Sample-The Hindu-17 and 18 March 2019

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Title

Pollution: 6 States told to submit action plan

SyllabusEnvironment and pollution
Why this news is important?The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed six States to submit by April 30 action plans for bringing air quality standards within the prescribed norms, failing which they would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs. 1 crore each
Key takeaways from this article
  • The tribunal warned that if action plans are not executed within the specified timeline, the defaulting States will be liable to pay environmental compensation and may also be required to furnish performance guarantee for execution of plans in extended timeline as per recommendations received from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • The direction came after the CPCB informed the green panel that out of 102 cities, action plan has been received from 83 cities, while 19 have not submitted it.
  • Concerned over the threat posed to limited natural resources due to their overuse, the tribunal has directed assessment of carrying capacity of 102 cities, including Delhi, where the air quality does not meet the national ambient air quality standards.
  • The concept of “carrying capacity” addresses the question as to how many people can be permitted into any area without the risk of degrading the environment there.
  • The tribunal had said the Ministry of Urban Development in coordination with the CPCB, Ministry of Transport, authorities such as Planning Commission and States, may carry out such study with the assistance of experts in the field.
  • It had said that it is undisputed that air pollution is a matter of serious concern and large number of deaths take place every year in the country on account of air pollution.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWAir pollution in India:

  • The open burning of waste is a large source of toxic air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, black carbon, dioxins, furans, and mercury. Air pollution in India is caused by fuelwood and biomass burning, burning of crop residue in agriculture fields on a large scale, use of adulterated fuel, emission from vehicles and traffic congestion.
  • India is the third largest in the emission of greenhouse gases after China and the United State The severity of air pollution is so much that life expectancy among Indians on an average reduces by 3.4 years while among the residents of Delhi it reduces by almost 6.3 years.
  • It has been found that, around the world, more deaths occur due to poor air quality than water.

 

TitleUN meet dilutes Indian plan to phase out single-use plastics
SyllabusEnvironment and conservation
Why this news is important?An ambitious resolution piloted by India to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, was watered down at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that concluded on Friday in Nairobi.
Key takeaways from this articleThe UNEA has pushed by the deadlines and removed firm timelines for implementation

 

UN Environment 

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWUN Environment Assembly

  • The United Nations Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.
  • It addresses the critical environmental challenges facing the world today.
  • Understanding these challenges and preserving and rehabilitating our environment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The Environment Assembly meets biennially to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law.

 

Impacts of Nitrogen Pollution

  • Reactive nitrogen is implicated in the high concentration of ozone in the loweratmosphere, the eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, the acidification of forests, soils, and freshwater streams and lakes, and losses of biodiversity.
  • In the form of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, nitrogen contributes to global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion.

 

International Nitrogen Initiative

  • The International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) is an international program, set up in 2003 under sponsorship of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP)
  • The program is currently a sustained partner of Future Earth.
  • Objectives of the program is to optimize nitrogen’s beneficial role in sustainable food production.
  • Minimize nitrogen’s negative effects on human health and the environment resulting from food and energy production.

 

Future Earth

  • Future Earth is a global platform for international scientific collaboration, providing the knowledge required for societies in the world to face risks posed by global environmental change and to seize opportunities in a transition to global sustainability.

Future Earth is at its core a ‘federation’ of projects and other initiatives related to Global Environmental Change

 

 

Title

Migration in Bengal delta driven by livelihood issues

SyllabusIndian society
Why this news is important?Economic reasons are the precipitating factor for migration in the Indian Bengal Delta that comprises the Sunderbans reveals an international study titled Deltas, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECMA).
Key takeaways from this article
  • The study also points out that there is huge gender disparity when it comes to those migrating from the region.
  • The study which covers 51 blocks of districts of South and North 24 Parganas reveals that 64% people migrate because of economic reasons, unsustainable agriculture, lack of economic opportunities and debt; 28 % of the migration from the region is for social reasons and about 7% for environmental reasons like cyclones and flooding.
  • The study, held between 2014 and 2018 focusing on three deltas Ganga Brahmaputra Meghna Delta (India and Bangladesh) Volta (Ghana) and Mahanadi (India) looks into the aspect of climate change, adaptation and migration in these deltas.
  • DECMA says people surveyed during the study could not relate to reduced agricultural productivity, increased salinity and change in rainfall pattern as environmental reason for their migration. Only in cases of extreme events like flooding and cyclones resulting in loss of livelihood, did the locals say their migration was due to environmental reasons.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWGender Disparity

  • When it comes to migration in the Indian Bengal Delta, the study finds a huge gender disparity, with men outnumbering women by almost five times. It shows that of the people migrating 83% are men and only 17 % are women. While most of the men migrate due to economic reasons, women do so, driven by mostly social factors.
  • The DECMA report also finds that most migrants both in case of men and women are young, in the age group of 20-30 years.
  • Even though the women are doing all the work back home, they have little freedom to take decisions on their own and have to consult their men over telephone for any major decision.

 

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ECONOMY NEWS

Title

A bond that’s not worth its weight in gold

SyllabusIndian economy
Why this news is important?Indians’ cultural preference for physical gold, coupled with a lack of incentives on the supply side have meant that the Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme, launched in late 2015, is yet to take off in any significant way.
Key takeaways from this article
  • The government had announced the SGB scheme in November 2015 in an effort to wean people away from purchasing physical gold and encouraging them to buy gold bonds instead. The idea was to help reduce the quantity of the yellow metal imported every year, thereby reining in a rising current account deficit.
  • Instead, gold imports have remained at elevated levels. India’s total gold imports stood at 968 tonnes in 2015-16, the year the SGB scheme was introduced. It fell to 780 tonnes the next year but rose again to 955 million tonnes in 2017-18, according to CMIE data. The latest data from the Ministry of Commerce shows that gold imports in the April-December 2018 period stood at about 750 tonnes.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWMissed Targets:

  • The SGB scheme, and the other gold schemes the government had introduced, such as the Gold Monetisation Scheme, have all fared fairly poorly compared with their targets over the years.
  • The government had estimated it would collect 5,000 crore each in 2018-19 and 2019-20 but experience has shown that the actual collections have invariably been lower.
  • Some analysts said the poor response to the SGB scheme is because people prefer physical gold, while others argued that the design of the SGB Scheme is faulty and so, people are not attracted towards it.
  • There is a need to re design the scheme and make it attractive to the Indian Buyers.

 

Title

‘Green’ coffee may brew better farm incomes

SyllabusEnvironment , Indian Agriculture
Why this news is important?Giving fresh hope to coffee growers, the State Industries Department is gearing up to set up a carbon neutral farm project in Wayanad district of Kerala .
Key takeaways from this article
  • A carbon neutral village coffee park would be set up for which the State government had earmarked Rs. 150 crore for first phase construction works.
  • The project envisages doubling the income of coffee farmers of Wayanad who are reeling under an agrarian crisis owing to the low price for produce such as coffee, pepper and arecanut.
  • As many as 1.5 lakh coffee plants would be planted as part of making the region a carbon-neutral zone.
  • Coffee plantations would be categorised taking into account aspects such as local agrarian climate. Scientific care would be ensured during the second phase.
  • Based on this categorisation tag, the products would be taken to local procurement centres.
  • The responsibility for this would be with agricultural cooperatives and producer companies. Ripened coffee beans would be procured from farmers.
  • The beans would be procured from the farmers at prices ranging from 25-100% above the market rate. The amounts would then be transferred to the farmers’ accounts.
  • The value-added coffee powder would be marketed under the brand name of ‘Malabar Coffee.’
  • The project would be implemented under public-private partnership mode with the State government holding 26% equity and the balance given to coffee growers and farmer-producer companies.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWGI Tagged Coffees:

  • Wayanad in north Kerala grows about 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of robusta coffee annually, making it a prominent region in the country cultivating this variety. The Coffee Board had recived GI status for Wayanad coffee, along with Baba Budan Giri, Araku Valley, Coorg and Chikmagalur coffee

 

 

Title

New hydro policy to help meet renewables target

SyllabusIndian economy
Why this news is important?India is endowed with large hydropower potential of 1,45,320 MW. However, only about 45,400 MW has been utilized so far. Further, Only about 10,000 MW of hydropower has been added in the last 10 years. Hence, in order to give a push to the generation of hydro power in India, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has announced major decisions.
Key takeaways from this articleRecent Decision of the CCEA

  • So far, only smaller hydro power projects of less than 25 MW in capacity were categorized as renewable energy.
  • The Government has now decided that Large Hydropower Projects shall be declared as Renewable Energy source.
  • With the removal of this distinction, large hydro projects will be included as a separate category under the non-solar renewable purchase obligation
  • Under this policy, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWClassification of Hydro Projects

Based upon the installed capacity, the hydro power projects are categorized into following:

  • Micro: upto 100 KW
  • Mini: 101KW to 2 MW
  • Small: 2 MW to 25 MW
  • Mega: Hydro projects with installed capacity >= 500 MW

 

Renewable purchase obligation policy

  • Under the Electricity Act, State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) set targets for Discoms, captive power plants and open access consumers to purchase a percentage of their total power requirement from renewable energy sources such as Solar and Wind.
  • There are two types of RPO- Solar RPO and Non-Solar RPO which includes wind, biomass, hydropower.

 

Renewable energy Certificate (REC) Mechanism

  • Although India is abundantly gifted with variety of renewable energy (RE) sources, not all States are endowed with same level of renewable energy sources. Hence, because of this mismatch, DISCOMs in the poor Renewable energy states may find it difficult to meet the RPO obligations.
  • Hence, in order to enable such discoms to meet their RPO obligations, the Government has introduced Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Mechanism.
  • Under this mechanism, the DISCOMs can purchase the RECs from the renewable energy generators in order to meet their RPO obligations.

 

Rationale behind the Cabinet Decision

  • The DISCOMS have been reluctant to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with the Hydro Power generating units due to higher tariff, particularly, in the initial years.

This has in turn hindered investment in the hydro power sector. Against this backdrop, the decision has been taken to adopt measures to promote hydropower sector.

 

 

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SCIENCE AND TECH NEWS

TitleA gel to selectively remove oil or wate
SyllabusSpace, science and tech
Why this news is important?Researchers from IIT Guwahati have been able to change the property of a natural biopolymer, chitosan to repel oil or water.
Key takeaways from this article
  • The biopolymers are materials made from sources such as soybean, corn, cane sugar, cellulose and chitin .
  • The chitosan is mainly obtained from crustacean shells such as shrimps.

 

Details

  • Using certain chemicals, the polymer can be made to switch from water repelling to oil- repelling and vice-versa.
  • One of the possible applications is during oil spills on water surface. The material can be made to remove oil if the spill is less and water if the oil spill is more.
  • The gel can separate kerosene, motor oil, olive oil and even crude oil from water.
  • The gel-based material is mechanically robust and chemically stable.

 

Title
Second Scorpene submarine ready for induction
SyllabusScience and Tech
Why this news is important?The Navy is set to induct the second Scorpene submarine Khanderi by early May. The remaining submarines in the series are in advanced stages of manufacturing and trials.
Key takeaways from this article
  • Khanderi has completed all trials and is in the final stages of acceptance. It is expected to be commissioned into the Navy by end April or early May.
  • Kalvari is the first modern conventional submarine inducted by the Navy in almost two decades.
  • In addition, the Navy currently operates four German HDW class submarines and nine Russian Kilo class submarines.
  • The Navy had last inducted a conventional diesel-electric submarine, INS Sindhushastra , procured from Russia in July 2000.
SOME BASICS YOU SHOULD KNOWAbout Scorpene class submarine

  • The Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by Naval Group. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP).

 

 

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