Flex Fuel Vehicles
(GS-III: Conservation related issues)
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has for long been advocating the use of flex-fuel to power cars and motorcycles sold in India.
Recently, at an industry event, the transport minister revealed that he has issued an advisory to all carmakers to introduce flex-fuel engines in their vehicles.
As per the advisory issued by the government:
Carmakers are given six months’ time to introduce flex-fuel engines.
Manufacturers have to produce the Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid vehicles and both types of vehicles must comply with the BS-6 emission norms.
What are flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs)?
An FFV is a modified version of vehicles that could run both on gasoline and doped petrol with different levels of ethanol blends.
FFVs will allow vehicles to use all the blends and also run on unblended fuel.
FFVs have compatible engines to run on more than 84 percent ethanol blended petrol.
FFVs are aimed at reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels and cutting down harmful emissions.
Alternative fuel ethanol is Rs 60-62 per litre while petrol costs more than Rs 100 per litre in many parts of the country, so by using ethanol, Indians will save Rs 30-35 per litre.
For India, FFVs will present a different advantage as they will allow vehicles to use different blends of ethanol mixed petrol available in different parts of the country.
Also, these vehicles are a logical extension of the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme launched by the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in January 2003.
Since India has surplus produce of corn, sugar and wheat, the mandatory blending of ethanol programme will help farmers in realising higher incomes.
For the overall Indian economy, higher usage of ethanol as an automobile fuel will help save import costs as the country meets more than 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements through imports.
Disadvantages/challenges of using FFVs:
Customer acceptance will be a major challenge since the cost of ownership and running cost are going to be very high compared with 100 per cent petrol vehicles.
Running cost (due to lower fuel efficiency) will be higher by more than 30 per cent when run with 100 per cent ethanol (E100).
Flex Fuel Engines cost more as ethanol has very different chemical properties than petrol. Ethanol has very low (40 per cent) Calorific value as compared to Gasoline, very High Latent heat of vaporization causing cooling of charge/combustion etc.
Ethanol also acts as a solvent and could wipe out the protective oil film inside the engine thereby could cause wear and tear.
UAE’s Golden Visa
(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)
Bollywood actor Tusshar Kapoor awarded Golden Visa.
He joins a growing list of Indian movie stars, including Mohanlal and Shah Rukh Khan, who have received the coveted 10-year residency.
What is it?
In 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) implemented a new system for long-term residence visas, thereby enabling foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business.
So, what does the Golden Visa offer?
The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following groups:
investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.
Eligibility requirements (Have a brief overview; need not mug up):
A deposit of at least AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) 10 million worth of public investment, either in the form of an investment fund or a company.
60% of the total investment must not be in the form of real estate.
The invested amount must not be loaned, or in case of assets, investors must assume full ownership.
The investor must be able to retain the investment for a minimum of three years.
May be extended to include business partners, providing that each partner contributes AED 10 million.
Can also include the holder’s spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.
For individuals with specialized talents:
The category includes doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists. These individuals may be granted a 10-year visa following accreditations granted by their respective departments and fields. The visa also extends to their spouses and children.
Eligibility for a 5-year visa:
The investor must invest in a property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million.
The amount invested in real estate must not be on loan basis.
The property must be retained for at least three years.
Outstanding students with a minimum grade of 95% in public and private secondary schools.
University students within and outside the country having a distinction GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation.
Reasons Behind the Move:
The UAE’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and low oil prices, prompting many expatriates to leave.
The move intends to bring them back now and keep the “talented people and great minds” in the Gulf country and help in nation-building.
It will attract talented professionals from various fields of expertise and further encourage innovation, creativity and applied research, adding to the appeal of a career in the UAE for the world’s brightest minds.
Significance for India:
It would attract more Indian professionals and businessmen to the Gulf nation and strengthen the India-UAE Relations.
It will also facilitate the return of Indians who want to resume work after the relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions, for which India had requested the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in early November 2020.
Bottom trawling and associated issues
(GS-III: Conservation and Pollution related issues)
Sri Lankan authorities between December 18 and 20 and the impounding of 10 boats for “poaching” in territorial waters have again raised concerns about the fate of the men.
What’s the issue now?
Fishermen from Tamil Nadu getting arrested and released later has become a routine affair, but there have been cases of deaths.
The bone of contention between the two countries has been the use of bottom trawlers by the Tamil Nadu fishermen, a practice opposed in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province on the ground that trawling damages the marine ecosystem.
This practice has been banned in Sri Lanka and there have been agitations for stringent enforcement of the law.
The Indian side had agreed twice — in 2010 and 2016 — to phase out and end the practice of bottom trawling. But it has not ended yet.
What is the issue with Bottom trawling?
Bottom trawling, an ecologically destructive practice, involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea-floor, causing great depletion of aquatic resources.
Bottom trawling captures juvenile fish, thus exhausting the ocean’s resources and affecting marine conservation efforts. This practice was started by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Bay and actively pursued at the peak of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
Solution to the bottom trawling- deep-sea fishing plan:
The solution to the bottom trawling issue lies in transition from trawling to deep-sea fishing.
The activity of catching fish that live in the deep parts of the sea/ocean is called deep-sea fishing.
The boats are designed in such a way that fishermen get access to the deeper parts of the ocean and fish species.
It is practiced worldwide, especially in the coastal areas with no ecological damage.
The depth of water should be at least 30 meters to be considered a deep sea fishing zone.
Efforts by Government- the Palk Bay scheme:
Launched in July 2017 under the Blue Revolution programme.
The scheme is financed by the Union and the State Governments with beneficiary participation.
It had envisaged the provision of 2,000 vessels in three years to the fishermen of the State and motivate them to abandon bottom trawling.