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13 Mar, 2021

30 Min Read

Bureaucrats cannot be State Election Commissioners: SC

GS-II : Indian Polity Election commission

Bureaucrats cannot be State Election Commissioners: SC

  • The Supreme Court on Friday held that independent persons and not bureaucrats should be appointed State Election Commissioners.
  • The top court directed that the States should appoint independent persons as Election Commissioners all along the length and breadth of the country.

‘Give up post’

  • It said government employees holding the post of State Election Commissioners as an additional charge should give up the post.
  • The Supreme Court said its direction should be followed strictly.
  • The independence of Election Commissions cannot be compromised at any cost, the Bench said, adding that it was “disturbing” to see government employees manning State Election Commissions as an add-on job.
  • The judgment criticised the Goa government for giving its Law Secretary the additional charge of State Election Commissioner.
  • “Under the constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the State to not interfere with the functioning of the State Election Commission,” the Bench said.

Steps To Be Taken

1. The state governments need to follow the guidelines given by the Supreme Court in Kishan Singh Tomar vs Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad case:

  • The provisions of Article 243K of the Constitution, which provides for the setting up of SECs, are almost identical to those of Article 324 related to the ECI.
  • Also, the state governments should abide by orders of the SECs during the conduct of the panchayat and municipal elections, just like they follow the instructions of the EC during Assembly and Parliament polls.

2. 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission Recommendation

  • The State Election Commissioner should be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of a collegium, comprising the Chief Minister, the Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly and the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
  • An institutional mechanism should be created to bring the Election Commission of India and the SECs on a common platform for coordination, learning from each other’s experiences and sharing of resources.

3. Law Commission 255th Report on Electoral Reforms

  • It is recommended, adding a new sub-clause to Article 324 of the Constitution to provide for a separate independent and permanent Secretariat for the ECI along the lines of the Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha Secretariats under Article 98 of the Constitution.
  • Similar provisions can also be made for the State Election Commissions to ensure autonomy, and free and fair local body election.

Source: TH

Vapour Recovery System

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Air Pollution

Vapour Recovery System


  • Green concern: Fuel stations are a major source of emission, according to the National Green Tribunal.

Committee’s recommendation

  • A joint committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to study air pollution in Kerala has recommended the installation of a vapour recovery system at fuelling stations and retrofitting of diesel vehicles with particulate filters to improve air quality.
  • The report pointed out that petrol refuelling stations were a major source of benzene emissions, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter 2.5 concentration.
    • Therefore, the installation of a vapour recovery system is an important step in improving air quality.
    • This is to be implemented in coordination with the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization [PESO] shortly.

District-wise analysis

  • The committee was directed to assess the ambient air quality levels in the State, especially in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Alappuzha, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kasaragod, and Kannur.
  • The panel recommended stringent action against industrial units that do not comply with emission norms.

Diesel generators

  • The Pollution Control Board has already suggested retrofitting of emission control devices of generators and replacing diesel generators with gas-based ones.
  • Other recommendations include promoting battery-operated vehicles and banning old diesel vehicles in a phased manner, greening of open areas, and creation of green buffers along traffic corridors.
  • Introduction of wet/mechanised vacuum sweeping of roads, controlling dust pollution at construction sites, and ensuring the transport of construction materials in covered vehicles.


  • Benzene is an organic chemical compound with the molecular formula C6H6.
    • The benzene molecule is composed of six carbon atoms joined in a planar ring with one hydrogen atom attached to each.
  • Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil and is one of the elementary petrochemicals.
  • Due to the cyclic continuous pi bonds between the carbon atoms, benzene is classed as an aromatic hydrocarbon.
  • Benzene is a colourless and highly flammable liquid with a sweet smell and is partially responsible for the aroma around petrol (gasoline) stations.

Health impacts of Benzene:

  • Benzene works by causing cells not to work correctly.
    • For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anaemia.
    • Also, it can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells.
  • Some women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries.
  • Animal studies have shown low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage when pregnant animals breathed benzene.

What is a vapour recovery system?

  • A vapour recovery system helps to collect petrol vapour released during unloading and refueling back to the petrol tanker and underground storage tank, respectively.
  • A Vapor Recovery Unit (VRU) is a set-up designed to remove unwanted vapors present in crude oil or distillate tanks allowing operators to comply with prevailing emission regulations.
  • VRU systems can be employed in a wide range of chemical industries with several variants available.
    • For example, a vapor recovery system for storage tanks can be used to recover vent gas from crude oil and distillate tanks at storage facilities.

Source: TH

Railway freight usage surpasses FY20 level

GS-III : Economic Issues Railways

Railway freight usage surpasses FY20 level


  • The Railways on Friday said its freight loading for the financial year 2020-21 has already surpassed the levels achieved during the last fiscal, as of March 12, driven by transportation demand from newer sectors such as automobiles, onion, sand and cotton.
  • In 2020-21, the Railways has till now loaded 1145.68 million tonnes (mt) of freight, marginally higher from 1145.61 mt in the previous year.

‘Emerging from deficit’

  • As per the details shared by the Railways, there was a shortfall of about 50 mt in loading of coal, which comprises half of its freight, along with decline in loading of petroleum, oil and lubricants.
  • However, loading of commodities such as foodgrains, iron and steel, cement and clinker, fertilizers and other goods saw good growth.
  • “The incremental loading of more than 15 mt in other goods [from 78.93 mt to over 94 mt] is indicative of freight basket diversification.
    • For example, in non-traditional commodities, we saw a growth of 64% in automobiles, 36% in fly ash, 57% in stone, 234% in onion, 439% in chemical salt, 274% in sand, 19% in sugar and 266% in cotton...
  • With fewer passenger trains operational, Railways was able to almost double the average speed of freight trains to 44 kmph from 23.29 kmph earlier.
  • A number of concessions/discounts are also being given in Indian Railways to make the rail freight movement very attractive.

Source: TH

"Mera Ration" Mobile App

GS-II : Governance Decentralized governance

"Mera Ration" Mobile App

  • Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on March 12, 2021 launched "Mera Ration" Mobile App for those ration card holders who migrate to new places in search of livelihood (migrant workers).
  • Currently, 32 States and Union Territories are covered under One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) and the remaining four States and UTs are expected to be integrated into the scheme in the next few months.
    • The One Nation One Ration Card system covers almost 69 crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries in the country.
  • The beneficiaries will be able to use the 'Mera Ration' app to identify the nearest fair price shop and check details of their entitlement and recent transactions.
  • The android-based mobile application has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • It is currently available in Hindi and English language.
  • Gradually, it will be made available in 14 languages.
  • The languages will be identified based on places where migrant people move mostly to.

Source: TH

Virtual Quad Summit

GS-II : International Relations Indo Pacific Region

Virtual Quad Summit

The first-ever leadership Quad summit was held virtually.

Key Takeaways

  • The leaders have called for a free and open Indo-Pacific backed by democratic values, and not by coercion.
  • The leaders have also pledged to promote a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international.

About Quad summit:

  • The quad summit is the strategic dialogue between 4 India, the United States, Japan, and Australia.
  • The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.
  • However, the idea of the Quad summit was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese Prime Minister.
  • But it was dropped with the withdrawal of Australia. It was later revived in the year 2017.


  • It is a group of four democracies.
  • They have a shared objective to ensure and support a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
  • The foundation of the Quad summit is also based on collective effort and shared commitment to counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, maritime security cooperation, development finance, and cybersecurity.

Source: TH

INS Karanj Inducted into service

GS-III : Internal security Internal security

INS Karanj Inducted into service

Indian Navy inducted INS Karanj into service, the 3rd Scorpene-class conventional diesel-electric submarine.

About INS Karanj:

  • INS Karanj is a part of Project-75I.
  • It is the 3rd of the first batch of 6 Scorpene-class submarines for the Indian Navy.
  • It is French naval defence and energy group.
  • Manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

Key Features:

  • INS Karanj is equipped with centralised propulsion and machinery control.
  • The powerful diesel engines can quickly charge batteries for a stealthy mission profile.
  • It is also fitted with a permanent magnetic synchronous motor making it one of the quietest submarines in the world.


  • They have advanced silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, and the ability to attack with precision-guided weapons on board.
  • They can also launch crippling attacks on the surface and underwater enemy targets.
  • The Indian Navy will use these submarines for area surveillance, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and minelaying operations.
  • They can travel at a maximum submerged speed of approximately 20 knots and have the ability to remain submerged for 21 days.
  • It has a diving depth of more than 350m.

About Project 75I:

  • Project 75I is a program by the Indian Navy for building 6 Scorpene-Class attack submarines.
    • The first submarine is INS Kalvari. It was commissioned in 2017
    • The second is INS Khanderi. It was commissioned in 2019.
    • The fourth and fifth submarines are INS Vela and INS Vagir.
    • The sixth is INS Vaghseer.

Source: TH

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