Prelims Sure Shot
Kakrapar Atomic Plant Achieves Criticality
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Recently, the third unit of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP-3) in Tapi district of Gujarat achieved its first criticality.
- Criticality is the first step towards power production. A nuclear reactor is said to be critical when the nuclear fuel inside a reactor sustains a fission chain reaction.
- Each fission reaction releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain a series of reactions. Heat is produced in the event, which is used to generate steam that spins a turbine to create electricity.
- Fission is a process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei, and some byproduct. When the nucleus splits, the kinetic energy of the fission fragments (primary nuclei) is transferred to other atoms in the fuel as heat energy, which is eventually used to produce steam to drive the turbines.
- KAPP-3 is the country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit, and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).
- Until now, the biggest reactor size of indigenous design was the 540 MWe, two of which have been deployed in Tarapur, Maharashtra.
- PHWR is a nuclear power reactor, commonly using un-enriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide DO) as its coolant and moderator.
- PHWR technology was started in India in the late 1960s with the construction of the first 220 MWe reactors, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-1).
- The 700 MWe PHWRs have advanced safety features like steel lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system, hydrogen management system, among others.
- The ‘passive decay heat removal system’ is on the lines of similar technology adopted for Generation III+ plants to negate the possibility of a Fukushima-type accident that happened in Japan in 2011.
- KAPP-3 addresses the issue of excess thermal margins. Thermal margin refers to the extent to which the operating temperature of the reactor is below its maximum operating temperature.
- KAPP-3 would constitute the biggest component in the nuclear power capacity expansion plan.
- India is working to ramp up its existing nuclear power capacity of 6,780 MWe to 22,480 MWe by 2031.
- Currently, nuclear power capacity constitutes less than 2% of the total installed capacity of 3,68,690 MW (end-January 2020).
Appointment of Government Servants as Gram Panchayat Administrator
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Recently, the Bombay High Court passed an interim order directing that a government servant of the local authority be appointed as an administrator of gram panchayats in Maharashtra.
It is for the 15,000 panchayats where the terms of these officers have ended or would be ending.These administrators include sarpanch, secretary of the panchayats and gram sevaks.
- Petition Against Recent Decisions: The order came after petitions were filed against a recent Government Resolutions (GR) issued by the State Rural Development Department and Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
- Through these, the Maharashtra government ordered appointment of administrators to all gram panchayats by zilla parishad chief executive officers (CEO) in consultation with their respective district ministers.
- The resolution and ordinance were challenged on various grounds related to the appointment of private individuals as administrators of gram
- It also challenged the section 151 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act by allowing appointment of administrators in case the State Election Commission (SEC) could not hold elections due to a natural calamity, pandemic financial emergency or administrative
High Court’s Argument:
- Questioned Private Appointments: The Court ordered that the administrator to be appointed, should be a government servant or an officer from the local authority.
- If not available and the appointment of a private individual is to be made, then each such order shall record the reasons because of which such officer was not available.
- The criteria that administrators have to be “a resident of the village and on the voters’ list” is directory, not mandatory in nature.
- Local Authority Officers: The court emphasised that local authority offices should be the first choice for appointment as an administrator.
- Impact on Local Governance: According to the court private individuals appointment is not warranted in law and such mass appointments will have a lasting adverse impact on the local governance in terms of efficiency, impartiality and effectiveness of the work.
State Government’s Argument:
- Urgent Need: It stated that there is an urgent need for administrators to run the panchayats as pandemic has halted the election process.
- Overburdened Officers: There are a large number of gram panchayats in the State and the government servants are already overburdened. So, it is difficult to appoint them as administrators.
- These are the part of the Panchayati Raj System which has been granted constitutional status by the 73rd Amendment act.
- This scheme of the PRI system increases cooperation among people, democratic participation and decentralization.
- The Gram Sabha (GS) discusses the development work plans of the GP called Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) and the elected representatives execute the plans.
- Gram Sabha is a body consisting of all persons whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level. The term is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b).
- All eligible voters of the village can participate in the Gram Sabha. The decisions taken by the Gram Sabha cannot be annulled by any other body except itself.
G20 Digital Economy Ministers Meeting
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Recently, a virtual meeting of G20 Digital Economy Ministers was hosted by Saudi Arabia in which Indian Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology represented India.
Saudi Arabia is holding the presidency of currently.
- Few major initiatives taken by India to tackle Covid-19 were highlighted: Early lockdowns which helped in curbing the spread of the virus as well as preparing for the upcoming challenges effectively.
- Digital innovations for managing Covid-19: Initiatives like Aarogya Setu mobile appCovid-19 Quarantine Alert System (geofencing system for monitoring quarantined patients) and Covid-19 Savdhan (bulk messaging systems).
- Digital innovations for helping people in general: Direct Benefit Transfers and digital payments ensured that even the weakest in the society was provided various financial relief during the
- India Emphasised Upon: Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence should be leveraged for inclusive growth and development especially in healthcare and education. In the wake of a pandemic like Covid-19, there is a need for building a resilient global supply chain.
- All digital platforms need to be accountable and sensitive towards concerns related to defence and data privacy of citizens of sovereign countries.
India’s Step for Data Protection:
- India is soon going to put in place a robust personal data protection law (Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 which will not only address the data privacy-related concerns of citizens but also ensure availability of data for innovation and economic development.
- The digital economy must go hand in hand with the data economy because data is an important component to accelerate the digital economy.
- There is a need to acknowledge who has sovereignty over data. Data must belong to the sovereign nation concerned, to protect the privacy of its people, to protect digital concerns for its people. Digital platforms having a presence in many countries must become trustworthy, safe and secure.
Reasons Behind Pink Water of Lonar Lake
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According to the Agharkar Research Institute, the colour of Lonar lake water in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district turned pink due to a large presence of the salt loving ‘Haloarchaea’ microbes.
- The colour of the lake water recently turned pink, which not only surprised locals, but also nature enthusiasts and scientists. The water samples have been tested by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Agharkar Research Institute in Pune.
- It has been assumed that the absence of rain, less human interference (owing to lockdown) and high temperature resulted in the evaporation of water which increased its salinity and pH.
- pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The increased salinity and pH facilitated the growth of halophilic microbes, mainly
- Halophiles are a group of microorganisms that can grow and often thrive in areas of high salt (NaCl) concentration.
- Haloarchaea or halophilic archaea is a bacteria culture which produces pink pigment and is found in water saturated with salt.
- The colour of the lake is now returning to original as the rainy season has kicked in, allowing dilution of the water.
- Further, it was noted that Haloarchaea microbes were ingested by Flamingos. These microbes acted as carotenoid (pigment) rich food for the birds.
- Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, is a saline and alkaline lake located at Lonar in Buldhana district, It is situated inside the Deccan Plateau—a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock created by eruptions.
- It is an oval shaped and has a mean diameter of 1.2 km. It is a popular tourist hub. It is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument.
- Geo-heritage refers to the geological features which are inherently or culturally significant offering insight to earth’s evolution or history to earth science or that can be utilized for education.
- Geological Survey of India (GSI) is the parent body which is making efforts towards identification and protection of geo-heritage sites. It is believed to have been created over 52,000 years ago when a meteorite hit the Earth.
Why in News
Recently, artists from Madhubani district of Bihar became famous for making masks with hand-painted Madhubani motif/designs.
- Origin: Madhubani painting has its origins in Mithila region of The painting is one of the oldest and most famous Indian art forms which is also practised in Nepal.
- Traces of Madhubani art can also be noticed in the Ramayana, the Indian epic. It is also known as Mithila or Madhubani art.
- Characteristics: These paintings are popular because of their tribal motifs and use of bright earthy colours.
- Traditionally the women of the village drew these paintings on the walls of their dwelling, as a demonstration of their feelings, hopes, and ideas. Today men are also involved to meet the demand.
- Style: It includes geometrical patterns, floral, animal and bird motifs.
- Colours: The colours used in paintings comprise natural extracts from plants and other natural sources.
- Themes: It is based on the mythological characters which depict the life of Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, and Saraswati.
- The designs widely painted are of Tulsi plant, court scenes, wedding scenes, social happenings etc. Also, heavenly bodies like the Sun and the Moon often form the centrepiece of paintings.
- Eminent Artists: Karpuri Devi, Mahalaxmi and Dulari.