17th May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana: Cabinet approves Micro Irrigation Fund under NABARD
Fund for micro-irrigation project
The government has approved a dedicated Rs 5,000 crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmers income
Particulars of the fund
1. The fund has been set up under NABARD
2. It will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest to promote micro-irrigation
3. An allocation of Rs2,000 crore has been made for this fiscal while Rs3,000 crore has been earmarked for the 2019-20 fiscal
4. NABARD will extend the loan to state governments during this period
More about the fund
1. The dedicated fund would supplement the efforts of PMKSY programme and help bring about 10 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation
2. The fund will facilitate States to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC to achieve the annual target of about 2 million hectares per year during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission
Low interest rate
1. Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years
2. The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD
3. This cost would be met from the ongoing scheme of PMKSY-PDMC (per drop more crop component) by amending the existing guidelines
Low coverage: Micro-Irrigation
It currently has a coverage of only 10 million hectares as against the potential of 70 million hectares
1.National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex development financial institution in India, headquartered at Mumbai.
2. NABARD was established on the recommendations of B.Sivaraman Committee, (by Act 61, 1981 of Parliament) on 12 July 1982 to implement the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act 1981
3. The Bank has been entrusted with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.
4. NABARD is the most important institution in the country which looks after the development of the cottage industry, small scale industry and village industry, and other rural industries.
5. NABARD also reaches out to allied economies and supports and promotes integrated development.
Cabinet approves National Policy on Biofuels -2018
The Union Cabinet has approved National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 in order to promote biofuels in the country
1. The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
2. The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
3. Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
4. With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.
5. The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
6. Roles and responsibilities of all the concerned Ministries/Departments with respect to biofuels has been captured in the Policy document to synergise efforts.
1. Reduce Import Dependency: One crore lit of E10 saves Rs.28 crore of forex at current rates. The ethanol supply year 2017-18 is likely to see a supply of around 150 crore litres of ethanol which will result in savings of over Rs.4000 crore of forex.
2. Cleaner Environment: One crore lit of E-10 saves around 20,000 ton of CO2 emissions. For the ethanol supply year 2017-18, there will be lesser emissions of CO2 to the tune of 30 lakh ton. By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.
3. Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases.
4. MSW Management: It is estimated that, annually 62 MMT of Municipal Solid Waste gets generated in India. There are technologies available which can convert waste/plastic, MSW to drop in fuels. One ton of such waste has the potential to provide around 20% of drop in fuels.
5. Infrastructural Investment in Rural Areas: It is estimated that, one 100klpd bio refinery will require around Rs.800 crore capital investment. At present Oil Marketing Companies are in the process of setting up twelve 2G bio refineries with an investment of around Rs.10,000 crore.
6. Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.
7. Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same
Railways to install ‘panic button’ in trains for women safety
(GS-2 social justice)
With a view to strengthen security of women passengers in trains, the North Eastern Railway (NER) plans to deploy women police personnel on trains during night hours as well as install ‘panic buttons’ in coaches.
1. Currently, women passengers have to depend on either on helpline numbers by call or SMS, or on chain-pulling in emergency situation, but with this system immediate action can be taken, he said.
2. Among the other measures proposed to ensure women safety are having a different colour on the coaches earmarked for women for easy identification, wire mesh in windows of ladies coaches.
3. Railways also proposed month-wise calendar of activities with focus on women security and gender sensitisation and upgradation of all-India security helpline.
4. It also proposes CCTV cameras in women coaches of sub-urban trains with live feed if possible, CCTV cameras on platforms to cover ladies coaches during halt of trains, amendment in the Railways Act to ensure enhanced punishment for offences pertaining to women, he said.
5. It also intends special drive under the Railways Act to prosecute offenders.
Scientists develop new model to determine monsoon variations across India
New model for estimating variability and trends in rainfall
1. Scientists have developed a new model for estimating variability and trends in rainfall over different climate regions of the country
2. The new statistical model based on multiple linear regression (MLR)
3. It has been developed by scientists from the Centre for Oceans, Rivers, Atmosphere and Land Sciences (CORAL), IIT Kharagpur, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad
Complexities in Predicting Monsoon Variability
1. Indian monsoon, both southwest and northeast is complex
2. It depends on various climatic forcings (conditions) like El Nino, Indian Ocean Dipole, which affect rainfall in different regions, in different ways
3. Researchers highlight that current dynamic models used for monsoon forecast face two major problems
4. First, they respond a little too much to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
5. Second, the relationship between Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO) and summer monsoon in models has been found to be opposite to actual observation
6. If we can improve our understanding of EQUINOO’s impact on monsoon, then we can make corrections in the dynamic model and improve our teleconnections. This will help us get an accurate monsoon forecast
Importance of this weather model
1. The research is one of the first to have analyzed the variability of the Indian monsoon because of these factors together
2. It confirmed with statistical analysis, that ENSO and EQUINOO are two major drivers for Indian monsoon and explain around 50% variability in monsoon
3. Such studies would help scientists to better tune their models for accurate weather prediction
4. The research assumes significance as the monsoon decides the livelihood of more than a billion people and influences the agrarian economy which is largely dependent on its accurate forecast
V.K. Singh makes surprise visit to North Korea
Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Retd.) V.K.Singh has reached Pyongyang for talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) government, the official Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported.
1. During the visit on May 15-16, that was previously unannounced, Mr. Singh met with DPRK Vice President Kim Yong Dae, and the Foreign and Culture ministers on “a range of issues covering political, regional, economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries,” a statement from the MEA said.
2. According to the statement, DPRK officials discussed recent peace initiatives with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as well as proposed talks with the United States. Mr. Singh raised the issue of DPRK links with Pakistan.
3. Minister highlighted the threat from nuclear proliferation, in particular India’s concerns in the context of the proliferation linkages with India’s neighbourhood. The DPRK side emphasized that as a friendly country DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India’s security,” the statement added.
4. The visit by Gen. Singh and the secrecy surrounding it suggests that India is trying to quietly rebuild ties with the reclusive regime, ostracized by most of the world due to its defiance of UNSC norms on nuclear weapons. In the past year, India had joined the U.S. and allies in statements “deploring” nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests by the DPRK, although it had earlier refrained from similarly strong language.
5. In March 2017, the government even issued a gazette notification instituting major restrictions on any trade with North Korea other than essentials like food and medicines.
India- 3rd largest solar market
1. India emerged as the third largest solar market in the world in 2017 behind China and the US.
2. According to a report by Mercom Communications India set a new record with 9.6 GW of solar installations in 2017,
3. It was more than double the 4.3 GW installed in 2016.
4. The large-scale project development accounted for 92 per cent of the all-time cumulative solar installations in India.
5. The Government has also recently released the National solar-wind hybrid policy to improve the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix.
6. The policy provides for a comprehensive framework to promote large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid system.
Sanctuaries that conserve Great Indian Bustard (prelims)
Recently, officially confirmed reports stated that there have been no sightings of the bird for the last few years at both the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary (and Ghatigaon Sanctuary) in Gwalior district and the Karera Sanctuary in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh.
About Indian bustard
1. The great Indian bustard (or simply Indian bustard) is a large, white-and-brown bird with wing markings and a black crown.
2. A bird native to India and Pakistan, it has today lost almost 90 % of its original habitats.
3. It is believed to have disappeared from States such as Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
4. The largest population is found in Rajasthan, with a few birds in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The following are the sanctuaries that shelter the great Indian bustard.
Desert National Park, Thar Desert, Rajasthan
1. It is the State bird of Rajasthan.
2. The Desert National Park is spread across Jaisalmer and Barmer districts of Rajasthan.
3. The Park also welcomes the migrant Houbara Bustard and several other bird species
Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Gujarat
1. The sanctuary is dominated by vast swathes of grasslands.
2. It was declared a sanctuary in 1992
Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra
1. It is also known as the Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary of Maharashtra.
2. This sanctuary is located in Ninnaj, over 20 km from the city of Solapur.
3. Unconfirmed reports suggest that today those sprawling grasslands are home to perhaps not a single bustard.
Scientists have developed a flexible, honeycomb like material could eliminate pollution
Scientists have developed a flexible, 3D porous material that mimics the shape of a honeycomb and could help filtering air to remove pollutants or viruses.
1. Both the lattice of a honeycomb and the symmetry of a diatom are complex living structures comprising patterns and shapes that have long provided inspiration for scientists.
2. One recent application is to develop artificial hierarchical porous materials that are stable, yet have a large surface area and the ability to selectively extract materials. It has been difficult however to build these structures at the nano scale due to their complexity and pattern repeatability across scales from the individual compartments to the whole structure.
3. A team from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, has proposed a simple method that, in just five minutes, can produce a flexible film with a complex hierarchical structure that has repeating patterns of interconnected, regularly shaped pores.
4. By using this method they create an important platform to design artificial porous materials that replicate highly ordered porous and complex systems mimicking nature.
5. These have potential use for separations, such as virus filtration, and for biological scaffolds, such as those used for bone regeneration.