Sunday February 18, 2018
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Badal launches second World Bank-funded water, sanitation project to give state open-defecation free

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Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday launched the second World Bank-funded Rs.2,200-crore project aimed at improving water and sanitation services and creating open defecation-free environment in the state.

He sought further World Bank assistance for skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture. In his address on the occasion, Badal thanked the World Bank, especially country director Onno Ruhl, for getting the project sanctioned much before the closure of the ongoing project, costing Rs.750 crore, on June 30.

He expressed confidence that with the concerted efforts of the state, departments of water supply and sanitation and rural development and panchayats would set an example by completing this gigantic task within two years, much ahead of the deadline of 2019 fixed by the Indian government under ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean Indian Programme).

“I am delighted to learn that the total achievement under the first project was 125 percent which is unprecedented so far in any development project funded by the World Bank in the country,” the chief minister said. The new project aims to provide a toilet and water connection in all the households within next three years. Likewise, all the existing rural water supply schemes would be augmented to provide 70 litres per capita per day (lpcd) against the current consumption of 40 lpcd.

ParkashSinghBadal
Photo: Sanyam Bahga

Badal pointed out that enhancement of water supply scheme to 70 lpcd would make it technically feasible to provide water connections to all households as required.

“This, in turn, would lead to financial sustainability of rural water supply schemes and the villagers would have access to minimum 10-hour water supply.”

Badal said Punjab was already committed to provide clean and safe water to people, especially in rural areas, and earmarked Rs.300 crore to provide treated surface water to 121 villages of Moga and Barnala districts.

Speaking on the significance of skill development, the chief minister urged the World Bank’s country director to help Punjab in training the youth to be gainfully employed.

He also sought the World Bank support and cooperation for allowing the state to have an exclusive water supply and sanitation sub-project on design, build, operate terms for 110 waterlogged villages in Muktsar, Fazilka, Bathinda and Faridkot districts of the Malwa belt.

Badal also sought funding for ongoing tourism and cultural projects to showcase state’s glorious heritage and rich legacy across the globe.

A spokesperson for the government told IANS that World Bank country director Ruhl, who met Badal over dinner Tuesday, said he would again visit the state next month to have detailed discussions on skill development, reviving rural economy and promoting tourism and culture.

-(IANS)

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Scientists spot massive ice deposits on Mars

Recent observations by MRO's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

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Scientists found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons
  • Recently, scientists have found layers of ice on the Martian land.
  • Scientists think this ice might be a useful source of water for future humans.
  • The researchers had researched 8 locations on the surface of Mars.

Scientists have unearthed thick and massive deposits of ice in some regions on Mars.

The images taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.

The ice sheets extend from just below the surface to a depth of 100 meters or more and appear to contain distinct layers.

It extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface, which could preserve a record of Mars’ past climate, the researchers noted in the journal Science.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS

“We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate,” said Colin M. Dundas, from the US Geological Survey.

“They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet,” Dundas added.

The researchers investigated eight locations on Mars and found thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle.

However, erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.

The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.

The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA
The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA

The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars’ high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.

Previous researchers have revealed that the Red Planet harbours subsurface water ice.

Recent observations by MRO’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

NASA’s Phoenix lander had also dug up some ice near the Martian north pole in 2008, however, it is not clear if that is part of the big sheet. IANS