- NTPC installs India’s largest floating solar PV plant
- Kerala completes work on first check dam across the Bhavani
Environment & Ecology
- Arctic ice loss driven by natural swings, not just mankind: Study
- NGT to monitor coal dust pollution in Vizag port
Bilateral & International Relations
- Why US anti-missile system in South Korea worries China?
- Scotland seeks to exit U.K.
- China planning five-fold increase in marine force
Key Facts for Prelims
- Vienna again ranked world’s nicest city, and Baghdad worst
- National Crime Records Bureau celebrates its 32nd Inception Day
- Pak. to begin first census in 19 years
- Centre Establishes Banana Research Centre in Bihar
- Bangladesh declares March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’
NTPC installs India’s largest floating solar PV plant
The NTPC Ltd in the second week of March 2017 installed India’s largest floating solar photo voltaic plant at the Rajiv Gandhi Combined Cycle Power Plant (RGCCPP) Kayamkulam in Kerala.
- The 100 kWp floating solar photo voltaic plant is the largest of its kind in India as on date.
- This floating platform has been indigenously developed by the NETRA (NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance) in collaboration with Central Institute of Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPET), Chennai.
- The system was installed by Swelect Energy Systems Ltd, Chennai with the support from NETRA and NTPC Kayamkulam station in a short span of 22 days.
Relevance of Floating Solar PV Plant for India:
- Floating solar photo voltaic plant systems are fast emerging as an alternative to conventional ground mounted photo voltaic systems, which are land intensive.
- It has various benefits like conserving water through the reduction of evaporation, increased generation due to cooling effect on the panels and reduced installation time.
- Installation potential of such type of systems in India is huge due to the abundance of water bodies.
- Within the NTPC, the potential is approximately 800 MWp in various reservoirs in existing stations.
- Due to availability of abundant water bodies, this type of system has a great potential in Kerala.
- NTPC has already started working on scaling up such type of system for MW scale installation.
About NTPC Ltd:
- National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited is India’s largest energy conglomerate with roots planted way back in 1975 to accelerate power development in India.
- Since then, it has established itself as the dominant power major with the presence in the entire value chain of the power generation business.
- From fossil fuels, it has forayed into generating electricity via hydro, nuclear and renewable energy sources.
- This foray will play a major role in lowering its carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Kerala completes work on first check dam across the Bhavani
Notwithstanding stiff opposition from Tamil Nadu, the Kerala Irrigation Department has completed work on the first of the half-a-dozen check-dams proposed across the inter-State river Bhavani.
- The project is aimed to address drinking and irrigation water shortage in Attappady.
- The check-dam is the first major initiative on the part of the State to utilise 6 TMC water awarded from the Bhavani basin by the Cauvery Tribunal 10 years ago.
- The Supreme Court has ratified the verdict and allowed the State to move ahead with its check-dam proposals. However, stiff resistance from Tamil Nadu had delayed the work.
- The Tamil Nadu government is planning to move the Supreme Court on the issue of construction of check dams by neighbouring Kerala across the Bhavani river.
About Bhavani River:
- Bhavani River, is a tributary of the River Cauvery, originating from the South West Corner of the Nilgiri hills of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu states.
- It enters kerala through Palakkad district between two high forested ridges about 20 kms up to Mukkali, after the abrupt turn in the northeast direction through a totally degraded and denuded catchment about 25 km where the whole population of the Attappady valley lies upto Koodappatti.
About Attappady Reserve Forest:
- Attappady Reserve Forest is a protected well known prominent forest area in Palakkad district of Kerala.
- Attappady has many tribal groups include Irular, Mudugar and Kurumbar has own rich culture and tradition that go beyond the Vedic times.
Environment & Ecology
Arctic ice loss driven by natural swings, not just mankind: Study
A group of scientists stated in a study that rapid loss of Arctic sea ice in recent decades is partly driven by natural swings.
- They went on to state that ice loss in Arctic is not just global warming triggered by human activities.
Highlights of the research:
- The study’s lead author is Qinghua Ding, climate scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the US.
- The research indicates that a shift in wind patterns is responsible for about 60% of sea ice loss in the Arctic Ocean since 1979.
- Some of this shift is related to climate change. However, the research showed that 30-50% of the observed sea ice loss since 1979 is due to natural variations in this large-scale atmospheric pattern.
- Natural variability has helped to accelerate the melting of the ice, especially over the past two decades.
Significance of the study:
- The study provides the mechanism and uses a new approach to illuminate the processes that are responsible for these changes.
- The study shows how much of the observed sea ice trend that has been seen in recent decades in the Arctic is due to natural variability and how much is due to greenhouse gases.
- The scientists believe that teasing apart the natural and human-caused parts of sea ice decline would help to foretell future sea ice conditions in Arctic summer.
- The study could help narrow down huge uncertainties about when the Arctic ice will vanish.
NGT to monitor coal dust pollution in Vizag port
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) and the AP Pollution Control Board (PCB) to immediately check air pollution and bring it under control by the end of 2018.
- The NGT has asked VPT to submit quarterly reports so that they can check if pollution levels are under the permissible parameters.
- The NGT warned the port that if it continued to neglect the pollution control measures, did not reduce dust emission and improve air quality, it would invoke the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle and even restrain the Port Trust from handling coal cargo.
What is the ‘polluter pays’ principle?
The ‘polluters pays’ principle is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
- For instance, a factory that produces a potentially poisonous substance as a by-product of its activities is usually held responsible for its safe disposal.
- The principle is a part of a set of broader principles to guide sustainable development worldwide (formally known as the 1992 Rio Declaration).
- It is regarded as a regional custom because of the strong support it has received in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Community (EC) countries.
- It is a fundamental principle in US environmental law.
Do the polluter pays principle apply to greenhouse gas emissions?
- The polluter pays principle has also been applied more specifically to emissions of greenhouse gases which cause climate change.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are considered a form of pollution because they cause potential harm and damage through impacts on the climate.
- However, in this case, because society has been slow to recognise the link between greenhouse gases and climate change, and because the atmosphere is considered by some to be a ‘global commons’ (that everyone shares and has a right to use), emitters are generally not held responsible for controlling this form of pollution.
About Visakhapatnam Port:
- Visakhapatnam Port is one of 13 major ports in India and the only major port of Andhra Pradesh.
- It is India’s second largest port by volume of cargo handled.
- It is located on the east coast of India and is located midway between the Chennai and Kolkata Ports.
Bilateral & International Relations
Why US anti-missile system in South Korea worries China?
The United States military announced that it had officially begun the deployment of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system in South Korea.
- China adamantly opposes the deployment of THAAD, seeing the system as a threat to its military capabilities.
Why is China worried?
The Thaad system is well-suited to defend South Korean targets against relatively limited range North Korean missiles. But it has no ability to intercept Chinese inter-continental ballistic missiles that target the US. Why then is China so annoyed?
- China is concerned with the system’s powerful X-band radars that can “reach” far into Chinese territory.
- The Chinese military worries that these could be used to spot Chinese missile launches and feed the data to cue up other US defensive systems, e.g. interceptor missiles based in the US, potentially affecting China’s deterrent capability.
Why the deployment is controversial?
- There is domestic opposition – many South Koreans believe the defence system will itself become a target, endangering people who live around the military sites. Opponents have staged multiple demonstrations.
- Internationally, both China and Russia have raised concerns, saying the system could affect the regional security balance.
- Last year, China’s foreign minister said the system went “far beyond” the defence needs of the Korean peninsula. Russia’s envoy to Seoul has called it a “direct threat” to national security.
- Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system.
- It is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach.
- THAAD was developed to counter Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991.
- The THAAD system uses sophisticated radar to detect incoming missiles.
- The missile carries no warhead, but relies on the kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.
- US has previously deployed it in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea
- THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.
Scotland seeks to exit U.K.
Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she will seek authority for a new independence referendum because Britain is dragging Scotland out of the European Union against its will.
- Nicola Sturgeon wants Scotland a referendum post-Brexit so voters can make “an informed choice”. Scotland rejected independence in 2014 referendum. In the Brexit vote, Scots strongly backed staying in the EU.
What does Brexit mean?
- It’s a short form for Britain exiting the European Union (EU). It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.
Location of Scotland:
- Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom (UK) and occupies the northern third of Great Britain.
- Scotland’s mainland shares a border with England to the south. It is home to almost 800 small islands.
- Scotland’s location is to the mid-west of Europe and is surrounded by several different seas.
- Located to the east of Scotland is the North Sea, which divides the country from other areas of Europe, in particular Norway and the rest of Scandinavia.
- Across the North Sea to the south-east is Denmark and further south still is Germany.
- North and west of Scotland’s mainland is the Atlantic Ocean. To the south-west, across the Irish Sea, is Scotland’s closest neighbouring island of Northern Ireland and Eire.
China planning five-fold increase in marine force
According to a report, China is planning a five-fold increase in its marine force — from 20,000 to 100,000 personnel.
- China is set to rapidly expand its marine corps and the Navy in anticipation of the development of its Maritime Silk Road (MSR), which covers the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
- Some of the Chinese marines would be stationed at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and the Pakistani port of Gwadar, the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
An expanded marine corps could help maintain security for China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative.
In tune with the OBOR and friction in the West pacific, China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang recently highlighted that Beijing would “move ahead to become a strong maritime power and is resolute in protecting its maritime rights”.
About the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative:
- The “Belt and Road” initiative was raised by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.
- The “Belt and Road” initiative refers to the New Silk Road Economic Belt, linking China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, connecting China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe.
Key Facts for Prelims
Vienna again ranked world’s nicest city, and Baghdad worst
- Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, has topped consulting firm Mercer’s list of cities offering the highest quality of life for the eighth year in a row.
- While Baghdad is again considered the worst place to live.
- Singapore was the highest ranked Asian city, at 25.
- Switzerland’s Zurich, New Zealand’s Auckland, Germany’s Munich and Canada’s Vancouver followed Vienna in the top five of most pleasant cities to live in.
- Global centres London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City did not even make the top 30, lagging behind most big German, Scandinavian, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian cities.
- The survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff.
- It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.
- For the third consecutive time, Hyderabad (Telangana) has emerged as the best Indian city in terms of quality of living.
- Amongst Indian cities, Mumbai is ranked the highest at 141, followed by Kolkata (149) and Pune (151) in city infrastructure rankings. Bangalore was rated the lowest (177) by the report.
National Crime Records Bureau celebrates its 32nd Inception Day
- Recently, the 32nd Inception Day of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) was celebrated.
- National Crime Records Bureau is an attached office of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- It was established in 1986 with a mandate to empower Indian Police with information technology solutions and criminal intelligence to enable them to enforce the law effectively.
- It is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- It facilitates Investigating Officers with updated IT tools and information in Investigation of Crimes.
- The MHA has entrusted NCRB with a renewed mandate for the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project.
- NCRB has won Digital India Award 2016 for digitizing and uploading ‘Crime in India’ on Opensource Govt. Portal since 1967.
- NCRB has been training Indian and Foreign Police Officers from more than 20 countries since 1990 and till date more than 40,000 Police Officers have been trained.
- Various applications developed by NCRB include Crime & Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), Finger Prints Science, ‘Vahan Samanvay’, ‘TALASH’, Mobile Apps Citizen Complaint, View FIR, Locater, Automated License Plate Reader and NCRB Publications of ‘Crime in India’, ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ and ‘Prison Statistics India’.
Pak. to begin first census in 19 years
- Pakistan is all set to conduct its first census in almost two decades.
- Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with an estimated 200 million people, but has not held a census since 1998, despite a constitutional requirement for one every decade.
Centre Establishes Banana Research Centre in Bihar
- To cater to the needs of the local farmers, the Central Government has established the Banana Research Centre in Gorole, Vaishali, Bihar.
- This area has been selected for the establishment of Banana Research Centre, keeping in view the ecological conditions of this place.
- Bihar and particularly Vaishali district is very suitable for the cultivation of bananas and large scale production of banana can change the fate of farmers.
- With the cooperation of the researchers and with the participation of farmers, this centre would help to bring a new era of banana cultivation in Bihar and surrounding states like it happened in Maharashtra.
- The total production of banana in the country is around 14.2 million tons. India holds number one position in the world in the area of banana production and stands at number three in acreages which is 13 per cent of the entire acreage and 33 per cent of the total production.
- Among the states, Maharashtra is the largest producer followed by Tamil Nadu.
- Productivity of Maharashtra is 65.7 ton/ha, which is more than the average national production of 34.1 ton/ha.
- Average productivity of banana in Bihar is 20.0 ton/ha, which is very less than the national average.
Bangladesh declares March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’
- Bangladesh’s unanimously adopted a resolution declaring March 25 as Genocide Day, in remembrance of the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani Army in the night of March 25, 1971.
- The Pakistan Army swooped on unarmed civilians on the night of March 25, 1971, to crush the Bengali rebellion following refusal by the military leadership to accept the election results of 1970 in which the Awami League got thumping majority.
- ‘Operation Searchlight’ began in the first hours of March 25 in Dhaka.