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19 Jun, 2021

43 Min Read

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

GS-III : Economic Issues Infrastructure

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

  • The country’s first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) is set to use an advanced signalling and train control system.
  • According to the NCRTC, the RRTS will adopt a modern European Train Control System Level 2 signalling over the long-term evolution communication backbone with the adoption of state-of-art Hybrid Level 3.
  • The adoption of this signalling technology adds to the distinction of RRTS, as the first technologically advanced rail network in India will be operational with a design speed of 180 km/hr.
  • The ETCS signalling system will be a key enabler in ensuring interoperability and train movement at quick frequencies, thereby reducing waiting time for passengers.

Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS)

  • The Planning Commission formed a Task Force in 2005 under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to develop a multi modal transit system for Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).
  • This was included in the Integrated Transport Plan for NCR 2032 with special emphasis on Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) connecting regional centres.
  • The Task Force identified 8 corridors and prioritised three corridors namely Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Panipat and Delhi- Alwar for implementation.

Difference between RRTS and Train

Indian Railways and Technology for India

Technology in the year 2020 is going to be a growth driver for Indian Railways. In the coming years, Indian Railways aims to provide world-class train journey experience to passengers by embracing technological advancements. With a focus on safety, comfort, and convenience, Indian Railways is aiming to transform its network.

With the launching of engine-less, self-propelled- Vande Bharat Express trains to implementation of passenger eco-friendly facilities, there is a sense of improved and enhanced train journey experience.

Vande Bharat Express

  • It is India’s first indigenously built engineless semi-high speed train. Earlier, it was known by the name Train 18.
  • It runs between Delhi and Varanasi at a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
  • It has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months.
  • The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported.
  • It is energy-efficient as its coaches will be fitted with LED lights.
  • Coaches will have automatic doors and retractable footsteps.
  • It will be inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System.
  • It is provided with Bio toilets.

Enhancing passenger experience

  • According to Indian Railways, technology in the year 2020 is going to be a growth driver. As there is no shortage of coaches now, the focus will be on introducing SMART coaches on the Indian Railways network.
  • Also, with modern features like CCTVs with facial recognition, emergency talk-back system, WiFi infotainment system, automatic plug-door and step control, etc. there will be a complete change in travel experience.

Introducing world-class train sets

  • For Indian Railways, the introduction of ‘Make in India’ semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express trains was the biggest success story of last year.
  • This year as well as in the coming years, the national transporter plans to launch many other world-class train sets, improving the railway connectivity across the country.
  • According to Rajesh Agrawal, the aim is to also start exporting trains.

Manufacturing of coaches

  • The Chittaranjan Locomotive Works in Chittaranjan and Banaras Locomotive Works in Varanasi makes electric locomotives.
  • The Integral Coach Factory in Perambur, Chennai makes integral coaches. These have a monocoque construction, and the floor is an integral unit with the undercarriage.
  • The Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala also makes coaches.
  • The Titagarh Wagons builds freight wagons.
  • The Rail Wheel Factory at Yelahanka, Bangalore and Rail Wheel Plant, Bela, Chhapra, Bihar manufacture wheels and axles.
  • Diesel-Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala upgrades the diesel locomotives.
  • Some electric locomotives have been supplied by BHEL, Jhansi and Palakkad, and locomotive components are manufactured in several other plants around the country.
  • There has been an exponential growth in coach production. For the first time in 2018-19, Indian Railways has witnessed more supply than demand.
  • The financial year 2018-19 saw the highest production of coaches in the last two decades, with a total of 5,836 coaches.
  • The Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Rae Bareilly had doubled its production, last year.

Environmental impact

  • Indian Railways plans to focus on cleanliness of trains and stations.
  • Beginning with the installation of 57 bio-toilets in 31 coaches in January 2011, Indian Railways has now successfully installed over 2.2 lakh bio-toilets covering about 61,500 passenger carrying coaches.
  • Moreover, 950 railway stations have been provided with integrated mechanised cleaning till now.
  • Also, 13 railway stations have achieved Green Certification and 85 railway stations have been certified for implementation of Environment Management System.

Freight logistics

  • The freight logistics of the national transporter is picking up, according to the Railway Board. The freight carrying capacity has been increased from 7 Million MT to 1 Billion MT.
  • Meanwhile, Indian Railways has come up with a wagon design for new traffic streams, which includes bulk, cement and fly ash transportation, steel coil 1, steel coil 2, road railers, parcel wagon.
  • A private parcel wagon design is also currently under consideration at RDSO.
  • Additionally, a Smart Yard is likely to be introduced for maintenance of rolling stock.

Recent news in Railway sector

  • In 2017, NITI Aayog cleared half-a-dozen proposals of the transport ministry exploring options to improve public transport.
  • The think tank approved the proposals of the transport ministry with a condition that the ministry conducts trial run of all these technologies and puts in place safety measures before starting commercially operation.
  • These technologies include metrino, stadler buses, hyperloop, pod taxis, hybrid buses and freight rail road.
  • The new technologies are being explored as current public transportation is unable to resolve the increasing traffic crisis in the country. Besides, some of them are more cost effective than the existing ones.


  • In a Hyperloop, the passenger pods or capsules travel through a tube, either above or below ground. To reduce friction, most but not all of the air is removed from the tubes by pumps.
  • Overcoming air resistance is one of the biggest uses of energy in high speed travel.
  • Airliners climb to high altitudes to travel through less dense air; in order to create a similar effect at ground level, Hyperloop encloses the capsules in a reduced-pressure tube, effectively allowing the trains to travel at airplane speeds but on the ground.
  • In model, the pressure of air inside the Hyperloop tube is about one-sixth the pressure of the atmosphere on Mars. This means an operating pressure of 100 pascals, which reduces the drag force of the air by 1,000 times relative to sea level conditions, and would be equivalent to flying above 150,000 feet altitude.
  • The pod would get its initial velocity from an external linear electric motor, which would accelerate it to ‘high subsonic velocity’ and then give it a boost every 70 miles or so; in between, the pod would coast along in near vacuum.

Modern Train Control system

  • Indian Railways has decided to modernize its Signalling system on its entire network by implementing Modern Train Control system.
  • The RailTel Enterprises Ltd. (REL), a 100% subsidiary of RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. has been given the responsibility to implement these four pilot projects on behalf of Indian Railway.
  • The MTCS includes provision of:
  1. Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System
  2. Electronic Interlocking System
  3. Remote Diagnostic & Predictive Maintenance System
  4. Long Term Evolution (LTE) based Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) System
  5. Centralized Traffic Control System (CTC) /Train Management System (TMS)

Maglev trains in India

  • State-run engineering BHEL announced its tie up with SwissRapide AG to bring Maglev trains (magnetic levitation) to India.
  • Aimed at expanding its footprint in the urban transportation sector as part of its diversication initiatives, BHEL has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SwissRapide AG for Maglev Train projects in India.
  • The Maglev Rail system hovers in the air instead of rolling, due to magnetic levitation, thus the vehicles have no physical contact with the guideway. This enables the system to be highly energy efficient, allows operating speeds of easily up to 500 km/h and signicantly reduces the total cost of system ownership.
  • The agreement has been signed in the backdrop of the Prime Minister's 'Make in India' and 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiatives, and will enable BHEL to bring the latest, world-class technology to India and manufacture state-of-the-art Maglev trains indigenously.
  • The SwissRapide AG is a Swiss company specialised in the promotion, project management, planning, specication, design, implementation and commissioning of international Maglev Rail projects and related technologies.
  • It holds the unique position of offering Transrapid Maglev technology, the only established and commercially proven ultra-high-speed Maglev Rail system in the world.
  • BHEL has been pioneering new technologies and has been a reliable partner in the growth of Indian Railways for over ve decades by supplying electric as well as diesel locomotives, EMUs (electrical multiple unit), and propulsion system sets and drives for the same.
  • Kolkata Metro, the first Metro in India, is equipped with BHEL made propulsion systems. The first ever air-conditioned AC-EMUs, presently operational in Mumbai suburban, are also equipped with BHEL-made propulsion and related electrics.

India’s first pod taxi project moves a step forward

  • The Union Government has approved country’s first Metrino Pod project i.e. personal rapid transit (PRT) network for Gurgaon, Haryana. It is a projected pod taxi scheme.

What is a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) Network?

  • A PRT network is made up of small automated vehicles (dubbed as pod) running at close intervals on a guideway with docking stations for passengers to get on and get off.
  • The pod can accommodate up to five people. The average speed of the pods is 60kmph.
  • Passengers have an option to hire an entire pod that will take a passenger straight to the destination, skipping the scheduled stops.

  • PRT is an advanced public transport using automated electric pod cars to provide a taxi-like demand responsive feeder and shuttle services for small groups of travelers and is a green mode of uninterrupted journey
  • NHAI has been mandated to execute it on Delhi-Gurgaon pilot corridor from Delhi-Haryana border to Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis.
  • The model is in place at London’s Heathrow airport, Morgantown and Masdar city.
  • It will be incorporating Automated People Movers (APM) standards and specifications, along with other general safety parameters with Niti Aayog recommendations.

Automated people mover (APM) standards in the US

  • These are recommended by the committee for the maiden PRT in India and have been prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • These constitute the minimum requirements for an acceptable level of safety and performance for the PRT
  • These include vehicle arrival audio and video visual warning system, platform sloping, evacuation of misaligned vehicles, surveillance/CCTV, audio communication, emergency call points and fire protection, among other advanced systems.

Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail (MAHSR) corridor

  • The Mumbai–Ahmedabad high-speed rail corridor is an under-construction high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and India's economic hub Mumbai, Maharashtra. It will be India's first high-speed rail line.
  • The bullet train is symbol of strong trust between the India and Japan as it involves the technology transfer at the core of this deal.
  • By L&T constructions.
  • Length 508 kms double line. Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Rail will be passing through two states, Maharashtra 155.642 KMs and Gujarat 350.530 KMs and one Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli 2 KMs.
  • 12 stations: Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad, Sabarmati. Except Mumbai, all other stations will be elevated.
  • Maximum Design Speed - 350 kmph while Maximum Operating speed of 320 kmph.
  • Journey time: 2.07 hrs (limited stops), 2.58 hrs (stopping at all stations).
  • Maintenance of Trains: Sabarmati (Depot & Workshop) and Thane Depot.
  • A 21-km-long tunnel will be built between Boisar and BKC in Mumbai, of which 7km will be under water.
  • The Railways will only require around 825 hectares of land for the project as 92 per cent of the route will be elevated, six per cent will go through tunnels and only the remaining two per cent will be on ground.

Source: TH

Illegal sale of HT Bt Cotton doubled


Illegal sale of HT Bt Cotton doubled

What is Genetic Engineering?

  • Through genetic engineering, scientists are able to move desirable genes from one plant or animal to another or from a plant to an animal or vice versa.
  • In essence, genetic engineering is a technology wherein a specific gene can be selected and implanted into the recipient organism.
  • The process of genetic engineering involves splicing an area of a chromosome, a gene, that controls a certain characteristic of the body. For example:
  • A gene may be reprogrammed to produce an antiviral protein.
  • A gene can be removed and can be placed into a bacterial cell where it can be sealed into the DNA chain using ligase.

Genetically Modified Seeds:

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
  • Genus is a class of items such as a group of animals or plants with similar traits, qualities or features.
  • Genetic modification aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
  • Bt cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop that is allowed in India. It has alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  • Herbicide Tolerant Bt (Ht Bt) cotton, on the other hand is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borers.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

Legal Position of GM crops in India

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
  • In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95% of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • It is responsible for the appraisal of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • The committee is also responsible for the appraisal of proposals relating to the release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
  • GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Advantages of Genetic Engineering

  • Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: Genetic engineering made it possible to create crop varieties regarded as “more beneficial” terms of coming up with crops with the desired traits.
  • Examples- Bt Cotton
  • Treatment of Genetic Disorders and Other Diseases: Through genetic engineering, genetic disorders may also be fixed by replacing the faulty gene with a functional gene.
  • Disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes, may be engineered into becoming sterile insects.
  • This will help in curbing the spread of certain diseases, e.g. malaria and dengue fever.
  • Therapeutic Cloning: It is a process whereby embryonic cells are cloned to obtain biological organs for transplantation.

Challenges of Genetic Engineering:

  • Irreversible Changes: Some scientists believe that introducing genetically-modified genes may have an irreversible effect with consequences yet unknown.
  • GMO that can cause harmful genetic effects, and genes moving from one species to another that is not genetically engineered.
  • It has been shown that GMO crop plants can pass the beneficial gene along to a wild population which may affect the biodiversity in the region. An example is the sunflowers genetically-engineered to fend off certain insects.
  • Health Issues Related with GMO Crops: There are concerns over the inadvertent effects, such as the creation of food that can cause an allergic reaction.
  • Bioethics: Genetic engineering borderlines on many moral and ethical issues. One of the major questions raised is if humans have the right to manipulate the laws and course of nature.

Dangers Associated With Genetic Engineering:

  • Rapid Growth of Technology: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) gene editing, developed only a few years ago, deploys the same natural mechanism that bacteria use to trim pieces of genetic information from one genome and insert it into another.
  • This mechanism, which bacteria developed over millennia to defend themselves from viruses, has been turned into a cheap, simple, quick way to edit the DNA of any organism in the lab.
  • CRISPR isn’t the only genetic technology we need to worry about. A broader field, “synthetic biology”, is making the tools for genetic engineering widely available.
  • Democratisation of Biotechnology: As CRISPR is cheap and easy to use, thousands of scientists all over the world are experimenting with CRISPR-based gene editing projects with very little of this research being limited by regulations.
  • The technologies have democratised to such a degree that any country can engineer viruses.
  • Further, the danger comes not only from governments: Non-state actors, rogue scientists and bio-hackers have access to the same tools.
  • Also, researchers have demonstrated that they can recreate deadly viruses such as that of smallpox, which took humanity decades to eradicate


  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence & Big Data. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and genomic data, scientists will decipher the complex relationships between DNA and biological processes and find treatments for diseases.
  • 3-D printing can help develop at home medicines, tissues, and bacteria custom-designed to suit our DNA and keep us healthy.
  • Gathering of Genomic Data: There is a need to develop genomic blueprints of human and other species, this information can help immensely to defend and develop vaccines against pandemics like Covid-19.

Illegal Cultivation of HT Bt Cotton

  • The illegal cultivation of herbicide-tolerant (HT) Bt cotton has seen a huge jump this year, with seed manufacturers claiming that the sale of illegal seed packets has more than doubled from 30 lakh last year to 75 lakh this year.
  • Industry lobbies have written to the Agriculture Ministry, demanding that action be taken to stop such sales and punish offenders, noting that cultivation of the genetically modified cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences.
  • However, a senior official at the Ministry said it was up to the State governments to enforce the policy.
  • This comes even as activists from the Shetkari Sangathan have stepped up the reach of their civil disobedience movement to demand the legalisation of HTBt cotton by encouraging farmers to plant the seeds in violation of government regulations.

About Bt Cotton

  • Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Centre for commercial cultivation in India.
  • It has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.
  • The HTBt cotton variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, but has not been approved by regulators.
  • Fears include glyphosate having a carcinogenic effect, as well as the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance to nearby plants through pollination, creating a variety of superweeds.

  • This year there is a big increase in such illegal cultivation especially in Maharashtra from 30 lakh packets last year to about 75 lakh packets this year.
  • “To make matters worse, the illegal seeds are sold using the brand name of prominent companies ... Farmers are at risk with such illegal cotton seed sale as there is no accountability of the quality of seed, it pollutes the environment, the industry is losing legitimate seed sale and the government also loses revenue in terms of tax collection,” the letter added, noting that HTBt seeds are often produced in Gujarat and then moved to Maharashtra.
  • “It will not only decimate small cotton seed companies but also threatens the entire legal cotton seed market in India,” National Seed Association of India president Prabhakar Rao said on Friday.
  • “Regulators are only limiting their checking to licensed dealers and seed companies while this illegal activity of HT seed sales is carried mostly by unorganised and fly by night operators. The focus must be shifted to catching them and taking exemplary and strong punitive action.”
  • Deputy Seeds Commissioner Dilip Srivastava admitted that such complaints had become widespread. “Centre has made the policy to ban this variant. But it is the State governments that must take action. We are issuing advisories from time to time,” he told The Hindu.
  • Another official said following Central advisories to all cotton-growing States, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Telangana have seized HTBt stock and taken punitive action against the culprits.

Source: TH

EUNAVFOR exercise: EU – India Joint Naval Exercise

GS-II : International Relations Europe

EU – India Joint Naval Exercise

  • The maiden Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) exercise began in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Five warships from four navies are participating in the two-day exercise. INS Trikand is participating in the exercise, along with Italy’s ITS Carabiner, the Spanish Navy’s ESPS Navarra, and FS Tonnerre and FS Surcouf of France.
  • On 18-19 June 2021, the EU and India conducted a joint naval exercise in the Gulf of Aden.
  • The exercise involved Indian Navy frigate INS Trikand, EU NAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta assets, including Italian frigate Carabiniere (Atalanta’s flagship) and Spanish frigate Navarra, French frigate Surcouf and French amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre.
  • The exercise was based on the scenario of an anti-piracy operation. It included cross-deck helicopter landings, complex tactical evolutions at sea, live firing, a night-time joint patrol and a naval parade on the high seas off the coast of Somalia.
  • The EU and India are committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes. They reaffirm the primacy of international law, including the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • In January 2021, the EU and India launched a dialogue on maritime security and agreed to deepen their dialogue and cooperation in this domain. The Indian Navy has been providing escort to World Food Programme chartered vessels, coordinated by EU NAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta.
  • The Indian Navy has previously participated in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference, co-hosted by Operation Atalanta, whose assets conducted several joint exercises with Indian vessels in the past.

Source: TH

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