Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - August 29, 2018

Bilateral Agreements

The Government of India, Government of Rajasthan and World Bank sign a $250 Million Agreement To Support Electricity Distribution Sector Reforms in Rajasthan

What

  • The Government of India, the Government of Rajasthan and the World Bank signed here today a $250 million Development Policy Loan (DPL) to support the Government of Rajasthan in improving the performance of its Electricity Distribution Sector under the State’s 24x7 Power for All program.

Why

  • To improve the performance of DISCOMs in the State.
  • The Second Programmatic Electricity Distribution Reform Development Policy Loan for Rajasthan is the second in the series of two operations planned for a comprehensive turnaround of Rajasthan’s electricity distribution sector.

Enlighten about the areas that the program will support

  • Strengthening Governance in the Distribution Sector in the State by establishing Annual Performance MoUs between the DISCOMs and the State Government
  • Putting in place a Performance Management System
  • Providing incentives to employees for improving performance
  • Financial Restructuring and recovery in the Sector by transferring considerable amounts of the DISCOMs debt to the State
  • Bringing in more discipline in the revenue requirements of DISCOMs
  • Taking initiatives in reducing the costs of energy procurement
  • Improving the operational performance of the DISCOMs through initiatives like publishing feeder level energy audits and increased usage of IT among others.
  • The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 3-year grace period, and a maturity of 21 years.

Government of India and the World Bank sign $300 Million Agreement to help scale-up India’s Energy Efficiency Program

What

  • The Government of India and the World Bank signed here today a $220 million Loan Agreement and a $80 million Guarantee Agreement for the India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program.

Why

  • The financing under the India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program will not only help EESL to continue achieving the results under its existing initiatives but also strengthen its institutional capacity and ability to meet its future expanding needs by leveraging private ESCO industry and increased access to a wider range of external commercial financing sources

Enlighten about the programme

  • The Program, to be implemented by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), will help scale-up the deployment of energy saving measures in residential and public sectors, strengthen EESL’s institutional capacity, and enhance its access to commercial financing.
  • The investments under the Program are expected to avoid lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of 170 million tons of CO2, and contribute to avoiding an estimated 10 GW of additional generation capacity.
  • This would be over 50 percent of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency target of 19.6 GW indicated in India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Accord.
  • The Program will help tackle the financing, awareness, technical and capacity barriers faced by new energy efficiency programs and support the UJALA program of the Government of India.
  • This is one of the several steps being taken by the Government of India to meet its climate change commitments to reduce carbon intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030.

The Key Components of the Operation include:

  • Creating sustainable markets for LED lights and energy efficient ceiling fans; facilitating well-structured and scalable investments in public street lighting; developing sustainable business models for emerging market segments such as super-efficient air conditioning and agricultural water pumping systems; and strengthening the institutional capacity of EESL.
  • The World Bank will support EESL to access new sources of commercial funding, diversify its investor base, and establish a track record for future access to financial markets.

UJALA Program

  • The “Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All” (UJALA) program, EESL has already deployed more than 295 million LED bulbs, resulting in avoiding over 7,500 MW of new electricity generation capacity and bringing a significant drop in retail prices of high quality LED bulbs.
  • The India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program will help EESL expand UJALA’s deployment of efficient ceiling fans, LED street lights and LED tube lights, along with its already-successful LED bulbs procurement and distribution.

Street Lighting National Program (SLNP)

  • Under the Street Lighting National Program (SLNP) of EESL which has installed over 5.8 million LED street lights in three years across more than 500 municipalities
  • The $220 million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to EESL, has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years.

Enlighten about EESL

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is an energy service company (ESCO) of the Government of India and is the world's largest public ESCO.
  • It is 100% government owned, a joint venture of state-owned NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
  • EESL was formed under India's Ministry of Power to facilitate energy efficiency projects.
  • Innovative business and implementation models can significantly reduce consumption and costs.
  • EESL also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of state electricity distribution companies, electricity regulatory commissions (ERCs), state-designated agencies (SDAs), upcoming ESCOs, financial institutions, etc.

Department of Space

ISRO to send first Indian into Space by 2022 - Gaganyaan — India's maiden human spaceflight programme Chandrayaan-2 scheduled to be launched in January, 2019

What

  • India’s first Indian human mission will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022.
  • The ISRO Chairman, Dr. K. Sivan said that ISRO has the capabilities to accomplish this task by the given timeframe.
  • The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission.
  • So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions.

Enlighten about the developments (as of now)

  • ISRO has developed some critical technologies like re-entry mission capability, crew escape system, crew module configuration, thermal protection system, deceleration and floatation system, sub-systems of life support system etc. required for this programme.
  • Some of these technologies have been demonstrated successfully through the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-2007), Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE-2014) and Pad Abort Test (2018).
  • These technologies will enable ISRO in accomplishing the programme objectives in a short span of 4 years.
  • GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, which has the necessary payload capability for this mission, will be used to launch Gaganyaan.
  • Two unmanned Gaganyaan missions will be undertaken prior to sending humans.
  • The total programme is expected to be completed before 2022 with first unmanned flight within 30 months.
  • The mission will aim to send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days.
  • The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400km. The total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs. 10,000 crores.

Gaganyan

  • It will comprise of a crew module and service module that constitute an orbital module.
  • It weighs approximately 7 tonnes, and will be carried by a rocket. The crew module’s size will be 3.7 mts x 7 mts.
  • The crew will do microgravity experiment during the mission.
  • The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
  • While ISRO has perfected the engineering aspects of the mission, bioscience is a new field for ISRO and requires collaboration and support from other organizations.

Chandrayaan-2

  • It is scheduled to be launched in January, 2019.
  • The Mission will have an orbiter weighing 2379 kg, lander named Vikram weighing 1471 kg and a rover weighing 27 kg.

Biotechnology

Jatropha seeds

What

  • India’s first -ever environment friendly biofuel powered flight between Dehradun and Delhi was propelled by blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel.
  • This plane had carried blend of 25% of bio jet fuel (derived from jatropha seeds) and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in one of the two engines of plane, while other carried only ATF.

Benefits

  • Bio jet fuel is greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral, carbon neutral, reduces air pollution.
  • Capping its blending with aviation turbine fuel will help to bring down import bill on crude oil.
  • The use of bio jet fuel will help in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 15% and sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions by over 99%.

Jatropha

  • Jatropha is drought-resistant perennial plant that can grow in marginal or poor soil.
  • It is grows relatively quickly and lives, produces seeds for 50 years.
  • It is found to be growing in many parts of the country, especially in rugged terrain and can survive with minimum inputs and easy to propagate.
  • It seeds has oil content of 37% which be combusted as fuel without being refined.
  • It has been tested successfully as fuel for simple diesel engine.
  • Its oil also acts as insecticide. Moreover, by products of its seeds like press cake is good organic fertilizer.
  • Jatropha also has medicinal properties and is used for diseases like cancer, piles, snakebite, paralysis, dropsy etc.
  • Aviation biofuel derived from Jatropha seeds It was indigenously developed by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) lab based in Dehradun along with Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP).

Environment Report

India’s most polluted cities 30% of them have no clean up plan

What

  • According to a list maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of the 102 cities singled out by the Centre for their alarming pollution levels, only 73 have submitted a plan of remedial action to the CPCB.
  • Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Jaipur are among the prominent cities that are yet to submit their plans.

National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP)

  • As part of the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) the CPCB has marked these non – attainment cities – to implement 42 measures aimed at mitigating air pollution.
  • These included steps such as implementing control and mitigation measures related to vehicular emissions, re-suspension of road dust and other fugitive emissions, bio-mass, municipal solid waste burning, industrial pollution, and construction and demolition activities.
  • The directives to take remedial measures were initially issued to Delhi NCR, and subsequently to the State Pollution Control Boards for implementation in other ‘non-attainment’ cities.

Non-attainment cities

  • The non-attainment cities are those that have fallen short of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for over five years.
  • The aim of pollution mitigation measures was to cut overall pollution in these cities by 35% in the next three years.

WHO Report

  • In May, the World Health Organisation said that Delhi and Varanasi were among 14 Indian cities that figured in a global list of the 20 most polluted cities in terms of PM2.5 levels.
  • Other Indian cities with very high levels of PM2.5 particulates were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur, followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and some cities in China and Mongolia.

Enlighten about P.M 2.5

  • Particle pollution is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets. EPA Victoria monitors the air for two categories of particle size: PM2.5 and PM10. These particles are very small and are measured in micrometres.
  • PM2.5 particles are smaller than 2.5 micrometres (0.0025 mm) in diameter. Often described as fine particles, they are up to 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
  • PM2.5 particles are small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs. This can cause health effects. Children, people over 65, pregnant women and people with existing heart or lung conditions (including asthma) are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in fine particles. Symptoms may include wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.

International

China’s ‘Type 002’ begins sea trials

What

  • China’s second aircraft carrier, Type 002, has started the second phase of sea trials
  • The second sea trial to mainly verify the carrier’s communication, navigation and other electronic and mechanical instruments.

Not a game changer

  • It appears similar to Liaoning — China’s only aircraft carrier bought from Ukraine.
  • The Liaoning underwent 10 sea trials starting in August 2011 before entering service in September 2012.
  • The new warship has an estimated displacement of around 50,000 tonnes, similar to that of Liaoning.
  • Type 002 retains conventional propulsion and a ski-jump for assisted takeoffs, quite like the Liaoning.
  • There are only minor changes in the superstructure, including new advanced electronically scanned array radars.
  • The new carrier will board 24 to 30 J-15 fighters — slightly more than Liaoning.
  • China is also working on a third aircraft carrier in Shanghai, which will stand in the premier league of similar platforms.
  • The Type 003 is being developed on the same lines as the U.S. Navy’s super-carriers, says another National Interest article.
  • The new ship will be powered by a nuclear engine.
  • It is estimated that by 2020, the Chinese Navy will have 351 warships — a significant advance from the present level, but no match to the heavy arsenal of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command spread across a string of military bases in the Indo-Pacific.

Sources – PIB ,The Hindu , Indian Express