Jobs: UPSC Key—23rd February, 2024: Laser Cooling of Positronium, Sterlite Copper Plant and Elimination of kala-azar

In 2023, India hit target towards eliminating Kala Azar, first time


Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development

Main Examination: General Studies II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-In a significant step forward towards eliminating Kala Azar — the second deadliest parasitic disease after malaria in the country — India has achieved the target of reporting less than one case per 10,000 population across all blocks in 2023. Data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme showed that there were 595 cases and four deaths of Kala Azar reported nationwide last year compared to 891 cases and three deaths in 2022.

• What is Kala Azar or Black fever?

• “India has achieved the target of reporting less than one case per 10,000 population across all blocks in 2023”-Why this is significant?

• Has India eliminated kala-azar?

• When was kala-azar control Programme launched in India?

• What is the kala-azar elimination program?

Festive offer

• What is the status of kala-azar elimination program in India?

• What is the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program?

• What are the vector borne diseases in India?

• “The National Center for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC) administers an umbrella programme, namely, National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) for prevention and control of vector borne diseases namely Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue, Chikungunya, Kala-azar and Lymphatic Filariasis”-True or false?

• For Your Information-Kala-azar or Visceral Leishmaniasis is a protozoan parasitic disease, spread by sandfly bites. Sandflies are brown in colour and have hairs on their bodies. The flies are infected with the parasite called ‘leishmania donovani’.
The vector sandfly is known to live in cracks and crevices of muddy houses, especially in dark and humid corners. According to the WHO, there are 3 main forms of leishmaniases of which kala-azar is the most serious form.

The disease affects some of the poorest people and is linked to malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and a lack of financial resources. Leishmaniasis is also linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, and urbanisation, according to WHO.

In 2020, more than 90 per cent of new cases reported to WHO occurred in 10 countries: Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. In October, 2023, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to be officially validated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for eliminating kala azar as a public health problem. India now needs to sustain its momentum over the next three years in order to receive the WHO certification.

India recorded 530 cases and four deaths due to the infection till October this year, compared to 891 cases and three deaths in 2022. There were 1,357 cases and eight deaths recorded in 2021. There were also 286 reported cases of post-kala azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) till October 2023. Completely curing the skin condition is essential as it can act as a reservoir for the parasite.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Explained: Kala Azar or Black fever disease detected in West Bengal


Sharad-led NCP gets poll symbol


Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Election Commission has allotted a new party symbol, ‘man blowing turha’, to the Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar. This decision comes days after the commission recognized Ajit Pawar’s faction as the real NCP. The new symbol has been accepted as the official symbol of the party.

• What is the turha?

• What is its historical significance?

• For Your Information-In an earlier age, the ceremonial blowing of the turha heralded the arrival of kings, nobles, and other high dignitaries. In Maharashtra, the turha was a popular instrument in the court of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. According to Swar Classical, an organisation that creates software for Indian classical music, the tutari was played as a salute during the reign of the Adilshahi kings of Bijapur (1490-1686). The blowing of the turha heralded the beginning of preparations for a significant journey or work, as well as of battle. It was also blown to signal the beginning and the end of combat.
Swar Classical says on its website that during colonial rule, tutari musicians hid from the British in temples and, thus, the music became a part of religious tradition.

Today, the instrument is often used at weddings or other happy occasions, and at political rallies in Maharashtra. The turha was blown as a rallying call at the farmers’ protest of 2020-21. The blowing of the turha is often accompanied by the playing of percussion instruments such as the dhol. In Pune, the annual Ganeshotsav celebration is incomplete without the sonorous call of the turha interspersed with dhol-tasha beats.

In parts of Madhya Pradesh, the Gond tribals have a practice of blowing the tutari. It is a traditional instrument in Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, where it is played during the ritual worship of Lord Shiva and some other gods. According to one legend, the sound of the conch (the other common wind instrument used in religious rituals) agitates the bhoot, pret, and rakshasa spirits around Shiva, so the sound of the turhi is seen as being more appropriate. The instrument has featured on the Chhattisgarh float at the Republic Day parade, and is played as a ritual musical instrument in Nepal and Sri Lanka as well.

• How election symbols are allotted?

• Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968-Know key highlights

• The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, stipulates the criteria for recognition as a national or state party-know the criteria

• When parties split, how does EC decide who gets the symbol?

• What are the Election Commission’s powers in a dispute over the election symbol when a party splits?

• How did the EC deal with such matters before the Symbols Order came into effect?

• Do You Know-The Election Commission of India (ECI) is responsible for the allotment of symbols. This is done under The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, which is meant “to provide for specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at elections in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies, for the recognition of political parties…”
Symbols can be either reserved, meaning they are exclusive to a recognised political party (having garnered a minimum amount of votes or seats at the national or state level elections), or ‘free’.

Unrecognised registered parties’ candidates, for instance, can choose from free, non-exclusive symbols. These parties are newly registered or have not secured enough percentage of votes in the Assembly or General elections to fulfil the prescribed criteria to become a state party. After being selected by parties, in subsequent elections, these symbols are declared free again for others to choose.

Recognised national and state parties get exclusive symbols. For example, when it came to selecting an election symbol for the 1993 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav picked the symbol of a bicycle from the given options, believing it would represent the farmers, the poor, labourers, and the middle class.

The EC then publishes lists specifying the parties and their symbols through a notification in the Gazette of India. According to its notifications this year, there are six national parties, 26 state parties, and 2,597 registered unrecognised parties.
Records with the ECI show that the commission had symbols sketched by the late MS Sethi, who retired from the ECI in September 1992. He was the last draughtsman (someone tasked with sketching and drawing tasks) employed by the nodal body to sketch symbols.

According to an earlier report in The Indian Express, “Back then, Sethi and a team of ECI officials would sit together and think of daily objects that the common man could identify with. Many established symbols of political parties — bicycle, elephants, brooms — were born of these sessions, ECI records reveal.”

“Some not-so-familiar objects too were suggested by this group — a pair of glasses, a nail cutter and even a neck-tie, which was popularly worn by the English-speaking crowd post-Independence”, it added. In the late 1990s, the ECI compiled a collection of 100 sketches into a list, which has the “free” symbols. The list, as of January 2023, now includes objects such as a bowl of noodles, a mobile charger, etc.

The 1968 order mandates the EC to provide for “specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at parliamentary and assembly elections, for the recognition of political parties”. For unregistered parties, they are supposed to give the names of ten symbols, in order of preference, out of the list of free symbols notified by the commission.

The order also states, “A party may, if it so desires, also propose three new symbols of their choice, with the names and clear design and drawings of symbol, in the order of preference, for allotment to its candidates, which the Commission may consider for allotment as its common symbol if there is, in its opinion, no objection in allotting such symbol.”

Symbols proposed by the parties should have no resemblance to the existing reserved symbols or free symbols, or any religious or communal connotation, or depict any bird or animal. When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision to assign the symbol. For instance, the Congress party, in the first elections of 1952, had a pair of bulls as its symbols. Following splits in the party over the years, the current symbol of hand eventually went to the party.

• Is there a way other than the test of majority to resolve a dispute over election symbols?

• What happens to the group that doesn’t get the parent party’s symbol?

• What is political party?

• There are four types of political parties in the contemporary democratic states-what are they?

• The party system in India has the certain characteristic features-what are they?

• What is National Party?

• What are the conditions for recognition as a national party in India?

• How Election Commission of India defines National Party?

• How many national parties are there in India?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍What is the turha, the new election symbol of Sharad Pawar’s NCP?

`19k-cr deal cleared for 200 BrahMos missiles for Navy


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies III: Science and Technology

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-In a significant move, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has accorded approval for procurement of more than 200 BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and associated equipment for the Indian Navy at a cost of around Rs 19,000 crore, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The missiles will largely be deployed on various warships to enhance overall combat capabilities of the Navy, they said.

• The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile-Background and development

• BrahMos is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine-Know its Strategic significance

• Know the different version of BrahMos like Land-based BrahMos, Ship-Based BrahMos, Air BrahMos and Submarine-Launched BrahMos

• BrahMos supersonic cruise missile -Key Features

• Know the terms and Difference between-Infra Sonic, Subsonic, Super Sonic, Ultra Sonic etc.

• What are Cruise Missiles?

• What do you understand by Stealth technology?

• What speed is a Mach?

• What is Ramjet?

• What is the difference between a ramjet and scramjet?

• Missile Technology Control Regime and India-Know in detail

• For Your Information-It is learnt that the proposal approved by the CCS entails acquisition of a mix of BrahMos missiles having a range of around 290 km and the latest extended range variant of the weapon with a range of around 450 km.
BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, an India-Russian joint venture, produces the supersonic cruise missiles that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft, or land platforms.

BrahMos missile flies at a speed of 2.8 Mach or almost three times the speed of sound. The formal contract for acquisition of the missiles is expected to be sealed in the next few months. India is also exporting the BrahMos missiles. In January 2022, India sealed a USD 375 million deal with the Philippines for supplying three batteries of the missile. The supplies of the missiles to the Southeast Asian country are set to begin next month.

A few other countries including Argentina have also shown interest in procuring BrahMos missiles from India. The approval to Rs 19,000 crore procurement project comes amid renewed focus on maritime security in the wake of China’s growing forays into the Indian Ocean.

The IAF has already integrated the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on some Sukhoi fighter jets. India has been focusing on bolstering its overall combat capabilities in the last few years.

Last week, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved acquisition projects worth Rs 84,560 crore that included procurement of mid-air refuellers, heavy weight-torpedoes, air defence radars and new generation anti-tank mines.
The DAC also accorded initial approval for procurement of medium range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission aircraft for strengthening the surveillance capabilities of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Explained: BrahMos, 21 and developing


SC pulls up TN govt for not removing Sterlite’s copper slag dumped at 11 sites


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Main Examination: General Studies III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the Tamil Nadu government for not taking steps to remove the copper slag dumped by Sterlite copper smelting plant in 11 sites, which the state claimed was polluting the soil and ground water sources in Tuticorin, even five years after the plant was shut down.

• Supreme Court on Sterlite copper smelting plant-What is the issue?

• Map Work-Thoothukudi or Tuticorin and Copper reserves in India

• What is the Tuticorin copper plant?

• What happened to Tuticorin copper plant?

• How Supreme Court entered into the picture?

• What were the environmental concerns with Tuticorin copper plant?

• For Your Information-Sterlite Copper had been facing protests ever since its inception in 1994. The local community’s concerns include hazardous industrial operations that produce toxins such as lead, arsenic and sulphur oxides, pollution of the environment, and their impact on public health.

Following a gas leak in March 2013, the state government ordered shutting down of the plant, and the Supreme Court fined Sterlite Rs 100 crore for flouting environmental norms the following month, but the plant was in operation in June again. It was shut down again following the violent protests and police firing in May 2018.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍SC moots expert panel to look into green concerns for reopening of Sterlite plant

📍Oxygen from Sterlite Copper: Permission, capacity, and the road ahead

Surrogacy rules changed to allow donor gamete for couples with medical issue


Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: 

• General Studies I: Social empowerment

• General Studies II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

• General Studies II: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary-Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Centre has modified the surrogacy rules again, allowing the egg or the sperm of a donor in case a medical condition of the “intending couple” necessitates it, according to a Gazette notification published on Wednesday.

• What are the conditions for allowing surrogacy, as per the law?

• What is changed now?

• What is Mayer Rokitansky Küster Hauser syndrome?

• Why the Centre has modified the surrogacy rules?

• For Your Information-The notification states: “In case when the District Medical Board certifies that either husband or wife constituting the intending couple suffers from medical condition necessitating use of donor gamete, then surrogacy using donor gamete is allowed.”

This comes after the Supreme Court last year allowed a woman with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome — a rare congenital disorder that affects the reproductive system and can cause infertility — to undergo surrogacy with a donor egg.
The rule necessitating that both the egg and the sperm come from the “intending couple” was introduced in 2023. Prior to that, the rules allowed for donation of eggs but not the sperm.

The changes in surrogacy rules are not applicable to single women. The modified rules state: “Single woman (widow or divorcee) undergoing surrogacy must use self-eggs and donor sperms to avail surrogacy procedure.” This comes even as questions are being raised in Indian courts over exclusion of single women from using surrogacy to have children.

• What is the Surrogacy Act of 2021?

• What are the provisions of the ART Act & Surrogacy Act?

• How surrogacy is defined in Indian Law?

• Do You Know-Under Section 2(1)(s) of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, an “intending woman” means an Indian woman who is a “widow” or “divorcee” between the age of 35 and 45 years and who intends to avail the surrogacy.

• What are the conditions for allowing surrogacy, as per the law?

• For Your Information-In India, for a long time, foreign couples opted for surrogacy due to its good and affordable medical system. Over the years, the government has put restrictions on the practice with the stated aim of regulation. Surrogacy is defined by law as “a practice whereby one woman bears and gives birth to a child for an intending couple” and intends to hand over the child to them after the birth, as per The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 (SRA).

It further allows for surrogacy to be available only to infertile Indian married couples. The other legislation on this matter, the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (Regulation) Act, 2021, defines ART procedures as all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte (the immature female egg) outside the human body and transferring into the reproductive system of a woman. This is open to married couples, live-in partners, single women, and also foreigners. ART procedures include gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, and in-vitro fertilisation or IVF.

The SRA Act says the surrogate should be married and have a child of her own. Restricting altruistic surrogacy to legally wedded infertile Indian couples, the Act sets an age limitation for the couple where a husband must be between 26 and 55 years of age and a wife between 23 and 50 years. Further, Indian couples with biological or adopted children are prohibited to undertake surrogacy, save for some exceptions such as mentally or physically challenged children, or those sufferings from a life-threatening disorder or fatal illness.

Even within this category of people, commercial surrogacy is banned in India and that includes the “commercialisation of surrogacy services or procedures or its component services or component procedures”. The surrogate woman cannot be given payments, rewards, benefits or fees, “except the medical expenses and such other prescribed expenses incurred on the surrogate mother and the insurance coverage for the surrogate mother”.

• Commercial surrogacy and altruistic surrogacy-Compare and contrast

• Who can avail of surrogacy?

• What are some criticisms of the Surrogacy law in India?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Explained: Fine-tuning the Surrogacy Bill


Manipur HC deletes clause that included Meiteis in list of ST


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- The Manipur High Court Wednesday modified a clause in its controversial order from March 27, 2023 on the issue of the inclusion of the Meitei community in the state’s Scheduled Tribes (ST) list

• Why Manipur High Court Wednesday modified a clause in its controversial order from March 27, 2023?

• What was there in the controversial order from March 27, 2023?

• Why Meitei community was included in ST list?

• For Your Information- The Meiteis are the largest community in Manipur, making up roughly 64.6% of its population. In a plea before the High Court, the Meiteis argued that they were recognised as a tribe before the 1949 merger of the princely state of Manipur with the Union of India. Owing to a loss of their identity as a tribe in the aftermath of the merger, the demand for ST status was felt within the community to “save the ancestral land, tradition, culture, and language” of the Meiteis. Thus, the Meiteis sought inclusion in the ST list on account of the community being “victimised without any constitutional safeguards to date”. On April 19, the Manipur High Court observed that the issue had not been decided due to the state government’s negligence in not sending a recommendation to the Centre for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST list to date.

Directing the Manipur government to consider the case of the Meiteis’ inclusion in the ST list “expeditiously” within four weeks, the court disposed of the case. This resulted in opposition from the existing tribes within Manipur on the grounds that the Meiteis were already dominant in terms of both population and political representation, adding that their Manipuri language finds a place in the Eighth Schedule. Further, sections of the predominantly Hindu Meiteis are already classified under the SC or OBC groups and consequently, have access to opportunities associated with the status. The high court order stands at the center of tensions between the Kukis and the Meiteis and finally escalated into violent clashes between the two communities over the past few days. As the situation worsened, the state’s Home Department issued “shoot-at-sight” orders “in extreme cases”.

• What is the procedure for inclusion or exclusion from ST list?

• For Your Information-A single-judge Bench of Justice M V Muralidharan had, on March 27, 2023, issued an order asking the state government to consider recommending the inclusion of the Meitei community in the state’s ST list. That order had been issued during the course of hearings in a petition by the Meitei Tribes Union, seeking directions to the Manipur government to submit such a recommendation to the Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs.

The review petition had sought a modification of paragraph 17(iii) of the March 27 order which stated, “The first respondent (the Manipur government) shall consider the case of the petitioners for inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe list, expeditiously, preferably within a period four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order in terms of the averments set out in the writ petition and in the line of the order passed in WP(C) No. 4281 of 2002 dated 26.05.2003 by the Gauhati High Court.” With Friday’s order, this paragraph was deleted from the judgement. This particular paragraph had been contested since it was seen to be in contravention of the Supreme Court’s order on State of Maharashtra V. Milind & Ors. [(2001) 1 SCC 4], which stated that states have no power to amend Presidential orders.

The procedure for inclusion or exclusion from ST list involves a representation made to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which forwards it to the state government. The state then forwards the proposal to the Registrar General of India, who can then recommend it to the Centre. The Centre sends it to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which can recommend it to Cabinet. Following Cabinet’s nod, it is put up before Parliament in the form of a Bill to amend the Presidential Order.

The procedure for the inclusion or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Tribes as laid out by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is that once a representation is received by the ministry, it forwards it to the state government. If it is recommended by the state government, the proposal is forwarded by the Registrar General of India, who can then recommend it to the central government. The Centre can then recommend it to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, which can recommend it to Cabinet. Following the Cabinet’s decision, it is to be put up before the Parliament in the form of a Bill to amend the Presidential Order.
Following representations by the MTU and other organisations, the Ministry had written to the state government in 2013 requesting specific recommendations along with the latest socio-economic survey and ethnographic report.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍ST status for Meiteis: HC notice to Centre, Manipur govt on review petition

In a first, CERN scientists carry out laser cooling of Positronium


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies III: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-In a first, an international team of physicists from the Anti-hydrogen Experiment: Gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy (AEgIS) collaboration has achieved a breakthrough by demonstrating the laser cooling of Positronium.

• Why this is significant?

• What is the principle of laser cooling?

• What is Positronium?

• Do You Know-Positronium, comprising a bound electron ( e- ) and positron ( e+ ), is a fundamental atomic system. Due to its very short life, it annihilates with a half life of 142 nano-seconds. Its mass is twice the electron mass and enjoys the unique distinction of being a pure leptonic atom. This hydrogen-like system, with halved frequencies for excitation, makes it a great contender for attempting laser cooling and thereby performing tests of fundamental theories in physics.

The experiment was performed at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, more popularly known as CERN, in Geneva. This is an important precursor experiment to the formation of anti-Hydrogen and the measurement of Earth’s gravitational acceleration on antihydrogen in the AEgIS experiment, they said. In addition, this scientific feat could open prospects to produce a gamma-ray laser that would eventually allow researchers to look inside the atomic nucleus and have applications beyond physics.

During the past few years, several rounds of experimental runs were performed in an accelerator beam hall of the CERN before the AEgIS team tasted success. Since it was formally accepted as a scientific experiment by CERN in 2008, the setting up of the AEgIS experiment, its construction and commissioning continued through 2012 – 2016. This comprised designing of the complex particle traps used to confine antiparticles, antiprotons and positrons. In 2018, AEgIS became the first in the world to demonstrate the pulsed production of antihydrogen atoms.

“The experiment was done under the very challenging circumstances of an accelerator beam hall, rather than within the confines of a very well controlled laboratory. In every part of the experiment — be it the input beams, the lasers, laser alignment, timing and control systems, detection techniques, etc. required technological innovations to make the science a reality,” said Professor Sadiq Rangwala, faculty at Raman Research Institute and the lead of the Indian group in the collaboration.
Experimentalists achieved laser cooling of Positronium atoms initially from ~380 Kelvin to ~170 Kelvin, and demonstrated the cooling in one dimension using a 70-nanosecond pulse of the alexandrite-based laser system. The lasers deployed, researchers said, were either in the deep ultraviolet or in the infrared frequency bands.

• What is the Large Hadron Collider?

• What does the Large Hadron Collider do?

• Why Large Hadron Collider is in news?

• “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire”, or European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN)-Know key details

• Do you Know–on July 4, 2012, scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson or the ‘God Particle’ during the LHC’s first run. The discovery concluded the decades-long quest for the ‘force-carrying’ subatomic particle, and proved the existence of the Higgs mechanism, a theory put forth in the mid-sixties.

• What do you know about Higgs boson or God particles?

• Why is the Higgs boson called the God particle?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍5 things you need to know about the Large Hadron Collider


Kiru Hydel Project, focus of allegations against Satya Pal Malik


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Main Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted raids at 30 locations on Thursday (February 22) at three places linked to former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik. The agency is investigating alleged corruption in the award of a contract for the Kiru Hydel Project, in J&K’s Kishtwar district.

• What is the Kiru Hydel Power Project?

• Who is developing the Kiru hydel project?

• What are the corruption allegations in the Kiru project?

• For Your Information-Kiru Hydel Power Project is being constructed between the existing Kirthai II (upstream) and Kwar (downstream) hydel power projects, at an estimated cost of Rs 4,287 crore. It will be developed near the convergence point of river Chenab and the Singad and Bela streams, near the Patharnakki and Kiru villages in Kishtwar district. The deadline for initiating commercial operations is July 2025.

It will have a 123-m tall dam from the Chenab’s river bed level. Its reservoir will have a storage capacity of 41.5 million m³ of water. The project will have one 700 m-long, horse-shoe-shaped diversion tunnel for the release of excess water. An underground powerhouse located at the left bank of the river will have four turbines, with a capacity of 156 MW each, raising the total capacity to 624 MW. Apart from helping address the energy demand across northern India and the state’s rural areas, it could aid small-scale and cottage industries.

The Chenab Valley Power Projects Private Limited (CVPPPL) is a joint venture of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, the Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and the Power Trading Corporation. Both the NHPC and JKSPDC have a stake of 49 per cent each and the remaining 2 per cent is with the PTC.

The Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change awarded the scoping clearance for the project in September 2008 and revalidated it for an installed capacity of 624MW in September 2015. It got environmental clearance from the ministry in June 2016 and received approval from the State Administrative Council (SAC) in January 2019. The foundation stone was laid the next month, with completion expected by 2023.

RS Envirolink Technologies prepared the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) reports in 2016, but the University of Jammu was involved in preparing the initial baseline data for the preliminary EIA and EMP. In October 2018, MGI Infra was awarded the contract to construct a temporary field hostel and site offices for officials.
A construction company named Patel Engineering was awarded civil works worth more than Rs 2,200 crores for the construction of a diversion tunnel, concrete dam, pressure shafts, coffer dams, tailrace tunnels, and a powerhouse in 2019.

The contracts for civil, hydromechanical and electromechanical works were awarded in February 2020. Hydromechanical work related was awarded to PES Engineers and electromechanical work worth more than Rs 600 crores was awarded to Andritz Hydro. Together, they cover the design, manufacturing, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of turbines, generators, etc.
Some of the work, such as pilot excavation for a few of the pressure shafts, is completed, while riverbed excavation and dam concreting in the riverbed are in progress.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍CBI raids J&K ex-Governor Satya Pal Malik’s premises in Kiru hydroelectric project case

The situation of farmers


Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development

Main Examination: General Studies III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Udit Misra Writes: A lot is being written about the latest round of farmer protests and their demand for a legal guarantee backing MSPs. The MSPs refer to “minimum support prices” (announced by the government for several crops) and although they sound innocuous, as the repeated farmer protests underscore, they are routinely contested and have wide-ranging ramifications — from how much farmers earn to how much you pay for your food items to how much the government has to borrow in its annual budget.

• Know some facts about India’s farmers

• Agriculture’s lopsided role in national economic output-know in detail

• Rising proportion of farm labourers as against cultivators-know in detail

• So, are MSPs the solution to Indian farmer’s woes?

• What do they want?

• ‘Legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for all the crops’-Comment

• MSP (minimum support price) and effectiveness of MSP implementation-discuss

• Which are the Crops Covered under MSP?

• How MSP is calculated (paid out costs, labour etc.) and Crops covered under the MSP

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Explained: What is minimum support price (MSP), and how is it fixed?

📍The 360° UPSC Debate | Should Minimum Support Prices Be Made A Legal Right?

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