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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 24th March to 28th March – 2020

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  • March 30, 2020
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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 24th to 28th March, 2020

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GS 2

High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister approves Rs. 5,751.27 crore of additional Central assistance to 8 States

HLC approved additional Central assistance of Rs 5751.27 crore to eight States from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) subject to the adjustment of 50% of balances available in the SDRF account as on 1st April of the financial year – 

  • Rs 953.17 crore to Bihar (of this Rs. 400 crore already released ‘on account basis’), 
  • Rs. 460.77 crore to Kerala, 
  • Rs. 177.37 crore to Nagaland, 
  • Rs 179.64 crore to Odisha, 
  • Rs 1758.18 crore to Maharashtra, 
  • Rs. 1119.98 crore to Rajasthan, 
  • Rs. 1090.68 crore to West Bengal for floods/ landslides /cyclone, drought (kharif) during 2019
  • Rs. 11.48 crore to Karnataka towards additional assistance under Animal Husbandry sector for drought (rabi) of 2018-19

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Germany in Railway sector

This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for technological cooperation in Railway Sector will enable cooperation in the following areas:

  • Freight operations (including cross-border transport, automotive transport and logistics,)
  • Passenger operations (including high-speed and cross-border traffic),
  • Infrastructure building and management (including dedicated freight corridors and development of passenger stations),
  • Development of a modern, competitive railway organization (including the improvement of organizational structures and railway reformation),
  • IT   solutions   for railway operations, marketing   and sales as well as administrative purposes,
  • Predictive Maintenance,
  • Private train operations

Background:

Ministry of Railways have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs)/ Memorandums of Cooperation (MoCs)/ Administrative Arrangements (AAs)/ Joint Declarations of Intent (JDIs) for technical cooperation in the rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways in respect of identified areas of cooperation, which include high speed rail, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure etc.

Cabinet approves recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks to improve their Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for continuation of the process of recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) by providing minimum regulatory capital to RRBs for another year beyond 2019-20, that is, up to 2020-21 for those RRBs which are unable to maintain minimum Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 9%, as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India.

The CCEA also approved utilization of Rs.670 crore as central government share for the scheme of Recapitalization of RRBs (i.e. 50% of the total recapitalization support of Rs.1340 crore), subject to the condition that the release of Central Government’s share will be contingent upon the release of the proportionate share by the sponsor banks.

Benefits

  • A financially stronger and robust Regional Rural Banks with improved CRAR will enable them to meet the credit requirement in the rural areas.   
  • As per RBI guidelines, the RRBs have to provide 75% of their total credit under PSL (Priority Sector Lending). RRBs are primarily catering to the credit and banking requirements of agriculture sector and rural areas with focus on small and marginal farmers, micro & small enterprises, rural artisans and weaker sections of the society. In addition, RRBs also provide lending to micro/small enterprises and small entrepreneurs in rural areas. With the recapitalization support to augment CRAR, RRBs would be able to continue their lending to these categories of borrowers under their PSL target, and thus, continue to support rural livelihoods.

Cabinet approves construction of Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for taking up construction of Aligarh-Harduaganj flyover by Ministry of Railways.
  • The project is expected to be completed by 2024-25 at a cost of over Rs. 1285 crore.

GS 3

Scientists of ARI, Pune develop biofortified, high protein wheat variety

Developed: MACS 4028, which shows high protein content

The wheat variety developed by the ARI scientists group on Wheat improvement, shown high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.

Wheat crop in India is grown under six diverse agroclimatic zones. In the peninsular zone of India (Maharashtra and Karnataka states), wheat cultivation is majorly done under rainfed and limited irrigation conditions. Under such conditions, the crop experiences moisture stress. Hence, there is a high demand for drought-tolerant varieties.

Glaciers in Sikkim are losing mass faster than other parts of the Himalaya

Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun an autonomous research institute for the study of Geology of the Himalaya under the Department of Science and Technology, have found that glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions.

The study published in Science of the Total Environment assessed the response of 23 glaciers of Sikkim to climate change for the period of 1991-2015 and revealed that glaciers in Sikkim have retreated and deglaciated significantly from 1991 to 2015. Small-sized glaciers in Sikkim are retreating while larger glaciers are thinning due to climate change.

  • Compared to other Himalayan regions, the magnitude of dimensional changes and debris growth are higher in the Sikkim.  
  • A major shift in glacier behavior has occurred around 2000. 
  • Contrary to the western and central Himalaya, where glaciers are reported to have slowed down in recent decades, the Sikkim glaciers have shown negligible deceleration after 2000.
  • Summer temperature rise has been prime driver of glacier changes.

The Study

To understand the various parameters of Sikkim Himalayas glaciers such as length, area, debris cover, snow-line altitude (SLA), and how they respond to global warming Scientists from WIHG selected 23 representative glaciers from this region. A detailed and rigorous literature survey related to the study was carried out to assess the existing knowledge in the subject. Thereafter, representative glaciers well spread over the study area were selected based on multiple criteria such as size, length, debris cover, slope, aspect, and so on. Then, the multi-temporal and multi-sensor satellite data covering selected glaciers was procured. The team analyzed the results and compared with existing studies, and the impact of various influencing factors was systematically explored to understand the glaciers state.      

The behavior of glaciers in the region is heterogeneous and found to be primarily determined by glacier size, debris cover, and glacial lakes. Though a generalized mass loss is observed for both small (less than 3 km square) and large-sized glaciers (greater than 10 km square), they seem to adopt different mechanisms to cope with the ongoing climatic changes. While the first adjust mostly by deglaciation, the latter lose mass through downwasting or thinning.

The Sikkim glaciers have been poorly studied till now, and field-based mass balance measurements have been limited to only one glacier (ChangmeKhangpu) and for a short period (1980-1987). The studies are regional in nature and do no give emphasis on individual glacier behavior. Besides, most of the existing measurements in this region have been focused on length/area changes only. Velocity estimations have also been extremely rare.

This study, for the first time, studied multiple glacier parameters, namely length, area, debris cover, snowline altitude (SLA), glacial lakes, velocity, and downwasting, and explored interlinkage among them to present a clear picture about status and behavior of glaciers in the Sikkim.

  • Accurate knowledge of magnitude as well as the direction of glacier changes, as highlighted in the present study, can lead to awareness among common people regarding water supplies and possible glacier hazards, particularly to those communities that are living in close proximity. 
  • The study can provide ample baseline data on glacier changes and systematically explore the causal relationship between glacier parameters and various influencing factors. 
  • A clear understanding of glacier state will help orienting future studies as well as taking necessary measures.   

IIT Bombay INSPIRE fellow developing quantum chemistry based software useful for radiation therapy

Recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award instituted by Department of Science & Technology,  Dr. Achintya Kumar Dutta from IIT Bombay along with his research group is working to develop new methods for quantum chemistry and implement them in efficient and free software to study electron attachment to aqueous DNA which has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.

Quantum chemistry is one of the new branches of chemistry which tries to understand the chemical properties of atoms and molecules without performing a lab experiment. Instead, in quantum chemistry, the Scientists try to solve the Schrödinger equation for the molecules, and it gives every measurable quantity about that particular molecule, without actually doing the measurement. However, the mathematical equations resulting from the application of the Schrodinger equation are very complicated and can only be solved using computers. Therefore, one needs to develop new theories and write efficient computer programs to solve these equations.

Indian scientists are at the forefront of the new theory development for quantum chemistry. However, the progress in translating those theories into practically useable computer software is somewhat limited. This is particularly surprising in the view of having a thriving Indian IT industry and extremely talented software professionals who are of global repute.

On the software

  • The efficiency of these newly developed quantum chemistry methods allows the research group to solve the Schrodinger equation for the attachment of electrons to DNA in the presence of the bulk aqueous environment. 
  • The deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is the carrier of genetic information in human body, and electron attachment to DNA is one of the crucial steps in radiation damage to human cells. His team has shown that the electron attachment to DNA solvated in bulk waterhappens through a doorway mechanism, and the presence of the aqueous environment allows this electron attachment to take place at an ultrafast time scale. This newly proposed mechanism of electron attachment to aqueous DNA has big implications in radiation therapy-based treatment of cancer.
  • This study can help in the development of a new class of radio-sensitizers, which makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy and thereby protects the normal cells. Computational modeling can greatly reduce the development cost of new radio-sensitizers, both in terms of money and time.

ARCI develops technology to improve fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines

International Advanced Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), has developed ultrafast laser surface texturing technology, which can improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines.

Laser surface micro-texturing, which offers precise control of the size, shape and density of micro-surface texture features has gained momentum as a way to control friction and wear. In this technology, a pulsating laser beam creates micro-dimples or grooves on the surface of materials in a very controlled manner. Such textures can trap wear debris when operating under dry sliding conditions and sometimes provide effects like enhancing oil supply (lubricant reservoir) which can lower friction coefficients and may enable reduced wear rate.

The texture surfaces were created on automotive internal combustion engine components, piston rings and cylinder liners using 100 fs pulse duration laser. The micro dimples of 10-20 μm diameter and about 5-10 μm deep which have been created with laser beams had a regular pattern.  The created textures were tested in an engine test rig under different speeds and temperatures of coolant and lubrication oil, and it was observed that there was a 16% reduction in the lube oil consumption with the use of texture on the piston rings. The 10-hour lube oil consumption test shows that the blowby substantially reduced with textured rings.

Fabrication of a pattern of micro dimples or grooves on the surface of materials results in a change in surface topography which generates additional hydrodynamic pressure, thereby increasing the load-carrying capacity of the surfaces. Hence these become useful for trapping wear debris when operating under dry sliding conditions and sometimes provide effects like enhancing oil supply (lubricant reservoir) which can lower friction coefficients and may enable reduced wear rate.


COVID-19 & India

PM calls for complete lockdown of entire nation for 21 days

Aim: To contain the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Even those nations with the best of the medical facilities could not contain the virus and that the social distancing is the only option to mitigate it.
  • It is not that these countries are not putting in adequate efforts or they lack resources. The Coronavirus is spreading at such a rapid pace that despite all the preparations and efforts, these countries are finding it hard to manage the crisis.
  • If the situation is not brought under control in the next 3 weeks, the country could go back 21 years and that several families would be devastated forever

DST launches nationwide exercise to map & boost Covid19 solutions with R&D, seed & scale up support

Rising to the National call to combat the public health crisis arising out of Covid19 pandemic, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) is synergising and consolidating various activities carried out by the Ministry of S&T and its network of autonomous institutions and scientific bodies across the country.

The solutions and novel applications to address Covid19 pandemic related challenges are being taken up through a three pronged approach. These include:

(a) Extensive mapping of solutions requiring R&D support, startups with viable products requiring facilitation and manufacturing support; 

(b) Identification of market deployable products requiring seed support and 

(c) Support for solutions already in market but requiring substantial scale up to augment their manufacturing infrastructure and capabilities

The Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), an autonomous institution of the DST has already sent out a call to invite proposals as part of special call under IRHPA (Intensification of Research in High Priority Area) scheme specifically designed for Covid-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national R&D efforts for new anti-virals, vaccines, and affordable diagnostic.  

The Technology Development Board (TDB), a Statutory of Body of Govt of India functioning under DST has issued a call for proposal to address protection and home-based respiratory interventions for Covid 19 patients.

The National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board, DST has reached out to its strong network of over 150+ incubation centres across the country for mapping the novel innovations already under incubation to combat diseases like Covid19. An encouraging response from 165 startups with innovative solutions   has been received from DST incubated startups all over the country. These solutions encompass preventive, diagnostics, assistive and curative fronts to combat the disease and are at various stages of startup journey. DST has also seed supported a Pune based Startup under incubation at Scitech Park, Univ. of Pune  to augment the deployment of Airon Ioniser Machines at various hospitals in Maharashra, for reducing the  viral load in quarantine areas significantly.

DST has set up a “Covid19 Task Force” for mapping of technologies from R&D labs, academic institutions, startups and MSMEs. The capacity mapping group has representatives from DST, DBT, ICMR, MeitY, CSIR, AIM, MSME, Startup India and AICTE. The aim is to identify the most promising startups that are close to scaleup, who may need financial or other help or connects based on its projected demand to rapidly scaleup.

DST through the synergetic approach involving scientific and research institutions, researchers, scientists, incubators, startups and tech companies is geared to address the challenges arising out of Covid19 pandemic.

PM thanks the medical fraternity for their selfless service to the nation in tackling COVID-19

It is important to acknowledge the contribution of the family members of the medical fraternity also, for being their pillars of support. The challenge in front of the country is unprecedented and historic. At this juncture, the entire nation is looking forward to the medical fraternity with hope, and it is imperative that their morale never goes down even while facing such a huge challenge.

Assuring the medical fraternity of all the support from the government, Prime Minister asked them to

  • Follow all the necessary protocols and to take adequate precautions to prevent getting infected. 
  • Guide the general public on the do’s and dont’s to be followed, advice on the importance of self- quarantine and social distancing, and provide information about where they can receive treatment.
  • Urged them to generate all round awareness and also counter promotion of unscientific therapies and misinformation. 
  • Exhorted them to provide rapid training and upgrade of skills of health workers and technicians to be ready to meet the challenge head on.

Prime Minister thanked the medical fraternity for the wide ranging and multi-dimensional suggestions. He said that the government will examine proposals for greater usage of teleconsultations for medical treatment. He also said that security concerns of the healthcare workers and doctors will be treated with utmost importance. He added that it was heartening to hear their optimistic tone which has instilled greater confidence in him that the country will successfully face the challenge and emerge triumphant.

PM Appreciates the contribution of media in tackling the challenge of COVID-19

  • Media has played a praise-worthy role in disseminating information to every nook and cranny of this nation.
  • Newspapers carry tremendous credibility and the local page of a region is widely read by people. It is therefore imperative that awareness about coronavirus is spread through articles published in this page. 
  • It is essential to inform people about where the testing centres are, who should get tested, whom to contact to get tested and follow home isolation protocols. This information should be shared in newspapers and web portals of the paper
  • Asked the media to act as a link between government and people and provide continuous feedback, at both national and regional level. 
  • He underlined the importance of social distancing, asking media to generate awareness about its importance, inform people about the lockdown decision by states, and also highlight the impact of spread of the virus, through inclusion of international data and case studies about other countries in the papers.
  • It is important to tackle the spread of pessimism, negativity and rumour mongering. Citizens need to be assured that the government is committed to countering the impact of COVID-19.

Economic Measures during COVID-19

  • Provisions have been made to ensure supplies of all essential items continue smoothly. Along with the Central and State Governments, individuals from civil societies and institutions are constantly striving to reduce the problems of the poor during this period of crisis.
  • The Government has provided Rupees Fifteen Thousand Crore (Rs 15,000,00,00,000) for strengthening the medical infrastructure and treatment of the Corona infected patients.
  • Invest India Business Immunity Platform launched to helping businesses withstand COVID-19
  • Invest India, India’s national Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched The Invest India Business Immunity Platform
  • The platform, hosted on the Invest India website, is designed as a comprehensive resource to help businesses and investors get real-time updates on India’s active response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This dynamic and constantly updating platform keeps a regular track on developments with respect to the virus, provides latest information on various central and state government initiatives, gives access to special provisions, and answers and resolves queries through emails and on WhatsApp.
  • The Business Immunity Platform (BIP) is the active platform for business issue redressal, operating 24/7, with a team of dedicated sector experts and responding to queries at the earliest. Invest India has also announced a partnership with SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India) for responding and resolving queries for MSMEs.

Income Tax

  1. Extend last date for income tax returns for (FY 18-19) from 31st March, 2020  to  30th June, 2020.
  2. Aadhaar-PAN linking date to be extended from 31st March, 2020 to 30th June, 2020.
  3. Vivad se Vishwas  scheme – no additional 10% amount, if payment made by June 30, 2020. 

GST/Indirect Tax

  1. Those having aggregate annual turnover less than Rs. 5 Crore Last date can file GSTR-3B due in March, April and May 2020 by the last week of  June, 2020. No interest, late fee, and penalty to be charged.
  2. Payment date under Sabka Vishwas Scheme shall be extended to 30th June, 2020. No interest for this period shall be charged if paid by 30th June, 2020.

Customs

  1. 24X7 Custom clearance till end of 30th June, 2020
  2. Due date for issue of notice, notification, approval order, sanction order, filing of appeal, furnishing applications, reports, any other documents etc., time limit for any compliance under the Customs Act and other allied Laws where the time limit is expiring between 20th March 2020  to 29th June 2020 shall be extended to 30th June 2020. 

Financial Services: Relaxations for 3 months

  1. Debit cardholders to withdraw cash for free from any other banks’ ATM for 3 months
  2. Waiver of minimum balance fee
  3. Reduced bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance consumers

Corporate Affairs

  1. No additional fees shall be charged for late filing during a moratorium period from 01st April to 30th September 2020, in respect of any document, return, statement etc., required to be filed in the MCA-21 Registry, irrespective of its due date, which will not only reduce the compliance burden, including financial burden of companies/ LLPs at large, but also enable long-standing non-compliant companies/ LLPs to make a ‘fresh start’;
  2. The mandatory requirement of holding meetings of the Board of the companies within prescribed interval provided in the Companies Act (120 days), 2013, shall be extended by a period of 60 days till next two quarters i.e., till 30th September;
  3. Applicability of Companies (Auditor’s Report) Order, 2020 shall be made applicable from the financial year 2020-2021 instead of from 2019-2020 notified earlier. This will significantly ease the burden on companies & their auditors for the year 2019-20.
  4. As per Schedule 4 to the Companies Act, 2013, Independent Directors are required to hold at least one meeting without the attendance of Non-independent directors and members of management. For the year 2019-20, if the IDs of a company have not been able to hold even one meeting, the same shall not be viewed as a violation.
  5. Requirement to create a Deposit reserve of 20% of deposits maturing during the financial year 2020-21 before 30th April 2020 shall be allowed to be complied with till 30th June 2020.
  6. Requirement to invest 15% of debentures maturing during a particular year in specified instruments before 30th April 2020, may be done so before 30th June 2020.
  7. Newly incorporated companies are required to file a declaration for Commencement of Business within 6 months of incorporation. An additional time of 6 more months shall be allowed.
  8. Non-compliance of minimum residency in India for a period of at least 182 days by at least one director of every company, under Section 149 of the Companies Act, shall not be treated as a violation.
  9. Due to the emerging financial distress faced by most companies on account of the large-scale economic distress caused by COVID 19, it has been decided to raise the threshold of default under section 4 of the IBC 2016 to Rs 1 crore (from the existing threshold of Rs 1 lakh). This will by and large prevent triggering of insolvency proceedings against MSMEs. If the current situation continues beyond 30th of April 2020, we may consider suspending section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC 2016 for a period of 6 months so as to stop companies at large from being forced into insolvency proceedings in such force majeure causes of default.
  10. Detailed notifications/circulars in this regard shall be issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs separately.

Department of Fisheries

  1. All Sanitary Permits (SIPs) for import of SPF Shrimp Broodstock and other Agriculture inputs expiring between 01.03.2020 to     15.04.2020 extended by 3 months
  2. Delay upto 1 month in arrival of consignments to be condoned.
  3. Rebooking of quarantine cubicles for cancelled consignments in Aquatic Quarantine Facility (AQF) Chennai without additional booking charges
  4. The verification of documents and grant of NOC for Quarantine would be relaxed from 7 days to 3 days

Department of Commerce: Extension of timelines for various compliance and procedures will be given. Detailed notifications will be issued by Ministry of Commerce.

Relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus

  • Insurance cover of Rs 50 Lakh per health worker fighting COVID-19 to be provided under Insurance Scheme
  • 80 crore poor people will to get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months
  • 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next three months
  • Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families
  • An ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled
  • Government to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers
  • Central Government has given orders to State Governments to use Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund to provide relief to Construction Workers

Medical Measures Taken 

  • Prohibited the export of all ventilators, including any artificial respiratory apparatus or oxygen therapy apparatus or any other breathing appliance/device
  • The Ministry of Textiles has set up an Emergency Control Room to monitor production and supply of medical textiles (N-95 mask, Body Coveralls and meltblown fabric) which are required in connection with Covid-19.
  • Demand of sanitizers is increasing day by day and in order to maintain demand and supply balance, State Government authorities including Excise Commissioners, Cane Commissioners, Drug Controllers as well as District Collectors of various states have been advised to remove any bottlenecks in supply of ethanol/ENA to manufacturers of hand sanitizers and to give permissions /licenses to the applicants including distilleries who intend to manufacture hand sanitizers. Distilleries/ Sugar mills which can produce hand sanitizers in bulk have also been motivated to manufacture hand sanitizers. These manufacturers have also been asked to work in three shifts to maximize their output.

Ministry of Defence action plan to deal with COVID-19

  • The Indian Air Force has made several sorties and evacuated Indian nationals from affected areas in China, Japan and Iran.
  • Various quarantine facilities of the Armed Forces have, so far, handled 1,462 evacuees and discharged 389. Presently, 1,073 persons are being provided care at the facilities in Manesar, Hindan, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Mumbai. Additional quarantine facilities are on standby with 950 beds capacity.
  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories have manufactured 20,000 litres of sanitizer and supplied to various organisations, including 10,000 litres to Delhi police. DRDO has also supplied 10,000 masks to Delhi police personnel. It is tying up with some private companies to make personal protection equipment such as body suits and also ventilators.
  • Ordnance Factory Board has also ramped up production of sanitizers, masks and body suits. Bharat Electronics Limited is also engaged in manufacturing of ventilators.
  • Army medical teams deployed in the Maldives have since returned after completion of their mission. Army medical teams and two ships of Navy are on standby to provide required assistance to friendly countries in the neighbourhood.

Efforts of DRDO in nation’s fight against COVID-19

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been tracking the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) since the world media started reporting its devastating impact in China’s Wuhan Province. The DRDO took a call in first week of March 2020 to enhance efforts to create counter measures to stop the spread of the disease in India. By then, the number of affected people in India had already crossed 30. It also started focusing on creating mass supply solutions of critical medical requirements, if COVID-19 becomes a crisis. As a result of focused approach, at present DRDO is ready with four different items ready to be deployed in ‘War against Corona’. 

Hand sanitizer 

  • Hand sanitizer being the basic instrument against spread of COVID-19 that has now been developed in-house at DRDO. By 3rd week of March, it was produced in sizable quantities and distributed to major offices and establishment within the capital. 
  • Approximately 4,000 litres of hand sanitizer has been provided to Indian Armed forces, Armed Forces Medical Corps, Defence Security Corps, 1,500 litres to Ministry of Defence, 300 litres to Parliament, and 500 litres to various security establishments and high offices to address sanitization issue at first to keep administration work without fear of contamination. 
  • In the present scenario, Delhi Police (DP) is serving by managing law and order situation, hence to keep them safe at this point of time, DRDO has provided 20,000 three ply masks and 1,000 litres of hand sanitizers. In addition, DRDO has distributed hand sanitizers to DP at about 40 nakas all around Delhi. 
  • The DRDO is ready to provide more hand sanitizers in large quantities to the concerned. Initially a DRDO lab, Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior has produced approximately 20,000 litres to cater initial requirements of its employees and government offices/ministries. In the meantime, DRDO identified a vendor with the WHO formulation with M/s Gwalior Alco Brew Pvt Ltd, Gwalior (DRDE Gwalior is providing technical support; scientists are positioned with the company the check the quality). Total capacity is 20,000 to 30,000 litres per day in 200-500 ml bottles. The cost is less than Rs 120/litre (including GST). 

Ventilators 

  • Since COVID-19 affects pulmonary functions, keeping in mind the futuristic requirement, Society for Biomedical Technology (SBMT) programme of DRDO has been modified to cater to the current situation. 
  • Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL), Bangalore (a DRDO lab) has identified a vendor (M/s Scanray Tech Pvt Ltd, Mysore) to produce critical care ventilator. It has been created by using existing technologies like breath regulators, pressure/flow sensors, etc. 
  • Presently, innovation is on to create ‘Multi patient ventilator’ wherein several patient can be supported by a single ventilator. This innovation is expected to be available within a week. 
  • Around 5,000 ventilators will be produces in the first month and 10,000 subsequently. The DRDO has identified local alternatives to supply of critical components. Already Secretary (Pharmaceuticals) has identified nine companies for design transfer to produce and Mr Anand Mahindra for fabrication of components. Each ventilator unit will cost around Rs four lakh. 

N99 masks 

  • Five layer N99 masks with two layers of nano mesh are very advanced. These are one of the critical times to stop spread of Corona. Its production vendors are M/s Venus Industries Mumbai, M/s IMTEC Kolkata. Capacity is 10,000 N99 masks per day. 
  • Material for these are is sourced from Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association, which is already having plenty of government orders for N95 masks. The mask costs Rs 70 per piece. 

Body Suits 

  • Body suit is critical requirement for doctors, medical staff, sanitations workers, etc so that they are not contracted by COVID-19 during their work. 
  • Earlier, DRDO had developed this body suit for medical & paramedical staff to manage & evacuate the causalities in the event of radiological emergencies, which right now is converted as a full body suit to stop contamination. The suit is washable and has passed the ASTM International standards. The suit is widely tested by DRDO and other agencies and found suitable for the cause. 
  • M/s Frontier Protective Wear Pvt Ltd Kolkata, transfer of technology holder that is already working with Ministry of Textiles, and M/s Medikit Pvt Ltd Mumbai are producing 10,000 suits per day with some works continuity problems. Each suit costs Rs 7,000.

25 crores to North Eastern States for gap funding to fight the COVID-19 outbreak effectively

  • Designated cargo flights for carrying essential commodities to North East have been planned. 
  • Ministry/NEC would provide Rs.25 crores to North Eastern States for gap funding to fight the COVID-19 outbreak effectively. This fund would be in the nature of untied fund, which can be utilized on any activity relating to COVID-19 Pandemic, and not covered under existing central packages. 
  • The flexibility of untied funds would enable the states to respond quickly. This fund would be in addition to the funds otherwise allocated by the Ministry of DoNER/NEC to the North Eastern States under the existing schemes.

Note:

New Year Festivals of India

  • Ugadi: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana states
  • Gudi Padava: Maharashtra
  • Cheti Chand: Sindhi community
  • Navreh: Kashmir
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: Manipur

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