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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

08 May, 2020

53 Min Read

Analysis of Motor Vehicle Act

GS-II : Governance Motor vehicle act

Govt extends validity of Motor Vehicle Act related documents

Part of: GS-II- Governance and acts (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In News

Amid lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, the government has extended the validity of documents related to Motor Vehicle Act and Central Motor Vehicle Rules till June 30.
The validity has been extended for the documents whose validity expires between February 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

New MOTOR vehicle act analysis

India sees more than five lakh road accidents a year leading to 1.5 lakh deaths. According to the Union Transport Minister, this could come down by half if the provisions of this Bill are implemented. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is based on the recommendations of the Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of States constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to address the issue of road safety and to improve the access of the citizens while dealing with transport departments.

The amendments in the Bill mainly focus on issues relating to improving road safety, citizens’ facilitation while dealing with the transport department, strengthening rural transport, last mile connectivity and public transport, automation and computerization and enabling online services.

Key Features of the bill

  • Road safety: Bill proposes to increase penalties to act as a deterrent against traffic violations.
  • Compensation for road accident victims: Cashless treatment of road accident victims during the golden hour (first 1 hour after accident). The minimum compensation for death or grievous injury due to hit and run has been moved up substantially to ?2 lakh and ?50,000, respectively.
  • Road Safety Board: The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification. The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management.
  • Protection of Good Samaritan: To help road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the Bill. They will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim.
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Fund: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
  • Third-party insurance terms are friendlier with no cap on liability of insurers and quicker claims processing.
  • To reduce scope for manipulation and corruption in transport departments, vehicle fitness tests will be automated and driving tests, computerised. Also, the driver training process for commercial driving will be strengthened and more training schools set up.
  • Recall of vehicles: The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
  • National Transportation Policy: The central government may develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with state governments.
  • Taxi aggregators: The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). These aggregators will be issued licenses by state. Further, they must comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Issues and challenges

  • There will be implementation challenges at all-India level. Road transport being a subject on the Concurrent List, State governments are also free to make their own laws and rules. Some states feel that the amendment infringes upon the rights of the states.
  • For effective monitoring of traffic violations and accidents and ensuring that the perpetrators don’t go scot-free, electronic surveillance is essential that needs installation of CCTVs, Speed guns, and other equipments.This could involve substantial investment, and it is not clear who will bear the cost.
  • Laxity of vehicle-manufacturers in implementing safety features is also a concern as automobile is a booming industry.
  • Unfortunately, the states who are topping the list of accidents are avoiding the implementation. “Chalta Hai” attitude prevails.
  • With a Fund already existing to provide compensation for hit and run accidents, the purpose of the new Accident Fund is unclear.
  • History of corruption may ripe up to the highest. State governments will issue licenses to taxi aggregators as per central government guidelines. Currently, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. There could be cases where state taxi guidelines are at variance with the central guidelines on aggregators.
  • While the penalties for contravening provisions of the proposed scheme on interim relief to accident victims are specified in the Bill, the offences that would warrant such penalties have not been specified. It may be argued that imposing penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unreasonable.
  • States also have concerns about their powers being curtailed in the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill.

Road safety Initiatives in India

  • Ministry of Road Transport and highways took several steps in the past to improve road safety:
    • National Road Safety Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information database, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws etc.
    • National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.
    • A dashboard for road accident data, through which people can access related data and other information both state-wise and the national averages, has been introduced.
    • Comic books Swachha Safar and Surakshit Yatra have been been released, with an aim to create awareness among children about road safety.
    • VAHAN (an ICT-based solution for vehicle registration) and SARATHI (for licencing) app to curb malpractices in issuing licences and vehicle registration.
    • BhararMala and Setu Bharatam programme to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.
  • Tamil Nadu model of integrated data-driven road safety initiatives: the Supreme Court-appointed three-member road safety committee led by Justice (retd) KS Radhakrishnan praised Tamil Nadu’s efforts in reducing fatalities in road accidents. NCRB data reveals that road accident deaths in TN came down in 2018 by 24.39%, the biggest decrease recorded in the country.

Way forward

Vehicle manufacturers should update their technologies and adopt the best global practices regarding vehicles’ and passengers’ safety. Simultaneously, the rise of Internet of Things-enabled, connected cars in India, which international auto majors are heavily investing in currently, can give a digital edge to road safety. With an array of embedded sensors informing drivers of other on-road cars, onboard analytics can give them real-time driving suggestions to avoid collisions.

The unprecedented pace of construction and infrastructure improvement is one more link in the journey to safer roads. Strict and effective enforcement of the amended rules in Motor Vehicle Act would surely help in curbing road-accident related deaths in India. The central and state governments should work out proper plans to effectively implement the rules. State governments should ensure transparency and provide a hassle-free experience for citizens at the Regional Transport Offices.

Source: TH/PIB

Nashik model to combat COVID-19

GS-II :

Nashik model to combat COVID-19

Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) has taken-up numerous initiatives to fight COVID-19. Some of the key initiatives at the city level include:

1. Cleanliness/ Sanitization of Public Places: Spraying of Sodium Hypochlorite

2. Separate vehicles for Waste collection & Disposal from Quarantined households.

3. Provision of: Provision of safety

4. Provision of Facility of Institutional Quarantine wards

5. Frontline Testing by Doctors & Health Workers in Sealed Zone

6. Smartphone App ‘MahaKavach’:

The MahaKavach is a real-time digital contact tracing mobile application which enables citizens to contribute and assist the health authorities in contact tracing, geo-fencing and tracking of quarantined COVID-19 Patients. Selfie attendance feature has been also added in application to get virtual attendance. This app is to be used by Individuals as directed by their doctor or medical worker. The app also encourages to update the quarantine status for greater adherence. This update increases reliability of home location data. It also ensures a breach update is sent only once.

7. Smartphone App “Nashik Bazzar”: Nashik Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra Chambers of Commerce Industry & Agriculture (MCCIA), jointly developed "Nashik Bazzar" app to benefit city residents to order online the daily necessary essentials such as Grocery, Tiffin, Meals, Medical Help, Fruits, Grains, Medicine, Dairy, Snacks, Vegetable etc. & get free home delivery.

8. Smartphone App ‘NMC COVID-19’: It provides 11 Services to the citizens. Services such as Covid-19 informer – to inform about Corona Suspects, Provision of necessary contact numbers such as doctors, hospitals, ambulances etc.

9. Social Awareness via VMD(Variable Message Display) & PAS(Public Addressing System). Crowded locations such as Central Bus Stand, Railway Station road, Institutional areas & Junctions were covered for the installation of such smart elements.

10. Body Sanitizing Machine

11. Aerosol Box: Use of Aerosol Box & Aerosol Intubation Box in Municipal Hospital to collect swab sample & to protect medical workers such as doctors and patients while operating COVID-19 suspects.

12. Door to door COVID-19 Survey, Social awareness & check-ups for Corona virus in various regions by Nurses & ASHA Workers

13. Daily visits & Calls to quarantined patient’s residents by Nurses & ASHA Workers

14. COVID-19 Help Survey Questionnaire: Citizen Information form has been developed which will capture details of citizens regarding COVID-19 Symptoms, travel history & their location details which will help officials to identify symptomatic citizens.

15. Decentralization of Fruit & Vegetable Market

Source: PIB

Trump says crisis ‘worse than Pearl Harbor’

GS-II : International Relations International issues

Trump says crisis ‘worse than Pearl Harbor’ or 9/11

Part of: GS-II- International issues (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

President Donald Trump said that fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic has hit the United States harder than Pearl Harbor in World War II or the 9/11 attacks.

“We went through the worst attack we’ve ever had on our country. This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had,” he told reporters at the White House.

The surprise Japanese attack in 1941 on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii (PT) drew the United States into World War II.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks killed about 3,000 people, mostly in the World Trade Center in New York, triggering two decades of US wars and anti-terrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

So far, more than 70,000 Americans have died in the flu-like global pandemic, while severe social distancing measures to stop the virus have forced the shutdown of much of the economy.

About Pearl Harbor

Attack on Pearl Harbor

  • The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour was among the most significant moments of the World War II.
  • It signalled the official entry of the US into the hostilities, which eventually led to the dropping of nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
  • Significantly, in December 2016, Shinzo Abe became the first sitting Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbour.

What led up to the attack on Pearl Harbour?

  • Before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, relations between the US and Japan were already worsening.
  • In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and, in 1937, it invaded China, sending alarm bells ringing in the US and other Western powers about Japan’s manifest expansionist agenda.
  • Between December 1937 and January 1938, an episode which is referred to as the “Nanking Massacre” or the “Rape of Nanking”, occurred — Japanese soldiers killed and raped Chinese civilians and combatants.
  • Japanese historians estimate that anywhere between tens of thousands and 200,000 Chinese were killed.
  • The US was against Japan’s aggression in China, and imposed economic sanctions and trade embargoes after its invasion.

Immediate causes

  • Japan was reliant on imports for oil and other natural resources — this was one of the reasons why it invaded China and later French Indo-China (present-day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia).
  • The intention was to take control of the major Chinese ports to have access to resources such as iron, rubber, tin, and most importantly, oil.
  • In July 1941, the US ceased exporting oil to Japan.
  • Negotiations between the two countries ended with the “Hull Note”, the final proposal delivered to Japan by the US. Essentially, the US wanted Japan to withdraw from China without any conditions.
  • Ultimately, the negotiations did not lead to any concrete results, following which Japan set its task for Pearl Harbour in the last week of November 1941.
  • Japan considered the attack to be a preventive measure against the US interfering with Japan’s plans to carry out military operations in some parts of Southeast Asia.

What happened at Pearl Harbour?

  • About 7.55 am on December 7, 1941, about 180 aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
  • The bombing killed over 2,300 Americans and destroyed the battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma.
  • Roughly 160 aircraft were destroyed, and 150 were damaged.

Impact on the US

  • In the short term, the American naval presence in the Pacific was severely weakened.
  • However, the Japanese had largely ignored the harbour’s infrastructure, and many of the damaged ships were repaired on-site and returned to duty.
  • American opinion immediately shifted to favouring war with Japan, a course that would conclude with Japan’s unconditional surrender less than four years later.

Source: TH

Vishakhapatnam Gas Leak Incident- Styrene gas

GS-III :

PM reviews Vishakhapatnam Gas Leak Incident

Context

The incident of Styrene gas leakage occurred in a chemical plant in the early hours today at 3 am in RR Venkatapuram village, Gopalapatnam Mandal in Visakhpatnam District.

Early morning leakage from LG Polymers, which manufactures general purpose polystyrene, high impact polystyrene and coloured polystyrene caused panic in several areas of the city.

It was decided that a team from CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) unit of NDRF from Pune,along with an expert team of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur would be rushed to Vishakhapatnam immediately to support the State Government in the management of the crisis on the ground, and also to take measures for resolving the short term as also long term medical impact of the leak.

Styrene gas

Styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene, and phenylethene, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2. This derivative of benzene is a colorless oily liquid although aged samples can appear yellowish. The compound evaporates easily and has a sweet smell, although high concentrations have a less pleasant odor. Styrene is the precursor to polystyrene and several copolymers.

Styrene, the chemical involved in the disaster-struck plant that produces polystyrene products, is included in the schedule of the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989.

Styrene gas is a poisonous, inflammable gas used in plastic engineering industry, and could have triggered a series of explosions.

Styrene gas, which is toxic in nature, may cause irritation to the skin, eyes and causes respiratory problems and other medical conditions.

The Styrene gas can cause nausea and dizziness when inhaled, and experts say that person exposed to the gas should be given medical treatment immediately.

The Styrene gas affects the central nervous system, throat, skin, eyes and some other parts of the body.

Styrene is used to make insulation, pipes, automobile parts, printing cartridges and copy machine toner, food containers, packaging material, carpet backing, luggage, shoes, toys, floor waxes and polishes.

Impact and Symptoms

The exposure of styrene is through ingestion, inhalation or contact (skin). Common symptoms of styrene exposure include irritation to eyes, nose and skin; gastrointestinal and respiratory effects.

Its long term exposure may cause central nervous system and kidney related problems, depression, headache etc. The department of health and human services USA has listed styrene as reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen.

Detection of Gas in Air

For ascertaining the level of styrene in a contaminated air, samples of air may be taken from different places of suspected exposure and be subjected to detailed analysis using a special styrene detection device. Gas chromatography may also be used for its qualitative and quantitative estimation

Hazards related to Environment

When released into the soil or water, styrene is expected to readily biodegrade and evaporate quickly. While released into the air, styrene is expected to be readily degraded by reaction with photo-chemically produced hydroxyl radicals and is expected to have a half-life of less than 1 day.

Source: PIB/TH/WEB

Indian Navy’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

GS-III :

Indian Navy’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed and produced by Indian Navy has been tested by INMAS (Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences) Delhi, a DRDO organization tasked with the testing and certification of PPE and is certified to be mass produced and used in clinical COVID situations.

Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is of serious concern as it imperils the well-being and availability of the Healthcare Workforce, apart from adversely impacting their security and morale.

The PPE is required to meet stringent criteria on testing and the benchmarks of the same are set by the ICMR and the MoHFW.

A team formed by the Innovation Cell, Institute of Naval Medicine, Mumbai and the Naval Dockyard Mumbai collaborated to design and produce PPE.

About Indian Navy’s PPE

The PPE passed with 6/6 Synthetic blood penetration resistance test pressure. (GoI mandates minimum 3/6 and above level as per ISO 16603 standard) and is thus certified to be mass produced and used in clinical COVID situations.

The outstanding features of the PPE are its simple, innovative and cost-effective design; thus it can be made by basic gown manufacturing facilities.

The PPE is noteworthy for the innovative choice of fabric used, which gives the PPE its 'breathability' and penetration resistance rendering it both comfortable and safe for the user.

The cost for this PPE is significantly lower than those commercially available.

Source: PIB

Environment Impact Assessment

GS-III :

Environment Impact Assessment Notification(EIA), 2020 extended till 30th June.

Context

The Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 published the draft notification namely, Environment Impact Assessment Notification extending the EIA assessment by 2 months till 30th June due to COVID-19 pandemic.

About Environmental Impact Assessment

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
  • UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.
  • Environment Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process.

The EIA Process

Screening: The project plan is screened for scale of investment, location and type of development and if the project needs statutory clearance.

Scoping: The project’s potential impacts, zone of impacts, mitigation possibilities and need for monitoring.

Collection of baseline data: Baseline data is the environmental status of study area.

Impact prediction: Positive and negative, reversible and irreversible and temporary and permanent impacts need to be predicted which presupposes a good understanding of the project by the assessment agency.

Mitigation measures and EIA report: The EIA report should include the actions and steps for preventing, minimizing or by passing the impacts or else the level of compensation for probable environmental damage or loss.

Public hearing: On completion of the EIA report, public and environmental groups living close to project site may be informed and consulted.

Decision making: Impact Assessment Authority along with the experts consult the project-in-charge along with consultant to take the final decision, keeping in mind EIA and EMP (Environment Management Plan).

Monitoring and implementation of environmental management plan: The various phases of implementation of the project are monitored.

Assessment of Alternatives, Delineation of Mitigation Measures and Environmental Impact Assessment Report: For every project, possible alternatives should be identified, and environmental attributes compared. Alternatives should cover both project location and process technologies.

Once alternatives have been reviewed, a mitigation plan should be drawn up for the selected option and is supplemented with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to guide the proponent towards environmental improvements.

Risk assessment: Inventory analysis and hazard probability and index also form part of EIA procedures.

Salient Features of 2006 Amendments to EIA Notification

Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006 has decentralized the environmental clearance projects by categorizing the developmental projects in two categories, i.e., Category A (national level appraisal) and Category B (state level appraisal).

Category A projects are appraised at national level by Impact Assessment Agency (IAA) and the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and Category B projects are apprised at state level.

State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) are constituted to provide clearance to Category B process.

After 2006 Amendment the EIA cycle comprises of four stages:

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping
  3. Public hearing
  4. Appraisal

Category A projects require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.

Category B projects undergoes screening process and they are classified into two types.

  • Category B1 projects (Mandatorily requires EIA).
  • Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).

Thus, Category A projects and Category B, projects undergo the complete EIA process whereas Category B2 projects are excluded from complete EIA process.

Stakeholders in the EIA Process

  • Those who propose the project
  • The environmental consultant who prepare EIA on behalf of project proponent
  • Pollution Control Board (State or National)
  • Public has the right to express their opinion
  • The Impact Assessment Agency
  • Regional centre of the MoEFCC

Source: PIB/WEB

Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)

GS-III :

Year of Awareness on Science and Health (YASH)

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a programme on health and risk communication ‘Year of Awareness on Science & Health (YASH)’ with focus on Covid-19. The programme is a comprehensive and effective science and health communication effort for promoting grass-root level appreciation and response on health.

  • The programme is aimed at minimizing risks at all levels with the help of public communication and outreach activities, promoting public understanding of common minimum science for community care and health safety measures like
    • personal sanitation and hygiene,
    • physical distancing,
    • maintaining desired collective behaviour and so on.
  • It aims to reduce the fear of risks and build confidence with necessary understanding for adopting sustainable healthy lifestyles and nurturing scientific culture among masses and societies.

Source: PIB

Ayush Sanjivani application

GS-III :

Ayush Sanjivani application

Context

Health Minister Sh. Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for AYUSH Sh. Shripad Yesso Naik jointly launched clinical research studies on Ayurveda interventions as an add-on to standard care to COVID 19 situation and Ayush Sanjivani application today at New Delhi.

About Ayush Sanjivani app

The Ministry of AYUSH and MEITY has developed Ayush Sanjivani mobile app, for generating data of large population with a target of 5 million people.

The core expected outcomes includes to generate data on acceptance and usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of COVID 19.

Source: PIB

Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour-Luhman 16A

GS-I : Human Geography Universe and Solar System

Band-like clouds seen over Sun’s neighbour-Luhman 16A

A group of international astrophysicists have identified cloud bands on the surface of Luhman 16A, one of a pair of binary brown dwarfs in the Vela constellation.

They have used an idea put forth Indian astrophysicist Sujan Sengupta, who is at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, that the light emitted by a cloudy brown dwarf, or reflected off an extrasolar planet, will be polarised.

He suggested that a polarimetric technique could serve as a potential tool to probe the environment of these objects.

Subsequently, many astronomers detected polarisation of brown dwarfs. But what is special in the newest study of Luhman 16 is that the researchers have found the actual structure of the clouds — that they form bands over one of the pair (Luhman 16A) of brown dwarfs.

Luhman 16A

Luhman 16 is a binary star system, the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star.

At a distance of about 6.5 light years from the Sun, this pair of brown dwarfs referred to as Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B orbit each other, casting a dim light.

Brown Dwarfs

Brown dwarfs are objects which have a size between that of a giant planet like Jupiter and that of a small star. In fact, most astronomers would classify any object with between 15 times the mass of Jupiter and 75 times the mass of Jupiter to be a brown dwarf.

Given that range of masses, the object would not have been able to sustain the fusion of hydrogen like a regular star; thus, many scientists have dubbed brown dwarfs as "failed stars".

Starting in 1995, astronomers have been able to detect a few nearby brown dwarfs. All of the brown dwarfs discovered so far are parts of a binary system. A binary system is one in which two stars orbit around one another (just like the planets of our solar system orbit our star, the Sun).

It is believed that some of the more massive brown dwarfs fuse deuterium or lithium and glow faintly.

The faintness of the glow proved to be providential in finding the cloud bands. Unlike a star whose brightness would be too high, or an extrasolar planet orbiting a star, where the extra light from its star would have to be cut off to make the measurement, the light of the brown dwarfs was just right.

The group, by using the Very Large Telescope at European Southern Observatory, Chile, found that Luhman 16A had band-like clouds in its atmosphere, whereas the same was not true of Luhman 16B.

Source: TH/WEB

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