India’s single largest solar park
Why in News?
- NTPC Renewable Energy Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of NTPC, has received the go-ahead from Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to set up 4750 MW renewable energy park at Rann of Kutch in Khavada, Gujarat.
- This will be India’s largest solar park to be built by the largest power producer of the country.
- NTPC REL has plans to generate green hydrogen on a commercial scale from this park.
- As a part of its green energy portfolio augmentation, NTPC Ltd, India’s largest energy integrated company aims to build 60 GW Renewable Energy Capacity by 2032.
- Currently, the state owned power major has an installed capacity of 66 GW across 70 power projects with an additional 18 GW under construction.
- Recently, NTPC has also commissioned India’s largest Floating Solar of 10 MW (ac) on the reservoir of Simhadri Thermal Power Plant, Andhra Pradesh. An additional 15 MW (ac) would be commissioned by August 2021.
- 100 MW Floating Solar Project on the reservoir of Ramagundam Thermal Power Plant, Telangana is in the advanced stage of implementation.
- NTPC RE Ltd. has recently signed an MoU with UT, Ladakh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) for the generation of green hydrogen and deployment on FCEV buses.
BHIM–UPI in Bhutan
Why in News?
- Indian Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs along with her counterpart the Hon’ble Finance Minister of Bhutan jointly launched BHIM–UPI in Bhutan.
- The services have started in Bhutan under India’s neighbourhood first policy.
- With today’s launch of BHIM-UPI in Bhutan, the payment infrastructures of the two countries are seamlessly connected and will benefit a large number of tourists and businessmen from India who travel to Bhutan each year.
- Bhutan is the first country to adopt UPI standards for its QR deployment, and the first country in our immediate neighbourhood to accept mobile based payments through the BHIM App.
Country’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility Project
Why in News?
- NTPC, Maharatna PSU under Ministry of Power recently signed a MoU with UT of Ladakh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) to setup the country’s first Green Hydrogen Mobility project, strengthening Prime Minister’s vision to ensure a carbon free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen.
- Renewable Energy Ltd (REL), a 100% subsidiary of NTPC, signed a MoU with Union Territory of Ladakh, to set up the country’s first green Hydrogen Mobility project in the region.
- The MoU will enable NTPC to help Ladakh develop a carbon free economy based on renewable sources and green hydrogen.
- NTPC has planned to ply 5 hydrogen buses, to start with, in the region and the company will be setting up a solar plant and a green hydrogen generation unit in Leh towards this end.
- This will put Leh as the first city in the country to implement a green hydrogen based mobility project. This would be zero emission mobility in true sense.
- NTPC has also been promoting usage of green hydrogen based solutions in sectors like mobility, energy, chemical, fertilizer, steel etc.
- NTPC has recently revised its target of achieving 60GW renewables capacity by 2032, almost doubling the earlier target. Recently, NTPC has commissioned India’s largest floating solar project of 10 MW at Visakhapatnam.
Anti-terror law should not be misused
Why in News?
- Anti-terror law should not be misused to quell dissent or harass citizens, Supreme Court judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has said in an address on Indo-U.S. legal ties, in a speech on the ‘Role of the Supreme Court in protecting the fundamental rights in challenging times’.
- The judiciary must remain the first line of defence against any move to deprive citizens of their liberty.
- Some may dub the role of the court as “judicial activism” or “judicial overreach”. “The Supreme Court is a counter-majoritarian institution sworn to protect the rights of socio-economic minorities”.
- The actions of the government had far-reaching effects on the constitutional rights of people, which involved right to affordable healthcare, including vaccination; rights of labourers, including migrant labourers and factory workers; right to livelihood; and rights of prisoners.
- As the “guardian of the Constitution”, the Supreme Court had to put a break where executive or legislative actions infringed fundamental human rights.
- The judge noted how there was no provision under the Constitution for declaration of environmental or public health related emergencies.
- Thus, the legislature had no role to play in the declaration of lockdowns.
- The lockdowns, instead, were a result of executive decrees.
- The State governments, in fact, used the colonial era Epidemic Diseases Act to impose lockdowns on the public.
- The Indian government did not use its emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the Union government invoked the National Disaster Management Act to declare the COVID-19 pandemic as a ‘disaster’ within the meaning of the Act… Thus, the lockdown was a result of executive decrees, and the legislature did not play any role in its creation.
India rating at lowest investment grade
Why in News?
- S&P Global Ratings affirmed India’s sovereign rating at the lowest investment grade of ‘BBB-’ for the 14th year in a row with a stable outlook, and said that the country’s strong external settings will act as a buffer against financial strains despite elevated government funding needs over the next 24 months.
- The sovereign credit ratings on India reflect the economy’s above-average long-term real GDP growth, sound external profile, and evolving monetary settings.
- India’s democratic institutions promote policy stability and compromise, and also underpin the ratings.
- These strengths are balanced against vulnerabilities stemming from the country’s low per capita income and weak fiscal settings, including consistently elevated general government deficits and indebtedness.
- S&P Global Ratings has forecast economic activity in India to begin to normalise throughout the remainder of fiscal 2022, resulting in real GDP growth of about 9.5%.
- A significant proportion of this rebound will be due to the very weak base in the prior fiscal year, when the economy contracted by a record 7.3%.
- India’s fiscal settings are weak, and deficits will remain elevated over the coming years even as the government undertakes some consolidation.
Bihar’s Senari massacre of 1999
Why in News?
- The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Bihar government’s appeal against the acquittal by Patna High Court in May of 14 accused in the Senari massacre of 1999.
- On March 18, 1999, 34 upper caste men were forced out of their homes in Senari village of Jehanabad district allegedly by cadres of the now defunct Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), and slaughtered near the village temple.
- The massacre was a sequel in the prolonged caste war between the MCC and private armies of upper caste villagers, especially the Ranbir Sena.
Alcohol caused 740,000 cancer cases globally
- Alcohol is estimated to have caused more than 740,000 cancer cases around the world last year, and experts say more needs to be done to highlight the link.
- There is strong evidence that alcohol consumption can cause various cancers including those of the breast, liver, colon, rectum, oropharynx, larynx and oesophagus. Research suggests that even low levels of drinking can increase the risk.
- They suggested that alcohol labels should have cancer warnings, that there could be higher taxes on alcohol and that marketing of drinks could be reduced.
- While most alcohol-caused cancer cases were linked to heavy or “risky” drinking, even moderate or low levels of alcohol consumption were estimated to have caused cases.
- The proportion of cancer cases estimated to be caused by alcohol was lowest in north Africa and west Asia but highest in east Asia and central and eastern Europe.
Why in News?
- Russia’s army has sent water-bombing planes to support thousands of firefighters battling huge wildfires in Siberia, a region known for its frozen tundra that is now sweltering under a heatwave.
- Russia has seen its annual fire season become more ferocious in recent years, as climate change has driven unusually high temperatures across the northern Siberian tundra. This year, temperatures have already hit new record highs.
- The Siberian fires have raised fears about the permafrost and peatlands thawing, releasing carbon long stored in the frozen tundra.
- Ash from the fires could also blanket nearby snow cover, turning it dark so that it absorbs more solar radiation and warms even faster.
- In both 2019 and 2020, Yakutia’s wildfires led to record amounts of greenhouse gases being released from the region.
- The country has struggled under a heatwave that has broken several temperature records in western Russia. Moscow has sweltered through its hottest June day for 120 years after the temperature hit 34.7C.
- In Siberia, the city of Yakutsk hit 35C at one point; and the region’s city of Verkhoyansk – seen as one of the coldest places on Earth – saw temperatures of over 30C.
- Similar conditions in parts of Canada and the US Pacific north-west have also lead to wildfires.
Two species of few-electron bubbles in superfluid helium
- Scientists of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in a new study have experimentally shown the existence of two species of few electron bubbles (FEBs) in superfluid helium for the first time.
- These FEBs can serve as a useful model to study how the energy states of electrons and interactions between them in a material influence its properties.
- An electron injected into a superfluid form of helium creates a single electron bubble (SEB) — a cavity that is free of helium atoms and contains only the electron. The shape of the bubble depends on the energy state of the electron.
- For instance, the bubble is spherical when the electron is in the ground state (1S). There are also MEBs— multiple electron bubbles that contain thousands of electrons.
- FEBs, on the other hand, are nanometre-sized cavities in liquid helium containing just a handful of free electrons. The number, state, and interactions between free electrons dictate the physical and chemical properties of materials.
- Studying FEBs, therefore, could help scientists better understand how some of these properties emerge when a few electrons present in a material interact with each other.
- Understanding how FEBs are formed can also provide insights into the self-assembly of soft materials, which can be important for developing next-generation quantum materials.
- Scientists, however, have only theoretically predicted the existence of FEBs so far.
- FEBs form an interesting system that has both electron-electron interaction and electron-surface interaction.
- There are several phenomena that FEBs can help scientists decipher, such as turbulent flows in superfluids and viscous fluids, or the flow of heat in superfluid helium.
- Just like how current flows without resistance in superconducting materials at very low temperatures, superfluid helium also conducts heat efficiently at very low temperatures.
- But defects in the system, called vortices, can lower its thermal conductivity.
Positive associations between antimicrobial use in animals and AMR in humans
- A new joint inter-agency report has found positive associations between antimicrobial use (AMU) in animals and antimicrobial resistance in animals as well as in humans.
- The report analysed possible relationships between antimicrobial consumption (AMC) in humans and food-producing animals, and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria from humans and food-producing animals in the European Union (EU) / European Economic Area (EEA).
- The report analysed data for six classes of antibiotics: Third and fourth generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, polymyxins, aminopenicillins, macrolides and tetracyclines.
- Except tetracyclines, all remaining five classes are critically important antimicrobials (CIA) categorised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as critical for use in human health.
- Four out of these five CIAs are highest priority (HPCIA). These classes are also included in the WHO AWaRe (Access, Watch, Reserve) classification.
- Data on AMR in E. coli, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus and C. jejuni were included in this report: While E. coli and K. pneumonia are common infection causing pathogens, S. aureus and C. jejuni are food-borne bacteria.
According to the report:
- Penicillins, first- and second-generation cephalosporins and macrolides were the highest selling classes in human medicine. For food-producing animals, tetracyclines and penicillins were the highest selling classes in 2017. The consumption of colistin, a last resort antibiotic and an HPCIA was higher in food-producing animals than in humans across EU.
- The report also established significant correlations between AMU in humans and animals with AMR in humans, animals respectively and also across sectors. Antimicrobial use in food-animals is linked to AMR, not only in animals, but also in humans.
- For example, there was a significant positive association between consumption of fluoroquinolones and other quinolones in animals and resistance in E. coli from food-producing animals as well as humans.
- The consumption of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins in food-producing animals was seen to be associated with resistance to third-generation cephalosporins in humans.
- Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials is one of the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance. As the global antimicrobial consumption in terrestrial and aquatic food animal production accelerates, which is linked with expanded production to meet increasing demand for animal-source nutrition, monitoring antimicrobial use becomes more and more relevant.
Deforestation in Southeast Asia Mountains on the rise
- Deforestation in the mountains of Southeast Asia has accelerated in the last 10 years, leading to an increase in carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
- Forests are being cut down on steeper slopes — which have a high forest carbon density relative to the lowlands — to make way for agricultural intensification.
- Southeast Asia contains about half of all tropical mountain forests, which contain a large amount of the planet’s carbon.
- The deforestation in the mountains of Southeast Asia accounts for a third of the total forest loss in the region.
- The study stated that the average altitude of forest loss increased by 150 metres in the last decade.
- Antimicrobials are used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.
- They can be in the form of antibiotics, used to treat bodily infections, or as an additive or coating on commercial products used to keep germs at bay.
- These life-saving tools are essential to preventing and treating infections in humans, animals and plants, but they also pose a global threat to public health when microorganisms develop resistance to them, a concept known as antimicrobial resistance.
- One of the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial agents, which includes silver nanoparticles, an advanced material with well-documented antimicrobial properties.
- It is increasingly used in commercial products that boast enhanced germ-killing performance—it has been woven into textiles, coated onto toothbrushes, and even mixed into cosmetics as a preservative.
- Researchers exposed E.coli to 20 consecutive days of silver nanoparticles and monitored bacterial growth over time. Nanoparticles are roughly 50 times smaller than a bacterium.
- In the beginning, bacteria could only survive at low concentrations of silver nanoparticles, but as the experiment continued, researchers found that they could survive at higher doses”
- Bacteria developed resistance to the silver nanoparticles but not their released silver ions alone.