- Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), the largest CPSE under the Ministry of Coal, has put drone technology into coal mines.
- Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) mines coal in the Odisha districts of Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, and Angul. It provides more than 20% of all the coal made in India.
- The technology has been made available through the launch of a website called “VIHANGAM” and a ground control system and drone.
- A dedicated 40 Mbps internet lease line near the mines lets a person with permission access real-time drone video from the mine.
- The drone is flown by a control station, and the system can be run from anywhere through a portal.
- Purpose: It has been introduced in coal mines for environmental monitoring, volume measurement, and photogrammetric mapping of mines for digitalisation of the mining process
- Other developments: Besides deploying state- of- art technology to further enhance record coal production, MCL has also stepped up the use of latest equipment to further enhance safety standards.
- It has recently introduced Robotic Nozzle Water Sprayer in its coal stockyard. Coal companies use Robot-assisted firefighting and dust suppression advanced technology to carry out difficult and dangerous jobs.
- The equipment can spray water up to 70 meters in the form of mist. The nozzle also termed as swivel nozzle, is installed on a water tanker of 28 kilolitres capacity.
|Do you know?
PM Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group launched in Mission Mode
• As part of the Union Budget 2023-24, the Finance Minister announced the start of a new programme called the Pradhan Mantri PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) Development Mission.
More about the Mission
- For the group’s social and economic growth over the next three years, Rs 15,000 crore has been set aside.
- It will be started as part of “Reaching the Last Mile,” one of the seven Saptarishi priorities listed in this year’s Budget.
- The goal of the PVTGs Mission is to give PVTG areas across the country basic services like housing, water, roads, telecommunications, schools, and health care.
- The plan follows the strategic approach of the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana, which is based on what people need, tries to make the best use of resources from different programmes, and aims for certain results.
- Implementation: The Rural Development Ministry, the Water Resources Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Health Ministry, and the Women and Child Development Ministry are all likely to be asked to help with the PM-PVTG Mission.
- Need for Special Support
• PVTGs need more help and development than other tribal groups because they are more vulnerable.
• The more developed and confident tribal groups usually get a bigger share of the money for tribal development. This means that PVTGs need more targeted help.
• The programme to help PVTGs started in the 1970s, and there isn’t a good policy that takes into account their culture, practises, way of life, and other parts of their lives to help them.
Who are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)?
- The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) are those that depend on hunting for food, have pre-agriculture level technologies, zero or negative population growth, and extremely low levels of literacy and are in need of greater support and development.
- Background: On the advice of the Dhebar Commission, the Central government started putting the 52 tribal groups that were most at risk into a separate category in 1975.
- o In 1993, 23 more groups were added to the list, bringing the total to 75 PVTGs out of a total of 705 Scheduled Tribes spread across 17 states and one Union Territory (UT) in the country (2011 census). Odisha has the most PVTGs.
- Criteria for identification of PVTGs:
- Pre-agricultural level of technology
- Low level of literacy
- Economic backwardness
- A declining or stagnant population.
|Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY)
• The deadline for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Uttham Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme to instal 30,000 MW of solar power capacity in rural India by 2022 has been moved to 2026 because of Covid- 19.
• It is a programme started in 2019 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
• Its goal is to make sure that farmers in India have access to energy. As part of its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, India has also promised to increase the share of installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil-fuel sources to 40% by 2030. (INDCs).
The Scheme consists of three components:
- Component A: Installing small solar power plants with a capacity of up to 2 MW will add 10,000 MW of solar capacity. MNRE will give DISCOMs a “Procurement Based Incentive” (PBI) for the first five years if they buy power from farmers or developers.
- Component B: Installation of 20 lakh standalone solar powered agricultural pumps.
- Component C: Solarisation of 15 lakh existing Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps.
• 30% of the money will come from the centre, 30% from the state, and the remaining 40% will come from the farmer in components B and C.
• In North Eastern States, such as Sikkim, J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep, and A&N Islands, the Centre gives 50% of the help, the State Government gives 30%, and the farmer pays the remaining 20%.
- Employment Generation: Up to 7.55 million jobs for skilled and unskilled workers could be created directly by the plan.
- One of the most important policy goals of the Government is to help farmers make more money. This goal will be met by PM-KUSUM, which will replace expensive diesel with less expensive solar energy.
- Day-time power: By giving farmers solar panels for irrigation through PM-KUSUM, they would have reliable power during the day, which would make irrigation easier for them and stop them from using too much water and power.
- Reducing Carbon Emissions: As a result of PM-KUSUM, up to 32 million tonnes of CO2 will be taken out of the air every year.
- Boost to domestic production: PM-KUSUM has a mandatory requirement for deploying domestically produced solar cells and modules under Component B and C. This will create demand for domestically produced solar cells and modules and thus give fillip to domestic solar manufacturing.
On Budget 2023: Health in Amrit Kaal
• In a recent speech about the 2023-24 Union Budget, the finance minister said that each citizen will get about Rs 615 from the central government for health care.
More about the news
- In her 2023-24 Union Budget speech, the finance minister said that the total central government budget for health will be about Rs 86,175 crore ($10 billion), or about Rs 615 for each citizen.
- This is less than the rate of inflation and a 2.7% increase from the last fiscal year.
- In real money, the government’s spending on health care has gone down.
- Significance of budgetary spending on health:
- The $10 billion that the government spends on health care may be a small part of the total, but it is important because it pays for:
- Immunization, the health and nutrition of newborns and young children, the health of mothers, the control of infectious diseases, and the health systems and training.
- This spending by the government buys a lot more health care than what Indian people spend on their own or privately.
Issues with the lower budgetary allocations on health
- Burden of healthcare in India:
- o It costs at least Rs 1,600 to protect a single child against all childhood diseases.
- It is thought that a day in a public hospital will cost Rs 2,800.
- It costs Rs 6,800 at a private hospital.
- On top of that, there are costs for helping women give birth, controlling infectious diseases, providing basic health care, and much more.
- It’s not surprising, then, that the system fails the most vulnerable people and forces them to turn to the private sector, which is more expensive.
- For elderly and sick:
- The poor, elderly and sick are already at a disadvantage and the burden of health expenditure makes this even worse.
- Increasing poor and non-poor gap:
- A bigger chunk of a poor family’s disposable income is taken away than from a rich family, making the gap between the two even bigger.
- When a working member of the family gets sick, they often have to stop working. This means that their main source of income goes away right when they need more money for treatment.
- To pay for treatment, families often have to sell or mortgage their productive assets, like land and cattle.
- This makes it even harder for them to get back on their feet.
- According to the WHO, 55 million people go into or fall deeper into poverty every year because health care costs are so high.
- Lesser spending than the Lower and Middle-Income Countries:
- India spends about Rs 8 lakh crore, or about 3.2% of its GDP, on health care right now.
- This is a lot less than the average share of GDP spent on health care, which is about 5.2% in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC).
- Comparing the data:
- Of this, the government (Centre and states put together) spends about roughly 1.1 percent of the GDP.
- Contrast this with the government health expenditure in countries like China (3 percent), Thailand (2.7 percent), Vietnam (2.7 percent) and Sri Lanka (1.4 percent).
- Rationalising NHM spendings:
- The National Health Mission gives less than 3% of its budget to the NCD flexipool.
- In comparison, the allocation for communicable diseases is three times more.
- The burden of disease from NCDs accounts for more than half of the total burden of disease.
- Epidemiological trends from the past have led to a greater focus on communicable diseases. This should be changed to pay more attention to non-communicable diseases.
- Balancing Urban and poor health care:
- Rural areas are the focus of public health and primary health care.
- Even though secondary and tertiary health care services are better in cities, the infrastructure for primary care is not as good.
- For example, the number of people who are immunised is now lower in cities than in rural areas of India.
- A third of the country now lives in urban areas and greater resources are needed to improve health here.
- Rural areas are the focus of public health and primary health care.
- Focussing on Health research:
- Health research has been neglected for too long.
- The bulk of the resources provided to the Indian Council of Medical Research goes towards maintaining a large payroll of scientists and the output is poor.
- India should do what other countries do, where government-funded health research is done at academic institutions and the government’s main job is to give grants, not to do most of the research itself.
- Competitive funding will encourage the best research, and the Wellcome Trust/DBT-India Alliance can be used as a model for how to promote the culture of competitive grants across the system.
• When a country spends too little on health care, too many people have to deal with the effects of being sick. This is not an example of a good use of resources.
• What India can accomplish in the next 25 years of Amrit Kaal depends most on the health and education of its people.
• To help all Indians reach their full potential, we need to find ways to get both more money for health and better health for the money.
India’s Space Debris
• India’s Ministry of Science and Technology recently told the Rajya Sabha that India’s space junk is out there.
- As per the government, India has 111 Payloads, 105 Space Debris Objects Orbiting Earth which can have an impact on the sustainability of outer space and future missions.
- ISRO and academia has been carrying Research and studies on the potential and emerging threats from space debris since the early 1990s.
• The ISRO System for Safe and Sustainable Operations Management (IS4OM) was set up in 2022 to keep an eye on objects that could cause collisions and reduce the danger that space junk poses.
• So far, ISRO has done 21 manoeuvres to stay out of the way of other space objects that could cause a collision.
• The government is also taking steps to improve the country’s ability to host space tourists. For example, ISRO has been doing feasibility studies for the Gaganyaan mission, which is a sub-orbital space tourism mission.
• The Gaganyaan programme is working on different technologies for human space missions. The goal is to show that people can travel to low earth orbit.
• The government has also made it clear that all future missions will happen after the Gaganyaan mission is finished.
What is Space Debris?
- About: Space debris refers to the artificial objects, including defunct satellites, spent rocket stages, and other man-made objects, that are in orbit around the Earth and pose a risk to operational spacecraft and astronauts.
- Kessler Syndrome: It is a theoretical scenario in which a cascade of collisions between artificial objects in low Earth orbit leads to a rapidly increasing amount of space debris, making the use of near-Earth space impossible for an extended period of time.
- Donald J. Kessler came up with the scenario in 1978. It is a major concern for the long-term sustainability of human activities in space.
- The possibility of a Kessler Syndrome event shows how important it is to try to reduce the amount of space debris and lessen its effects on the way space works.
|Important Missions on Removing Space Debris
Challenges of Space Debris
- Tracking and Monitoring: Space debris moves at high speeds and can be as small as a few millimeters, making it difficult to accurately track and monitor.
- Removing Debris: Removing existing debris from orbit is technically challenging and expensive, and there are also legal and political obstacles to overcome.
- Avoiding Collisions: Operational satellites and spacecraft must be programmed to avoid potential collisions with debris, which increases the risk of mission failure.
- Predicting Debris Behaviour: It is difficult to predict the behavior of space debris, especially in the event of a collision or other disturbance.
- Controlling the Growth of Debris: Failures to launch, satellites breaking up, and other things are always making more space junk. International cooperation and strict rules are needed to stop the growth of trash.
- Protecting Human Spaceflight: Space debris can pose a threat to human spaceflight and astronauts, as even small pieces of debris can cause significant damage to spacecraft.
- Balancing Economic and Political Interests: The issue of space debris raises important economic and political questions, such as how to allocate the costs of removing debris and who should be responsible for its removal.
Need for removing space debris
- Protecting Active Satellites: Getting rid of space junk will make it less likely that operational satellites will crash into it, protecting them from damage and making sure they can keep working.
- Ensuring Safe Human Spaceflight: Space debris removal will create a safer environment for human spaceflight, reducing the risk of collision and damage to spacecraft.
- Maintaining the Use of Outer Space: By removing space debris, we can maintain the use of outer space for scientific, commercial, and military purposes, ensuring its continued sustainability.
- Protecting the Space Environment: Removing space debris will help to prevent the long-term impacts on the space environment, reducing the potential for a “debris belt” that could limit future missions.
- Cost-Effective: Removing space debris is more cost-effective than constantly avoiding collisions and repairing or replacing damaged satellites.
- Compliance with International Regulations: The need for removing space debris is recognized by international agreements, such as the Outer Space Treaty, which requires the responsible use of outer space and the prevention of harmful interference with other nations’ activities in space.
- In summary, the issue of space debris highlights the need for continued efforts to mitigate and prevent the growth of debris in orbit to ensure the sustainability and safe use of outer space for future generations.
• If we want to keep using space safely and for a long time, we have to get rid of space junk. Getting rid of space junk should be a top priority for the international community, so that space can continue to grow and be explored.
Extended Reality (XR) Startup Program
• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Meta have announced the 120 startups that will be part of the Extended Reality (XR) Startup Program.
Extended Reality (XR)
- • The term “extended reality” (XR) refers to any technology that changes reality by adding digital elements to the real-world environment.
- Extended reality includes VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and MR (mixed reality), as well as all future immersive technologies that extend reality by mixing virtual graphics with real-world elements.
- Augmented Reality
- Augmented reality (AR) doesn’t change reality; instead, it adds digital images to the real world with the help of a device like a phone or tablet.
- Examples include Instagram filters, Snapchat’s lenses
- Virtual Reality
- Virtual reality (VR) is a digital 3D world that is made entirely by computers.
- In VR, users can be fully immersed in simulated realities with the help of special headsets that can make images and sounds that are just like what they would be in real life.
- VR experiences can be made with devices like the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR.
- Mixed Reality
- Mixed Reality (MR) is what happens when VR and AR meet. This technology combines the real world with the virtual world to make complex environments where digital and real things interact in real time.
- One example of MR could be a scene depicting finding of a new element by Tony stark in the IRON MAN movie .
- Retail: XR can lead to new innovations which give customers the ability to try before they buy. Rolex has an AR app that allows people to try on watches on their actual wrist.
- Remote work: XR can enable workers to connect to the office or with professionals located around the world in a way that makes both sides feel like they are in the same room.
- Education & Training: The use of XR can help the students by providing the option to participate in classes from all across the globe from their own location. The training of employees and workers can be done remotely using XR.
- AVGC Task Force: Led by the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, this group called for the “National AVGC-XR Mission” to focus on making content. In India,
- XR Startup Program: It is a collaboration between Meta and MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) to support and accelerate XR technology startups.
The XR ecosystem and its applications represents a tectonic shift in progress of mankind, India needs to pursue a balanced approach weighing both uses and risks .The XR Startup Program is a right step in that direction.
Smuggling of Red Sanders
• An illegal trade in Red Sanders was brought to light in a Fact Sheet made by TRAFFIC, a global organisation that tracks the trade in wildlife.
- WWF and IUCN set up TRAFFIC in 1976 as a wildlife trade monitoring network to collect data and make suggestions about the trade in wildlife.
• The CITES trade database has logged 28 cases of Red Sanders being taken away, seized, or sent out of India as wild specimens.
• It shows how dangerous illegal logging and smuggling of trees is, especially in the Andhra Pradesh districts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore, and Kurnool.
• China is still the biggest importer of the product. Hong Kong and Singapore are next in line.
Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood)
- Red Sanders are a type of plant that can only be found in the dry tropical deciduous forest in the Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh.
- People in the area call it “Yerra Chandanam” or “Rakta Chandanam.”
- It is a type of tree that grows very slowly and is fully grown after 25–40 years.
- It can withstand fires and droughts.
- High Demand & applications:
- Illegal logging and harvesting are putting a lot of stress on Red Sanders. It is wanted in both the United States and other countries.
- Its deep colour and healing properties make it very popular in Asia, especially China. It is used in cosmetics, medicines, and high-end furniture and woodwork.
- While the wood is used to make a red dye that is used to colour fabrics and medicines.
- Conservation Status:
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List puts it on the “endangered list.”
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has it on Appendix-II (CITES).
- The Wildlife Protection Act, Schedule IV, says that it is on the list.
Initiatives to Curb Illegal Trade
- The export of Red Sanders from India is prohibited as per the Foreign Trade Policy.
- Operation Rakth Chandan
- Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) established in 2014.
• TRAFFIC asked that the forests where Red Sanders live, which are in the range of the species, be named “High Conservation Areas” so that the species and its habitat can be protected by law.
|Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Yaya Tso to become Ladakh’s First Biodiversity Heritage Site
- CITES Appendix I has a list of species that are in danger of going extinct. Import or export permits for these species are hard to get and are only given when the main goal is not to make money.
- CITES Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily in danger of going extinct but whose trade must be closely controlled.
• Yaya Tso is also called Birds’ Paradise because of the beautiful lake there. It is 4,820 metres above sea level.
• A lot of birds and animals, like the bar-headed goose, the black-necked crane, and the brahminy duck, nest in Yaya Tso.
• It is also one of India’s best places for black-necked cranes to raise their young.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS)
• These are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems with a lot of different kinds of life.
• Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act of 2002 says that the Indian State Government can tell the local government about Biodiversity Heritage Sites.
• As of now, India has 36 Biodiversity Heritage Sites in many different states. Odisha’s Mahendragiri hill Biodiversity Heritage Site was the last one to be added.
About SECURE Himalaya
• It is funded by the Global Environment Facility and is part of the “Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development” (Global Wildlife Program) (GEF).
• The project encourages sustainable management of alpine pastures and forests in the high range Himalayan ecosystems to protect wildlife and their habitats that are important on a global scale.
• Recently, an eight-millimeter capsule that had been lost was found in Western Australia.
- It had radioactive Caesium-137 that came from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
- Caesium is a soft, flexible, silvery-white metal that can easily form bonds with chlorides to create a crystalline powder.
• 133Cs is the only stable form of cesium that can be found in nature (read as cesium one-thirty-three).
• 134Cs and 137Cs are two radioactive forms of cesium that can be made by nuclear explosions or when uranium breaks down in fuel elements. Both isotopes break down into elements that are not radioactive.
• Caesium-137 is the most common type of radioactive caesium. It gives off beta and gamma radiation, both of which are dangerous to people.
Health and Environment Concers
- Caesium-137 can cause serious illness when touched, leading to burns and acute radiation sickness.
- External exposure of Caesium-137 can increase the risk of cancer because of the presence of high-energy gamma radiation. Prolonged exposure can even cause death.
- Internal exposure to it through ingestion or inhalation allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue.
- Cesium in air can travel long distances before settling to the ground or water. Most cesium compounds dissolve in water.
- Cesium binds strongly to moist soils and does not travel far below the surface of the soil, most cesium compounds are very soluble.
Radioactivity is the process by which unstable atomic nuclei break apart on their own to form atomic nuclei that are more stable from an energy point of view. Radioactive decay is a first-order process that happens when a small amount of mass is turned into energy. It is very exoergic and statistically random.
Follow-on Public Offer(FPO)
• Adani Enterprises recently got rid of its Rs 20,000 crore Follow-on Public Offer.
- It happened after US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused the company of accounting fraud, which caused the company’s shares to fall.
What is a Follow-on Public Offering (FPO)?
• A Follow-on Public Offering (FPO) is when a company that is already on a stock exchange gives investors more shares.
• Secondary offerings are another name for FPOs.
• Companies can use an FPO to get rid of debt or get more money to grow.
• They usually happen after a company does an initial public offering (IPO) to sell shares to the public for the first time.
Types of FPO’S
- Dilutive FPO:
- This is the process where the company issues additional fresh shares to the public to raise capital.
- It results in increasing the company’s total outstanding shares, decreasing the Earnings Per Share (EPS).
- Non-Dilutive FPO:
- A non-diluted FPO is when the company’s largest shareholders, such as the founders or board of directors, offer the shares they hold privately to the general public.
- Unlike a diluted IPO, this method does not increase or decrease the company’s number of shares.
|FPO vs IPO
However, the FPO process is more cost-effective when compared to an IPO.
IFFCO Nano Urea
• The Union Home and Cooperation Minister will go to Deoghar, Jharkhand, to lay the foundation stone of the IFFCO nano urea liquid fertiliser plant in Jasidih.
About IFFCO Nano Urea
- • The Fertilizer Control Order only includes IFFCO Nano Urea, which is the only nanofertilizer that has been approved by the Indian government (FCO).
- IFFCO made it and got a patent for it.
- It is a new and innovative Agri-input based on nanotechnology that gives nitrogen to plants. Nano Urea is a smart choice for farmers who want to move toward smart farming and fight climate change.
- Nano urea is non-toxic and safe for the person using it. It is also safe for plants and animals, but you should wear a face mask and gloves when you spray it on crops.
- Effectiveness: The application of 1 bottle of Nano Urea can effectively replace at least 1 bag of Urea.
- Benefits: It helps in minimizing the environmental footprint by reducing the loss of nutrients from agriculture fields in the form of leaching and gaseous emissions which are used to cause environmental pollution and climate change.
- It promotes clean and green technology as its industrial production is neither energy-intensive nor resource-consuming.