Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 27 March 2023

‘Call Before u Dig’ application launched

GS Paper - 3 (ITC)

The Prime Minister launched the ‘Call Before u Dig’ (CBuD) app, to facilitate coordination between excavation agencies and underground utility owners to prevent damage to utilities due to digging.

Why is the app needed?

  1. The Call Before u Dig mobile application, an initiative of the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications.

  2. It aims to prevent damage to underlying assets like optical fibre cables that occurs because of uncoordinated digging and excavation, leading to losses of about Rs 3,000 crore every year.

  3. It will save potential business loss and minimise discomfort to the citizens due to reduced disruption in essential services like road, telecom, water, gas and electricity.

How does the app work?

  1. The CBuD app will connect excavators and asset owners through SMS/Email notifications and click-to-call so that there are planned excavations in the country while ensuring the safety of underground assets.

  2. It aims to give excavating companies a point of contact, where they can inquire about existing subsurface utilities before starting excavation work. Utility owners can also find out about impending work at the location.

First 3D-printed rocket fails to reach orbit

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

The world's first 3D-printed rocket launched successfully, marking a step forward for the California company behind the innovative spacecraft, though it failed to reach orbit. Billed as less costly to produce and fly, the unmanned Terran 1 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida but suffered an "anomaly" during second-stage separation as it streamed towards low Earth orbit.

What

  1. While it failed to reach orbit, this launch proved that the rocket -- whose mass is 85 percent 3D-printed -- could withstand the rigors of lift-off.

  2. The successful launch came on the third attempt. It had originally been scheduled to launch on 8 March 2023 but was postponed at the last minute because of propellant temperature issues.

  3. second attempt on 11 March 2023 was scrubbed due to fuel pressure problems.

  4. Had Terran 1 reached low Earth orbit, it would have been the first privately funded vehicle using methane fuel to do so on its first try.

  5. Terran 1 was not carrying a payload for its first flight, but the rocket will eventually be capable of putting up to 2,755 pounds (1,250 kilograms) into low Earth orbit. The rocket is 110 feet (33.5 meters) tall with a diameter of 7.5 feet (2.2 meters).

  6. Eighty-five percent of its mass is 3D-printed with metal alloys, including the nine Aeon 1 engines used in its first stage and the one Aeon Vacuum engine employed in the second.

  7. It is the largest ever 3D-printed object and was made using the world's largest 3D metal printers. Relativity's goal is to produce a rocket that is 95 percent 3D-printed.

  8. Terran 1 is powered by engines using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas -- the "propellants of the future," capable of eventually fueling a voyage to Mars.

  9. SpaceX's Starship and Vulcan rockets being developed by United Launch Alliance use the same fuel.

  10. Relativityis also building a larger rocket, the Terran R, capable of putting a payload of 44,000 pounds (20,000 kg) into low Earth orbit. The first launch of a Terran R, which is designed to be fully reusable, is scheduled for next year.

Tiger’s translocation from India to Cambodia

GS Paper -3 (Environment)

After African Cheetahs were successfully translocated to India, the government is considering sending some tigers to Cambodia, where the big cat has gone extinct. India signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia in November to assist it with “all technical details and knowledge’’ regarding the reintroduction of the tiger in the country.

More about the news:

Reasons for Tiger’s extinction in Cambodia:

  • Due to habitat destruction and poaching, theyneed large habitats to roam in and a significant prey base to hunt.

  • Due to forests being cut down for development activities, the tiger’s habitat came under stress. Smaller habitats meant more competition for prey, more inbreeding, and more human-animal conflict.

  • Tigers were killed for their valuable body parts. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), “Every part of the tiger, from whisker to tail, has been found in illegal wildlife markets.

  • The last tiger spotted on a camera trap in Cambodia was in 2007.In April 2016, Cambodia announced that tigers were “functionally extinct”, meaning no breeding populations of the animal were left in the country.

Tiger status around the world:

  • Cambodia has been making efforts to make its forests more hospitable for the big cat.

  • Thirteen countries make up the tiger range of the world- Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

  • The animal has gone extinct in Laos and Vietnam.

  • According to the WWF, since 2017, IUCN has recognised two tiger subspecies, commonly referred to as the continental tiger and the Sunda Island tiger.

  • All remaining island tigers are found only in Sumatra, with tigers in Java and Bali now extinct. These are popularly known as Sumatran tigers.

  • The continental tigers currently include the Bengal, Malayan, Indochinese and Amur (Siberian) tiger populations, while the Caspian tiger is extinct in the wild. The South China tiger is believed to be functionally extinct.”

Why translocation from India:

  • India translocates tigers within the country, but has never done so internationally.

  • In 2010, tiger range countries had met and adopted a goal to double their population by 2022. 

  • India reached the goal before that year, and, with the current population of about 3,000 tigers, harbours more than 70% of the global wild tiger population.

Many factors need to look before taking a decision:

  • To verify whether the reasons for tiger disappearance in Cambodia have been addressed.

  • To look after the requisite facilities and infrastructure to support the tigers.

Cambodia efforts to reintroduce the tiger:

  • According to non-profit Wildlife Alliance, one of the possible sites of tiger reintroduction is the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, which offers “a vast expanse of forest cover, grasslands, and wetlands that are ideal for tiger reintroduction.

  • These protected areas include the Southern Cardamom National Park, Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary and Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • In these areas, an inviolate core zone of more than 2,000 sqkm has been “created and secured”; three tiger prey base surveys have been conducted, “finding good tiger prey density”; more patrol rangers to prevent poaching are “strategically situated around the Tiger Core Zone”; and the local communities are being engaged in the conservation efforts.

  • successful reintroduction of the tiger will not only mean increased tourism income for Cambodia, but also restore ecological balance by introducing an apex predator.

Tiger significance:

  • WWF says Tigers are an umbrella species, which means their conservation, also helps to conserve many other species.

  • Theirconservation brings the highest levels of protection for an area as well as an increase in funds and capacity.

Mega textile parks and its role in boosting the sector

GS Paper -3 (Infrastructure Development)

The government announced that seven mega textile parksunder the ₹4,445-crore PM Mega Integrated Textile Regions and Apparel (PM MITRA) scheme will be set up in the first phase. The notification for large-scale textile parks under PM MITRA had been given in October 2021.

More about the news:

  • The scheme which seeks to streamline the textile value chain into one ecosystem, taking in spinning, weaving and dyeing to printing and garment manufacturing, is expected to generate investments worth ₹70,000 crore.

  • According to Commerce & Industry and Textiles Minister Piyush Goyal, it would also lead to the creation of 20 lakh jobs.

Expectation in the first phase:

  • Under the first phase of the PM MITRA scheme, large textile parks, spread across at least 1,000 acres, will come up in seven States —Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh.

  • It will house the entire textile value chain, from fibre to fabric to garments. The parks will have plug-and-play manufacturing facilities and all the common amenities required.

  • The Central government’s budget outlay for the scheme, which is ₹4,445 crore, is to be spent till 2027-28.

  • It comprises Special purpose vehicles (SPVs), with a 51% equity shareholding of the State government and 49% of the Centre, will be formed for each park.

  • The State governments will provide the land, be part of the SPV, and give the required clearances. The Central government will disburse Development Capital Fund of 500 crore in two tranches for each of the seven facilities. This is for the creation of core and support infrastructure.

  • It will also give a Competitive Incentive Support of ₹300 crore per park to be provided to the manufacturing units.

Difference from previous schemes:

  • The textile and apparel sector has benefited from different programmes, such as the Apparel Park Scheme announced in 2002 and the Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks launched in 2005, which supported development of common infrastructure.

  • The PM MITRA scheme is envisaged to be a unique initiative and the differentiating factors are the emphasis on large-scale production and provision of plug-and-play manufacturing centres.

  • The scheme is to be implemented jointly by the Central and State governments. The parks, which will be open for foreign direct investments, will be located in States that have inherent strengths in the textile sector. Each park will have effluent treatment plants, accommodation for workers, skill training centres and warehouses too.

  • It is designed to attract investment from companies that are looking to scale up, and require integrated manufacturing facilities in one location.

The impact it will create on MSMEs:

  • The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is said to control almost 80% of the textiles and apparels currently made in India.

  • Due to mounting challenges such as the global geopolitical situation, and overseas buyers exploring China as well as other sourcing options, manufacturers with vertically integrated facilities are at an advantage compared to smaller, standalone players.

On exports:

  • Indian textile and clothing exports have stagnated at around the $40-billion mark over the past four years, and stood at $44 billion last year; the aim is to achieve $100 billion in exports and target a domestic business of $250 billion by 2030.

  • The PM MITRA parks aim to augment the export potential of the sector. In order to make a giant leap in exports and domestic sales, the industry has to be price competitive right from the raw material stage and gear up to meet the sustainability and traceability demands of international buyers.

  • The State governments and developers should give thrust to the PM MITRA parks for sustainable and cost-effective solutions for pollution control and other issues that the value-adding segments of the textile chain face.

Global water crisis and ocean a viable solution

GS Paper -1 (Resources)

Around 70% of Earth’s surface is covered with water, less than 1% per cent is actually drinkable.These finite freshwater resources are very unevenly distributed. In hot, dry regions with growing populations and increasing living standards, there is not enough water to go around, a situation exacerbated by climate change.

More about the news:

As solutions, such as cloud seeding or even iceberg harvesting remains unproven at scale, the desalination of our oceans into drinking water has emerged as the ultimate means to drought-proof regions suffering water poverty.

About ocean desalination:

  • It uses thermal distillation or a reverse osmosis membrane to separate salt from the sea.

  • The technique is now being utilized globally, with well over 20,000 desalination plants currently operating in over 170 countries, the 10 largest in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel.

  • Around 47% of the world’s desalinated water is produced in the Middle East and North Africa alone.

  • These arid regions have few other options since, they generate less than 500 cubic meters of water per capita through rainfall or river runoff, which is half the upper limit of water scarcity as defined by the UN. The United States, by contrast, produces 1,207 cubic meters of freshwater per person.

Trends:

  • Water poverty is set to worsen as populations increase along with temperatures, with Sub-Saharan Africa predicted to become a “hotspot of water scarcity” by 2050.

  • Ocean desalination is a great option in terms of enhancing water resources, costs have “decreased tremendously” from around $5 ($4.69) per cubic meter (1,000 litres) in the 2000s to 50 cents today.

  • Countries like Cyprus, if they want to maintain this living standard.” The hottest and driest nation in the EU, Cyprus relies on desalination for 80% of its drinking water.

The marine and climate impacts of desalination:

  • A 2021 study on the environmental consequences of removing salt from seawater in Cyprus showed that the four desalination plants in the country generate around 2% of its total greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The plants also accounted for 5% of the total electricity consumption in Cyprus, representing one of the largest shares by sector of electricity consumption.

  • The report notes that desalinated water produced generated around 103 million cubic meters of toxic, high-salinity brine effluent that impacted the Mediterranean Sea grass ecosystem in the region of the discharge pipes.

  • It can lead to increased salinity, combined with climate-driven temperature rise, can cause a decrease in the dissolved oxygen content, resulting in conditions called hypoxia.

  • Hyper-saline water can sink to the ocean bed and kill marine microorganisms that are vital to the entire food chain.

Desalination can be made sustainable:

  • The authors of the Cyprus study conclude that the solution to the relatively high CO2 emissions is to deploy renewables to power desalination plants.

  • To develop off-grid solar and wind energy desalination plants that ensure greater energy independence and immunity from price fluctuations.

  • The 2019 study on the state of desalination showed how sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromine, boron, strontium, lithium, rubidium and uranium could be harvested from the filtered material and reused in industry and agriculture.

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