Polity & Governance
- New steps to enhance transparency in Power Sector
- Web Portal for Star Rating of Major Mineral Mines
Environment & Ecology
- BARC develops portable kit for detection of Chromium contamination of water
- Sunshine, seaweed help to break down dye waste
- BRO Launches Ambitious Tree Plantation Drive
Bilateral & International Relations
- MoU signed between India and Bangladesh
Defence & Security Issues
- Maharashtra launches India’s first Crime Criminal Tracking Network System
Science & Technology
- Global Innovation Index: India moves up to 66th rank this year
Key Facts for Prelims
- Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
- Airlander 10
Polity & Governance
New steps to enhance transparency in Power Sector
The Union Ministry of Mines opened a new chapter to enhance transparency in power transmission sector of the country by launching the ‘TARANG’ Mobile App, ‘e-Trans’ & ‘DEEP’ e-bidding web portals.
- These app and web portals are developed by Rural Electrification Corporation Transmission Projects Company Limited (RECTPCL), a subsidiary of REC Ltd.
Implications of the move:
- Introduction of the electronic platform shall enhance ease, accountability & transparency.
- It would boost confidence of investors in power transmission sector.
- Better price discovery shall ultimately benefit the power consumers in India.
- TARANG is a powerful monitoring tool that tracks upcoming transmission projects and monitor the progress of Inter-State & Intra-State transmission systems in the country.
- It is being developed through Regulated tariff mechanism as well as Tariff Based Competitive Bidding(TBCB) route.
- TARANG shall also include status of stalled/delayed transmission systems in country which would enable the stakeholders viz. Ministry of Power, State Governments, all private sector transmission developers and PSUs like Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., for expeditious completion of such projects.
- Green Energy Corridors, an important component of our renewable energy mission, would also be monitored through TARANG.
- ‘e-Trans’ is a web platform for e-bidding and e-reverse auction for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) in transmission projects.
- Till date transmission sector providers have been participating in transmission bids through manual mode. With e-Trans, the interface will be electronic.
‘DEEP’ (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price):
- ‘DEEP’ is an e-Bidding’ portal for medium term (1-5 years) purchase of power
- The Portal will provide a common e-bidding platform with e-reverse auction facility to facilitate nation-wide power procurement through a wider network so as to bring uniformity and transparency in the process of power procurement.
Web Portal for Star Rating of Major Mineral Mines
The Union Ministry of Mines launched a web portal for star rating of major mineral mines.
- The main objective of this system is to bring all mines to a minimum standard of Star Rating in the shortest possible time frame to adopt sustainable practices.
- A web enabled online system for evaluation of measures has been developed with the help of National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG), Hyderabad.
- Based on the performance of the mining leases, a one to five-star rating would be given to the mines.
- The Star Rating will be done initially for mines of major minerals.
- The positive impact of getting higher Star Rating will drive miners to quickly adopt sustainable mining practices.
- The Scheme of Star Rating will be a vital step for ensuring compliance of environmental protection and social responsibility by the mining sector
The star rating will be based on the following parameters:
- Scientific and systematic mining to mitigate environmental impact.
- Addressing social impacts of resettlement and rehabilitation of mining affected people.
- Local community engagements and welfare programmes for socio-economic development of local community.
- Progressive and final mine closure to ensure for restoration of mined out land in better conditions then original.
- Adoption of international standards for mining operations and reporting.
The main advantages of the Star Rating of Mines will be:
- Comprehensive mitigation of environmental impacts on land, air and water by mining activities.
- Collation of various technical, environmental and social data of the mining sector at one platform by IBM, which would be utilised to enable better management and monitoring of the compliance of various conditions laid down by statutory authorities for mining.
- In addressing cumulative impacts in mining areas through coordinated and collective action in the long run by helping in formulation of Comprehensive Regional Plans, which is a robust Environment & Social Management framework.
- Availability of the information on mining as well as the conservation activities in public domain to enable greater transparency to enable effective participation of stakeholder and speedy resolution of conflicts.
- Reduced delays in obtaining various clearances (environmental, forest, mining plan, etc.) for mines. Self-certification to be allowed for the approvals for scheme of mining.
- The progressive and final mine closures will be monitored to ensure that the lessee leaves the area after proper management of any adverse impact over the mined area.
- Encourage adoption of highest standards and sharing and good practices.
Environment & Ecology
BARC develops portable kit for detection of Chromium contamination of water
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed a kit for onsite determination of toxic Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI) in drinking water.
- The detection kit is simple, user friendly, quick and cost effective kit for onsite determination of Cr(VI) in drinking water.
- It meets Indian standard IS10500 for drinking water as well as US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criterion.
- It provides the much needed solution to measure the level of Chromium contamination in drinking water and tap water, lakes, rivers as well as ground water.
How is it measured?
- The procedure involves adding a specified amount of specific reagents to the water sample and identifying the developed colour. The colour develops within 5 minutes and the distinction can be made with naked eye. For ease of comparison a colour chart is provided with the kit.
- The detection kit is cost effective and cheap compared to imported onsite detection kits. Existing kits are currently imported and the cost of analysis is beyond Rs.100 per sample. In comparison, analysis using BARC kit costs Rs.16 per sample.
- Onsite detection and instantaneous results.
- Eliminates need of sophisticated instruments for analysis.
- Low investment on infrastructure for production of the kit.
- Easy availability of raw materials.
- Has very good accuracy for the intended purpose.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Cr(VI) as carcinogenic and can cause stomach ulcers, cancers and severely damage kidneys and liver.
- As per Indian standard IS10500 for drinking water, maximum permissible concentration of Cr(VI) in drinking water is 50 microgram per litre. The US EPA recommends a still lower permissible concentration of 10 microgram per liter.
- Chromium is widely used in various industries like steel, leather, chrome plating, paint manufacturing, wood preservation etc.
- Untreated effluents from these industries cause widespread contamination of water and has been reported in several parts of the country.
- Chromium in the environment primarily exists as Trivalent Chromium Cr(III) and Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI). The Cr(VI) is more toxic compared to Cr(III).
Sunshine, seaweed help to break down dye waste
The researchers at the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Bhavanagar, Gujarat developed a photocatalyst using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan to degrade the dyes.
- This photocatalyst is able to completely degrade three industrial dyes — methyl orange, methylene blue and reactive black-5.
- The photocatalyst was developed using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan (a substance extracted from purple and red seaweeds).
- Titanium dioxide was used for photocatalytic degradation of industrial dyes, but it took long time to degrade dyes.
- The researchers from CSMCRI doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles with sulphur and carbon by treating it with carrageenan.
- The nanocomposite was found to behave as an excellent photocatalyst that degraded the industrial dyes quickly in a single-step process.
- The photocatalyst was found to degrade the dyes when exposed to direct sunlight. When a solar concentrator is used, the intensity of the degradation process of dyes also increased.
Significance of the nanocomposites:
- The nanocomposites are thermally stable and can be reused up to six times with the degradation efficiency remaining at over 97 per cent.
- The nanocomposite photocatalyst can safely and completely treat harmful dyes in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner
- Annually, more than 500 tonnes of non-degradable textile colour wastes are being disposed of in natural streams without adequate treatments.
- Despite stringent environmental regulations, a comprehensive method of treating industrial dye is not available.
- The methods available are expensive and do not completely break down the dye molecules to non-toxic constituents but merely concentrate the contaminants.
BRO Launches Ambitious Tree Plantation Drive
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) recently launched a massive tree plantation drive in the Northern & Eastern states of India.
- This is one of the biggest ever tree plantation drive undertaken by the BRO, organised with the aim to protect the ecology and increase the green cover along the border areas of the Country.
About the BRO:
Works under Ministry of Defence, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is one of the premier road construction agencies of the country.
- It develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries.
- It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
- Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
- Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
Bilateral & International Relations
MoU signed between India and Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Route Permit for carrying Petroleum Goods to Tripura via Bangladesh.
- The MoU was signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and the Roads and Highways Department of Bangladesh in Dhaka.
- The MoU enables IOCL to send its trucks carrying High Speed Diesel, Motor Spirit, Superior Kerosene Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Meghalaya to Tripura via territory of Bangladesh.
- The validity of this facility is till end of September, 2016.
- Besides, both sides have also agreed to extend the transit facility for a further short period on need basis.
Defence & Security Issues
Maharashtra launches India’s first Crime Criminal Tracking Network System
Maharashtra recently became the first state in the country to launch India’s first crime-criminal tracking network system (CCTNS).
- Maharashtra government launched the CCTNS through 42 cyber labs inaugurated simultaneously.
- The CCTNS has been developed by Pune based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).
- Through this network, all police stations would be connected with each other. Similarly, cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur would be entirely brought under CCTV.
- Under the project, the state government will raise a special cyber police force of about 1000 policemen, who would be trained to handle cyber crimes.
- It will be available to address cyber security concerns of private organisations and banks among others.
- The laboratory network will also offer cyber security to private institutions including banks.
- Cyber labs will be linked with secure high-speed fibre optic cable network.
Science & Technology
Global Innovation Index: India moves up to 66th rank this year
India scored a major improvement in its Global Innovation Index ranking this year, moving up to the 66th place from 81 in 2015.
About the Global Innovation Index:
- It is the annual index, released by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University, and the multi-nation business graduate school INSEAD.
- It has been ranking world economies since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities using more than 80 indicators, including education, R&D, patent filings, knowledge and technology inputs and institutions.
Highlights of the report:
- Switzerland had ranked first in the 2015 index as well.
- Overall, Switzerland emerged as the global leader followed by Sweden, the UK, the US and Finland.
- China figured at the 25th position (29 in 2015), the only middle-income country in the top 25.
- Among middle income countries, India (25) came second after China (17) in innovation quality, overtaking Brazil (27).
- According to the report, India was starting to excel in ICT and creative goods exports, setting a good example of how policy was improving the innovation environment.
Reason for India’s better performance:
- India’s better performance in the latest index readings was due to its strengths in tertiary education, software exports, corporate R&D and market sophistication.
Key Facts for Prelims
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is an international quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport through arbitration.
Its headquarters are in Lausanne (Switzerland) and its courts are located in New York, Sydney and Lausanne. Temporary courts are established in current Olympic host cities.
Generally speaking, a dispute may be submitted to the CAS only if there is an arbitration agreement between the parties which specifies recourse to the CAS. According to rule 61 of the Olympic Charter, all disputes in connection with the Olympic Games can only be submitted to CAS.
In its recent verdict, the court has banned wrestler Indian Narsingh Yadav for four years following an appeal by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Airlander 10 is the world’s largest and longest aircraft. Recently, it has embarked its maiden flight at an airfield in Cardington in central England. It is a hybrid airship made by Hybrid Air Vehicles in United Kingdom.
Airlander 10 is hybrid ship i.e. it is a partly plane and partly airship filled with helium gas. It can stay airborne for more than two weeks unmanned and up to five days if manned.
It was first developed for the US Government as a surveillance aircraft, but the project was shelved amid defence cutbacks. It can also be used for commercial purpose.