Insights Daily Current Events, 17 May 2016
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
INFRACON, ePACE and up-Scaled INAM PRO launched
The government has launched ePACE, INFRACON and an updated version of INAMPRO, three innovative IT initiatives of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, developed in house by NHIDCL(National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.)
ePACE (Projects Appraisal & Continuing Enhancements) is an online integrated Management Information System that brings projects from all wings of the Ministry under a common platform, ensuring their effective and real time tracking. More than 2000 projects being executed by multiple agencies are currently listed on the portal and it is possible to get any information about their real time status, fund utilization etc. The portal also allows for validation checks to prevent wrongful entries, making it difficult to fudge figures. It has also been provided with GIS interface to enable easy geo-tracking of the projects. ePACE as a platform is amenable to be used for monitoring projects pertaining to any ministry in the country and can improve governance of such projects.
INFRACON is the National Portal for Infrastructure Consultancy Firms and Key Personnel. This portal acts as a kind of bridge between consultancy firms working in the road engineering and construction sector and domain experts and key personnel who are deployed both for project preparation and supervision. The portal hosts the credentials of consultancy firms and key personnel and has linkages to Aadhar and Digi-locker for data validation and purity.
INAM PRO has been developed as a web-based application for Infrastructure and Material Providers. It is a kind of a web based market place that brings together the material providers and the prospective buyers on a common platform. The platform was launched in March 2015 to facilitate contractors and cement buyers engaged in executing central/state funded roads and highways and bridge construction projects to place cement orders online with the registered cement companies offering cement at competitive rates in the vicinity of project execution locations. Using INAM Pro, companies can track orders, add more products, add cement offerings, view listed buyers, and submit their complaints or suggestions to Ministry. With the help of INAM Pro, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will be able to track and monitor the activities of buyers and suppliers, and remove impediments of both the parties.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Ken-Betwa project: Panel warns of dangers to ecology and animal life
A team of wildlife experts have submitted a crucial report on Ken-Betwa River linking project. The report warns of the dangers to the ecology and animal life due to the proposed Ken-Betwa project.
- The report neither endorses nor disapproves of the Ken-Betwa project but notes that if the government were to go ahead it ought to ensure that the proposed canal does not hinder tiger movement and that there should be enough habitable forest land developed to compensate for the loss of tiger reserve land.
- The main feature of the project is a 230-km long canal connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers which will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares of drought-prone Bundelkhand. However, it will also inundate about 400 of the 4300-hectare Panna Tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
- The report also notes that the project will impact a large variety of threatened fauna like the grey-headed fish eagles and muggers.
The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project is being vigorously promoted by the incumbent NDA government as the first in a series of projects to transfer surplus water from certain rivers into deficient ones and improve irrigation as well as hydropower availability.
Given the threat to the tiger reserve, the Environment Ministry, whose clearance is mandatory for the project, had tasked the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) with an expert analysis on the environmental impact.
About the project:
The Ken and Betwa rivers in the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP) are to be linked under an historic agreement that marks the first such project in India’s ambitious and controversial national river-linking project.
- The project envisages construction of a dam across river Ken in Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh to irrigate 6.35 lakh hectare area of land, drinking water purposes and generation of 78 MW hydropower.
- The project comprises two powerhouse of 2×30 MW and 3×6 MW each, two tunnels of 1.9 km long upper level, 1.1 km long tunnel lower level and a 221 km long Ken-Betwa link canal, proposed on the left bank of the river.
- The project will provide irrigation facilities for 6,35,661 hectares of land in Panna, Chhattarpur, Tikamgarh districts in Madhya Pradesh, and Banda, Mahoba and Jhansi districts in Uttar Pradesh.
- The project was first mooted in the early 1980s but was actively taken up by the NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was then challenged in the Supreme Court, which finally gave the nod in 2013.
The reason why the Ken-Betwa link was the first to get off the ground is that it is the shortest. The Ken is the last tributary of the Yamuna before it joins the Ganga — 87% of it lies in Madhya Pradesh and 12% in Uttar Pradesh. The Betwa is an interstate river that rises in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh — 68% of it lies in that state before it flows towards Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. This too is a tributary of the Yamuna.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.
Helium microscope helps to study samples without damaging them
The World-first scanning helium microscope has been built by Australian researchers who feel it could “open doors” for many new discoveries by allowing scientists to scrutinise materials without disturbing them. Traditional microscopes use light to penetrate samples and this can damage them.
- The scanning helium microscope means the samples will be analysed in their true state.
- This will enable scientists to study human, animal and plant samples, as well as computer chips and pharmaceutical drugs, without damaging or changing them.
- The microscope could be useful in major industries such as solar energy, defence, explosives and information technology.
- The new device is expected to pave the way for many new discoveries, because it gives new insight on structures at a microscopic level.
- The technology may help find ways of removing carbon monoxide from exhaust gases.
- It could help with the clean-up of toxic or even radioactive spills, without harming the surrounding flora or fauna.
- Defence experts will also be interested because it could lead to the development of stealth technology and new explosives.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena recently released ‘Simhastha Declaration‘ at Ninora village in Ujjain. 51 sacred points have been included in this declaration for betterment of mankind and these points are expected to start new discourse for India and the world. The declaration is a guideline on how “a duty-centred system, which had been the origin of Indian philosophy of life, has become the most relevant today”. The declaration will be the essence of a year-long exercise of seminars and conferences on religion, spirituality and its relationship with science, climate change and deep ecology.
- ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, has announced the launch of contactless business credit card in association with Jet Airways for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their employees. Christened Jet Airways ICICI Bank Business Advantage Card, this co-branded credit card helps customers to save on their business expenses. It also provides customers opportunities to earn JPMiles on both spends as well as repayments on a list of business expense categories including travel, dining, office stationary, online advertising and vendor payments among others. The card is powered by the ‘VISA payWave’ contactless technology that enables the cardholder to make payments by simply tapping the card at contactless-enabled terminals in more than 48 countries including India.