Tuesday, July 16, 2019



Context: Government on Monday said it has created about 10,000 jobs under its ambitious ‘Sagarmala’ initiative during the last three years.
 About Sagarmala:
What is it?
  • The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
  • The objective of this initiative is to promote Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
  • It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centers and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
  • Nodal Ministry: The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
  • To implement this, State governments would set up State Sagarmala committees, headed by the chief minister or the minister in charge of ports.
  • At the central level, a Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) will be set up to provide equity support to assist various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) set up for various projects.

The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:
  1. Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  2. Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  3. Efficient Evacuation to and from the hinterland.

Why is it important?
India is located along key international trade routes in the Indian Ocean and has a long coastline of over 7,500 km. Yet, capacity constraints and lack of modern facilities at Indian ports tremendously elongates the time taken to ship goods in and out of the country and has held back India’s share in world trade.
Developing rivers as inland waterways can also help save domestic logistics costs too.
Sagarmala could boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025 and create an estimated 10 million new jobs (four million indirect employment).

Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Initiative 
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: SATAT initiative- key objectives, significance and brief overview on CNG and CBG. 
Context: The government has said that the SATAT initiative has the potential of addressing environmental problems arising from landfill emissions, farm stubble burning, etc. and also bring down dependency on oil/gas import.  Till June 2019, Oil Marketing Companies and Gas Marketing Companies have awarded Letter of Intent (LoI) for 344 plants for production and supply of CBG.
About the initiative:
The initiative is aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.
Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs.
CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative.
The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc., to enhance returns on investment.
This initiative is expected to generate direct employment for 75,000 people and produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure for crops.

There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale:
  1. Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution.
  2. The additional revenue source for farmers.
  3. Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment.
  4. Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals.
  5. Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil.
  6. Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations.

Biogas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%. 
What is CBG?
Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.

Way ahead:
The potential for Compressed Bio-Gas production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum. Going forward, Compressed Bio-Gas networks can be integrated with city gas distribution (CGD) networks to boost supplies to domestic and retail users in existing and upcoming markets. Besides retailing from OMC fuel stations, Compressed Bio-Gas can at a later date be injected into CGD pipelines too for efficient distribution and optimized access of a cleaner and more affordable fuel.
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: The scheme- features, significance, need and potential.

Context: 30,85,205 Persons Enrolled in PM-SYM as on July 10, 2019.

About Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana:
Launched by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. The scheme was announced in the Interim Budget 2019.
PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme that will engage as many as 42 crore workers in the unorganized sector. 
The unorganized sector workers, with the income of less than Rs 15,000 per month and who belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years, will be eligible for the scheme.
Those workers should not be covered under the New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
He or she should not be an income taxpayer.
Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the scheme will receive a minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
In case of death during receipt of pension: If the subscriber dies during the receipt of pension, his or her spouse will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the pension as a family pension. This family pension is applicable only to the spouse.
In case of death before the age of 60 years: If a beneficiary has given a regular contribution and dies before attaining the age of 60 years, his or her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or may even exit the scheme.

Contribution to the scheme:
Contribution by the Subscriber: The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining the scheme till the age of 60 years.
Medium of contribution: The subscriber can contribute to the PM-SYM through ‘auto-debit’ facility from his or her savings bank account or from his or her Jan- Dhan account.
Equal contribution by the Central Government: Under the PM-SYM, the prescribed age-specific contribution by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government will be made on a ‘50:50 basis’.

Need of the hour:
  • Along with social security, the Government should ramp up skilling of the workforce, take steps to generate more jobs in the formal sector, change labour laws to include informal workers.
  • It will in effect provide wage protection, job security, social security to the workers and ultimately alleviate the hardships they face.
  • Eventually, it will boost the overall economic growth of the country.

Thirty Meter Telescope
 What to study?
For prelims and mains: TMT- objectives and significance, location.
Context: Thirty Meter Telescope Set to Begin Construction.


The mega telescope completed its design and development phase in 2009, but legal challenges from Native Hawaiian activists — who treasure Mauna Kea for cultural and religious reasons — have hounded the telescope.
About TMT:
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).
It is an international project being funded by scientific organizations of Canada, China, India, Japan, and the USA.
Planned locationMauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii. 
The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.

TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe.
It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.
 Sources:  Down to Earth.

Why power costs vary, and the uniform national rate is difficult to implement?
What to study?
For prelims and mains: How power tariffs are determined? Need for uniform national rate and challenges therein.

Context: Few lawmakers have suggested that power tariffs should be uniform across the country so that affordable power is available to all.

How do states decide power tariffs?
The electricity tariff paid by consumers in each state is directly reflective of the cost of power procurement by the power distribution companies (discoms) in the state.
There are state-specific factors for this.
Is the idea of having a flat countrywide rate feasible?
The State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) decide on the power tariff after utilities file their cost of power with the regulators. Because power tariffs entail a number of state-specific factors, a uniform nationwide tariff is a proposition that would be difficult to implement.
  1. States such as Jharkhand or Odisha or Chhattisgarh, which have had the coal-fired thermal capacity, would typically have lower tariffs because of the base-load capacities that they possess.
  2. States such as Himachal or Uttarakhand would have low tariffs because of hydropower capacities that are either fully or partially depreciated, and from which the home state, under the Ministry of Power’s Tariff Policy, gets access to 40 percent of the power free of cost.
  3. A state like Gujarat, which has capacities based on imported coal, will have comparatively higher tariffs. States such as Delhi or Punjab, which buy power from outside to meet domestic requirements either through long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) or spot power purchases at the power exchanges (PXs), have higher tariffs, as their power mix has high-cost power.
Sources: Indian Express.

Blue flag project
Context: The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.
These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).

About Blue flag program:
The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organization FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001 when South Africa joined. Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beachesSpain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.
There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meets certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled-friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.
Sources: the Hindu.

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