17th December 2019 : Prelims Sure Shot: UPSC IAS Current Affairs
Why in News
- Government e-Marketplace (GEM/GeM) launches National Outreach Programme – GEM Samvaad.
About GeM Samvaad:
- A national outreach programme was launched by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry called the ‘GeM Samvaad’.
- The outreach programme will take place with stakeholders across the country and with local sellers in order to facilitate on-boarding of local sellers on the marketplace while catering to specific requirements and procurement needs of buyers.
- GeM Samvaad is essentially a dialogue between buyers and sellers. Sellers and buyers can look for new opportunities also in this outreach programme.
- The outreach programme will take place from December 2019 to February 2020 and will cover all the States and UTs of the country.
- It is the national public procurement portal offering end to end solutions for all procurement needs of Central and State Government Departments, PSUs, autonomous institutions and local bodies.
- Since its launch in 2016, it has transformed public procurement in the country by leveraging technology and making procurement contactless, paperless, and cashless.
- GeM has more than 15 lakh products and around 20,000 services, more than 3 lakh registered sellers and service providers and more than 40,000 government buyer organizations.
- State Departments and organisations, and public sector enterprises (PSEs) have been using GeM for their buying needs. Sellers from the States are also benefiting through access to the national public procurement market using the portal.
- GeM’s vision is “to affect an evolution in public procurement promoting a transparent, efficient and inclusive marketplace.”
2.National Broadband Mission
Why in News
- The Union Minister for Communications, Law & Justice and Electronics and Information Technology launched the National Broadband Mission.
About the National Broadband Mission (NBM):
- The vision of the NBM is to fast-track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion and provide affordable and universal access to broadband for all.
- A key objective of the Mission is to provide broadband to all villages by 2022.
- Some of the other objectives are:
- Facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country and especially in rural and remote areas.
- Laying of incremental 30 lakhs route km of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1.0 tower per thousand of population by 2024.
- Significantly improve quality of services for mobile and internet.
- Develop innovative implementation models for Right of Way (RoW) and to work with States/UTs for having consistent policies pertaining to expansion of digital infrastructure including for RoW approvals required for laying of OFC.
- Develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem within a State/UT.
- Creation of a digital fiber map of the digital communications network and infrastructure, including Optical Fiber Cables and towers across the country.
- Investment from stakeholders of USD 100 billion (Rs 7 Lakh Crore) including Rs 70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- Address policy and regulatory changes required to accelerate the expansion and creation of digital infrastructure and services.
- Work with all stakeholders including the concerned ministries/departments/agencies and the Ministry of Finance for enabling investments for the Mission.
The telecom scene in India:
- The government has introduced this new broadband mission to meet the ever-growing needs for the internet.
- Right now, in India, an average person is consuming 9.77GB data per month which is up by a staggering 1120% compared to 2014.
- Telecom subscribers are also growing at a rapid pace in the country.
- India had just 251.59 million internet subscribers back in 2014, however, the number saw an increase of 165% and reached 665.31 in 2019.
- Mobile subscribers were just 907.42 in 2014 and it has been increased to 1173.75 in 2019.
3.Pollution fight: painting roads, lasers among options
Why in News
The Supreme Court has directed to form a High Level Committee (HLC) and look into the feasibility of technologies to control and monitor pollution.
- The HLC has members from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), NEERI, professors from IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kanpur and heads of environmental departments of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
- Painting roads with photocatalytic coating to clean air, using anti-smog guns at construction sites to reduce dust pollution and setting up of a 20 metre-high ‘smog tower’ with air purifiers are among the pilot projects suggested by the High Level Committee (HLC) to the Supreme Court to control air pollution in Delhi and NCR.
- There are companies that develop photocatalytic paints, which can remove pollutants from the air in the presence of sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- It can be applied on a range of surfaces, such as roofing tiles or even on the surface of roads.
- Photocatalytic paints contain titanium dioxide [TiO2] which acts as a catalyst when exposed to UV rays and removes atmospheric pollutants. The catalyst converts the pollutants into other species.
- But there is a risk that nanomaterials may result in the production of other undesirable species such as nitrous acid and formaldehyde, which will have adverse health impacts. However, such products have been used by the Dubai municipality in parks and also in Mexico.
- The HLC has also suggested that a pilot project of “smog tower”, as suggested by an expert panel of IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and Department of Science and Technology, may be taken up.
- The proposal had stated that 65% reduction in pollution can be achieved on an average up to 700 metres from the tower.
- Anti-smog gun is a device that sprays nebulised water droplets into the air through high-pressure propellers, which helps particles to settle down.
- Anti-smog guns may be effective in controlling localised dust during the period of application and more suitable to high dust emission zones such as large construction sites.
- Oxy furnace uses only oxygen as fuel instead of atmospheric air (which contains nitrogen), thus reducing the production of NOx by about 90% in industries.
Wireless Sensor Network (WSN):
- WSN technology to monitor air pollution is still in the developmental stage and IIT and NEERI are reviewing its performance.
- The committee has informed that WSN may be used as an indicative monitoring tool for a few activities like mining, large construction sites, to supplement air quality data and report to regulator for conducting further investigation.
- LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging is a high-end application of LASER-based technology for monitoring pollution.
- The HLC has recommended that this technology may be adopted for vertical monitoring at a few places to track transport of pollutants at higher altitude.