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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th August 2021

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  • August 16, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Hydrogen Blending with Natural Gas

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III –  

In news National Thermal Power Corporation Pvt. Ltd. has invited a global ‘expression of interest’ to set up a pilot project on hydrogen blending with natural gas.

  • NTPC Ltd. Is India’s largest power producer and a central PSU under the Ministry of Power.
  • This pilot will be the first of its kind in India and would explore the viability of decarbonising India’s natural gas grid. It would be later taken up at a commercial scale across India.

What is Hydrogen Blending?

  • Hydrogen energy is a viable solution for reducing society’s dependence on fossil fuels and decarbonizing a number of energy sectors. 
  • One of the measure to phase hydrogen into the energy sector is though natural gas/hydrogen (NG/H2) blending. 
  • As the name would suggest, NG/H2 blending integrates concentrations of hydrogen into existing natural gas pipelines in order to reduce the carbon intensity of the methane. 
  • This blending carries the hydrogen and natural gas mix to the intended location.
  • The blending of natural gas and hydrogen is currently in its early stages of development. 

What is Green Hydrogen?

The sources and processes by which hydrogen is derived, are categorised by colour tabs. 

  • Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen; this constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen produced today. 
  • Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen
  • Hydrogen generated entirely from renewable power sources is called green hydrogen. Electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

News Source: TH


PM Gati Shakti Master Plan

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and Interventions

In news On India’s 75th Independence Day, the Prime Minister announced that the Centre will launch ‘PM Gati Shakti Master Plan’.

  • He also set a target of making India energy independent by 2047 by replace petroleum with other forms of energy and announced a National Hydrogen Mission, noting the country spends Rs 12 trillion on energy imports every year.

What is Gati Shakti Master Plan?

  • It is a Rs. 100 lakh-crore project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’.
  • The plan is aimed at easier interconnectivity between road, rail, air and waterways to reduce travel time and improve industrial productivity.
  • The push for infrastructure is in line with the government’s efforts to step up capital expenditure in infrastructure to promote economic growth.

What are the focus areas of the project?

  • The project will be a source of employment opportunities for the youth in future.
  • Infrastructure development has the ability to create a multiplier effect with every rupee invested, yielding much higher returns.
  • It will help raise the global profile of local manufacturers and help them compete with their counterparts worldwide. 
  • It also raises possibilities of new future economic zones.
  • It is also help to increase both manufacturing and exports. 

News Source: IE


‘Karez’ system of irrigation

Part of: Prelims and GS – III – Methods of agriculture

In news Karez, being one of the types of water management and irrigation systems in Afghanistan, is under threat under the resurgent Taliban rule.

What is a Qanat / Karez?

  • This system of underground vertical shafts in a gently sloping tunnel is built from an upland aquifer to ground level.
  • They are energy efficient and green since they use the force of gravity rather than any machines running on fuel.
  • It has its origins in Persia and later spread to Arab and Turkic lands. 
  • The entire system is a planning and execution of the forces of a watershed. 
  • The wastewater is never mixed with drinking water. 
  • Water in them does not evaporate and is also filtered till it comes to the surface. 
  • There is no depletion of the aquifer since excessive use is impossible. 
  • Its maintenance is also low-cost.
  • The first Karez system in India was built in the city of Bidar of Karnataka during the reign of Bahamani Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali (1422-1436), who shifted the capital from Gulbarga to Bidar.

News Source: DTE

Afghanistan & Threat to Karez

  • Afghanistan, a semi-arid country, is losing its northern and central mountain glaciers due to climate change.
  • These glaciers provide meltwater to people, especially in rural areas through Surface water or canals, underground water or borewells and Qanat / Karez.
  • The Karez system has the potential to solve problems of water in Southern and southwestern regions of Afghanistan as there is no other water source. 
  • Some 9,370 Karezes are operating in 19 Afghan provinces with the majority of them concentrated on the eastern, southern and western flanks of the Hindu Kush mountains.
  • These are part of the ‘Pashtun Crescent’, the heartland of the Pashtuns, the main ethnic group in the Taliban and the country’s largest ethnicity. 
  • Several Karezes have been destroyed in the more than 40 years of war in Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion in December 1979. 

SonChiraiya

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Economy

In news Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched ‘SonChiraiya’ (A brand and logo)- for marketing of urban Self-Help Group (SHG) products.

About

  • Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY–NULM), under the aegis of MoHUA, has focussed on equipping the urban poor women with adequate skills and opportunities, and to enable them to promote sustainable micro enterprises. 
  • It mobilises women from urban poor households into SHGs and their federations to create a support system for these women. 
  • Over 5.7 lakh SHGs have been formed across various States/ UTs with almost 60 lakh members. 
  • Many of these SHGs are engaged in livelihood activities, producing goods such as handicrafts, textiles, toys, eatables and so on which are sold on leading e-commerce websites.
  • Innovative methods of online training for SHGs have been ensured to enable them to smoothly operate on e-portals.
  • SonChiraiya initiative (A brand and logo) will certainly prove as a step towards increased visibility and global access for the products made by urban SHG women. 
  • With this logo, the Ministry expects to link many more such SHG members, with a variety of professionally packaged, hand-crafted ethnic products, reaching the doorsteps of the customers globally

(News from PIB)


Four more Ramsar Sites

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: Four more wetlands from India get recognition from the Ramsar Secretariat as Ramsar sites. 

  • These sites are: 
    • Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat
    • Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana.
  • While Haryana gets its first Ramsar sites, Gujarat gets three more after Nalsarovar which was declared in 2012.
  • With this addition, the number of Ramsar sites in India are 46 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,083,322 hectares.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change would be working closely with the State Wetland Authorities to ensure the wise use of these sites.

Ramsar list

  • The Ramsar list is a list of wetland sites that are deemed to be of “international importance” under the Ramsar Convention, 1971 (India is a signatory to it)
  • The list aim “to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits”.

Wetlands

  • Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. 
  • Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil.
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. 
  • They are, in fact, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.

News Source:  PIB


“CSIR Aroma Mission

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Government Schemes

In news: “CSIR Aroma Mission: Transforming Lives Through S&T” Webinar was held on the eve of the 75th Independence Day.

  • Jammu & Kashmir heralds the ‘Purple Revolution’ of India by taking a lead in the lavender cultivation in almost all the 20 districts of the Union Territory.

CSIR Aroma Mission

  • The CSIR Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing and product development for fuelling the growth of aroma industry and rural employment.
  • The mission will promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils that are in great demand by aroma industry. 
  • It is expected to enable Indian farmers and aroma industry to become global leaders in the production and export of some other essential oils on the pattern of menthol mint. 
  • This is expected to provide substantial benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of waste lands and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
  • CSIR’s Aroma Mission is generating new avenues of self-livelihood and entrepreneurship and has generated rural employment of farmers, spurred entrepreneurship in aromatic oils and other aromatic products manufacturing, and lowered the import of essential and aromatic oils.
  • Today, with CSIR’s Aroma Mission, important medicinal and aromatic plants are being cultivated in 6,000 hectares of land. 
  • The Mission has generated 10 to 12 lakh man-days of rural employment and more than 500 tonnes of essential oil worth Rs.60 crores was produced during the last two years.

About Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR

  • Established in 1942, CSIR is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. 
  • It operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • CSIR is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology 
  • CSIR has a pan-India presence and has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units.
  • CSIR covers a wide spectrum of streams – from radio and space physics, oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology.
  • It provides significant technological intervention in many areas with regard to societal efforts which include the environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors.

News Source:  PIB


(Mains Focus)


ENVIRONMENT/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.
  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

IPCC’s report on Climate Change & India

In news: IPCC in its latest report released on August 9 stated that human activities were unequivocally the principal driver of changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere, in other words, of climate change.

What is the key message from IPCC’s Technical report?

  • The report asserts, leaving nothing to doubt, that the contribution of GHG emissions from various activities is the scientific basis for global warming and climate change. 
    • These actions include the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transport, emissions from agriculture and waste, and energy profiles of buildings. 
  • Compared with the period 1850-1900, the increase in global surface temperature for the decade 2011-2020 is estimated to be 1.09°C, an indication of how much the world has warmed. 
  • The report devotes itself to assessing what impacts would accrue to various dimensions of the planet, such as land, oceans, mountains, polar regions, glaciers and water cycle, under different emissions scenarios. 
  • Even in the best case scenario, the global surface temperature increase averaged between 2081 and 2100 could be 1.0°C to 1.8°C, while in a high emissions scenario, it could go to a searing 3.3°C to 5.7°C. 
  • Since the original pledges of the Paris Agreement are insufficient to keep warming to well below 2°C, deep and early cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are necessary
    • 2015 Paris Agreement: World should act to limit warming compared to levels that existed before the industrial revolution to well below 2°C, and preferably 1.5°C.

What will be the effect of continued global warming?

  • A warmer world is estimated to have a big impact on extremes of temperature and rainfall with implications for human health, ecosystem survival and sustainable economic activity. 
  • The report says it is “virtually certain that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions” as witnessed since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) “have become less frequent and less severe”. 
  • Scientific confidence is now high that human-induced climate change is the main driver of these changes. There are other impacts too. 
  • Climate change has contributed to increases in agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions due to increased land evapotranspiration, the report says. 
  • Enhanced warming is expected to amplify thawing of permafrost (subsurface soil in the polar regions that remains below freezing point year-round), and loss of seasonal snow cover, of land ice and of Arctic sea ice. 
  • Under scenarios of rising CO2 emissions, two of the big carbon sinks on the planet — the oceans and land — may become less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. 
  • Continued warming would influence the global water cycle, further intensifying it, with consequences for its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events.

What could be the consequences for India?

  • India’s major concerns are centred around the health of the annual monsoon, the fate of Himalayan glaciers, heating over land, floods, droughts and overall impact on people’s well-being, agriculture and food production. 
  • Here, the report says with medium confidence that “heatwaves and humid heat stress will be more intense and frequent during the 21st century” 
  • Also, both annual and summer monsoon rainfall will rise, with a higher degree of variability between years. 
  • It is important to note that over South Asia, among other regions, aerosol emissions notably from human activity had a cooling influence during the 20th century, which in turn counteracted increases in monsoon rainfall produced by warming. That aerosol effect could be overcome by persistent warming, leading to future high levels of rainfall. 
  • Snow volumes are forecast to decrease in most regions of the Hindu Kush Himalaya during the 21st century and the snowline elevations to go up while glacier volumes are likely to decline, with greater mass loss in scenarios of higher CO2 emissions.

Conclusion

World should take note of the report and understand the gravity of the situation. It has to come to consensus on deeper and early cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, going beyond the Paris Accord.

Connecting the dots:


(All INDIA RADIO- SPOTLIGHT)


Discussion on Jal Jeevan Mission – Har Ghar Jal, 03 Aug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztfy-IoBbSU

GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Indian Economy & Challenges

Jal Jeevan Mission: Har Ghar Jal

  • The On 15th August, 2019, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi had announced Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) to provide safe piped drinking water to every rural household in the country by 2024. 
  • The total cost of this mission is estimated to be around Rs. 3.6 lakh crores; out of this the share of the center is around Rs. 2.08 lakh crores. 

The Jal Jeevan mission

  • The vision of the mission is to ensure that every rural household has drinking water supply in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis at affordable service delivery charges leading to improvement in living standards of rural communities.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission will be based on a community approach to water and will include extensive Information, Education and communication as a key component of the mission.
  • The programme will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, rain water harvesting.

Achievements of the mission so far:

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission was introduced with the objective of improving the quality of life and wellbeing of the people. 
  • The country has made significant achievements under the Jal Jeevan Mission, despite the challenge of the Covid pandemic during the last almost sixteen months.
  • There are about 74 districts in the country where tap water has been provided to every household. Besides, in more than one lakh villages and about 55 thousand panchayats 100 percent target has been achieved under Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • It has been less than two years since the mission was introduced, but in this short time, more than 4 crore households have been provided with tap water connections. 
  • If we compare the current situation with 15th August 2019, there were roughly 19.12 crore households and out of that only 3.23 crores were getting tap water supply which is less than 17% of the total households. 
  • But, today around 7.87 crores of households out of approximately 41.2 crore households, are getting tap water. 
  • Not only the households but the schools, Anganwadis, and public toilets are also getting water and as of now more than 67 percent of schools have tap water connections, more than 60.9 percent of the anganwadis, and more than 68.8 percent primary health care centres (PHCs) and gram panchayats have tap water supply. 
  • The focus is also on the Japanese encephalitis affected areas, and quality affected habitations as well and the mission is doing great in these areas as well.

Functioning of the mission:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission adopts an end-to-end approach which implies that not only taking care of water resources is important but taking care of water conservation, augmentation of existing water resources, and then providing tap water supply is also very important.
  • If more tap water is provided to the household, then naturally the amount of greywater or used water will be more. So, Jal Jeevan Mission has made greywater treatment and its reuse in forestry, agriculture, horticulture, or in the local industries one of the essential components of the mission. 
  • Therefore, all three aspects are taken care of under the Jal Jeevan Mission.: 
    • The source of water and its sustainability, 
    • The operation maintenance and providing tap water supply to each and every household, and
    • The treatment of the greywater or used water, 
  • There is a Water Quality Management Information System as well which is a dedicated one-stop information portal that provides information about the quality of water. Jal Jeevan Mission emphasizes that each local village should be able to test the quality of water not only at the source but also at the delivery points. 
  • For that purpose, the National Jal Jeevan Mission with the help of states is giving training to at least five women in one village, implying out of the 6 lakh villages, 30 lakh women will be trained. So far, 6 lakh women have been trained and they are assigned the task of testing the tap water quality which they get at their village level.
  • Focus is now being given to getting the 2023 water quality labs in the country accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). All these labs are now open to the public at a very nominal cost. Now, the public can go there and test the tap water quality supplied to them.

Challenges involved:

  • Bigger states have bigger challenges. In water scheme though focus is village level scheme but many times support is not available very close to the villages. So, for that, there is provision of multi village scheme. Example is Rajasthan.
  • Also, in the Ganga belt, water quality issues are present in the form of impurity (arsenic, sulfur, etc.) contamination or other water quality issues and hence, providing water to households in these areas does take time.
  • But the states have taken this mission very seriously and they are doing their best to provide water to each household.

Way Forward:

  • Be it at the water conservation level, or greywater treatment, or the operation and maintenance level, all the level require the community involvement as the main focus of the Jal Jeevan Mission is the community. Therefore, without community involvement it is not possible to successfully achieve the target. 
  • Earlier, all the programs were basically engineering-based programs so, most of the stress was on creating engineering water infrastructure. 
  • But this time, the emphasis is on service delivery not on infrastructure creation. Service delivery has its own challenges such as supplying adequate water, maintaining the sources, etc. Hence, all these aspects should be taken care of.
  • The empowerment of capacity building of the local village communities is very important.
  • With the involvement of not only Ph.D. engineers but also the local people, the challenges will be met.

Can you answer this question now?

  • “The Jal Jeevan Mission will improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the people”. Critically discuss the achievement of Jal Jeevan mission.

 (TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1 Gati Shakti Master Plan announced by India’s Prime Minister on the eve of 75th Independence Day is associated with which of the following?

  1. Anti-Tank Missile Development
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Women’s safety
  4. Mechanisation of agriculture

Q.2 The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY–NULM)

scheme has two components; one for urban India and other for rural India. Consider the following statements regarding the same:

  1. The Urban component named as Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana will be implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. The rural component named as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture..

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.3 Karez, which is under threat, is one of the types of water management and irrigation systems in which of the following country?

  1. Turkmenistan
  2. Afghnaistan
  3. Lebanon
  4. Turkey 

ANSWERS FOR 14th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 B
3 D

Must Read

On rise of Taliban and options for India:

The Hindu

On Green Financing:

Financial Express

On Urbanisation and Flooding:

Hindustan Express

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