27th Oct, 2020

South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System

Recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has launched the South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS). 


To help disaster management teams and governments make timely evacuation plans ahead of the actual event of flooding.

A dedicated FFGS centre will be established in New Delhi. 

Weather modelling and analysis of rainfall data observations from member countries will be done there.

Developed by: 

US-based Hydrologic Research Centre 

Based on the rainfall and potential flooding scenario, flash flood warnings will be issued to respective nations.

Flash flood threat warning will be issued six hours in advance. 

Flood risk warning will be issued 24 hours in advance. 

Warnings about watershed level will be issued 12 hours in advance.

Flash Floods

These are sudden surges in water levels during or following an intense spell of rain.

These are localised events of short duration. 

The peak is usually very high. 

The duration is less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood.

The flood situation worsens if the drainage lines are choked or the natural flow of water is obstructed.


Restoration process of Seagrass taken up

Recently, the restoration process of seagrasses is taken up by Tamil Nadu in the Gulf of Mannar.


These are flowering plants that grow submerged in shallow marine waters like bays and lagoons.

These have tiny flowers and strap-like or oval leaves.

Seagrasses evolved from terrestrial plants that recolonised the ocean around 70-100 million years ago.

Seagrasses also produce food by photosynthesis. 

They reproduce sexually as well as asexually.

Some of the important seagrasses:

(1) Sea Cow Grass (Cymodocea serrulata);

(2) Thready Seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata);

(3) Needle Seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium);

(4) Flat-tipped Seagrass (Halodule uninervis), etc.

Location: These are found in muddy and sandy substrates. These also occur along the coastal areas of India. These are abundant in the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar. 


(1) They provide many ecosystem services;

(2) These are also called ‘the lungs of the sea’ because they release oxygen into the water through photosynthesis;

(3) Sequesters up to 11% of the organic carbon buried in the ocean;

(4) Absorb carbon from the atmosphere. They can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests;

(5) Help maintain water quality;

(6) Filter nutrients released from land-based industries;

(7) Prevent soil erosion;

(8) Provide food as well as habitat for fishes, octopuses, shrimp, blue crabs, oysters, etc. 

Seagrass beds are facing decline all over the world at the rate of 2-5% annually.

Threats: Grazing, storms, ice-scouring (abrasion and erosion of seabeds by glaciers), desiccation, eutrophication, mechanical destruction of habitat, overfishing, coastal engineering construction, etc. 


India assumes Chairmanship of ILO Governing Body

After 35 years, India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization (ILO).

Labour & Employment Secretary Apurva Chandra has been elected as the Chairperson for the period October 2020-June 2021.

The Governing Body (GB) is the apex executive body of the ILO.

It meets thrice a year. 


(1) It takes decisions on ILO policy;

(2) It decides the agenda of the International Labour Conference (ILC);

(3) It adopts the draft programme and budget;

(4) It elects the Director-General.

International Labour Organization (ILO) 

It is an agency of United Nations (UN) since 1919. 


(1) Sets labour standards;

(2) Develops policies;

(3) Devises programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

It became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.

ILO’s recommendations are non-binding. 

It has also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

It releases the annual World Employment and Social Outlook (WESO) Trends report.

India is a Founding Member of the ILO.

It has been a permanent member of the ILO Governing Body since 1922. 


Two New Ramsar Sites in India

Recently, Kabartal Wetland (Bihar) and Asan Conservation Reserve (Uttrakhand) have been designated as Ramsar sites. 

Now, the total number of Ramsar sites in India is 39, the highest in South Asia.

Kabartal Wetland

It is also known as Kanwar Jheel. 

Location: Begusarai, Bihar.

It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region. 

It also provides livelihood opportunities to local communities.

It has significant biodiversity with 165 plant species, 394 animal species and 50 fish species. 

58 migratory waterbirds use it to rest. 

Five critically endangered species inhabit the site:

(1) Red-headed vulture;

(2) White-rumped vulture;

(3) Indian vulture;

(4) Sociable lapwing;

(5) Baer’s pochard

Asan Conservation Reserve (ACR) 

ACR is formed by the Asan River running down to its confluence with the Yamuna River in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 

It is Uttarakhand’s first Ramsar Site.

These habitats support 330 bird species including the critically endangered red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).

49 fish species are also found including the endangered Putitora mahseer (Tor putitora). 

Ramsar Site

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.

Those wetlands which are of international importance are declared as Ramsar sites.

Mission: Conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. 

It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.

At present, two wetlands of India are in Montreux Record: Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (Manipur).

Chilika Lake (Odisha) was placed in the record but later removed from it.