September 2019

Daily Current Affairs (10-09-19)

NATIONAL SURVEY TO MEASURE THE  COVERAGE OF IODIZED SALT

Related Topics: Survey & Reports, Public Health

News

According to a first-of-its-kind national survey to measure the coverage of iodised salt, Tamil Nadu has the lowest consumption of iodised salt despite being the third biggest producer of salt in the country.

About the Survey

  • The survey was conducted by Nutrition International in collaboration with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).
  • The survey covered a total of 21,406 households in 29 States and 7 Union Territories in India.
  • The fieldwork was undertaken between October 2018 and March 2019.
  • The survey tested the iodine content in samples of cooking salt from households to estimate the coverage of iodised salt.
  • The study also examined the urinary iodine concentration in samples from pregnant, lactating and non-pregnant, non-lactating women of reproductive age (15-49 years) to estimate the iodine status among them.
  • These three categories of women were taken as a proxy for the population and the iodine status of the population was found to be adequate as per World Health Organisation guidelines.

Performance of States

  • The study shows that 76.3% of Indian households consumed adequately iodised salt, which is salt with at least 15 parts per million of iodine.
  • The survey also revealed that 13 states have already achieved Universal Salt Iodisation or have 90% of households with access to adequately iodised salt.

  • The five worst performers were Tamil Nadu (61.9%), Andhra Pradesh (63.9%), Rajasthan (65.5%), Odisha (65.8%) and Jharkhand (68.8%).

Production of Salt

  • Gujarat produces 71% of salt in the country, followed by Rajasthan at 17% and Tamil Nadu at 11%.
  • The rest of the country accounts for a mere 1% of salt produced.

Why distant places from salt producing states have better coverage?

  • The North-Eastern States are doing very well with respect to iodised salt consumption at the household level because of the distance they have from the three salt producing centres — Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
  • Most States get their salt from Gujarat and Rajasthan and because of the distance, it is sent by rail.
  • This salt is strictly monitored by the Salt Commissioner’s office and if it is inadequately iodised, they don’t allot rakes.
  • Salt-producing States have access to common (or non-iodised) salt and, therefore, they consume it since it is readily available
  • For example, Rajasthan, which is the second largest producer of salt, figured among the five worst covered States.

Government Interventions

  • India made fortification of salt with iodine mandatory for direct human consumption in 1992.
  • This was relaxed in 2000 and then re-imposed in 2005.
  • Supreme Court mandated universal iodisation for the control of iodine deficiencies in 2011.

Significance

  • Iodine is a vital micro-nutrient for optimal mental and physical development of human beings.
  • Deficiency of iodine can result in a range of disabilities and disorders such as goitre, hypothyroidism, cretinism, abortion, still births, mental retardation and psychomotor defects.
  • Children born in iodine deficient areas may have up to 13.5 IQ points less than those born in iodine sufficient areas.

Key Recommendations

  • The key recommendation of the study is to sustain the momentum so that iodine coverage does not fall below current levels.
  • It also recommends that the States and the Centre should work together to address the current gaps and look into issues that vary from one State to another, leading to adequately iodised salt not being produced.

[Source: The Hindu]

 

SINGLE-USE PLASTIC (SUP)

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Plastic Pollution

News

  • Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that the Government will not impose imminent ban on the use of single-use plastic (SUP) in India.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the intent of scrapping single-use plastics during his Independence Day speech.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

  • Often referred as disposable plastics, they are commonly used for packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
  • These include grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.
  • Plastic packaging is mostly single-use, especially in business-to-consumer applications, and a majority of it is discarded the same year it is produced.

Need for the Ban

  • Disposable plastics have the “lowest recyclability” and “highest harm factor”.
  • They are the least biodegradable and have lowest possibility of being reconverted.
  • It can take up to thousands of years for plastic bags and Styrofoam containers to decompose.
  • In the meantime, it contaminates the soil and water.
  • The toxic chemicals used to manufacture plastic get transferred to animal tissue, eventually entering the human food chain.
  • Styrofoam products are toxic if ingested and can damage nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

Why is it difficult to ban single-use plastics?

  • By and large, the alternative materials to replace single-use plastic are either not in place or not available at scale.
  • Banning things without a viable alternative will make the situation worse.
  • For example, Polystyrene or thermocol is a highly damaging single-use plastic but it has virtually no alternative.
  • Officials are trying to have a legal definition of what is single-use plastic.
  • In 2018, the Chemical and Fertilisers Ministry formed a committee to define single-use plastic. However, its conclusions never found its way into any statute.

Government Regulation

  • Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 was an attempt to improve legislation.
  • It states that every local body has to be responsible for setting up infrastructure for segregation, collection, processing and disposal of plastic waste.
  • The rules, amended in 2018, introduced the concept of extended producer responsibility, according to which the producers (manufacturers, importers and those using plastic in packaging) as well as brand owners would be held responsible for collecting the waste their products generate.
  • The State Pollution Control Boards as well municipalities have the responsibility to ensure that plastic waste is collected and sent to recycling units.

India & Plastic Waste Generation

  • Compared to other countries such as the U.S. and China, India has very low per capita generation of plastic waste.
  • India generates close to 26,000 tonnes of plastic a day, according to a CPCB estimate from 2012.
  • However, in real terms, this is quite substantial and nearly 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste is left uncollected every day.

India’s Commitment to reduce SUP

  • India has a long-standing commitment to eliminate the use of single-use plastic (SUP) by 2022.
  • A resolution moved by India at the United Nations Environment Assembly to eliminate SUP by 2025 was defeated with the final text of the agreement only committing to the “significantly reduced use” of SUP by 2030.

Way Forward

  • Plastic users should be provided with feasible alternatives, which are not costly and made aware of these options.
  • Industry should also be pushed to work on R&D to work on packaging alternatives, provided with time to work on this and given targets to phase out different types of plastic.
  • Rather than a sudden blanket ban, Government should focus on phasing out single-use plastic according to whether these are high priority items that need to be replaced immediately, items for which alternatives are available or items that require more time to be phased out.
[Source: The Hindu, Economic Times]

 

LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG) REGASIFICATION  PROJECT

Related Topics: Energy & Infrastructure, Floating Storage Regasification Unit

News

  • H-Energy, the oil and gas arm of Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group has entered into a port service agreement (PSA) with Kakinada Seaports (KSPL) for developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification and reloading terminal at Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The company has been authorised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board of India to develop a natural gas pipeline between India and Bangladesh.

About the Project

  • H-Energy will develop an LNG hub at the Kakinada Port catering to the needs of domestic customers in Andhra Pradesh.
  • It will supply LNG through small vessels to H-energy’s upcoming Kukrahati LNG terminal in West Bengal and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Projects by H-Energy

  • The company is engaged in developing LNG regasification terminals at Jaigarh on the west coast and at Kakinada and Kukrahati on the east coast of India.
  • H-Energy will start commercial operation of its Floating Storage Regasification Unit-based LNG terminal at Jaigarh port in Maharashtra by end of 2019 along with a 60-km natural gas pipeline to Dabhol.
  • The company is laying a 635-km natural gas pipeline from Jaigarh to Mangalore, which will connect gas customers in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • A 242-km natural gas pipeline is also being set-up by the company from Kanai Chhata to Shrirampur (at India-Bangladesh border), which will supply regasified LNG to customers in West Bengal and Bangladesh.

What is Regasification?

  • It is a process of converting liquefied natural gas (LNG) at −162 °C (−260 °F) temperature back to natural gas at atmospheric temperature.
  • LNG gasification plants can be located on land as well as on floating barges.

About Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU)

  • It is a vital component required while transiting and transferring Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through the oceanic channels.
  • It plays a key role in the LNG value chain, forming the interface between LNG carriers and the local gas supply infrastructure.
  • They are versatile, convenient and can make natural gas available to the market faster than land-based installations.

[Source: The Hindu, Economic Times]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

SBI RATE CUT

State Bank of India (SBI) has reduced its benchmark lending rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points (bps). With this cut, the one year MCLR of the bank, to which most loan rates are linked, will be 8.15%. The move will benefit all the existing SBI customers having home, auto and any other category of loans that are linked to the marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR). The rate cut is aimed at boosting loan demand in the festive season. This is the fifth rate cut by the SBI this financial year. The bank has cut its MCLR by 40 bps since April, 2019.

TIME BANK

Madhya Pradesh government’s Happiness Department plans to set up a Time Bank that would lend currency to an hour, which could be exchanged to learn a new skill without the need for any paper money. Whenever a bank member needs a service or wants to acquire a skill, say gardening or playing a guitar, she could exchange a credit, worth an hour, with another member knowing the skill. At the start, the 50,000 volunteers registered with the department through local networks will form community-level banks and list skills they could impart or services, they could offer. An experienced volunteer will induct new members and keep a record of all the transactions.  Conceived at the Cincinnati Time Store in 1827, the concept gained currency with the setting up of the first Time Bank in Japan in 1973, and later when Edgar Cahn, CEO of TimeBanks USA, popularised ‘Time Dollars’. Currently, there are more than 500 such communities across 32 countries.

INDIAN SKILL DEVELOPMENT SERVICE (ISDS)

The fresh batch of the newest central government services, the Indian Skill Development Services commenced their training program at the Administrative Training Institute (ATI), Mysuru. This service has been specially created for the Training Directorate of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and is a Group ‘A’ service. This is the first batch which is joining the ISDS cadre from the Indian Engineering Service Examination conducted by UPSC. The induction of young talent as ISDS officers is one of the special initiatives taken by the MSDE to attract young and talented administrators towards institutionalizing the Skill Development environment in the country.

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