9 PM Current Affairs Brief – September 17th, 2019

JALDOOT

News:Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change has launched the ‘Jaldoot’ initiative.

Facts:

About Jaldoot:

  • Jaldoot is a unique initiative that is designed to take the message of water conservation to the masses.
  • This initiative was launched by the Regional Outreach Bureau(ROB) in association with MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation).
  • Under this initiative,a bus has been designed to create the Jaldoot: A Travelling Exhibition on Jalshakti Abhiyan.
  • The exhibition shall consists of various information display panels and audio-visual components among others to create awareness on water conservation efforts.

Additional information:

Jal Shakti Abhiyan:

  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan is a time-bound, mission mode, water conservation and irrigation efficiency campaign for water security in India. 
  • It aims at making water conservation and promotion of irrigation efficiency a ‘jan andolan’ (public campaign) through asset creation and communication campaigns in rural India.
  • The campaign focuses on five key aspects which includes: a) Water conservation and rainwater harvesting, b) Renovation of water bodies, c) Renovation of bore well recharge structures, d) Watershed development and e) intensive afforestation.

India’s Cooling Action Plan(ICAP)

News:India’s Cooling Action Plan(ICAP) has been appreciated internationally by the United Nations(UN) on World Ozone Day.

Facts:

About ICAP:

  • India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) was launched in 2019 the Union Minister for Ministry for Environment, Forest & Climate Change
  • The goal of ICAP is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental & socio-economic benefits for the society

Objectives:

  • Provide an integrated approach towards cooling and related areas including reduction in the cooling demand, in order to reduce emissions. 
  • Assessment of cooling requirements across the sectors in the next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use. 
  • Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies. 
  • Providing skill training to RAC(Refrigeration and Air Conditioning) service technicians. 
  • Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.

Targets:

  • Reducing cooling demand across sectors by 20-25% by 2037-38
  • Reduce refrigerant demand by 25-30%by 2037-38
  • Reduce cooling energy requirements by 25-40% by 2037-38
  • Recognize “cooling & related areas” as a thrust areas of research under national S&T program
  • Training & certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, synergizing with Skill India Mission.

Benefits:

  • Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing.
  • Sustainable cooling – low greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions related to cooling.
  • Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of products to farmers, less wastage of produce.
  • Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection.
  • Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment.
  • Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide the push to innovation in a cooling sector.

UN appoints Indian Army veteran Abhijit Guha as head of Hodeidah mission

News:United Nations (UN) has appointed India’s Lieutenant General (Retired) Abhijit Guha as the head of UN mission in Hodeidah,Yemen.

Facts:

About UN Mission in support of Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA)

  • In January 2019,United Nations(UN) had decided to establish a United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement(UNMHA).
  • It is a special mission to oversee governorate-wide ceasefire, mine action operations and redeployment of forces in Yemen.
  • Lieutenant General (Retired) Abhijit Guha will lead the UN Mission in support of Hodeidah Agreement(UNMHA).
  • Besides,he will also assume the chair of Redeployment Coordination Committee(RCC).
  • RCC is responsible for redeploying forces of Yemeni warring parties in accordance with their agreement.

Additional information:

About Hodeidah Agreement:

  • In December 2018,the Houthis and the government forces had agreed to withdraw from Hudaydah port to allow in vital humanitarian aid.
  • Hudaydah port is the principal lifeline for two-thirds of Yemen’s population.Its closure had a devastating impact on the Yemen.

Yemen Civil war:

  • The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015.It is the tussle between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government.
  • One is Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels, loyal to the former President.They are in clashes with forces loyal to the current government.
  • Further,Saudi Arabia had launched military operations to restore the Yemeni government which was overthrown by Houthi.The Saudi-led coalition is backed by the U.S.

Abqaiq oil processing facility

News:Houthi rebels from Yemen has carried out drone attacks on two major Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Hijrat Khurais in Saudi Arabia.

Facts:

About the Abqaiq facility:

  • Abqaiq is the world’s largest oil processing facility where about two-thirds of the total Saudi supply is refined and cleaned of impurities.
  • The attacks have impacted Saudi Arabia’s oil production and exports, and in turn the global oil market. 
  • Since,Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter.It ships more than 7 million barrels of oil to global destinations every day.The output cut is expected to send oil prices up $3-$5 per barrel.

Impact on India:

  • India is the world’s third largest oil importer.It imports over 80 percent of oil requirements.
  • Saudi Arabia is a crucial source of energy for India and the second largest supplier of crude and cooking gas to India.
  • Hence,the hike in oil prices will inflate the import bill and disrupt the country’s current account deficit.

National centre for clean coal R&D opened

News:Minister of Science & Technology has inaugurated the National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development and has also formally launched the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research(ICER).

Facts:

National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development:

  • The centre has been established as a national consortium on clean coal research and development at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • The centre is aimed at addressing several critical R&D challenges towards the development of clean coal technologies in tandem with developing supercritical power plant technologies both at material and system level.

Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research(ICER):

  • The Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research(ICER) was inaugurated in 2012 at Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
  • The centre is equipped with modern facilities to conduct a wide spectrum of energy research through knowledge network of elite researchers.
  • The centre is focused on developing sustainable technologies for renewable energy, combustion, concentrated solar power, novel energy storage technologies, hydrogen, biofuels and biomass.
  • ICER also plans to expand its activities in several energy-related areas with an emphasis on process and material development in collaboration with the manufacturing industry.

Additional information:

  • India is the world’s third largest coal producing country and the fourth largest coal importer.It is expected to increase its coal production to about 1 billion tonne by 2020.
  • Further,India aims to increase its power capacity in the next 15 years and a significant portion of the capacity is expected to come from coal.
  • Hence,India has been focusing on clean coal technologies in line with its commitments related to climate change.
  • Under the Paris climate agreement,India has pledged to focus on clean coal technologies such as shifting towards supercritical technologies for coal-based power plants.

Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019

News:The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019 has come into effect.The Bill amends the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act,1971.

Facts:

Objective:The bill aims to facilitate smooth and speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants from government residential accommodations.

Features of the bill:

  • Residential accommodation:The bill defines the residential accommodation occupation as the occupation of public premises by a person on the grant of a license for such an occupation.  
  • The license must be given for a fixed tenure or for the period the person holds office.Further,the occupation must be allowed under the rules made by the central, state or union territory government, or a statutory authority.
  • Notice for eviction: The Bill adds a provision laying down the procedure for eviction from residential accommodation.It requires an estate officer to issue a written notice to a person if he is in unauthorised occupation of a residential accommodation. 
  • Order of eviction: After considering the cause shown and making any other inquiries,the estate officer will make an order for eviction.If the person fails to comply with the order, the estate officer may evict such person from the residential accommodation and take possession of it.
  • Payment of damages: If the person in unauthorised occupation of the residential accommodation challenges the eviction order passed by the estate officer in court, he will be required to pay damages for every month of such occupation. 

Strategic oil reserves

News:India may look into its strategic oil reserves after the drone strikes on Saudi Arabian Oil facility has affected the global oil markets.

Facts:

What are Strategic oil reserves?

  • Strategic oil reservesare stockpiles of crude oil maintained by countries or private industries.They are meant to tackle emergency situations to counter short-term supply disruptions.
  • They represent a defense against any event of downfall in future oil production including physical or economic actions.
  • Globally,major oil consumers such as the US, China and Japan have already built massive strategic reserves of oil over the years with India following up.

Strategic Petroleum Reserves In India:

  • The construction and maintenance of strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) India is given to the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL).
  • Under Phase I,India has built Strategic oil reserves at Mangalore (Karnataka), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Padur (Karnataka).
  • These reserves can store 5.33 MT(million tonnes) of emergency storage to meet India’s oil needs for 9.5 days.
  • In Phase-II,India plans to build an additional 6.5 million tonne facilities at Chandikhol(Odisha) and Padur(Karnataka) which is expected to add the emergency cover against any oil supply disruption by another 11.5 days.

Additional information:

About ISPRL:

  • Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) is a Special Purpose Vehicle.It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board(OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

International Hrant Dink Award

News:The Meghalaya-based activist Agnes Kharshiing has received the 11th International Hrant Dink Award.

Facts:

About the award:

  • The International Hrant Dink Award commemorates the memory of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was killed in 2007.
  • Since 2009,Hrant Dink Award is presented annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation on Hrant Dink’s birthday.
  • The award is presented to individuals, organisations or groups that work for a world free from discrimination, racism and violence and who take personal risks for achieving those ideals. 

World Ozone Day

News:World Ozone Day has been celebrated on September 16,2019.

Facts:

  • The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone layer is observed every year on September 16th.
  • The theme for the year 2019 is ‘32 Years and Healing’. 
  • The World Ozone Day 2019 celebrates over three decades of international cooperation to protect the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol.

Montreal Protocol:

  • On September 16,1987,the United Nations and 45 other countries had signed the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer. 
  • The purpose of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the Ozone layer by reducing the production of substances that are supposed to be responsible for Ozone layer depletion.
  • The protocol was further strengthened with the ratification of the Kigali Agreement which phases out the production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s.

Additional information:

  • In 2018,the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion was completed.This assessment has shown that the parts of the Ozone Layer have recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act

News:Union home ministry has announced several changes in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act,2010.

Facts:

What are the changes made?

  • Government has made it mandatory for each functionary and member of a nongovernmental organization(NGO) seeking registration under FCRA to file an affidavit declaring that the individual has not been involved in any act of religious conversion or prosecuted for communal disharmony. 
  • Earlier under the 2011 norms,only top officials had to make this declaration while seeking Ministry of Home affairs permission to receive foreign funds under FCRA.

Additional information:

About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act:

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act,2010 and rules framed under the FCRA regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations(NGOs) in India.
  • The objective of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest.

Salient Features of the Act:

  • The act defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign sources. 
  • The act says that organizations having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme are entitled to accept foreign contributions under the FCRA. 
  • Such contributions may be accepted only with the approval of the Government of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The act also requires non-governmental organisations(NGOs) to register themselves every five years.
  • The act prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist among others.
  • The act also mandates that foreign contributions should be utilized only for the purpose for which they were received.It also imposes restrictions on the transfer of contributions.

Steel Import Monitoring System

News:Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched Steel Import Monitoring System(SIMS).

Facts:

  • In Steel Import Monitoring System(SIMS), the importers of specified steel products will register in advance on the web portal of SIMS by providing necessary information.
  • The SIMS will then provide advance information about the steel imports to both the government and stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders include the steel industry (producers) and consumers (importers).Based on this information,they will carry out effective policy interventions.

Additional information:

  • Recently,India has emerged as a net importer of steel for the first time in three years during fiscal year 2019.
  • India became the net importer despite being the second largest steel producer.
  • India’s imports has increased due to (a)demand for better quality of steel in the domestic market and (b)reduced exports due to imposition of tariffs and other protectionist measures by the two biggest buyers of steel,the United States and Europe.
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