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16th January Current Affairs

Bird Flu

In News:

Kerala on alert after bird flu in two districts.

Details:

H5N8 subtype of Influenza A virus reported in ducks.

About Avian influenza (bird flu):

It is a viral infection that can infect not only birds, but also humans and other animals. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.

It is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.

Occasionally mammals, including humans, may contract avian influenza.

Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on two surface proteins, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA).

Influenza A(H5N8) virus:

According to Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, caused by Type “A” influenza viruses, which can affect several species of domestic poultry, such as chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, ducks, as well as pet birds, wild migratory birds and water fowl.

Can the virus transfer to humans?

There are no known cases of H5N8 in human beings. Risk to general public is very low. There is also no evidence that consumption of poultry meat or eggs could transmit the virus to humans. But necessary precautions are required while handling sick/dead birds and contaminated material during control and containment operations. It is considered safe to eat properly cooked poultry products.

Control measures:

Culling is usually undertaken to control the infection when it is detected in animals. Besides culling, safe disposal of all such culled animals and animal products is also important. The authorities also need to strictly enforce decontamination of infected premises and undertake quarantine of contaminated vehicles and personnel.

Flue Gas Desulphurization

In News:

The Ministry of Power has proposed pushing back deadlines for adoption of new emission norms by coal fired power plants, saying “an unworkable time schedule” would burden utilities and lead to an increase in power tariffs.

Details:

The Centre had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to comply with emissions standards for installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide.

That was later changed to varying deadlines for different regions ending in 2022. Under the latest proposal, no new dates have been set.

The target should be to maintain uniform ambient air quality across the country and not uniform emission norms for thermal power plants.

What is flue gas desulphurisation?

Removal of Sulfur Dioxide is called as Flue-gas Desulphurization (FGD).

It seeks to remove gaseous pollutants viz. SO2 from exhaust flue gases generated in furnaces,boilers, and other industrial processes due to thermal processing, treatment, and combustion.

Common methods used:

Wet scrubbing using a slurry of alkaline sorbent, usually limestone or lime, or seawater to scrub gases;

Spray-dry scrubbing using similar sorbent slurries;

Wet sulfuric acid process recovering sulfur in the form of commercial quality sulfuric acid;

SNOX Flue gas desulfurization removes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from flue gases;

Dry sorbent injection systems that introduce powdered hydrated lime (or other sorbent material) into exhaust ducts to eliminate SO2 and SO3 from process emissions.

Judicial review

In News:

The Supreme Court has refused to treat the Central Vista project as a unique one requiring greater or “heightened” judicial review.

What has the Court said?

A majority view of the Supreme Court said the government was “entitled to commit errors or achieve successes” in policy matters without the court’s interference as long as it follows constitutional principles.

It is not the court’s concern to enquire into the priorities of an elected government. Judicial review is never meant to venture into the mind of the government and thereby examine validity of a decision.

What is Judicial Review?

Judicial review is the power of Judiciary to review any act or order of Legislative and Executive wings and to pronounce upon the constitutional validity when challenged by the affected person.

Judicial review present in India:

The power of Judicial Review comes from the Constitution of India itself (Articles 13, 32, 136, 142 and 147 of the Constitution).

The power of judicial review is evoked to protect and enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution.

Article 13 of the Constitution prohibits the Parliament and the state legislatures from making laws that “may take away or abridge the fundamental rights” guaranteed to the citizens of the country.

The provisions of Article 13 ensure the protection of the fundamental rights and consider any law “inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights” as void.

Kochi-Mangaluru LNG pipeline

In News:

Inaugurated recently by PM.

Details:

It is 450km long.

It provide another 21 lakh PNG connections.

What next?

As part of efforts to make India a natural gas-based economy, 10,000 more CNG (compressed natural gas) stations would be opened and several lakh PNG (piped natural gas) household connections given in the coming days.

The government has a concrete plan to move towards a gas-based economy that would be cheaper, convenient and environment-friendly.

The government would make substantial investments in coal and gas sectors. The plan was to increase the share of natural gas in the energy sector from the present 6% to 15% by 2030.

“One nation, one gas grid” concept:

It will be high-voltage electric power transmission network in mainland India, connecting power stations and major substations and ensuring that electricity generated anywhere in mainland India can be used to satisfy demand elsewhere.

Evolution of National Grid:

Grid management on regional basis started in sixties.

Initially, State grids were inter-connected to form regional grid and India was demarcated into 5 regions namely Northern, Eastern, Western, North Eastern and Southern region.

In August 2006 North and East grids were interconnected thereby 4 regional grids Northern, Eastern, Western and North Eastern grids are synchronously connected forming central grid operating at one frequency.

On 31st December 2013, Southern Region was connected to Central Grid in Synchronous mode with the commissioning of 765kV Raichur-Solapur Transmission line thereby achieving ‘ONE NATION’-‘ONE GRID’-‘ONE FREQUENCY’.

Benefits of a National Grid:

  • Better availability resulting in lesser power cuts.
  • More stability in power.
  • Better synchronisation.