Graded Response Action Plan
The Commission for Air Quality Management directed authorities to enforce stage II of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which includes a ban on diesel generators and use of coal and firewood in hotels, restaurants and open eateries, with immediate effect.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
- How is the GRAP different this year?
- Who will implement and enforce the GRAP?
- What are the measures that will be enforced?
What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
- GRAP is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.
- Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.
- The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450) respectively.
- For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
- Measures being imposed under the previous categories will continue even when the subsequent category is activated, that is, if measures under Stage-2 are activated, measures under Stage-1 will continue to remain in place.
- The CAQM revised the Graded Response Action Plan earlier this year.
- The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- This was based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016. According to the notification, the task of implementing the GRAP fell on the now dissolved Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR.
- From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the CAQM.
How is the GRAP different this year?
- In the version of the GRAP that was notified in 2017, measures kicked in after pollution concentrations reached a certain level.
- This year, measures are pre-emptive and will kick in based on forecasts in an attempt to prevent the AQI from deteriorating further.
- The older version of the GRAP was enforced based only on the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10.
- This year, GRAP is being enforced based on the AQI, which takes other pollutants also into account, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
Who will implement and enforce the GRAP?
- The CAQM has constituted a sub-committee for the operationalization of the GRAP.
- This body includes officials from the CAQM, member secretaries of pollution control boards of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, the Central Pollution Control Board, a scientist from the IMD and one from the IITM, and Health Advisor, Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College. The sub-committee is required to meet frequently to issue orders to invoke the GRAP.
- The orders and directions of the CAQM will prevail in case of any conflict between directions issued by the State governments and the CAQM.
- Measures under the different categories of the plan are to be enforced by the pollution control boards of the NCR states and the concerned departments and agencies, including the traffic police, the Transport Department and road owning and construction agencies.
What are the measures that will be enforced?
Stage 1 (AQI ‘Poor’ – 201 to 300)
- Stopping all construction and demolition activities with plot size of 500 square metres or more which have not been registered on dust mitigation monitoring portals
- Mechanised sweeping, water sprinkling on roads
- Enforcing guidelines on use of anti-smog guns at construction sites
- Enforcing ban on open burning of waste and PUC (pollution under control norms) for vehicles
- DISCOMs to minimise power supply interruptions in NCR
- Encourage offices to start unified commute for employees to reduce traffic
Stage 2 (AQI ‘Very poor’ – 301 to 400)
- Not allowing coal/firewood in tandoors at hotels
- Stopping use of diesel generator sets except for essential and emergency services (hospitals, railways, metro services, airports, water pumping stations, “projects of national importance”)
- Enhance parking fees to discourage private transport
- Augment CNG/ electric bus and metro services by procuring additional fleet and increasing the frequency of service
Stage 3 (AQI ‘Severe’ – 401 to 450)
- Ban on construction and demolition activities except railway, metro, hospitals, sanitation projects etc, linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers
- Closure of industries that have PNG supply and are not running on approved fuels. In industrial areas that don’t have PNG supply, industries not running on approved fuels will operate only for five days a week
- State governments in NCR may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four wheelers
Stage 4 (AQI ‘Severe +’ – more than 450)
- Stop entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except for essentials, CNG and electric trucks)
- Ban on plying of Delhi registered diesel medium and heavy goods vehicles in Delhi, except for essentials
- Ban on plying of 4-wheeler diesel vehicles in Delhi and districts of NCR bordering Delhi, except BS-VI vehicles and vehicles used for essential or emergency services
- State Governments may consider additional emergency measures like closure of schools, plying of vehicles on odd-even basis
- NCR State governments to decide on allowing public, municipal and private offices to work on 50% strength and the rest to work from home
- Ban C&D activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers
-Source: Indian Express
Recently, a Varanasi district court has rejected the plea to conduct carbon-dating of the disputed structure known to have been found inside the premises of the Gyanvapi Mosque.
GS II: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is carbon dating?
- What about non-living things?
- Is there anything that cannot be dated?
What is carbon dating?
- Carbon dating is a widely-used method applied to establish the age of organic material, things that were once living.
- Living things have carbon in them in various forms. The dating method makes use of the fact that a particular isotope of carbon called C-14, with an atomic mass of 14, is radioactive, and decays at a rate that is well known.
- The most abundant isotope of carbon in the atmosphere is carbon-12 or a carbon atom whose atomic mass is 12.
- A very small amount of carbon-14 is also present. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the atmosphere is almost static, and is known.
- Plants get their carbon through the process of photosynthesis, while animals get it mainly through food.
- Because plants and animals get their carbon from the atmosphere, they too acquire carbon-12 and carbon-14 isotopes in roughly the same proportion as is available in the atmosphere.
- But when they die, the interactions with the atmosphere stops.
- There is no further intake of carbon (and no outgo either, because metabolism stops).
- Now, carbon-12 is stable and does not decay, while carbon-14 is radioactive. Carbon-14 reduces to one-half of itself in about 5,730 years. This is what is known as its ‘half-life’.
- So, after a plant or animal dies, the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the body, or its remains, begins to change. This change can be measured and can be used to deduce the approximate time when the organism died.
What about non-living things?
- Though extremely effective, carbon dating cannot be applied in all circumstances. Specifically, it cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things, like rocks, for example.
- Also, the age of things that are more than 40,000-50,000 years cannot be arrived at through carbon dating.
- This is because after eight to ten cycles of half-lives have been crossed, the amount of carbon-14 becomes almost negligible and undetectable.
- There are other methods to calculate the age of inanimate things, but carbon dating can also be used in an indirect way in certain circumstances.
- The age of the ice cores in glaciers and polar regions is determined using carbon dating by studying the carbon dioxide molecules trapped inside large ice sheets.
- The trapped molecules have no interaction with the outside atmosphere and are found in the same state as when they were trapped.
- How long a rock has been at a particular place can also be determined using similar indirect methods. If there are organic materials, dead plants or insects trapped beneath the rock, they can give an indication of when that rock, or any other thing, had reached that place.
Is there anything that cannot be dated?
- Though a variety of methods exist to know the age of a certain object, not everything can be dated. The accuracy of the different methods also varies.
- Though the petitioners in the Gyanvapi case have asked for carbon dating, it is not clear as of now whether carbon dating can be applied in this case, or if some other methods would be suitable.
- Some methods, like looking for trapped organic material beneath it, might not be feasible for practical reasons because that would involve uprooting the structure or making some other disruptions that are not desirable.
-Source: Indian Express
Lothal, ‘Oldest Dock In The World’, To Get Heritage Complex
Prime Minister evening reviewed the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Gujarat’s Lothal via video conferencing.
GS II: History
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Lothal
- Heritage Value
- National Maritime Heritage Complex
- Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilization, located in the Bhāl region of what is now the state of Gujarat.
- The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC.
- Lothal was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
- The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and (s) thal) in Gujarati is “the mound of the dead”.
- Incidentally, the name of the city of Mohenjo-daro (also part of the Indus Valley Civilisation, now in Pakistan) means the same in Sindhi.
Discovering Harappan sites:
- Indian archaeologists started the search for cities of the Harappan Civilisation post-1947 in Gujarat’s Saurashtra.
- Archaeologists led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites at the time, including the port city of Lothal.
- Excavation work was carried out in Lothal between February 1955 and May 1960.
- According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Lothal had the world’s earliest known dock, connecting the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river.
- Additionally, the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site, indicating that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
- ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock.
- Adjacent to the excavated areas stands the archaeological site museum, where some of the most prominent collections of Indus-era antiquities in India are displayed.
- Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
- Its heritage value is comparable to other ancient port-towns around the world – including Xel Ha (Peru), Ostia (Port of Rome) and Carthage (Port of Tunis) in Italy, Hepu in China, Canopus in Egypt, Gabel (Byblos of the Phoenicians), Jaffa in Israel, Ur in Mesopotamia, Hoi An in Vietnam, as per the dossier.
- In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).
National Maritime Heritage Complex
- National Maritime Heritage Museum will be established at Lothal in Gujarat.
- It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology; besides four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
- It is India’s first maritime museum in Gujarat
- It will also house the world’s tallest lighthouse museum, 14 galleries highlighting India’s maritime heritage starting from the Harappan time till today, as well as a coastal states pavilion displaying the diverse maritime heritage of Indian states and UTs.
- The museum will act as an independent research centre for archaeology of boat building, reconstruction of maritime history and materials traded.
- It will hold display of salvaged materials from shipwreck sites in Indian Ocean waters.
- The NMHC is being developed with the aim of displaying India’s diverse maritime heritage and also help Lothal emerge as a world-class international tourist destination.
-Source: Indian Express
The indigenous medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Rustom-2 developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation is expected to complete all user trials by August 2023.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Rustom-2
- It has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru with production partners being Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Bharat Electronics Limited.
- Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) refers to an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that flies at an altitude window of 10,000 to 30,000 feet for extended durations of time, typically 24 to 48 hours.
- It is also known as Tapas-BH (Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon 201).
- The UAV is actually named after Rustom Damania, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
- It is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and is capable of carrying different combinations of advanced payload and capable of auto-landing among others.
- It is being designed to acquire real-time, high-quality pictures and signal intelligence from fields of concern at medium to long ranges.
- It technologically matches contemporary UAVs available and will also be cheaper than the imported ones.
- High endurance UAVs are a priority requirement for the armed forces especially in the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh.
- The armed forces rely heavily on the Israeli Searcher and Heron drones and need more such UAVs.
-Source: The Hindu
Swadesh Darshan Scheme
Centre to promote destinations in 15 States as part of Swadesh Darshan 2.
GS II: Government Policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Swadesh Darshan scheme
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0
About Swadesh Darshan scheme:
Nodal: Ministry of Tourism
Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:
- Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship scheme of the Ministry of tourism for the development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner
- 100% funding from Centre for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant). PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
- A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
- To develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country.
- These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
- To develop quality infrastructure in the country with the objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors on one hand and on other hand fostering the economic growth.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0
- The revamped programme, Swadesh Darshan 2.0, aims to achieve “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” by fulfilling India’s full potential as a tourist destination under the motto “vocal for local.”
- In order to transform the Swadesh Darshan Scheme into a comprehensive mission to create sustainable and responsible tourism destinations, Swadesh Darshan 2.0 represents a generational transition rather than an incremental adjustment.
- The creation of benchmarks and standards for both general and theme-specific tourism destination development will be encouraged, and the States will use these benchmarks and standards when organising and implementing their projects.
Following major themes have been identified for tourism under the Scheme.
- Culture and Heritage
- Adventure Tourism
- Wellness Tourism
- MICE Tourism
- Rural Tourism
- Beach Tourism
- Cruises – Ocean & Inland.