September 2019

Daily Current Affairs (03-09-19)

INDIA’S LONGEST ELECTRIFIED RAIL TUNNEL

Related Topics: Infrastructure Development, Regional Connectivity

News

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has inaugurated India’s longest electrified rail tunnel.

Location

  • The tunnel is situated between Cherlopalli and Rapuru stations of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The 6 km long tunnel is part of the recently completed Obulavaripalli-Venkatachalam new railway line.

Features

  • It is built in the shape of a ‘horse shoe’ using the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM).
  • The tunnel construction was completed in a record time of 43 months and was built at a cost of ₹437 crore.
  • The height of tunnel (rail level to roof) is 5 meters and the minimum height of contact wire is maintained at 5.2 meters.
  • The track is constructed without using Ballast by providing Bi-block sleepers and Vaslo fittings.
  • Two sub-stations for supply of electric traction power are provided near Cherlopalli and Adurupalli with necessary switching stations in between.
  • There are LED lights at an interval of every 10 metres inside the travel.

Significance

  • The newly constructed tunnel will provide seamless rail connectivity between Krishnapatnam Port and the hinterland areas for freight movement.
  • The 112-km long electrified railway line between Venkatachalam and Obulavaripalli will reduce the travel time by 5 hours.
[Source: The Hindu, Livemint]

 

COP14 of UNCCD

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, UNCCD

News

14th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP14) of UNCCD kicked off in New Delhi.

Participation

The participants include ministers from 196 countries, representatives of national and local governments, city leaders, community groups, scientists, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and industry experts.

Host Country

The biennial event held as part of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is being hosted by India, one of the first countries to commit to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of achieving ‘land degradation neutrality’ (LDN).

Agenda

  • The main agenda for COP-14 is to reverse land degradation and fix the critical gaps in land management.
  • The deliberations would lead to a final set of commitments—the New Delhi Declaration—which would be signed by all member countries.
  • A total of 30 proposals focusing on improving the lives of people affected by desertification and droughts are set to be considered and debated.

Indian Scenario

  • The stakes are high for India, as nearly 29% of land in the country is degraded.
  • This is critical as India’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050.
  • India has committed to restore nearly 5 million hectares of degraded land in the next 10 years, which would mean putting into place an innovative land use and management approach that prioritizes the sustainable use of land.

Significance

  • Land degradation working in tandem with climate change and biodiversity loss may force up to 700 million people to migrate by 2050.
  • Over 70% of the world’s land area has been converted from its natural state to produce food, fibre and energy and one in four hectares of this land is being lost to degradation.
  • According to UN, land degradation is costing humanity up to $1.3 billion every day.

About UNCCD

  • It is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
  • It was established in the year 1994.
  • It is an international agreement on good land stewardship (carefully and responsibly conducting, supervising or managing).
  • It addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
  • It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management.
  • UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.

[Source: PIB, Livemint]

 

ASEAN-US MARITIME EXERCISE (AUMX)

Related Topics: Maritime Security, Naval Exercises, ASEAN

News
The first US-ASEAN Maritime Exercise (AUMX) was officially opened with a ceremony at the Royal Thai Fleet headquarters at Chon Buri’s Sattahip district, Thailand.

AUMX 2019

  • The Exercise will last for five days, starting at the Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand and ending in Singapore.
  • Co-led by the S. and Royal Thai navies, the exercises will stretch into “international waters in Southeast Asia, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea” before concluding in Singapore.

Participating Countries

  • Eight warships, four aircraft and more than a thousand personnel from the U.S. and ten Southeast Asian countries have joined the maritime drills.

Maritime Security

AUMX builds greater maritime security on the strength of ASEAN, the strength of navy-to-navy bonds, and the strength of shared belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Escalating Tensions

  • The drills come at a time of stepped-up U.S. engagement in the region and tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations over the South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
  • China claims the majority of the South China Sea, often invoking its so-called nine-dash line as a supposed historic justification to the waters, which are a key global shipping route.

Criticism

The joint drills have come under criticism for looping in Myanmar’s Navy in a rare show of inclusion despite US imposing sanctions on the top military leaders of Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis.

[Source: The Hindu, cfr.org]

 

TERRACOTTA GRINDER

Related Topics: Innovation, Khadi and Village Industries Commission

News

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has launched a first ever ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Sewapuri in Varanasi.

What is Terracotta Grinder?

It is a machine that will grind the wasted and broken pottery items for re-using in pottery-making.

Design

It was designed by KVIC Chairman, and fabricated by a Rajkot-based engineering unit.

Benefits

  • Earlier the wasted pottery items were grinded in normal khal-musal (mortar and pestle) and its fine powder was mixed with the normal clay.
  • Mixing this powder in stipulated ratio to normal clay makes the resulting pottery items stronger.
  • The Terracotta grinder will make grinding of wasted pottery items faster than the traditional mortar and pestle.
  • It will lessen the cost of production, and will also help in solving the problem of shortage of clays.
  • This will also create more job opportunities in the villages.

How it will reduce cost of production?

  • Cost of one tractor trolley of clay is Rs 2,600 in the Varanasi area.
  • By mixing 20 percent of this wasted terracotta powder in one tractor trolley of clay, the potter will make a saving of at least Rs 520.

Project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature)

  • KVIC, as part of its commitment to Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, had started manufacturing of plastic-mixed handmade paper under its project REPLAN.
  • In this project, the waste plastic is collected, cleaned, chopped, beaten and treated for softness.
  • After that, it is mixed with the paper raw material i.e. cotton rags pulp in a ratio of 80 % (pulp) and 20% (plastic waste).
  • The institute has sold over six lakh handmade plastic mixed carry bags since September 2018.

[Source: PIB, kvic.org]

  

FACTS OF THE DAY

LIGNIN

Researchers at the Mohali-based Centre of Innovative and Applied Bioprocessing (CIAB) have developed a lignin-based nanocomposite which could potentially have commercial value. Microbial test results indicate that the lignin-based nanomaterial can act as an additive in coating and packaging materials, in the long run. Lignin is a complex organic polymer rich in polyphenols with antimicrobial qualities. It is found in almost all dry plants including crop residues and the woody bark of trees. Abundant quantities of lignin are generated as post-harvest agro-biomass and in paper and pulp industries every year, which often go waste.

URANIUM CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED (UCIL)

The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered a full-fledged inquiry into a number of complaints about groundwater pollution caused by the uranium mining and processing project of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at Tummalapalle in Vemula mandal of Kadapa district. Uranium Corporation of India Limited was incorporated on 4th October 1967. It is a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy.

QUTUB MINAR

Minister of State for Culture and Tourism has inaugurated the first-ever architectural LED illumination at the historic Qutb Minar. With the illumination, the architectural beauty of the 12th-century monument will display its historic majesty after sunset. The tall minaret was constructed in 1192 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, and later completed by his successor Iltutmish. The soaring conical tower is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture.

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