UPSC 2017: PIB Summary and Analysis July 27

UPSC 2017: PIB Summary and Analysis July 27

Irradiation Facilities for Horticultural Produces
  • The quantum of horticulture produce in India is large.
  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has been engaged in R&D work on the technology of preservation and hygienisation of food and agri-products by radiation.
  • It has set up two technology demonstration units, one commissioned in the year 2000 for high dose irradiation at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, and another in 2002, for low dose irradiation, KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra) facility at Lasalgaon, near Nashik. The facilities are being operated by the Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology (BRIT).

Harmonization of food irradiation rules with FSSAI amendment

  • Recently the harmonization of food irradiation rules with the international regulation through adaptation of class wise clearance of irradiated food items by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken place [Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Sixth Amendment Regulations, 2016] for large scale deployment of this technology.

Advantages of Irradiation

  • Irradiation is very effective in treating the horticultural produces. Extension of shelf life of horticultural produces is very much dependant on the produce, variety and storage conditions.
  • For many fresh agri produce subjected to irradiation and proper storage, substantial shelf life extension has been achieved.
  • Processing also brings benefits to consumers in terms of availability, storage life, distribution, and improved hygiene of food.
  • Irradiation can have a stabilizing effect on market price of commodities by reducing storage losses resulting in increased availability of produce.

Soil Health Card scheme

  • To enable farmers to get maximum yields at lower cost, Government launched ambitious Soil Health Card scheme
  • The growth of agriculture sector is being discussed for a long time, but for the first time since independence, the development work in agriculture sector along with the improvement in the economic condition of farmers have been accelerated at the grass root level.
  • The government aims to double the income of farmers by 2022 and make to farmers realise their significant contribution to the nation building. To achieve this goal, action on three pillars needs to be taken.

Three pillars to double the income of farmers by 2022

  • The first pillar is that the cost of production should be reduced and productivity should be increased.
  • The second pillar is that farmers need to diversify and adopt other agricultural activities such as animal husbandry, poultry, goat farming, bee keeping, and timber plantation.
  • The third and the most important pillar is that farmers get regulated markets close to their farms to sell their produce and earn profitable returns.

To reduce the cost of production

  • To reduce the cost of production, increase the productivity and to distribute SHC to the farmers across the nation, the Government has launched this ambitious scheme.
  • SHC recommends ways to improve the soil quality, appropriate dosage of nutrients for improving soil health and its fertility and analyse the nutrient level.
  • Every two years the soil health will be reviewed to examine nutrients deficiencies so that corrective measures can be taken accordingly.
  • The salient features of SHC include adoption of uniformed approach towards samples collection and testing in laboratories, one coverage for all the land in the country, and issue Soil Health Card every 2 years

Use of technology

  • For the first time a uniform soil specimen parameter has been adopted.
  • In the irrigated areas, samples will be drawn on a grid of 2.5 ha. In rainfed areas, sampling will be done in a 10 ha. grid.
  • GPS-based soil sample collection has been made mandatory to create a systematic database to monitor changes in soil and compare it to the previous years.

Parameters tested in Soil Health Card (SHC)

  • Uniform soil sample collection and testing method are being adopted.
  • Under this scheme 12 soil health parameters such as primary nutrients (NPK), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur) and micronutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.), are being analysed. Secondary nutrients and micronutrients analysis are compulsory.

Results

  • Uniform Soil Health Card norm is being adopted. Scientific soil health management practices are being adopted to provide soil test based fertiliser recommendations. In the first two years (205-17), 253 lakh soil samples have been collected till 25-7-2017 against the target of 253 lakh samples and 248 lakh samples (98%) have been tested. So far nine crore Soil Health Cards have been distributed to (75%) farmers as against the target of 12 crore cards.
  • Chemical fertilisers consumption dropped by 8 to 10 percent during the year 2016-17 as compared to 2015-16. Overall production increased by 10 to 12 percent.

 

Ministry of Earth Sciences(MoES) Celebrates its 11th Foundation Day

Mandate of MoES

  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is mandated to provide the nation with the best possible services in forecasting the monsoons and other weather/climate parameters, ocean state, earthquakes, tsunamis and other phenomena related to earth systems, for the Public Safety and socio-economic benefits.
  • The Ministry also deals with science and technology for exploration and exploitation of ocean resources (living and non-living), and play nodal role for Antarctic/Arctic/Himalayas and Southern Ocean research.

On this day two mobile apps are launched

  • India Quake’ for dissemination of earthquake parameters
  • Sagar Vani’ to disseminate ocean information and alerts to the user community in timely manner.

UPSC Prelims Fact

About ‘Sagar Vani’

  • The ‘Sagar Vani’ is a software platform where various dissemination modes will be integrated on a single central server.
  • The ‘Sagar Vani’ includes Multi Lingual SMS, Voice Call / Audio Advisory, Mobile Apps (User / Admin modules), Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Email, GTS, Fax, Digital Display Boards, Radio / Television broadcast units, IVRS, Cloud Channels, etc.
  • The system also has facility to provide access to various stakeholders (NGOs, State Fishery Departments, Disaster Management Authorities, etc.) so that they too will be able to further disseminate these ocean information and alerts to the user community.
  • This ‘Sagar Vani’ system compares with the most advanced countries’ services in terms of speed of delivery, omni channel capabilities and diverseness of services. With this system, the services will be disseminated in local languages using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
  • For the first time in India, the government is also using the power of television and cable network mediums for topical and alert dissemination services.
  • The ‘Sagar Vani’ will now serve the coastal community, especially the fishermen community with the advisories and alerts towards their livelihood as well as their safety at Sea.

‘India Quake’

  • Mobile App has been developed by the NCS for automatic dissemination of earthquake parameter (location, time and magnitude) after the occurrence of earthquakes.
  • The App will make information dissemination faster with no restrictions on the number of recipients.
  • Any citizen can download this App and get the real time earthquake location information on his/her mobile.
  • Other than scientific and administrative benefits of the App, it will help in reducing panic amongst people during an earthquake.
  • For example, if an earthquake occurs in Hindukush region, Afghanistan and is strongly felt in Delhi, then people in Delhi will know in less than 2 minutes that the earthquake has actually occurred in Afghanistan and not in Delhi.
  • There are two categories of events here, scrutinized and unscrutinized.
  • Unscrutinized events are the earthquake whose parameters have been estimated automatically by the software using the incoming waveform data from remote stations.
  • These solutions are scrutinized and confirmed by the NCS, which form the category of scrutinized events.

 

India all set to access resources under the Green Climate Fund for Finance 
Climate Action

Context

  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has signed the Accreditation Master Agreement (AMA) between Green Climate Fund (GCF) and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is aligned with GCF

  • Several of the mitigation and adaptation targets, articulated in India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to meet the international climate obligations are aligned with the Fund’s strategic impact areas – viz clean energy, energy efficiency, cities, transport, forestry, agriculture, water health and ecosystems.
  • India’s NDC is among the few that make specific reference to the GCF specifically with regard to its role as a source for low-cost finance for its 40% non-fossil fuel based power target.
  • India, with numerous climate change and developmental challenges, needs to engage more purposefully and actively with GCF. The accredited entities need to proactively engage with GCF to take advantage of the available opportunities.

UPSC Prelims Fact

Green Climate Fund (GCF)

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is one of the operating entities under financial mechanism set up under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide support to developing countries in combating climate change, with resources to be generated from funding by developed country Parties and various other public and private sources.

It supports both climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries.

Progress in India

  • So far, one project from India on “Installation of Ground Water Recharge System” in Odisha has recently been approved by the GCF for $34 million. Another proposal on coastal areas has already been submitted to the GCF Secretariat and several more projects are in the pipeline.
  • India has nominated a total of five direct access entities for accreditation by the GCF.
  • Two of these from the public sector and three from the private sector for accreditation by the GCF.
  • The public sector entities are NABARD and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
  • The private sector entities nominated are YES Bank, IDFC Bank and IL&FS Environmental Services. So far, NABARD and SIDBI have been accredited by the GCF.
  • NABARD is the first entity from India to be accredited as Direct Access Entity (DAE). The signing of AMA between GCF and NABARD is an essential first step for accessing the GCF resources to help safeguard the lives, property and livelihoods of millions of people against climate change impact.

 

Implementation of Bio-Fuel Scheme
  • For the development of Biofuels, a National Policy on Biofuels has been announced in the year 2009.
  • The Government, is implementing the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme under which, Oil Marketing Companies sell ethanol blended petrol with percentage of ethanol up to 10% as per BIS specifications, depending upon its availability.

 

UPSC Mains Practice Question
  1. India, like other developing countries, can do more, if finance and technology development & transfer and capacity building support are ensured as per the UNFCCC convention and its Paris Agreement. Critically comment.
  2. Scientific soil health management practices are essential in order to increase the production and productivity in Indian agriculture sector. Discuss.

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