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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

17 Dec, 2020

50 Min Read

5th India Water Impact Summit (IWIS)

GS-I : Indian Geography Water resources

5th India Water Impact Summit (IWIS)

GS-Paper-1 Resource management (MINS-I.V)

Organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Center for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga) has held virtually.

India Water Impact 2020 is hosting experts and academicians from all over the world to discuss and debate issues related to water conservation, water security and river rejuvenation.

Theme: Comprehensive analysis and holistic management of local rivers and water bodies with focus on Arth Ganga - river conservation synchronised development. At the event, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research signed a MoU with cGanga for development of a sludge management framework in India.

2019 summit:

  • Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga) led by IIT Kanpur organised the 4th India Water Impact Summit from 5-7 December 2019 at the Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
  • The Summit this year will focus on integrated water resources management in urban and rural settings in order to achieve the Government’s goal of providing water to every household in the next 5 years.
  • The Summit will also host the 2nd “Water Finance Forum”, a special event within an event that will bring together global financial institutions and investors keen on investing in the rejuvenation of the largest environmental programme.
  • This year’s theme shall focus on Financing of High Impact Projects in the water sector.
  • The technology showcase track promises to showcase the very best of water related solutions from around the world.
  • Additional Tracks in the 2019 Summit are:
    • Water impact in smart cities
    • Water impact in rural areas | delivering on Jal Jeewan mission

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

It is the implementation wing of the National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection, and Management of River Ganga also known as National Ganga Council-set in 2016; which replaced the NRGBA. NMCG was established in the year 2011 as a registered society.

  • It has a two-tier management structure and comprises the Governing Council and Executive Committee. The aims and objectives of NMCG are:
    To ensure effective control of pollution and rejuvenation of the river Ganga by adopting a river basin approach to promote inter-sectoral coordination for comprehensive planning and management.
  • To maintain minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.
  • In 2014, ‘Namami Gange Programme’ was launched as an Integrated Conservation Mission, to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • The program is being implemented by the NMCG, and its state counterpart organization viz., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
  • It has a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore.

The main pillars of the programme are:

        1. Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring,
        2. River-Front Development & River-Surface Cleaning,
        3. Bio-Diversity & Afforestation, and
        4. Public Awareness.

Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga):

It was established at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK) in 2016.

The Centre is a Centre of Excellence for data collection, the creation and dissemination of knowledge and information for the sustainable development of Ganga River Basin.

The centre acts in the capacity of a comprehensive think-tank to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), in its stated goals and objectives vis-à-vis the Ganga River Basin.

Source: PIB

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment-12th GRIHA Summit

GS-III : Economic Issues Housing sector

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment-12th GRIHA Summit

GS-Paper-Economic Issue- PT-MAINS

Context: GRIHA buildings ecosystem for sustainability and sanitation in inspiring behavioural change. Cities bear a massive responsibility to balance present & future needs.

Facts:

**Theme: Rejuvenating Resilient Habitats.

Purpose: To serve as a platform to deliberate on innovative technologies and solutions which shall help in creating robust mechanisms for developing sustainable and resilient solutions for the benefit of the entire community.

Launch Event: The Vice President of India launched the SHASHWAT magazine and the book '30 Stories Beyond Buildings' during the event.

Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA): It is the national rating system of India for any completed building construction. GRIHA is recognised as India’s own green building rating system in India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Created By: It was conceived by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and developed jointly with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Objective: To help design green buildings and, in turn, help evaluate the 'greenness' of the buildings.

Mechanism: The system has been developed to help 'design and evaluate' new buildings (buildings that are still at the inception stages). A building is assessed based on its predicted performance over its entire life cycle.

**Parameters used:

      1. Site selection and planning
      2. Conservation and efficient utilization of resources
      3. Building operation and maintenance
      4. Innovation points

Benefits: This system, along with the activities and processes that lead up to it, benefits the community with the improvement in the environment by reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, reducing energy consumption and stress on natural resources.

Other missions for SUSTAINABLE URBANISATION

Smart Cities Mission: It is an innovative initiative under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology as a means to create smart outcomes for citizens. It is working towards integrated and comprehensive development of cities

Global Housing Technology Challenge: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Launched: January 2019

To identify and mainstream the best available and proven construction technologies that are sustainable, green and disaster-resilient to enable a paradigm shift in housing construction.

Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators (ASHA): Under this initiative, five Incubation Centers have been set up for identifying innovative materials, processes and technology for resource-efficient, resilient and sustainable construction.

National mission on sustainable habitat

It is one of the eight missions under the national climate change action plan and aims to make cities sustainable through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, management of solid waste & shift to public transport.

The National Mission for Sustainable Habitat which is a component of the National Action Plan for Climate Change will broadly cover the following aspects: Extension of the energy conservation building code - which addresses the design of new and large commercial buildings to optimize their energy demand; Better urban planning and modal shift to public transport - make long term transport plans to facilitate the growth of medium and small cities in such a way that ensures efficient and convenient public transport; Recycling of material and urban waste management - a special area of focus will be the development of technology for producing power from waste. The National Mission will include a major R&D programme, focusing on bio-chemical conversion, wastewater use, sewage utilization and recycling options wherever possible.

Source: PIB

Himalayan serow

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Himalayan serow

A Himalayan serow has been sighted for the first time in the Himalayan cold desert region-Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Himalayan serow resembles a cross between a goat, a donkey, a cow, and a pig.

There are several species of serows, and all of them are found in Asia. The Himalayan serow, or Capricornis sumatraensis thar, is restricted to the Himalayan region. Taxonomically, it is a subspecies of the mainland serow (Capricornis sumatraensis).

Habitat: They are typically found at altitudes between 2,000 metres and 4,000 metres. They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region. The Trans-Himalayas Mountain Region or Tibet Himalayan Region is located to the north of the Great Himalayas which consists of Karakoram, Ladakh, Zaskar and Kailash mountain ranges.

Conservative mechanism

Salient Features of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

  • The Act provides for the protection of a listed species of animals, birds, and plants, and also for the establishment of a network of ecologically-important protected areas in the country.
  • The Act provides for the formation of wildlife advisory boards, and wildlife wardens, specifies their powers and duties, etc.
  • The Act prohibited the hunting of endangered species.
  • The Act provides for licenses for the sale, transfer, and possession of some wildlife species.
  • Its provisions paved the way for the formation of the Central Zoo Authority. This is the central body responsible for the oversight of zoos in India. It was established in 1992.
  • The Act created six schedules which gave varying degrees of protection to classes of flora and fauna. Schedule I and Schedule II (Part II) get absolute protection, and offences under these schedules attract the maximum penalties. The schedules also include species that may be hunted.

The National Board for Wildlife was constituted as a statutory organization under the provisions of this Act.

  • It is chaired by the Prime Minister.
  • This is an advisory board that offers advice to the central government on issues of wildlife conservation in India.
  • It is also the apex body to review and approve all matters related to wildlife, projects of national parks, sanctuaries, etc.
  • The chief function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.

Recent Sighting: The animal was spotted near Hurling village in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Spiti lies in the cold mountain desert region of the western Himalayas, and its valley floor has an average elevation of 4,270 metres above sea level, making the sighting special as Serows are generally not found at this altitude. This is the first recorded human sighting of the serow in Himachal Pradesh. The animal has been spotted a few times earlier in the state, but that has always been through camera traps.

The animal has also been spotted in the Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary, and in the higher reaches of Chamba. The Sanctuary is locally well known for its extensive alpine pastures as well as the numerous treks, trails and passes that connect it with the neighbouring Great Himalayan National Park and Pin Valley National Park.

Facts:

IUCN Red List: Vulnerable CITES: Appendix I The Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Schedule I

Source: IE

Protected Special Agriculture Zone - Cauvery Delta

GS-I : Indian Geography River system

Protected Special Agriculture Zone - Cauvery Delta

GS-Paper-1 Geography (PT-MAINS)

Tamil Nadu government has declared the Cauvery delta region as a Protected Special Agriculture Zone.

What is a Protected Agriculture Zone?

Declaring as a Protected Special Agriculture Zone ensures that a particular region will not be granted permission for any new projects like those related to hydrocarbons. Only Agro-based Industries would be given permission to be built.

The protected zone includes eight districts namely Thanjavur (Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu), Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Karur, and Tiruchirapalli.

Such a declaration will prevent non-agrarian projects in the region. The Government has emphasized that central projects on hydrocarbon exploration in the delta region cannot be implemented without No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the State government.

The Cauvery delta region is an important agricultural region in Tamil Nadu. It has been seen that in the last four decades, Tamil Nadu’s food dependence on the delta has fallen from 65% to 40%. Hydrocarbon wells are one of the major reasons behind the same.

Significance of the move

  • The Cauvery Delta Region is Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl comprising over eight districts.
  • It is just and reasonable that projects like hydrocarbon exploration have raised concerns among farmers and other agriculture-based labourers.
  • Drilling for extraction of oil and gas in these regions that hamper agriculture and pose much environmental impact or health hazards will be stopped immediately.

Source: IE

National Family Health Survey- 5

GS-III : S&T Health

National Family Health Survey- 5

GS-Paper-3 Application-based topic and PT

The National Family Health Survey is a survey carried out on a massive scale across the country to collect information on many parameters which would ultimately help the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) to frame policies and programs to help in the upliftment of the vulnerable groups in India. The first round of the National Family Health Survey was conducted in 1992-92. Subsequently, four other rounds have taken place, the latest being NFHS 5 which started in 2018-19, however, is stalled currently amid the COVID-19-associated lockdown at various states.

National Family Health Survey?

  • The NFHS is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted on a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • Three rounds of the survey have been conducted since the first survey in 1992-93.
  • The survey provides state and national information for India on fertility, infant and child mortality, the practice of family planning, maternal and child health, reproductive health, nutrition, etc.
  • The Ministry of Health has designated the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) Mumbai, as the nodal agency, responsible for providing coordination and technical guidance for the survey.

National Family Health Survey 5 is the recent round of the survey carried on by MoH&FW to bring out reliable data on emerging health and family welfare issues. The coordinating and implementing agencies that are helping the ministry to bring out this NFHS round are:

  • International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai
  • A group of survey organizations and Population Research Centres

ICF International is providing technical assistance for the NFHS 5 while the United States Agency for International Development is providing financial assistance.

Seven lakh households are being covered to collect the data. 67 indicators are being used to cover the NFHS 5 data. The list of important indicators is mentioned below:

  • Population and household profile (PT POINTER)
  • Marriage and fertility
  • Family planning
  • Contraception
  • Maternal and child health
  • Delivery care
  • Vaccinations
  • Treatment of childhood diseases
  • Nutrition and feeding practices
  • Anaemia
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension and
  • Cancer Examination

Note: The data for NFHS was expected to be released by July 2020 but due to the current pandemic situation, it has been delayed.

PT-FACTS

National Family Health Survey Rounds

Totally five rounds of survey have been conducted to date. The below information gives details on the round and the year it was conducted.

  1. The First Round of NFHS was conducted in 1992-93
  2. Second Round of NFHS was conducted in 1998-99
  3. Third Round of NFHS conducted in 2005-06
  4. Fourth Round of NFHS was conducted in 2015-16
  5. Fifth Round of NFHS conducted in 2018-19

Objectives

The Objective of conducting the NFHS is to collect information of the following

  1. Nutrition
  2. Anaemia
  3. Infant and Child Mortality
  4. Family Planning
  5. Fertility
  6. Maternal and Child Health
  7. Reproductive Health

Key Facts

Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The TFR across most Indian states declined in the past half a decade, more so among urban women. This implies that India’s population is stabilizing. Sikkim recorded the lowest TFR, with one woman bearing 1.1 children on average; Bihar recorded the highest TFR of three children per woman.

In 19 of the 22 surveyed states, TFRs were found to be ‘below-replacement level (2.1)’.
TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.

The replacement level is the number of children needed to replace the parents, after accounting for fatalities, skewed sex ratio, infant mortality, etc. Population starts falling below this level.

Anaemia among Women: More than half of the children and women are anaemic in 13 of the 22 States/UTs.

It has also been observed that anaemia among pregnant women has increased in half of the States/UTs compared to NFHS-4. In all the states, anaemia is much higher among women compared to men.

Contraception: Female sterilization continues to dominate as the modern method of contraception in states like Andhra Pradesh (98%), Telangana (93%), Kerala (88%), Karnataka (84%), Bihar (78%) and Maharashtra (77%).

Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially in most States/UTs and it is the highest in HP and WB (74%).

Child Marriages: There has been an increase in child marriages in Tripura (40.1% from 33.1% in 2015-16), Manipur (16.3% from 13.7% in 2015-16) and Assam (31.8% from 30.8 % in 2015-16),

States like West Bengal (41.6%) and Bihar (40.8%) still have high prevalence of child marriages. States such as Tripura, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland have also shown an increase in teenage pregnancies.

Domestic/Spousal Violence: It has generally declined in most of the states and UTs. However, it has witnessed an increase in five states, namely Sikkim, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka. Karnataka witnessed the largest increase in spousal violence, from 20.6% in NFHS 4 to 44.4% in NFHS-5. Sexual violence has increased in five states (Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and West Bengal).

Institutional Births: Have increased substantially with over four-fifth of the women delivering in institutions in 19 States and UTs. Institutional delivery is over 90% in 14 out of the total 22 States and UTs.

Caesarean (C-section) Deliveries: There has been an increase in the number of Caesarean section (C-section) deliveries in a majority of states.

The international healthcare community has considered the ideal rate for caesarean sections to be between 10% and 15%. States such as Telangana, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, and some in the northeast, have shown a jump in C-section deliveries, especially at private healthcare facilities, in the last five years. In some states like Telangana and West Bengal, the C-section deliveries, at private healthcare facilities rose up to 81% and 82%.

For the first time: Gaps in internet use

In 2019, for the first time, the NFHS-5, which collects data on key indicators on population health, family planning and nutrition, sought details on two specific indicators: Percentage of women and men who have ever used the Internet. On average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India ever used the Internet, according to the survey.

  1. First, only an average of 42.6 per cent of women ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16 per cent among the men.
  2. Second, in urban India, average 56.81 per cent women ever used the Internet compared to an average of 73.76 per cent among the men.
  3. Third, dismal 33.94 per cent women in rural India ever used the Internet as against 55.6 per cent among men.
  • In urban India, 10 states and three union territories reported more than 50 per cent women who had ever used the Internet: Goa (78.1%), Himachal Pradesh (78.9%), Kerala (64.9%), and Maharashtra (54.3%).
  • The five states reporting the lowest percentage of women, whoever used the Internet in urban India were Andhra Pradesh (33.9%), Bihar (38.4%), Tripura (36.6%), Telangana (43.9%) and Gujarat (48.9%).

Sex Ratio at Birth: SRB has remained unchanged or increased in most States/UTs. Majority of the states are in normal sex ratio of 952 or above. SRB is below 900 in Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, DNH & DD.

Child Nutrition: Child nutrition indicators show a mixed pattern across states. While the situation improved in many States/UTs, there has been minor deterioration in others. Drastic changes in respect of stunting and wasting are unlikely in a short period.

Financial Inclusion: Considerable progress has been recorded between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 in regard to women operating bank accounts.

Sanitation and Clean Air: The percentage of households with improved sanitation facilities and clean fuel for cooking has increased in almost all the 22 States/UTs over the last four years (from 2015-16 to 2019-20). The Government of India has made concerted efforts to provide toilet facilities to maximum households through Swachh Bharat Mission, and improved household environment through Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in the country.

Quick FACTS

Who Published NFHS?

MOHFW has appointed International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai as the Nodal agency. IIPS has collaborated with the following international agencies for the successful conduct of the survey.

  1. ORC, Macro, Maryland, USA
  2. East-West Centre, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Note: in NFHS 4 and NFHS 5, along with USAID and ICF; DFID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the MacArthur Foundation, as well as the Indian Government also supported the surveys in a major way.

Which Agencies Provided the Funding for NFHS?

Many international agencies and the Central Government Ministry have provided the necessary funds to carry out the survey.

  1. United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  2. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  3. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  4. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  5. MOHFW, Government of India

Also, the data that is published by the Ministry is also used by the WHO, World Bank & UNICEF.

What is NFHS-4?

It is the Fourth Round of National Family Health Survey conducted under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW). The following are some of the major highlights of the program.

  1. District level estimates on many indicators were provided for the first time.
  2. 14 Field agencies were involved in the collection of data
  3. Gathered information from approximately 6 lakh households.
  4. Survey took information from approximately 7 lakh women and 1 lakh men.

Conclusion

Health is the most important social infrastructure if we want to develop our demography. Current times require integrated and coordinated efforts from all health institutions, academia and other partners directly or indirectly associated with the health care services to make these services accessible, affordable and acceptable to all. The data in NFHS-5 gives requisite input for strengthening existing programmes and evolving new strategies for policy intervention, therefore government and authorities should take steps to further improve the condition of women in India.

Source: IE

Indian Bison

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Animals

Indian Bison

An Indian Bison, or Gaur, in Pune’s urban landscape, died due to human-animal conflict. It is mainly found in South and Southeast Asia.

Location: Native to South and Southeast Asia in India, they are found in Nagarhole, Bandipur, Masinagudi National Parks and BR Hills.

Conservation Status: Vulnerable in IUCN Red List. Included in the Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.

Important Facts: It is the tallest species of wild cattle found in India and the largest extant bovine. Recently, the first population estimation exercise of the Indian Gaur (Bison) was carried out in the Nilgiris Forest Division, Tamil Nadu. Recently, the conservation breeding of Gaur was started at Mysuru zoo under the conservation breeding programme of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

Threats:

    • Food Scarcity: Due to the destruction in the grasslands, planting of commercially important trees, invasive plant species and indiscriminate grazing of domestic animals
    • Poaching: For their commercial value as well as due to the high demand of gaur meat.
    • Habitat Loss: Due to deforestation and commercial plantations.
    • Human-Animal Conflict: Due to living in proximity to human habitations.

In India, the Gaur is mainly found in the Western Ghats, the forests of central India and forest patches in the Northeast. It is listed in Appendix I of the CITES.

Source: PIB

Meeting on Chabahar Port - India-Iran-Central Asia

GS-II : International Relations India and Iran

TWG Meeting on Chabahar Port

The first Trilateral Working Group Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on the joint use of Chabahar Port was held virtually. The participants discussed the joint use of Chabahar Port for trade and transit purposes and enhanced regional connectivity. India has proposed to hold "Chabahar Day” on the sidelines of the International Maritime Summit to be hosted by India in January 2021.

Past related news

Chabahar Port: It is located on the Gulf of Oman and is only 72 km away from the Gwadar port in Pakistan which has been developed by China. The port serves as the only oceanic port of Iran and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari

Background: In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed the trilateral agreement which entailed the establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among them using Chabahar port in Iran as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation.

Construction of a rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan as an alternate trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, was also a part of it. The state-owned Indian Railways Construction Ltd. (IRCON) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Iranian Rail Ministry to provide all services, superstructure work and financing (around USD 1.6 billion).

Reasons for Excluding India:

Iran’s Stand: In July 2020, Iran decided to proceed with the rail line construction on its own, citing delays from the Indian side in beginning and funding the project.

India’s Stand: IRCON completed the site inspection and feasibility report, and had been waiting for the Iranian side to appoint a nodal authority.

Although the project has secured a special waiver from the USA, India is hesitant to deal with the construction company which has links with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and is under sanctions. The IRGC is a hard-line force which operates its own military infrastructure in parallel to Iran’s regular armed forces. In April 2020, it launched Iran’s first military satellite, Noor.

Fear of sanctions by the USA has also impacted Indian interest in the Farzad-B gas field project of Iran.

Significance:
Trade: It is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by the three countries with other Central Asian countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to India.

Security: China is aggressively pursuing its own Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. The port can also act as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

Connectivity: In future, the Chabahar project and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) will complement each other by optimising Indian connectivity with Russia and Eurasia.

Farzad-B Gas Field

  • It is located in Persian Gulf (Iran) and the contract for exploration of the field was signed in 2002 by Indian consortium comprising Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) Videsh, Indian Oil Corporation and Oil India.
  • The contract expired in 2009 after the declaration of commerciality of the field, based on the gas discovery. Since then, the consortium has been trying to secure a contract for the development of the field.
  • The major dispute between India and Iran was over the setting up of two pipelines, and also over money to be quoted on the development plan.
  • Around 75% of the deal was finalised by May 2018, when the USA unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and announced sanctions on Iran.
  • In January 2020, Iran clarified that it would develop the field on its own and would like to involve India appropriately at a later stage.

Source: TH

Pink Phenomenon

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Environmental Pollution

Pink Phenomenon

In Avalapandi, a village in Kerala, an aquatic plant forked fanwort has painted the water bodies pink, which led to the ‘pink phenomenon’. This plant comes from the family of Red Cabomba (Cabomba furcata).

Cabomba is a submerged perennial aquatic plant that grows in stagnant to slow-flowing freshwater. It is an invasive species that belongs to Central and South America.

It requires a huge amount of oxygen to grow and that could badly affect freshwater biodiversity. It has a high natural dispersal potential due to its ability to readily fragment and spread.

Invasive Species: Invasive alien species are any biological species that are introduced outside their natural range. They would negatively impact the native biodiversity, ecosystem function, health and human welfare.

They could reproduce rapidly and out-compete the native species for food, water and space. They are the second-biggest cause of biodiversity loss, next to habitat destruction.

Source: DTE

Himalayan Griffon Vulture

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Animals

Himalayan Griffon Vulture

It is a migratory bird species native to the Himalayas, has been spotted in Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. It is usually found in high-altitude regions.

They originate from the Himalayan Chain and Plateau of Tibet. The IUCN status of the bird is Near-threatened. It is listed in Appendix II of the CITES.

Source: TH

Vijay Diwas-50 years celebration

GS-I : Modern History Significant Events

Vijay Diwas-50 years celebration

India will celebrate 50 Years of the Indo-Pak War, also called Swarnim Vijay Varsh on 16th December 2020. The inaugural event of the celebration will be held at the National War Memorial (NWM) in New Delhi which will be attended by the Prime Minister. The National War Memorial is a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation, post-independence it also commemorates the soldiers who participated and made the supreme sacrifice in Peacekeeping Missions and Counter Insurgency Operations.

Facts:

Vijay Diwas is observed on 16th December every year to mark India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. The Government of India decided on 3rd December 1971, that India would go to war with Pakistan to save Bengali Muslims and Hindus. This war was fought between India and Pakistan for 13 days.

On 16th December 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces with 93,000 soldiers surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini in Dhaka. Mukti Bahini refers to the armed organizations that fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was a guerrilla resistance movement. Bangladesh was born on this day. Hence, Bangladesh celebrates its independence day (Bijoy Dibos) on 16th December every year.

Source: PIB

Centre for Science and Environment - Coal Analysis

GS-III : Economic Issues Coal sector reforms

Centre for Science and Environment - Coal Analysis

GS-PAPER-3 Economic issues- Energy security (Mains-I.V)

According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), coal will continue to be the mainstay of India’s power generation till at least 2030. But efforts must be made to ensure that it is used efficiently to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Improving fleet technology and efficiency, propagating biomass co-firing and investing in carbon capture and storage are among the measures, among others, that could help cut GHG emissions by 22%.

Biomass co-firing is a globally accepted low-cost method for decarbonising a coal fleet. It is an option for efficiently and cleanly converting biomass to electricity by adding biomass as a partial substitute fuel in high-efficiency coal boilers.

News Background

Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India. It accounts for 55% of the country's energy needs. The country's industrial heritage was built upon indigenous coal. Commercial primary energy consumption in India has grown by about 700% in the last four decades.

The current per capita commercial primary energy consumption in India is about 350 kgoe/year which is well below that of developed countries. Driven by the rising population, expanding economy and a quest for improved quality of life, energy usage in India is expected to rise.

Considering the limited reserve potentiality of petroleum & natural gas, eco-conservation restrictions on the hydel projects and geo-political perception of nuclear power, coal will continue to occupy the centre stage of India's energy scenario.

Through the sustained programme of investment and greater thrust on the application of modern technologies, it has been possible to raise the **All India production of coal at 730.354 million tonnes in 2018-19 (Provisional) with a positive growth of 7.9%. Coal India Limited has set up Regional Sales Offices and Sub-Sales Offices at selected places in the country to cater to the needs of the consuming sectors in various regions.

Import: As per the present import policy, coal can be freely imported (under Open General Licence) by the consumers themselves considering their needs based on their commercial prudence.

Coking Coal is being imported by the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and other Steel manufacturing units mainly to bridge the gap between the requirement and indigenous availability and to improve the quality of production. Coal-based power plants, cement plants, captive power plants, sponge iron plants, industrial consumers and coal traders are importing non-coking coal. Coke is imported mainly by pig-Iron manufacturers and Iron & Steel sector consumers using a mini-blast furnace.

Reserves: As a result of exploration carried out up to the maximum depth of 1200 m, a cumulative total of 319.02 Billion tonnes of Geological Resources of Coal have so far been estimated in the country till April, 2018. Hard coal deposit spread over 27 major coalfields, are mainly confined to eastern and south central parts of the country. The lignite reserves stand at a level around 36 billion tonnes, of which 90% occur in the southern State of Tamil Nadu.

**Top 5 States in terms of total coal reserves in India are: Jharkhand > Odisha > Chhattisgarh > West Bengal > Madhya Pradesh.

Classification of Coal

Coal is originated from organic matter wood. When large tracts of forests are buried under sediments, wood is burnt and decomposed due to heat from below and pressure from above. The phenomenon makes coal but takes centuries to complete.

Classification of Coal can be done on the basis of carbon content and time period. On the basis of carbon content it can be classified into the following three types:

Anthracite: It is the best quality of coal with the highest calorific value and carries 80 to 95% carbon content. It ignites slowly with a blue flame and is found in small quantities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bituminous: It has a low level of moisture content with 60 to 80% of carbon content and has a high calorific value. Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have deposits of Bituminous.

Lignite: carries 40 to 55% carbon content and is often brown in colour with high moisture content thus, gives smoke when burnt. Rajasthan, Lakhimpur (Assam) and Tamil Nadu have deposits of Lignite.

Peat: is the first stage of transformation from wood to coal with low calorific value and less than 40% carbon content.

**Despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserves, India imported 235 million tonnes (mt) of coal last year, of which 135mt valued at Rs.171,000 crore could have been met from domestic reserves.

Problems of COAL mining

India has to import near 213 million tons coal and some Indian companies have also acquired coal mines overseas to ensure continuous supply. The import dependency for good quality coal is NOT good for India’s energy requirement and fiscal health.

Reasons:

  • Till now, the PSU, Coal India was the only commercial miner in the country for more than four decades which has shown monopolistic tendencies in the sector. Monopoly in the mining sector was incapable of meeting domestic demands.
  • The low productivity of Coal India is still a concern.
  • Coal plants have higher operation and maintenance costs because of strict regulatory issues.
  • India’s power regulators are not regularly updating prices to accommodate increases in operational costs due to regulation.
  • State Pollution Control Boards are ineffective at monitoring or enforcing compliance.
  • Expansion in power generation in India has been largely based on state financing i.e many coal power plants in India are constructed through massive debt financing from state-owned banks. It shows that international investment in coal generation assets in India has been very less.
  • Delayed environment and forest clearances: The environment ministry in past has classified ecological sensitive areas in ‘Go and No Go areas’ and there was a total prohibition on mining in no-go areas.
  • Further, there are other clearances required from State and Central Governments.
  • Land Acquisition problems.
  • Lack of adequate technology.
  • Allocation process was arbitrary, discretionary and non-transparent.
  • There was no consideration of Merit, no Price discovery mechanism for national resources.

Government efforts

1. In April 2018, The Ministry of Coal has launched the UTTAM (Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal) Application for coal quality monitoring. The app aims to ensure transparency and efficiency in coal quality monitoring process and bring coal governance closer to the people.

2. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a new coal linkage policy to ensure an adequate supply of fuel to power plants through reverse auction. The new policy will help in ensuring fuel supplies to the power plants in an organised manner.

3. Ministry of Coal has developed an Online Coal Clearances System to provide a single window access to its investors to submit online applications for all the permissions/clearances and approvals granted by Ministry of Coal.

4. Coal Allocation Monitoring System (CAMS) is developed to monitor the allocation of coal by CIL to States, States to SNA and SNA to such consumers in a transparent manner.

5. Opening up of commercial coal mining for Indian and foreign companies in the private sector. The CCEA approved the methodology for auction of coal mines/ blocks for sale of the commodity on 20 February 2018. The move has been defined as the most ambitious reform of the sector since its nationalisation in 1973. The auction will be done on an online transparent platform. The bid parameter will be the price offer in Rupees/ Tonne, which will be paid to the State government on the actual production of coal.

This reform is expected to bring efficacy into the coal sector by moving from an era of monopoly to competition. It will increase competitiveness and allow the use of best possible technology in the sector.

The procedure established till now in Coal Mining:

  • Until now there were restrictions on who could bid for coal mines only those in power, iron and steel and coal washery business could bid for mines and the bidder's needed prior experience of mining in India.
  • This effectively limited the potential bidders to a select circle of players and thus limited the value that the government could extract from the bidding.
  • Second, end-use restrictions inhibited the development of a domestic market for coal.
  • The ordinance essentially democratises the coal industry and makes it attractive for merchant mining companies, including multinationals such as BHP and Rio Tinto, to look at India.
  • The move was overdue considering that the country spent a huge Rs.1,71,000 crore in coal imports last year to buy 235 million tonnes; of that, 100 million tonnes was not substitutable, as the grade was not available in India.
  • But the balance 135 million tonnes could have been substituted by domestic production had it been available.

Commercial mining

Commercial mining allows the private sector to mine coal commercially without placing any end-use restrictions. The private firms have the option of either gasification of the coal or exporting it. They can also use it in their own end-use plants or sell them in the markets. The government expects more than Rs 33,000 crore of capital investments over the next five to seven years in the sector.

Further, with 100 per cent foreign direct investment allowed in the coal sector, global companies can also participate in the auctions. The complete freedom to decide on sale, pricing, and captive utilisation is expected to attract many private sector firms to participate in the auction process. The government expects these steps will generate employment and reduce India’s import bill.

Transformative reforms POST COVID- RSTV script

Presently, despite being the world's fourth-largest producer, India is the second-largest importer of the dry-fuel. Therefore, in line with the vision to build an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’, a slew of reforms to promote commercial mining of coal in India, has been announced.

Unlocking coal mining for private players is a step forward to attain self-reliance in the coal sector. However, for sustainable utilization of coal, there is a need to look into these reforms from a multidimensional viewpoint.

Announced Reforms:

  • Commercial mining of coal allowed, with 50 blocks to be offered to the private sector.
  • Entry norms will be liberalised as it has done away with the regulation requiring power plants to use “washed” coal.
  • Coal blocks to be offered to private companies on revenue sharing basis in place of fixed cost.
  • Coal gasification/liquefaction to be incentivised through rebate in revenue share.
  • Coal bed methane (CBM) extraction rights to be auctioned from Coal India’s coal mines.

Intended Benefits

Boost Economy and Employment: Allowing commercial mining may help to address India’s coal production needs, provide investment opportunities and save precious foreign exchange.

  • This will play a major role in ensuring the energy security of the country, as nearly the majority of power generation in India comes from thermal power plants.
  • The domino effect on sectors that use coal, like steel, power and aluminium, is going to be significant.

Plugging Supply Gap: The nationalisation of coal in 1973 meant that domestic coal could be mined only by public sector companies.

  • In this pursuit, Coal India Limited (CIL), registered an unprecedented increase in coal production and became the world's largest coal miner.
  • However, the country’s coal demand continued to grow at a much faster rate. Due to this, the growth in coal import (2009 to 2014) stood at 23 per cent.
  • Commercial mining of coal can increase the domestic production of coal and bridge the supply gap.

Win-Win Situation: The government has introduced a more equitable system of sharing of revenues, moving away from fixed rates to a revenue-sharing model.

  • Revenue sharing model will ensure when the prices go up, the miner shares more with the government; and if the price decreases, miner shares less. This is a win-win situation for both parties.

Associated Challenges

Dominance of Coal India: While reforms are aimed at ending the monopoly of Coal India Ltd., that’s unlikely to happen in the near future.

  • The current commercial coal mining regime will find it difficult to compete with Coal India. As the major consumer of coal in India (thermal power plants and steel sector) are in long term purchase agreements with Coal India.
  • Also, it will be a challenge for many companies to be able to match Coal India’s ability to navigate the complicated bureaucratic and political hurdles associated with opening new coal mines.

Issue with Non-washing of Coal: Doing away with the regulation requiring power plants to use “washed” coal will have huge environmental and economic costs.

  • The “washing” requirement was introduced in 1997 and promised the use of cleaner coal in power production. It was India’s only legitimate justification to extend the use of coal as a development fuel despite the climate crisis.
  • Also, a manufacturing or power-producing unit has to burn more coal and in turn generate not only ash but also noxious gases, particulate matter and carbon emissions.

Is this the first attempt by govt to open up the sector?

  • After the Supreme Court cancelled the coal block allocations made to the private sector by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2014, the Narendra Modi dispensation had brought in the Coal Mines (Special provisions) Act of 2015 to return these coal blocks to the private sector through auctions.
  • But there had been end-use restrictions and the private sector was not allowed to trade into the market making it unattractive for the private sector. Further in 2018, private sector firms were allowed to sell upto 25 per cent of the output in the market, but this also saw a lukewarm response from the private sector.
  • Meanwhile, sectors like power, aluminium and steel are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries with enhanced availability of coal.
  • India imports nearly 250 million tonnes of coal from other countries despite having the world’s fourth largest coal reserve.
  • The government is hoping that the involvement of the private sector will increase production and make India self-sufficient in meeting its internal coal requirements.

Way Forward

Technology upgradation measures to be imposed to improve the productivity of the coal mines and improve recovery from the coal mines. The government may consider creating funds to support overseas acquisition to supplement domestic resources. Steps need to be taken to promote research and exploration activities and modern underground mass production technologies.

For easing commercialisation of coal, there is a need to establish a single-window clearance process for coal mines. Offering projects with secured clearances will boost timely development as well as increase industry participation. Government support for the early resolution in land acquisition-related issues is needed to ensure timely operationalisation of coal mines. Further, commercial mining projects can be aided with investment in initial infrastructure settings which is more capital intensive than mining.

Source: RSTV

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