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Current Affairs 12 May 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
  2. Potential of STP sludge in Ganga River cleanup efforts
  3. India Makes Changes to Its Money Laundering Law
  4. Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973
  5. Monkeypox
  6. iDrone initiative
  7. Gaza Strip

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism


Context:

The European Union (EU) has announced that its Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will be introduced in its transitional phase from October 2023, which will levy a carbon tax on imports of products made from the processes which are not Environmentally sustainable or non-Green.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. CBAM – A Policy Tool to Reduce Carbon Emissions
  2. Objectives and Significance of CBAM
  3. Impact of CBAM on India
  4. Conclusion

CBAM – A Policy Tool to Reduce Carbon Emissions

  • CBAM is part of the “Fit for 55 in 2030 package,” which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels in line with the European Climate Law.
  • It is a policy tool aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
How does CBAM work?
  • CBAM will ensure that imported goods are subject to the same carbon costs as products produced within the EU.
  • CBAM will translate into a 20-35 % tax on select imports into the EU starting 1st January 2026.
  • Importers will be required to declare the quantity of goods imported into the EU and their embedded Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on an annual basis.
  • To offset these emissions, importers will need to surrender a corresponding number of CBAM certificates.
  • The price of CBAM certificates will be based on the weekly average auction price of EU Emission Trading System (ETS) allowances in €/tonne of CO2 emitted.

Objectives and Significance of CBAM

Objectives:

  • CBAM aims to ensure that the EU’s climate objectives are not undermined by carbon-intensive imports.
  • It intends to promote cleaner production practices worldwide.

Significance:

  • CBAM can encourage non-EU countries to adopt more stringent environmental regulations to reduce global carbon emissions.
  • It can help prevent carbon leakage by discouraging companies from relocating to countries with weaker environmental regulations.
  • The revenue generated from CBAM will be used to support EU climate policies, which can serve as an example for other countries to support green energy initiatives.

Impact of CBAM on India

CBAM is likely to have a significant impact on India’s exports to the EU, particularly in the following ways:

Adverse impact on exports:

  • India’s exports of metals such as Iron, Steel and aluminum products to the EU will face extra scrutiny under CBAM.
  • India’s major exports to the EU, such as iron ore and steel, face a significant threat due to the carbon levies ranging from 19.8% to 52.7%.

Direct and Indirect Emissions:

  • The carbon intensity of Indian products is significantly higher than that of the EU and many other countries due to coal dominating the overall energy consumption.
  • The proportion of coal-fired power in India is much higher than the EU (15%) and the global average (36%).
  • Therefore, direct and indirect emissions from iron and steel and aluminium are a major concern for India, as higher emissions would translate to higher carbon tariffs to be paid to the EU.

Impact on other sectors:

  • While the impact will initially be felt in a few sectors, it may expand to other sectors in the future, such as refined petroleum products, organic chemicals, pharma medicaments, and textiles, which are among the top 20 goods imported from India by the EU.

Competitive disadvantage:

  • Since India has no domestic carbon pricing scheme in place, it poses a greater risk to export competitiveness, as other countries with a carbon pricing system in place might have to pay less carbon tax or get exemptions.

Conclusion

  • The CBAM is a significant policy initiative aimed at reducing carbon emissions from imported goods and creating a fair-trade environment.
  • While it may have an adverse impact on the exports of some countries, it is intended to promote cleaner production practices worldwide and encourage other countries to adopt stricter environmental regulations.
  • In the long run, it has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions and create a more sustainable future.

-Source: The Hindu


Potential of STP sludge in Ganga River cleanup efforts


Context:

The sludge from Indian sewage treatment plants (STPs) is significant in treating polluted water from the Ganga River. A recent study highlights the potential of this sludge as a fertilizer and biofuel.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. What is Sludge?
  3. Main Findings from the study
  4. About Project Arth Ganga

Details:

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga is an initiative aimed at preventing pollution and rejuvenating the Ganga River.
  • The initiative ‘Arth Ganga’ has been introduced as part of this mission to derive livelihood opportunities from the river rejuvenation program.
  • The primary objective of this initiative is to monetize and reuse treated wastewater and sludge, which are byproducts of sewage treatment plants.

What is Sludge?

  • Sludge is the thick residue generated during wastewater treatment.
  • It is the semi-solid material left after separating and treating the liquid portion of the sewage.
  • The composition of sludge varies depending on the source and treatment processes used.
  • It can contain organic compounds, nutrients, microorganisms, as well as contaminants such as heavy metals, industrial pollutants, and pathogens.
Treatment and Classification:
  • Treatment and processing of sludge can yield organic fertilizers, biogas, or construction materials.
  • Contaminants in sludge require careful handling to avoid negative impacts on water bodies and agricultural land.
  • The United States Environment Protection Agency classifies sludge as Class A or Class B based on their safety for disposal and use.
    • Class A sludge is safe for open disposal and serves as organic fertilizer.
    • Class B sludge can be used in restricted agricultural applications, with precautions to avoid exposure of edible parts of crops to sludge-mixed soil and to limit contact with animals and people.
Sludge Disposal in India:
  • India does not have established standards for classifying sludge as Class A or B.
  • Contractors under the Namami Ganga Mission are assigned land for sludge disposal.
  • Inadequate treatment of sludge by these contractors leads to its release into rivers and local water sources during rainfall.
  • Data on the chemical characteristics of sludge is essential to incentivize private players to treat and dispose of sludge properly.

Main Findings from the study:

  • The majority of the analyzed dried sludge belongs to the class B category.
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the sludge exceed India’s fertilizer standards, while potassium levels are lower than recommended.
  • Total organic carbon content in the sludge is higher than recommended, but heavy metal contamination and pathogen levels surpass fertilizer standards.
  • The calorific value of sludge ranges from 1,000-3,500 kcal/kg, which is lower than Indian coal.
Recommendations for Improving Sludge Quality:
  • Storage of sludge for at least three months is suggested to kill pathogens.
  • Blending sludge with cattle manure, husk, or local soil can help reduce heavy metal content.
  • However, these measures would still classify the sludge as class B.
  • Converting the sludge into class A would require more extensive treatment.

About Project Arth Ganga

  • PM Modi first introduced the concept during the first National Ganga Council meeting in Kanpur in 2019, where he urged for a shift from Namami Gange, the Union Government’s flagship project to clean the Ganga, to the model of Arth Ganga.
  • The latter focuses on the sustainable development of the Ganga and its surrounding areas, by focusing on economic activities related to the river.
  • At its core, the Arth Ganga model seeks to use economics to bridge people with the river.
  • The project has been assisted by the World Bank.
Features of the project:

Under Arth Ganga, the government is working on six verticals.

  1. Zero Budget Natural Farming, which involves chemical-free farming on 10 km on either side of the river, and the promotion of cow dung as fertiliser through the GOBARdhan scheme.
  2. The Monetization and Reuse of Sludge & Wastewater, which seeks to reuse treated water for irrigation, industries and revenue generation for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
  3. Arth Ganga will also involve Livelihood Generation Opportunities, by creating haats where people can sell local products, medicinal plants and ayurveda.
  4. To increase public participation by increasing synergies between the stakeholders involved with the river.
  5. The model also wants to promote the cultural heritage and tourism of Ganga and its surroundings, through boat tourism, adventure sports and by conducting yoga activities.
  6. The model seeks to promote institutional building by empowering local administration for improved water governance.
Significance of the project
  • The project is a holistic viewpoint of the Ganga rejuvenation project which seeks to promote sustainable livelihood of the population in this area.
  • Inland Waterways being the most important part of the Arth Ganga project, will create huge economic activities while focusing on inclusive and sustainable livelihood.
  • Trade and market access benefits, local community economic growth, and passenger convenience all have a big impact.
  • According to the World Bank, this project’s infrastructure-related operations will lead to the creation of 100–150 direct jobs per industry.
  • The Arth Ganga project will also ensure large scale skills enhancement and public/private sector capability development.
  • The ease of transportation and doing business will have a huge impact on the farmers especially horticulture farmers in the region.

-Source: The Hindu


India Makes Changes to Its Money Laundering Law


Context:

India has taken steps to update its money laundering law, the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA), in order to address potential gaps ahead of its upcoming assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Changes Made Under the PMLA
  2. Concerns Regarding Changes Made Under the PMLA
  3. Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002

Changes Made Under the PMLA

The Indian government has made several changes to the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA) to plug loopholes and comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations. Some of the key changes are:

  • More disclosures for non-governmental organizations by reporting entities like financial institutions, banking companies, or intermediaries.
  • Definition of “politically exposed persons” (PEPs) as individuals who have been entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, which brings uniformity with a 2008 Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular for Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and anti-money laundering standards for banks and financial institutions.
  • Inclusion of practicing chartered accountants, company secretaries, and cost and works accountants carrying out financial transactions on behalf of their clients under the ambit of the money laundering law.
  • Widening the list of non-banking reporting entities to allow 22 financial entities like Amazon Pay (India) Pvt. Ltd, Aditya Birla Housing Finance Ltd, and IIFL Finance Ltd. to verify the identity of their customers via Aadhaar under the ambit of the money laundering law.

The financial transactions covered under the money laundering law include buying and selling of any immovable property, managing client money, securities, or other assets, management of bank, savings, or securities accounts, organization of contributions for the creation, operation, or management of companies, creation, operation, or management of companies, limited liability partnerships, or trusts, and buying and selling of business entities.

Concerns Regarding Changes Made Under the PMLA

  • Reporting entities required to maintain records of all transactions and conduct KYC before each specified transaction; failure to comply could result in penalties and action from investigative agencies.
  • Low conviction rate under the PMLA, making it a difficult process to go through.
  • Exclusion of lawyers and legal professionals in the new definition of entities covered under the PMLA criticized by some professionals.
  • Some argue that these newly incorporated professionals are already regulated by professional bodies set up under various acts of Parliament, making these measures unnecessary.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002

  • According to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, Money laundering is concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.
    •  It is frequently a component of other, much more serious, crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery or extortion.
  • Money laundering is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 7 years and Fine under the PMLA.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is responsible for investigating offences under the PMLA.
  • The Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) is the national agency that receives, processes, analyses and disseminates information related to suspect financial transactions.
  • After hearing the application, a special court (designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act PMLA, 2002) may declare an individual as a fugitive economic offender and also confiscate properties which are proceeds of crime, Benami properties and any other property, in India or abroad.
  • The authorities under the PMLA, 2002 will exercise powers given to them under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
    • These powers will be similar to those of a civil court, including the search of persons in possession of records or proceeds of crime, the search of premises on the belief that a person is an FEO and seizure of documents.

-Source: The Hindu


Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973


Context:

The counsel for the Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently said in the Supreme Court that the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, does not protect Coal India Ltd (CIL) from the competition laws.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Main Features of Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973:
  2. What are Captive Mines?

Main Features of Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973:

  • Enacted by the Indian Parliament to acquire and transfer the right, title, and interest of owners in respect of coal mines specified in the Schedule.
  • The Schedule contained a list of about 711 coal mines located in different parts of the country.
  • The objective of the Act is to ensure rational, coordinated, and scientific development and utilization of coal resources consistent with the growing requirements of the country.
  • Under the Act, coal mining is exclusively reserved for the public sector.
Exceptions to the Policy:
  • An amendment to the Act in 1976 introduced two exceptions to the policy of exclusive public sector coal mining:
    • Captive mining by private companies engaged in the production of iron and steel
    • Sub-lease for coal mining to private parties in isolated small pockets not amenable to economic development and not requiring rail transport
  • The Act was amended in 1993 to allow private sector participation in captive coal mining for various end-uses, including generation of power, washing of coal, and production of iron and steel.
Allotment of Coal Mines:
  • Under the Act, the allotment of coal mines for captive use is based on the recommendation of a high-powered committee chaired by the Secretary, Ministry of Coal.
  • The mining of coal for captive use for the production of cement is also permitted by the Government notification.

What are Captive Mines?

  • Captive mines are mines that are set up for the exclusive use of the company or organization that owns them.
  • The minerals or resources extracted from these mines are not sold on the open market but are instead used internally for the company’s own operations.
    • For example, a steel company may have its own captive iron ore mine to ensure a reliable supply of the raw material for its production process.
    • Similarly, a power generation company may set up its own captive coal mine to ensure a steady supply of fuel for its power plants.

-Source: The Hindu


Monkeypox


Context:

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that mpox no longer constitutes a global health emergency, almost exactly a year after the disease formerly known as monkeypox started spreading globally.

Relevance:

GS II-Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Monkeypox virus
  2. Zoonotic disease
  3. Symptoms and treatment

About Monkeypox virus

  • The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus, which is a genus of viruses that also includes the variola virus, which causes smallpox, and vaccinia virus, which was used in the smallpox vaccine.
  • Monkeypox causes symptoms similar to smallpox, although they are less severe.
  • While vaccination eradicated smallpox worldwide in 1980, monkeypox continues to occur in a swathe of countries in Central and West Africa, and has on occasion showed up elsewhere.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two distinct clade are identified: the West African clade and the Congo Basin clade, also known as the Central African clade.

Zoonotic disease

  • Monkeypox is a zoonosis, that is, a disease that is transmitted from infected animals to humans.
  • According to the WHO, cases occur close to tropical rainforests inhabited by animals that carry the virus.
  • Monkeypox virus infection has been detected in squirrels, Gambian poached rats, dormice, and some species of monkeys.
  • Human-to-human transmission is, however, limited — the longest documented chain of transmission is six generations, meaning the last person to be infected in this chain was six links away from the original sick person, the WHO says.
Transmission:
  • Transmission, when it occurs, can be through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

Symptoms and treatment

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox begins with a fever, headache, muscle aches, back ache, and exhaustion.
  • It also causes the lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy), which smallpox does not.
  • The WHO underlines that it is important to not confuse monkeypox with chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, syphilis and medication-associated allergies.
  • The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
  • Usually within a day to 3 days of the onset of fever, the patient develops a rash that begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body.
  • The skin eruption stage can last between 2 and 4 weeks, during which the lesions harden and become painful, fill up first with a clear fluid and then pus, and then develop scabs or crusts.
  • According to the WHO, the proportion of patients who die has varied between 0 and 11% in documented cases, and has been higher among young children.
Treatment:
  • There is no safe, proven treatment for monkeypox yet.
  • The WHO recommends supportive treatment depending on the symptoms.
  • Awareness is important for prevention and control of the infection.

-Source: The Hindu


iDrone initiative


Context:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has successfully conducted a trial run of delivery of blood bags by drones under its iDrone initiative.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

iDrone Initiative for Medical Supply Delivery

  • The iDrone initiative is a validation study conducted by ICMR, Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), Government Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS), Greater Noida, and Jaypee Institute of Information Technology (JIIT), Noida.
  • The trial run was the first of its kind in India and aimed to assess the feasibility of using drones to deliver medical supplies, including vaccines, to difficult geographical terrains.
  • The inaugural trial flight carried 10 units of whole blood samples from GIMS and LHMC within visual line of sight.
  • The i-DRONE project was specifically designed for drone response and outreach for the North East and delivered medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, routine immunisation program vaccines, antenatal care medicines, multi-vitamins, syringes, and gloves.
  • The project’s drone delivery system focused on the end-to-end ecosystem for drone-based logistic transportation within the states and achieved the first successful delivery of vaccines through drones from land to island in South Asia.

-Source: The Hindu


Gaza Strip


Context:

The recent air strikes by Israel in the Gaza strip have killed 13 Palestinians. Three of them are commanders of the militant group Islamic Jihad.

Relevance:

Places in News

About Gaza Strip

  • The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian enclave located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, sharing borders with Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the east and north. It is claimed by the State of Palestine and is separated from the West Bank by Israeli territory.
Governance:
  • Both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, but since the Battle of Gaza in June 2007, the Strip has been governed by Hamas, a militant, Palestinian, fundamentalist Islamic organization that came to power in the last-held elections in 2006.
Boycott:
  • Since Hamas’ takeover in 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli and US-led international economic and political boycott.

-Source: The Hindu


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