Insights Daily Current Events, 11 June 2016
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Centre’s new bill to give more power to major sea ports
The centre has proposed a legislation that will replace more than the five-decade-old Major Port Trust Act 1963 and will enable port authorities to function like a corporate entity. The draft Central Port Authorities Bill 2016 has been proposed.
- The draft would provide more autonomy and flexibility to the 11 major ports and will bring in a professional approach in their governance.
Proposals in the draft:
- Reduce the extent of litigation between Public Private Partnership operators and Ports.
- Set up an independent Review Board to carry out the residual function of the erstwhile Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) for major ports and to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaries.
- The board will also review stressed PPP projects and suggest measures to review stressed PPP projects. At present, there is no independent body to look into these aspects.
- The draft bill has also proposed a simplified structure for the board by bringing it down to nine members. The board will include three to four independent members instead of the 17-19 under the Port Trust model.
- Provisions have been made for inclusion of three functional heads of major ports as members in the board apart from a Government nominee member and a labour nominee member.
- The disqualification of the appointment of the Board members, their duties and provision of the meetings of the Board through video conferencing etc., have been introduced on the lines of Companies Act, 2013, as has been the concept of internal audit.
- The Board of Port Authority has been empowered to raise loans and issue security for capital expenditure and working capital requirements.
- The need for Government approval for raising loans, appointment of consultants, execution of contracts and creation of service posts has been dispensed with.
- A distinction has been made between the usage of land for port and non-port related activities in terms of approval of leases. The Port Authorities are empowered to lease land for port-related use for up to 40 years and for non-port related use up to 20 years, beyond which the approval of the Central Government is required.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure- energy.
Renewable energy pip Hydro
The renewable energy sector in the country has for the first time surpassed hydro power generation.
- According to the Central Electricity Authority data, the total capacity of renewable energy sector increased to 42,849.38 MW, surpassing the total capacity of hydro power sector at 42,783.42 MW, out of the nation’s total installed capacity of a little over 3 lakh MW on April 30, 2016.
- The renewable energy investments in solar and wind have benefited from a strong central policy and several years of early-stage private sector investment, respectively.
- In contrast, hydro power suffered from multiple challenges, including non-availability of long-term financing; the cost imposed by royalty power to be offered free to the state government; and limited opportunities for the private sector.
- The government has ambitious plans for deployment of 175 GW renewable power capacities by 2022, including 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind, which may require investment of around $150 billion in the next seven years.
- The total capacity of the thermal sector stood at 2,11,420.40 MW.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: IPR.
Patent Office issues norms for start-ups
Indian Patent Office has issued guidelines for facilitators and start-ups with respect to filling and processing of applications for patent, designs and trade marks aiming to encourage budding entrepreneurs and boost innovation.
- The move is aimed at promoting awareness and adoption of intellectual property rights by start-ups and facilitate them in protecting and commercialising those rights.
- A start-up willing to file a patent application for an invention will have to select a facilitator who would help in preparing the request and also assess the patentability of the invention as per acts and rules, the Controller General Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.
- If the start-up is unable to select a facilitator, it should contact the head office of the respective Patent Office as per jurisdiction, who shall provide 3 names of the facilitator and the start-up will finalise the name.
- The fee for filing the application and other statutory fees would have to be borne by the start-up.
- The facilitator shall also have to monitor and perform further steps of proceedings of start-ups patent application, prepare the reply to any query from patent office. The office has also released a list of about 280 facilitators in such regard.
- For filing and processing applications for designs, the patent facilitators would provide their services.
The government has decided to bear the entire cost of facilitation for filing of patents, trademarks or designs.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.
Scientists turn CO2 into rock to combat climate change
In a unique experiment, scientists turned carbon dioxide into a stone by pumping it with water underground. Carbon dioxide is a huge menace and probably the only way to fight it is to bury it as deep as possible.
- In the experiment called CarbFix, scientists pumped CO2 and water 540 metre underground into volcanic rock at the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland- the world’s largest geothermal facility. After two years, 95% of the gas was captured and converted.
- In this method, CO2 is dissolved with water and the mixture is pumped into volcanic rocks called basalts. Once that happens, the CO2 turns into a solid mineral (calcite), which can then be stored.
- The Iceland project has been increased in scale and is set to store 10,000 tons of CO2 a year.
One of the methods to battle climate change, in addition to reducing fossil fuel emissions, is to capture carbon dioxide from the air and turning it into rock. According to experts this new method might be a new hope for an effective weapon to help fight man-made global warming.
- Carbon capture, however, can be expensive – especially the capturing part. Once the gas is grabbed from the air storing it is another issue.
- It can be stored underground and is sometimes injected to depleted oil wells, but there are concerns about monitoring it and preventing it from escaping.
- It’s not yet clear whether this approach could be viable on a large scale. The process requires a significant amount of water — 25 tons for every ton of CO2 — and some question whether it could be easily applied to other parts of the world.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Government frames new policy for ads in print media
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has framed a New Print Media Advertisement Policy for Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) with the objective to promote transparency and accountability in issuing of advertisements in print media.
- The policy focuses on streamlining release of Government advertisements and to also promote equity and fairness among various categories of newspapers/periodicals.
Highlights of the policy:
- For the first time, the policy introduces a new marking system to incentivise newspapers which have a better professional standing and get their circulation verified by Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) or Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI).
- The marking system is based on six objective criteria. The six parameters include circulation certified by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) or the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI) (25 marks), employee provident fund subscription (20), number of pages (20), subscription to news services of PTI, UNI or Hindustan Samachar (15).
- Other criteria include a paper having its own printing press (10) and annual subscriptions to the Press Council of India (10).
- Advertisements shall be released by DAVP to newspapers based on marks obtained by the publication.
- The policy framework includes circulation verification for empanelment of newspapers and journals with DAVP. It involves certification by RNI or ABC if circulation exceeds 45,000 copies per publishing day and for circulation up to 45,000 copies per publishing day certificate from cost or chartered accountant, statutory auditor certificate or ABC is mandated.
- The policy also says that RNI circulation certificate will be valid for a period of two years from the date of issue and in case of ABC, the current certificate will be used.
- The policy allows relaxations to encourage publications in regional languages, small and medium newspapers, mass circulated newspapers (over 1 lakh), papers in the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- To promote regional equity, the budget for all India release of ads shall be divided among states based on circulation of newspapers in each state or language.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Axis Bank launches India’s first certified green bond at London Stock Exchange
Axis Bank has raised $500 million at the London Stock Exchange after it launched India’s first internationally-listed certified green bond to finance climate change solutions around the world.
- The proceeds of the bond will be invested in green energy, transportation and infrastructure projects, reinforcing India’s commitment to produce 175,000 MW of renewable power by 2022.
What are Green bonds?
Green bonds are like any other debt instrument but the funds raised from such a bond sale are used exclusively for renewable energy projects.
- With the Indian government and private sector increasingly focusing on renewable energy projects, the demand for such funds is expected to rise over time.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- The Centre is considering granting subsidy to power looms operating on solar energy as part of its clean energy initiatives. The centre is planning to provide 50% subsidy to them. The total subsidy to be given is Rs.3.75 lakh to persons belonging to the General Category, Rs.5.62 lakh for OBC category and Rs.6.75 lakh to SC/ST.
- A two-day meeting in Vienna of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to decide on India’s application for membership to the 48-nation club has ended without a breakthrough. India’s application is now expected to be taken up in a meeting in Seoul on June 20. Most countries support India, but some want a well-defined process rather than an exception made for India. NSG decision needs full consensus, not simple majority.
- The navies of India, Japan and the U.S. have started the annual Malabar naval exercises in Japan, close to islands contested by China. The location of the exercise, which will be conducted over hundreds of miles, is of particular interest as they are not very far from the Air Defence Identification Zone imposed by China over the East China Sea in November 2013, including the Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing, and the nine dash line. This is the 20th edition of the exercise, and the first after the formal expansion of the bilateral exercise to a trilateral format last year. The primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability among the three navies and develop common understanding of procedures for maritime security operations. The major emphasis will be on anti-submarine drills and protecting aircraft carriers from hostile assets lurking under water. Additionally, the special forces of the three navies will interact during the exercise.