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26th October Current Affairs

A renewable energy revolution, rooted in agriculture

(GS-III: Environmental Conservation)

In News:

The first bio-energy plant of a private company in the Sangrur district of Punjab will produce Compressed Bio Gas (CBG) from paddy straw, thus converting agricultural waste into wealth.

Benefits of CBG plant:

From paddy stubble, CBG valued at ₹46 per kg as per the SATAT scheme will be produced.

Paddy straw from one acre of the crop can yield energy output (CBG) worth more than ₹17,000 — an addition of more than 30% to the main output of grain.

Slurry or fermented organic manure from the plant (CBG) will be useful as compost to replenish soils heavily depleted of organic matter and reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers.

The CBG plant will also provide employment opportunities to rural youth in the large value chain.


Significance of crop residue supply chain:

FAO’s study suggests developing a crop residue supply chain in Punjab that can allow the collection, storage and final use of rice straw for other productive services, specifically for the production of renewable energy.

With 30% of the rice straw produced in Punjab, a 5% CBG production target set by the Government of India scheme, “Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)” can help increase the usage of rice straw.

What is Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG)?

Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) is produced naturally through the process of anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen) of biomass sources like crop residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, sewage treatment plant waste, etc.

It has the potential to replace Compressed Natural Gas in automotive, industrial, and commercial uses in the future.

Benefits of Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG):

Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution

Additional revenue source for farmers

Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment

Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals

Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil

Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations

What is stubble burning?

It is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare fields for the sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and the sowing of wheat.

Impact: Stubble burning results in the emission of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, Sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.

Other Waste-to-Energy technology:

Landfill Gas (LFG) recovery: Methane gas is extracted from solid waste deposited in a landfill.

Torrefaction: It involves heating straw, grass and sawmill residue to over 250-degree C.

Polycrack Technology: It converts feedstocks into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon, and water.

Climate change amplifying health impacts

(GS-III: Environmental pollution and degradation)

In News:

Ahead of COP27, the Lancet report has said that the continued dependence on fossil fuels is compounding the health impacts of the multiple crises the world is facing.

Key highlights of the report:

Impact on Vulnerable populations – the elderly and children under 1 year of age – are at acute risk of heat stress, heat stroke, and other adverse physical and mental health

Wildfires: Drier and hotter weather is making conditions increasingly suitable for the start and spread of wildfires, putting people’s health and safety at risk.

Spread of diseases: Climate change is affecting the distribution and transmission of many infectious diseases, including vector-borne, food-borne, and waterborne diseases.

The climatic suitability for the transmission of dengue increased by about 11% for Aedes aegypti and 12% for Aedes albopictus from 1951–60 to 2012–21.

Food insecurity: On average, 29% more of the global land area was affected by extreme drought annually between 2012–2021, than between 1951–1960.

India specific: Highlights:

Decrease in growth season: The duration of the growing season for maize has decreased by 2%, compared to a 1981-2010 baseline, while rice and winter wheat have each decreased by 1%.

Increased heat wave events

Increase in heat-related deaths: From 2000-2004 to 2017-2021, heat-related deaths increased by 55% in India.

Loss of labour hours

Vector-borne diseases

Mitigation measures needed:

Adapting heat action plans in each city. For instance, the Ahmedabad heat action plan that has shown mortality can be reduced should be adapted everywhere.

Focus on achieving Paris goal: A failure to tackle climate change would see heat extremes escalate even more dangerously.

Specific programmes such as shock responsive protection schemes, social assistance programmes for inability to work and lost wages due to heat and expanded workplace protections – are some practical solutions.

Focus on Preventive measures like enhancement of green spaces (strategic planting and less pruning of trees to provide more shade).

Healthy and green urban redesign will promote physical activity and deliver more friendly, liveable cities. Today, just 27% of urban centres are classified as moderately-green or above.

Burning of dirty fuels needs to be minimised as soon as possible to reduce the accompanying health impacts.

I&B Ministry Advisory

In News:

The I&B issued an advisory stating that no Ministry or department of the governments at the Center, States and Union Territories and their associated entities should enter into broadcasting or distribution of broadcasting activities in future.

Key Advisories:

States broadcasting their content should do it through the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, and the entities distributing the broadcasting content.

Advisory had been issued in view of:

  • Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendation (‘Arm’s length’ distance between broadcaster and the state to enhance its autonomy and independence)
  • Supreme Court judgment in the Cricket Association of Bengal case
  • Law Ministry’s legal opinion
  • Sarkaria and Verghese Committee recommendation – that power of the state for broadcasting could not be supported.

Power of legislation rests with the centre10101000: On issues of “posts and telegraphs, telephones, wireless, broadcasting etc. and granting licenses in respect of “telegraphs and power.

Political implications of the move: It can impact Tamil Nadu’s Kalvi TV and Arasu Cable; Andhra Pradesh government’s IPTV; Kerela’s channels KITE VICTERS and KITE VICTERS Plus (for education).

Under the existing policy guidelines: Government universities, colleges, schools, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, certain autonomous bodies and agricultural universities are eligible to set up community radios.

Prasar Bharti: It is a statutory autonomous body, under the Prasar Bharati Act. It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country.