time, thereby enhancing the bio-degradation efficiency of the system.
  • This technology was primarily developed for the armed forces in high altitude Himalayan regions, including Leh-Ladakh and Siachen glacier.




Toycathon-2021 and Toycathon Portal

Why in News?

  • Union Education Minister and Union Minister WCD and Textiles jointly launched Toycathon-2021.


  • To conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behaviour and good value among the children.
  • Toycathon is being organized to develop India as the global Toy manufacturing hub.

India’s Toy Market

  • Size of toy market in India is about one billion USD but 80% of the toys are imported.
  • The launch of Toycathon, is an endeavor by the government to create an ecosystem for the domestic Toy industry and the local manufacturers, tapping the untapped resources and utilizing their potential.
  • This is the first time when school children will innovate, design and conceptualize toys also for especially abled ‘divyang children’.
  • The Minister informed that students and faculty members participating in Toycathon can get prizes upto 50 lakhs.

About Toycathon 2021:

  • This is a special kind of hackathon where students and teachers from schools and colleges, design experts, toy experts and startups will get together to crowd source ideas for developing toys and games that are based on Indian culture and ethos, local folklore and heroes, and Indian value systems.
  • While this will greatly help India develop into a global hub for toys and games, it will also help children to understand the ethos and values of Indian culture as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020.
  • The Toycathon is based on nine themes viz.
      • Indian Culture, History, Knowledge of India and Ethos;
      • Learning, Education and Schooling;
      • Social and human values;
      • Occupations & specific fields;
      • Environment; Divyang ;
      • Fitness and sport;
      • Out of the box, creative and logical thinking and Rediscovering/redesigning traditional Indian toys.



Earthquake Monitoring and Delineation of Subsurface Structures in Delhi Region

Why in News?

  • According to the National Centre for Seismologyof the Ministry of Earth Sciences:
      • The National Capital Region of Delhi experienced 4 small earthquakes during April – August 2020
  • All these events were located by the National Seismological Network (NSN), being operated and maintained by National Seismological Centre (NCS), Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Accordingly, NCS initiated the following activities-

  • The seismic network in Delhi and surroundings was strengthened by deploying 11 temporary additional stations covering the known faults in the region to precisely locate the earthquakes and their aftershocks for a better understanding of the causative sources.
  • A geophysical survey, namely, Magneto-telluric (MT) is also being conducted over the Delhi region.
  • Magneto-telluric (MT) is a geophysical method which uses natural time variation of the Earth’s magnetic and electic fields to understand geological (underground) structure and processes.
  • These measurements are conducted across three major seismic sources, namely Mahendragarh-Dehradun Fault (MDF), Sohna Fault (SF) and Mathura Fault (MF).
  • These measurements will ascertain the presence of fluid, which generally enhances the possibility of triggering of earthquakes.
  • Analysis and interpretation of satellite imageries and geological field investigations for locating the faults are also carried out.
  • This information along with the results of MT survey will be useful in accurate assessment of seismic hazard.
  • The study is being conducted by NCS in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur.



Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Exam

Why in News?

  • For raising mass awareness about Indigenous Cowsamong young Students and every other citizen, RASTRIYA KAMDHENU AAYOG (RKA) has come out with a noble initiative of making Study materials about Cow Science available and conduct “Kamdhenu Gau-VigyanPrachar-Prasar Examination”.

But Why?

  • This will infuse the curiosity into all Indians about the cows, and make them aware of the unexplored potential and business opportunities a cow can offer, even after it stops giving milk.

About Exam

  • The Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Exam will be an annual event of the RashtriyaKamdhenuAayog in future.
  • It will also fulfil the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat/Vocal for Local/Green India/Digital India/Clean India/Healthy India/Make in India concepts of Prime Minister.


  • RKA has been successful in delivering the message across the country that the cow is not just a milk-giving animal but its Environmental, Health and Economic benefits are immense if used properly.
  • Its so-called waste products like cow-dung and cow-urine, which are cheap and abundantly available, are bio-degradable and environmentally friendly.
  • Hence, these can be gainfully used by cow entrepreneurs to make the cow-rearing sustainable, which in turn can contribute towards economic growth of the country..
  • Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) has been constituted by the Government of India for the conservation, preservation, protection and development of cows and their progenies and for giving directions for the cattle development programmes.
  • RKA is a high-powered permanent body to formulate policies and to provide directions for the implementation of schemes related to cattle so as to lay more emphasis on livelihood generation for small & marginal farmers, women and youth entrepreneurs.



Waterways in West Bengal

Why in News?

  • The World Bank has committed a USD 105 million loan for a project to improve the inland water transport infrastructure in West Bengal.
  • The Centre, West Bengal government and the World Bank signed an agreement to this effect.
  • The West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics and Spatial Development Project will facilitate passenger and freight movement across the Hooghly river, undertake spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA).


  • The project will enhance the quality of life of its residents and contribute to the growth of the state’s logistics sector.
  • Developing the river transport infrastructure will enable a large population of the state to utilise its waterways, have alternative, multi-modal options for transportation for both freight and passengers, connect the hinterland with KMA’s markets and job centers and emerge as a logistics hub.
  • The Hooghly river, a distributary of the river Ganga, in Kolkata separates the Kolkata port from its large consumption centers, which are, its wholesale market and the vast hinterland comprising among others the entire North East and two landlocked neighbouring countries namely, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • In the first phase, the project will enhance the capacity and improve the safety of the inland water transport system, including rehabilitating existing jetties, buying new ferries with enhanced design and installing electronic gates in 40 locations.



UJALA and Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP)

Why in News?

  • Launched by Prime Minister on January 5, 2015, the Government of India’s zero subsidy Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) marks their sixth anniversary.
  • Both the programmes are being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).
  • Under UJALA, EESL has distributed over 36.69 crore LED bulbs across India.
  • LED tube lights and energy efficient fans have also been distributed at affordable price under this programme.
  • There have been an estimated annual monetary savings of INR 5,210 crore in electricity bills of municipalities.


  • These programmes have bagged global awards like the prestigious South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPIA) 2017.
  • For the innovative use of IT and business results achieved in Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), it won CIO 100 award in 2019.
  • The highly successful UJALA and SLNP have also bagged the Global Solid State Lighting (SSL) award of excellence for the transformational contribution to the LED sector.
  • Award for High Impact Program for Energy Efficiency – CII National Award for Excellence in Energy Management 2020 and award of excellence at the 10th Elets knowledge exchange summit and awards 2020.

Plans for Future

  • EESL has an ambitious plan in the SLNP portfolio for next 4-5 years where it intends to bring investment to the tune of INR 8,000 crores by 2024 by covering entire rural India.



Swasth Vayu Non-invasive Ventilator

Why in News?

  • CSIR-NAL scientists along with medical professionals from CSIR-IGIB came forward to address the shortages of ventilators in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • They indigenously designed and developed the non-invasive bilevel positive airway pressure ventilator –Swasth Vayu, with additional features to treat Covid-19 patients and make the country self-reliant.
  • The expert committee, after careful evaluation, has concluded that SwasthVayu may be used on Covid-19 patients who require oxygen supplementation up to 35%.

About Swasth Vayu

  • It is a microcontroller based precise closed-loop adaptive control system with a built-in biocompatible “3D printed manifold and coupler” with HEPA filter (Highly Efficient Particulate Air Filter).
  • These unique features help to alleviate the fear of the virus spread.
  • It has features like CPAP, Bi-Timed, Spontaneous / AUTO modes with provision to connect Oxygen concentrator or Enrichment unit externally.
  • CSIR-NAL has commercialized this technology with six private companies.
  • With this, the country is now self-reliant in this technology, which is a major achievement under the Atmanirbhar vision of Government of India.




CEPI Centralized Network Lab

Why in News?

  • The Minister for Science & Technology, Health & Family Welfare and Earth Sciences inaugurated one of the seven labs of the world called as the centralized network lab of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  • Established at Translational Health Science & Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad.
  • This is the only laboratory of such kind in India and is also accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) (ISO 17025:2017).

About CEPI

  • CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.
  • The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology is implementing the Ind-CEPI mission titled ‘India Centric Epidemic Preparedness through Rapid Vaccine Development: Supporting Indian Vaccine Development Aligned with the Global Initiative of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)’.

Ind-CEPI Mission

  • Aims to strengthen the development of vaccines for the diseases of epidemic potential in India as well as build coordinated preparedness in the Indian public health system and vaccine industry to address existing and emergent infectious threats in India.

Major focus at present

  • To help evaluating new Covid-19 vaccines, using standard analysis and same reagents in all labs so that vaccine produced has global acceptance and repeatability of the results, for global use.
  • All COVID-19 vaccine developers can use this network for free to assess immunogenicity of their vaccine candidate against a common protocol, using clinical samples from preclinical, Phase I through Phase III trials.



Republic Day festivities

Why in News?

  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned India visit for the last week of January when he was to be the Chief Guest of the Republic Day festivities.
  • The decision to cancel the visit was taken in view of the pandemic which has escalated in the United Kingdom because of the new variant of the coronavirus.



Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report

Why in News?

  • Global economic output is projected to grow by 4% in 2021 assuming widespread roll-out of a COVID-19 vaccine throughout the year, as per the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report.
  • This projection is still 5% below pre-pandemic levels.

Report says on India

  • India is expected to grow at 5.4% in fiscal year 2021/22 and 5.2% in fiscal 2022/23 after an expected contraction of 9.6% in fiscal 2020/21.
  • India’s expected contraction in the current fiscal year is due to a sharp decline in household spending and private investment.
  • There was severe income loss in the informal sector which accounts for 4/5ths of employment.
  • Recent data indicate that recovery in manufacturing and services is gaining momentum.

Other Findings of Report

  • After an estimated 3.6% contraction in 2020, U.S. GDP is expected to grow at 3.5% in 2021 and the Euro area at 3.6%.
  • Emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) are expected to grow at an average of 4.6 percent in 2021-22 reflecting the above average rebound in China (forecast at 7.9% and 5.2%, this year and next).

Massive’ increases in global debt levels

  • There has been a “massive increase” in global debt levels because of the pandemic with EMDE government debt expected to increase by 9 percentage points of GDP in 2020, the report notes.
  • The South Asian region saw the steepest increase, with India’s government debt expected to increase by 17 percentage points of GDP while service output contracts over 9%.

South Asia slowdown led by India

  • The South Asian region’s economy is expected to contract by 6.7 % in 2020 due to the pandemic.
  • This was led by India’s deep recession, where the economy was already weakened by the stress in non-bank financial corporations

Continued asset purchase risks

  • Central Banks in EMDEs have sometimes deployed asset purchase programs as part of their pandemic response – these have helped stabilise financial markets when targeted to market failures, the Banks says.
  • However, where asset purchase programs continue to expand and are perceived to finance fiscal deficits, they may erode central bank independence, increase concerns over debt sustainability and risk currency weakness.

The Hindu


Laika & Dodhia

Why in News?

  • The All India Tribal Students’ Association Assam (AITSAA) asked Prime Minister and Assam Chief Minister to prove the Bharatiya Janata Party was not anti-tribal by keeping off the farmlands of the indigenous people.
  • The AITSAA referred to two sets of tribal people allegedly victimised by the State machinery — one in central Assam’s Nagaon district where farmers are resisting takeover over of their land for a solar plant and the other living in forest villages in a national park straddling Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.
  • Laika comprising three villages (in Tinsukia district) and Dodhia comprising four (in Dibrugarh district) came into existence in the 1950s after a major earthquake had displaced them from nearby areas.
  • The people there were virtually cut off from the world beyond until the Dibru and Saikhowa reserve forests were clubbed together to create a wildlife sanctuary that was upgraded to a national park in 1999.



Transgender to Contest Polls from Women’s Category

Why in News?

  • The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad Bench has allowed a transgender to contest village panchayat polls in women’s category, saying that such persons have the right to “self-perceived gender identity”.

What’s the Case is?

  • In the nomination form, the petitioner had chosen female gender and submitted the form to contest from a ward reserved for women’s general category.
  • Returning officer rejected her nomination for contesting a gram panchayat election in Jalgaon district.
  • The form was, however, rejected as the petitioner was a transgender and there was no transgender category in the present village panchayat elections.

Court Judgement

  • The court in its order noted that the Union government has introduced the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and has permitted a transgender person to have a right to self-perceived gender identity.
  • Court also makes a statement that henceforth in her lifetime, she would not switch over to male gender driven by opportunism and would continue to opt for female gender, in future, save and except if there is a reservation provided for transgenders in public life.




Internet shutdowns in 2020

Why in News?

  • Internet shutdowns last year has cost India $2.8 billion, according to estimates by Top10VPN, a digital privacy research group.

What it Estimated?

  • More than 1,600 hours of Internet blackouts and 7,000 hours of bandwidth throttling has cost the country about $2.8 billion, accounting to 70% of the total loss of $4 bn to the world economy.

Restrictions in Kashmir

  • The longest internet shutdown in a democracy, have hurt businesses, schools and the distribution of medicine.
  • The limiting of networks to 2G has made it impossible for online classes to function adequately.
  • This caused willful harm to the careers of the students and teachers, violated the rights to education.

Internet Shutdown

  • Top10VPN defined internet shutdown as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications for a specific population or location, to exert control over the flow of information.
  • It can be caused by Internet blackouts where access to the internet is completely cut off, social media shutdowns where access to popular social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp are blocked, and throttling where access to the internet is reduced to 2G speeds.




First Women’s Team in Disaster Combat

Why in News?

  • The first batch of over 100 women disaster combatants and rescuers has been inducted into the country’s federal calamity force NDRF.
  • An all-woman team of freshly trained National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel was recently deployed for contingency duties on the banks of the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh’s Garh Mukteshwar town.
  • The team handled the rescue boats and related equipments.

About NDRF

  • The force, since it was raised over a decade ago, was till now an all-male affair.
  • The female personnel who are joining are in the constabulary and sub-officer (Sub Inspector and Inspector) ranks.
  • As per authorisation, each NDRF battalion of over 1,000 personnel can have 108 woman rescuers.
  • Every NDRF battalion has been seconded by a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) like the CRPF or the ITBP and the parent force is responsible for feeding its manpower, who are sent on a time-bound deputation to the force.
  • The NDRF has 12 operational battalions at present located in various States.
  • It is a specialised unit that was raised in 2006 for specific tasks of relief and rescue during natural and man-made disasters or life threatening situations.



Saudi Arabia to lift Qatar embargo

Why in News?

  • Saudi Arabia will open its airspace and land border to Qatar, in the first step toward ending a years-long diplomatic crisis that deeply divided U.S. defence partners, frayed societal ties and tore apart a traditionally clubby alliance of Gulf States.

When & Why Closed?

  • Qatar’s only land border has been mostly closed since mid-2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a blockade against the tiny Gulf state, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremist groups and of having warm ties with Iran.
  • The Saudi border, which Qatar relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods, opened briefly during the past three years to allow Qataris into Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.


  • The lifting of the embargo by Saudi Arabia paves the way for Qatar’s ruler to attend an annual summit of Gulf leaders that will be held in the kingdom’s ancient desert site of Al-Ula.
  • The summit would traditionally be chaired by Saudi King Salman, though his son and heir, the crown prince, may instead lead the meeting.
  • This year, Egypt’s president has also been invited to attend the summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.



Thai Poosam

Why in News?

  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister announced that the State government would grant a public holiday on Thai Poosam day every year.
  • Public holiday for Thai Poosam in Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

About Thai Poosam

  • Thai Poosam is one of the major festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu for Tamil God Muruga Peruman.
  • Thai Poosam is celebrated in not just Tamil Nadu but also in Kerala, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius and Indonesia.
  • Thai Poosam is celebrated by a cross-section of Hindu Tamils on the full moon day of the Tamil month of Thai.
  • The festival symbolises the victory of good over evil. As per religious belief, on this day, the ‘vel’ (the holy lance) was given to Lord Muruga by His mother Goddess Parvathi to annihilate Tharakasuran and his three brothers.



Air Borne Transmission of Coronavirus

Why in News?

  • Airborne COVID-19 infection is definitely possible under certain conditions.
  • Chances of picking up SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus from air is directly related to the number of positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status and duration of the exposure in closed room experiments conducted in various hospitals by the CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB).
  • The demarcation of hospital areas into COVID and non-COVID areas is a successful strategy to prevent cross infections.
  • In neutral environmental conditions, the virus does not seem to spread farther away from the patients, especially if they are asymptomatic, giving objective evidence for effectiveness of physical distancing in curbing the spread of the epidemic.

Early detection and isolation

  • The study shows that early detection and isolation of positive individuals helps in preventing infection of other family members in a home setting.
  • Viral particles could be detected in air especially in closed rooms where COVID positive individuals had spent longer periods, even after two hours of their exit from the room and at distances greater than two meters as well.

The advisory following the study stated that the risk of transmission is very low if both the affected person and unaffected person wear masks.

  • Social distancing is a must and a distance of three feet at least, if not six feet should be maintained.
  • Spending more time in closed spaces can be risky even if social distancing is maintained as the virus can stay longer in the air in closed rooms not properly ventilated.
  • It is also avoidable going to others homes considering the risk of contracting the disease in home environments is likely to be higher.



Central Vista Redevelopment Project

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court, in a majority judgment, gave its go-ahead to the multi-crore Central Vista redevelopment project, which proposes to build a new Parliament three times bigger than the existing 93-year-old heritage building.
  • The Supreme Court refused to treat the Central Vista project as a unique one requiring greater or “heightened” judicial review.
  • A majority view of the Supreme Court said the government is “entitled to commit errors or achieve successes” in policy matters without the court’s interference as long as it follows constitutional principles.

Majority Judgment Says

  • Government may examine advantages or disadvantages of a policy at its own end, it may or may not achieve the desired objective. It is not the court’s concern to enquire into the priorities of an elected government. Judicial review is never meant to venture into the mind of the government and thereby examine validity of a decision.
  • Once the government decides to construct a new space for its sitting or to construct a highway or water dam or school or university and follows the procedure prescribed under law commensurate with the nature of project, then the court cannot act as a multiplier of regulations and add its own notion as to what ought to be additional essential procedure for going ahead with a particular project.



School Bag Policy, 2020

Why in News?

  • The Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking schools to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

According to the circular

  • Schoolteachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
  • The weight of the school bags, as per the policy, should be 1.6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II, 1.7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V, 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII, 2.5 to 4 kg for Class VIII, 2.5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X and 3.5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII.
  • The teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class and any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.

Drinking water facility

  • To reduce the weight of the school bag, the circular says that it is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantity to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.
  • The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees.



Grand Renaissance Dam Hydropower Project

Why in News?

  • Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt agreed recently to resume negotiations to resolve their decade-long complex dispute over the Grand Renaissance Dam hydropower project in the Horn of Africa.

What is the dispute about?

  • The Nile, Africa’s longest river, has been at the center of a decade-long complex dispute involving several countries that are dependent on the river’s waters.
  • At the forefront of this dispute are Ethiopia and Egypt, with Sudan having found itself dragged into the issue.
  • Spearheaded by Ethiopia, the 145-meter-tall (475-foot-tall) Grand Renaissance Dam hydropower project, when completed, will be Africa’s largest.
  • The main waterways of the Nile run through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt, and its drainage basin runs through several countries in East Africa, including Ethiopia, the portion where this dam is being constructed.
  • The construction of the dam was initiated in 2011 on the Blue Nile tributary of the river that runs across one part of Ethiopia.
  • The Nile is a necessary water source in the region and Egypt has consistently objected to the dam’s construction, saying it will impact water flow.

Why can the dam cause conflict?

  • Given the dam’s location on the Blue Nile tributary, it would potentially allow Ethiopia to gain control of the flow of the river’s waters.
  • Egypt lies further downstream and is concerned that Ethiopia’s control over the water could result in lower water levels within its own borders.
  • When Ethiopia had announced in 2019 that it planned on generating power using two turbines, Egypt had strongly objected.
  • In addition, Egypt proposed a longer timeline for the project over concerns that the water level of the Nile could dramatically drop as the reservoir fills with water in the initial stages.
  • Sudan’s location between Egypt up north and Ethiopia down south has caused it to become an inadvertent party to this dispute. Sudan too is concerned that if Ethiopia were to gain control over the river, it would affect the water levels Sudan receives.

Why does Ethiopia want this dam?

  • Ethiopia’s goal is to secure electricity for its population and to sustain and develop its growing manufacturing industry.

What is happening now?

  • The latest round of talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt occurred through video conference, with South Africa observing the proceedings in its role as the current head of the African Union’s rotating council, in addition to other international observers.
  • Despite previous talks, the point of contention hasn’t changed: Egypt and Sudan are concerned about the filling and the operation of the dam. Ethiopia continues to insist that the dam is required to meet the needs of its population and has said that downstream water supplies will not be adversely affected.


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