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Global satellite to be named after Dr. Kalam

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Bengaluru: A global satellite for earth observation and disaster risk reduction — GlobalSat for DRR — proposed under the UN framework is to be dedicated to A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as a tribute to the vision of the celebrated rocket scientist and former Indian president who died July 27.

This has been stated by Milind Pimprikar, Chairman of CANEUS (CANada-EUrope-US-ASia) Organization on Space Technologies for Societal Applications headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

Founded in 1999, CANEUS serves to develop a common platform for space technology solutions for natural and man-made disaster management. The “GlobalSat for DRR” is a UN-driven global initiative on sharing space technology for disaster risk reduction, Pimprikar told IANS.

Launch of this satellite was mooted at the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held at Sendai in Japan this March.

The concept was initiated by CANEUS in cooperation with UN agencies including the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.

The GlobalSat was proposed in response to the need for a globally interconnected disaster and environmental management system since no single country can afford to develop a complete set of sensors and satellite systems needed for forecasting, monitoring and mitigating disasters like floods, drought, typhoons, earthquakes, wild fires, windstorms, or tidal events, Pimprikar said.

The UN-led GlobalSat will provide a common platform that will allow sharing of space and data segments, with an ability to serve individual nation’s disaster management and development needs.

Pimprikar said the goals of UN GlobatSat are the same as those of Kalam. In his “World Space Vision-2050” Kalam had envisaged space faring nations joining hands to find solutions to mankind’s major problems such as natural disasters, energy and water scarcity, health-care education issues and weather prediction.

“Therefore we now plan to dedicate the UN GlobalSat initiative as a tribute to Late Dr. Abdul Kalam by renaming it “UN Kalam GlobalSat”, Pimprikar said.

Pimprikar hoped the renaming will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and space explorers to foster innovation and entrepreneurship and pooling of resources to find low-cost solutions to major problems facing mankind.

Pimprikar said the recommendations made at the Sendai conference including the proposed GlobalSat will be formally adopted by more than 150 world leaders at the UN Session in New York in September that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also going to attend.

Noting that Modi has already proposed an Indian initiative for a dedicated satellite for the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries. Pimprikar said India, “as a leading space nation in the world, has the unique opportunity to champion and lead the proposed “UN GlobalSat” initiative at the UN Session.

“Respecting India’s leadership, other nations from across the globe will support it wholeheartedly to seek formal UN endorsement of “UN Kalam GlobalSat”, he said.

After the formal approval, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs will work out the details that can be addressed and finalised for implementation at the proposed UN-India Workshop in early 2016, he said.

The eventual goal of this satellite, he said, “is to establish a public/private partnership that would create a low-cost, internationally shared data collection and distribution backbone in space with no barriers to entry for participating nations.”

(IANS)

 

 

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Opium Cultivation Goes Down by 20% in Afghanistan: UN

It noted that opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

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oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium-poppy cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

 

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
Raw opium from a poppy head is seen at a poppy farmer’s field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

Opium cultivation
Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

Colhoun noted that while there is no single explanation for the continuing high levels of opium-poppy cultivation, rule of law-related challenges such as political instability, lack of government control and security as well as corruption have been found to be among the main drivers of illicit cultivation.

The UNODC survey estimated that the total farm-gate value of opium production decreased by 56 percent to $604 million, which is equivalent to three percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, from $1.4 billion in 2017. The lowest prices strongly undermined the income earned from opium cultivation by farmers.

 Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The study finds that 24 out of the 34 Afghan provinces grew the opium-poppy in 2018, the same number as in the previous year.

The survey found that 69 percent of the opium poppy cultivation took place in southern Afghanistan and the largest province of Helmand remained the leading opium-poppy cultivating region followed by neighboring Kandahar and Uruzgan and Nangarhar in the east.

It noted that poppy opium cultivation weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

A U.S. government agency, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has noted in its latest report that as of September 30, Washington’s counternarcotics-related appropriations for the country had reached almost $9 billion.

Also Read: The Elections in Afghanistan

“Despite the importance of the threat narcotics pose to reconstruction and despite massive expenditures for programs including poppy-crop eradication, drug seizures and interdictions, alternative-livelihood support, aviation support, and incentives for provincial governments, the drug trade remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and is growing,” said Sigar, which monitors U.S. civilian and military spendings in the country. (VOA)