21st May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Russia unveils world’s first floating nuclear power station (GS-3 science & tech, prelims)
Russia has unveiled the world’s first floating nuclear power station in the port of the city of Murmansk, where it will be loaded with nuclear fuel before heading to eastern Siberia.
1. Akademik Lomonosov was constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom, the 144 by 30 metre holds two reactors with two 35 megawatt nuclear reactors that are similar to those used to power icebreaker ships.
2. It has displacement of 21,500 tonnes and crew of 69 people.
3. It is named after Russian Academician Mikhail Lomonosov. It has latest security systems and is considered as one of safest nuclear installations in the world.
It will be primarily used to power oil rigs as Russia pushes further north into the Arctic to drill for oil and gas and needs electricity in far-flung locations.
1. The low-capacity, mobile (floating) nuclear power plant can produce enough electricity to power town of 200,000 residents living in Russia’s far-flung northernmost Arctic region where large amounts of electricity is not needed’ and construction of conventional power station based on coal, gas and diesel is complicated and costly
2. It can save up to 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year
3. The project is part of Russia’s greater aims to secure rich deposits of oil and gas in North Pole region in Arctic. Due to climate change, new shipping routes are opening up in Russia’s north and as result, it is strengthening its military position in the region
UJALA scheme: EESL distributes over 30 crore LED bulbs across the country (GS-2 Governance)
1. State run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has distributed over 30 crore light emitting diode (LED) bulbs across country under zero-subsidy Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme.
2. The distribution of 30 crore LED bulbs has led to energy savings of over 38,952 million kWh, annually amounting to energy savings of Rs. 15,581 crore
1. The implementation of scheme has increased penetration of LED in domestic market to 10% from mere 0.4% earlier. It has also increased India’s share in global LED market to 12% from a mere 0.1%.
2. It has increased annual LED domestic production rom 30 lakh bulbs to over 6 crore bulbs, simultaneously creating 60,000 jobs.
About Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) Scheme
1. It is zero-subsidy scheme that aims promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and preserve environment.
2. It is LED based Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP). Its purpose is to help reduce electricity bills of consumers and also contribute to energy security of India
3. The scheme was launched in January 2015 and is currently largest LED distribution programme in the world. It is being implemented by EESL, a joint venture of PSU under the Ministry of power.
4. LED Bulbs are distributed. LED bulbs have a very long life, almost 50 times more than ordinary bulbs, and 8-10 times that of CFLs, and therefore provide both energy and cost saving.
Zojila tunnel: PM Narendra Modi launches construction of Asia’s longest road tunnel (GS-2 governance, prelims)
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated construction of Rs 6,809 crore Zojila tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh.
2. It will be India’s and Asia’s longest and strategic bi-directional road tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, kargil & Leh
1. It will be situated at altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1A). It consists of 14.150 km long two-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with parallel 14.200 km long egress (escape) tunnel, making it Asia’s longest bidirectional road tunnel.
2. Its objective is to provide safe, fast and cheap all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in J&K which at moment is limited to at best six months because of snow on mountainous passes and threat of avalanches.
3. The tunnel will have latest safety features like uninterrupted power supply (UPS), tunnel emergency lighting, fully transverse ventilation system, CCTV monitoring, variable message signs (VMS), traffic logging equipment, over height vehicle detection, tunnel radio system etc.
4. The construction project will be implemented by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) through National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode.
MHA agency to ensure crime scene videography (GS-3 Internal Security)
Central oversight body (COB)
1. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set up a central oversight body (COB)
2. Aim: To ensure use of videography at crime scenes and video-recording of statements of witnesses in an effort to prevent botch-up at the crime scene and hostile witnesses, particularly in high-profile cases
Implementation strategy for the first phase
1. The Home Ministry will ensure use of videography at crime scene in the selected cities and states within the next three months
2. Cities with a population of 50 lakh or more, along with at least one district of every remaining state or Union Territory, will be taken up for the project in its first phase
Centre’s proposal for the state
1. As per the proposal, the states will have to introduce digital cameras and establish secured portals, and investigation officers can email photographs taken at the crime scene to these portals
2. The MHA has also suggested that the states set up an oversight mechanism, an independent committee to study CCTV footage installed to check human rights abuse at police stations
PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Kishanganga Hydroelectric project in J&K (GS-2 Governance, prelims)
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 300MW Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project in bandipora district of Jammu & Kashmir.
2. He and laid the Foundation Stone of the Pakal Dul Power Project in Jammu & Kashmir today. Pakal Dul, with 1000 MW capacity, will be the largest Hydro Power Project in Jammu & Kashmir on completion.
Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project
1. It is 37 m high concrete faced rockfill dam (CFRD) constructed on Kishanganga River in Jhelum River basin in Bandipore in Jammu and Kashmir. Its construction was started in 2007 and completed in 2016.
2. It has underground power House with 3 Units of 110 MW capacity each (330 MW).
3. It’s all units were synchronized in May 2018. It will provide a free power of 13% to the state, which will be around Rs. 133 crore per year.
Western Ghats need more attention: IUCN (GS-3 Environment)
Western Ghats and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary face ‘significant concern,’ says the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2 report, putting them in the second highest risk category in the global assessment.
1.The IUCN considered the status of 241 natural world heritage sites. The two Indian areas were so classified based on their values being “threatened” or showing signs of deterioration.
2.The report called for “significant additional conservation measures” to maintain and/or restore values over the medium to long term.
3.The Kaziranga and Sundarbans National Parks were classified as good, with some concerns. There were no Indian sites in the critical category.
4.Many factors severely threatened the Outstanding Universal Value of the region and required coordinated conservation.
5.The 39 serial sites of the Ghats were “under increasing population and developmental pressure” that required intensive and targeted management to conserve existing values and remedy past damage, it said.
6.Grazing, massive pilgrimage tourism and mining are among the identified threats.
7.The report noted that about 50 million people live in the Western Ghats Region, resulting in greater pressures than many protected areas around the world.” Forest loss, encroachment and conversion affected the ghats.
8.In Manas, the threat, although low, came from unsustainable and illegal logging. Monitoring operations by staff was being done. In recent years the level of poaching here had again increased. Recent cases of rhino poaching were linked to the activity of insurgent groups.
9.These groups also reportedly poached deer and buffalo.
‘Green Good deeds movement’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Green Good Deeds, the societal movement launched by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan, to protect environment and promote good living in the country, has found acceptance by the global community. The ongoing BRICS Ministerial on Environment at Durban, South Africa, has agreed to include “Green Good Deeds” in its official agenda in the next Ministerial in Brazil and another meeting in Russia
About the movement
It focuses on his social & public activities and involvement of citizens in “Green Good Deeds” movement, which urges people to perform at least one Green Good Deed every day.
Some of the 500 Green Good Deeds listed in the Mobile App include – planting trees, saving energy, conserving water, use of public transport and promoting carpool.
The objective of transforming Green Good Deeds into a peoples’ movement can be best achieved by starting mass digital campaigns that can reach out to youth and children.
A two-way digital communication tool – ‘Connect with Me’is a unique feature of the Application.
This provides six different ways of direct connection – Social Corner, Send Video/Photo, Join My Initiative, Cast Your Vote, Submit An Idea and Chat Room.
‘NIPAH virus’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Health officials in the south Indian state of Kerala say nine people have died in confirmed and suspected cases of the deadly Nipah virus. Three victims tested positive for the virus in the last fortnight. The results of the remaining six samples will be available later on Monday.
About the Nipah virus
Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.
NiV was first identified during an outbreak of disease that took place in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. On this occasion, pigs were the intermediate hosts. However, in subsequent NiV outbreaks, there were no intermediate hosts. In Bangladesh in 2004, humans became infected with NiV as a result of consuming date palm sap that had been contaminated by infected fruit bats. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India.
NiV infection in humans has a range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. NiV is also capable of causing disease in pigs and other domestic animals. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.
‘New model to detect monsoon variations in India’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have developed a new model for estimating variability and trends in rainfall over different climate regions of the country, which is set to help in improving the existing weather forecasting for both the southwest and northeast monsoons.
About the new model
The new statistical model based on multiple linear regression (MLR) 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.
Need for a new model
Researchers highlight that current dynamic models used for monsoon forecast face two major problems. First, they respond a little too much to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Second, the relationship between Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO) and summer monsoon in models has been found to be opposite to actual observation.
The research is one of the first to have analysed the variability of the Indian monsoon because of these factors together. It confirmed with statistical analysis, that ENSO and EQUINOO are two major drivers for Indian monsoon and explain around 50% variability in monsoon.
About ENSO AND EQUINOO
El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including off the Pacific coast of South America. El Niño Southern Oscillation refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by sea surface temperature, SST, of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. The cool phase of ENSO is called “La Niña” with SST in the eastern Pacific below average and air pressures high in the eastern and low in western Pacific. The ENSO cycle, both El Niño and La Niña, cause global changes of both temperatures and rainfall
During the positive phase of the ‘Equatorial Indian Ocean Oscillation (EQUINOO),’ there is enhanced cloud formation and rainfall in western part of the equatorial ocean near the African coast while such activity is suppressed near Sumatra.
This phase is associated with good rains over India. Its negative phase, when cloud formation and rainfall flares up near Indonesia, retards rains over India.
The fate of the monsoon depends to a large extent on the Pacific Ocean system and EQUINOO
‘Doppler radars’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will add 30 Doppler radars in the next two-three years across the country, of which several will be in the northeast
What are Doppler radars?
Doppler radars provide precise information about thunderstorms, dust storms, hailstorms, rainfall and wind patterns. With a radius of 250km, they help in issuing nowcasts 2-3 hours prior to severe weather events.
The first Doppler radar was installed in Chennai in 2002. Its need became more compelling after the 2005 Mumbai floods. There are currently 27 Doppler radars in the country.
Radar is an object-detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna (often the same antenna is used for transmitting and receiving) and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves (pulsed or continuous) from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object’s location and speed.