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2nd January Current Affairs

Why has loan recovery via Lok Adalat jumped four-fold?

(GS-III: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources)

In News:

In 2021-22, the number of non-performing assets (NPAs) referred by banks to various recovery channels, including Lok Adalat and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), increased fourfold over 2020-21.

Details:

Among all channels, the number of stressed accounts reported to Lok Adalats by banks increased dramatically in 2021-22.

Bank’s Loan recovery mechanisms:

Lok Adalat: Conducted by NALSA, the awards of Lok Adalat are final and binding on all parties

IBC: Introduced in 2016 and amended in 2021, IBC provides a time-bound process of resolving the insolvency of corporate debtors (330 days)

Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs): Along with Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunals (est. Under Recovery of debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993) for expeditious adjudication and recovery of debts.

Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of the Security Interest Act (SARFAESI Act 2002): Under this, banks can take control of securities pledged against the loan and manage or sell them to recover dues without any court intervention.

Why cases referred to Lok Adalats increased dramatically?

Banks send stressed accounts worth up to Rs.20 lakh to Lok Adalats, which are organised by banks in collaboration with the district legal service authority.

The number of cases referred to Lok Adalats is high since the cost of recovery through this route is lower than through DRTs or SARFAESI.

However, the rate of recovery through this route has been very low (2.3% in 2021-22 and 4% in 2020-21), as it is very difficult to recover loans from defaulters in the small-ticket loan segment.

Kalasa-Banduri Canal Construction Project

In News:

Recently centre has given approval for the implementation of this project by the Karnataka government. The project will divert water from two tributaries of the Mahadayi River (Mandovi River)- Kalasa and Banduri to the Malaprabha river.

Details:

The project aims to improve the drinking water supply to four drought-hit districts in Karnataka— Belagavi, Bagalkot, Dharwad and Gadag. However, the Goa government has been opposing the project.

About Mahadayi River:

The Mahadayi/Mandovi River is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa. The Mandovi and the Zuari are the two primary rivers in the state of Goa. Mandovi joins with the Zuari at a common creek at Cabo Aguada, forming the Mormugao harbour.

Mandovi river originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belagavi district of Karnataka. The river also houses the island of Chorao (Goa) where the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located. Dudhsagar falls ( in Goa) lies on this river.

About Malaprabha River:

The Malaprabha River is a tributary of the Krishna River and flows through the state of Karnataka in India. It rises in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 792.4 m in the state’s Belgaum district. The river joins the Krishna River at Kudalasangama in the Bagalkot district.

Ethylene Glycol (Quality Control) Order, 2022

In News:

The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers issued a gazette notification titled Ethylene Glycol (Quality Control) Order, 2022.

Details:

Recently, Uzbekistan alleged 18 child deaths in Samarkand from the consumption of medicinal syrup manufactured by an Indian drugmaker (Marion Biotech’s cough syrup Dok 1 Max). The syrup is manufactured containing ethylene glycol

Previously, In October, four sub-standard India-made products typically used to treat cough symptoms had caused the deaths of 66 children in Gambia (Africa).

Under ‘Conformity to standards and compulsory use of the standard mark’, the order stated:

Certification and enforcement authority: In respect of specific goods or articles, the Bureau of Indian Standards shall be the certifying and enforcing authority.

Penalty for contravention: Any person who contravenes the provisions of this Order shall be punishable under the provisions of the said Act.

About Ethylene glycol:

Ethylene glycol is a useful industrial compound found in many consumer products. Examples include antifreeze, hydraulic brake fluids, some stamp pad inks, ballpoint pens, solvents, paints, plastics, films, and cosmetics. It can also be a pharmaceutical vehicle.

Why is ethylene glycol toxic to humans?

Ethylene glycol’s toxicity mainly results from the accumulation of its toxic metabolites. Ethylene glycol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that produces acute effects similar to those of ethanol.

How can Cough syrups kill children?

If glycerine, a key ingredient in cough syrup, is replaced with toxic industrial solvents diethylene glycol (DEG) or Ethylene Glycol (EG), the cough syrups become toxic.

How can they end up in cough syrup?

DEG and EG are cheap, so they are sometimes used illegally, as a substitute solvents. If consumed in high doses, they can cause kidney failure.

Gelbots

In News:

Made out of gelatin, a gelbot is a significant advance in the world of ‘soft robotics,’ or robots that are fashioned out of organic and non-metallic materials.

About the Gelbots:

  • A 3D-printed device
  • Move without requiring an extra power source.
  • Feels like a Fruit gum rather than hard metallic surfaces of robots.
  • Extremely promising materials for soft robotics.
  • They rely on the principle that gels that swell or shrink in response to temperature can be used to create smart structures.
  • Cheap and easy to mass produce

Uses:

  • To deliver targeted medicines.
  • Deployed as marine robots, patrolling and monitoring the ocean’s surface.
  • Minimally invasive technology for biomedical diagnosis and treatment.

IISC-Bangalore develops ‘green’ tech to rid air filters of germs

In News:

A research team at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, has developed a germ-destroying air filter that can inactivate germs using ingredients like polyphenols and polycationic polymers commonly found in green tea.

Why the need?

With prolonged use, air filters become a breeding ground for captured germs. The growth of these germs clogs the pores of the filter, reducing their life.

New Technology:

The air-filtering technique was granted a patent in 2022.

It is found to be 24% effective against SARS-CoV-2 (delta variant).

The technology was transferred to AIRTH, a start-up that is replacing the existing germ-growing air filters.

Can play a crucial role in the fight against air pollution and mitigate the spread of air-borne pathogens such as several coronaviruses.