15th October Current Affairs
October 15, 2020
17th October Current Affairs
October 17, 2020
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16th October Current Affairs

New Development Bank

In News:

New Development Bank has approved infrastructure projects worth 741 million dollars in India.

About the New Development Bank:

It is a multilateral development bank operated by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

  • It was agreed to by BRICS leaders at the 5th BRICS summit held in Durban, South Africa in 2013.
  • It was established in 2014, at the 6th BRICS Summit at Fortaleza, Brazil.
  • The bank is set up to foster greater financial and development cooperation among the five emerging markets.
  • Headquartered in Shanghai, China.

In 2018, the NDB received observer status in the United Nations General Assembly, establishing a firm basis for active and fruitful cooperation with the UN.

Voting:

Unlike the World Bank, which assigns votes based on capital share, in the New Development Bank each participant country will be assigned one vote, and none of the countries will have veto power.

Roles and functions:

The Bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

Gyan Circle Ventures

In News:

Union Education Minister virtually inaugurates Gyan Circle Ventures.

What are Gyan Circle Ventures?

They are Technology Business Incubators (TBI).

Funded by the Ministry of Information Technology (MeitY).

Led by the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Sri City (Chittoor), Andhra Pradesh.

Key features:

  • Gyan Circle Ventures would function as a Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurs (TIDE 2.0) incubation center.
  • They will serve as a hub for innovation and startups by providing support, in various phases, via investments, infrastructure and mentoring.

Stockholm Convention on POPs

In News:

Union Cabinet has approved the Ratification of seven chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Details:

The Cabinet has also delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to the Union Ministers of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in respect of POPs already regulated under the domestic regulations.

These are:

  • Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether.
  • Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether.

Benefits for India:

The ratification process would enable India to access Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources in updating the National Implementation Plan (NIP).

About Stockholm Convention on POPs:

Signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004 (Ninety days after the ratification by at least 50 signatory states).

Aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

What are POPs?

In 1995, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for global action to be taken on POPs, which it defined as “chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment”.

Uniqueness of POPs:

POPs are lipophilic, which means that they accumulate in the fatty tissue of living animals and human beings.

In fatty tissue, the concentrations can become magnified by up to 70 000 times higher than the background levels.

As you move up the food chain, concentrations of POPs tend to increase so that animals at the top of the food chain such as fish, predatory birds, mammals, and humans tend to have the greatest concentrations of these chemicals.

The 12 initial POPs under the Stockholm Convention:

Initially, twelve POPs have been recognized as causing adverse effects on humans and the ecosystem and these can be placed in 3 categories:

Pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene;

Industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and

By-products: hexachlorobenzene; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF), and PCBs.

Since then, additional substances such as carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and certain brominated flame-retardents, as well as organometallic compounds such as tributyltin (TBT) have been added to the list of Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Sources of POPs:

  • Improper use and/or disposal of agrochemicals and industrial chemicals.
  • Elevated temperatures and combustion processes.
  • Unwanted by-products of industrial processes or combustion.

Is it legally binding?

Yes. Article 16 of the Convention requires that effectiveness of the measures adopted by the Convention is evaluated in regular intervals.

Other Conventions dealing with POPs:

Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollutants (LRTAP), Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

What is Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)?

In News:

The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has directed Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to implement air pollution control measures under “very poor” and “severe” category air quality of the Graded Response Action Plan from October 15.

What is GRAP?

Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016.

The plan was prepared by EPCA.

It works only as an emergency measure.

As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.

When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.

Overview of the plan:

  • The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).
  • At the head of the table is the EPCA, mandated by the Supreme Court.
  • Before the imposition of any measures, EPCA holds a meeting with representatives from all NCR states, and a call is taken on which actions has to be made applicable in which town.