Daily Prelims Notes 23 September 2022
- September 23, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
23 September 2022
Table Of Contents
- NIA has conducted a series of searches of premises linked to PFA
- Terror organisation under UAPA
- Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Border conflict
- The case of Nikah halala in India
- Election Commission opinion regarding Disqualification
- Basel Compliant Bonds
- Fed Policy
- Cooperative Banks
- Biological oxygen demand
- The tiniest specks of plastic can enter the human food chain, finds a study
- Coal will stay strong even as solar shines in India’s energy transition
Context: As many as 100 people linked to the Popular Front of India have been arrested following the searches by the National investigation Agency.
- Scores of Popular Front of India (PFI) activists were detained or arrested as the National Investigation Agency (NIA)-led multi-agency raids on the premises of the organisation and people linked to it as part of a nationwide crackdown across 10 states for allegedly supporting terror activities.
Popular Front of India
- The Popular Front of India (PFI) is an Islamic non-profit organization in India. It was formed in 2006 as a successor to National Development Front (NDF) and merger with Manitha Neethi Pasarai, Karnataka Forum for Dignity and other organisations.
- The PFI describes itself as a “neo-social movement committed to empower people to ensure justice, freedom and security”.
- It advocates for Muslim reservations, personal law courts for Muslims, the cause of Dalits, Muslims and tribals, and scholarships to deprived Muslim students. In 2012, the organisation conducted protests against alleged use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to detain innocent citizens.
- PFI has been accused of involvement in violent activities by the Indian Government
National Investigation Agency
- NIA was constituted under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 as the aftermath of the Mumbai Terror attack of 2008.The agency came into existence on December 31, 2008, and started its functioning in 2009. Till date, the NIA has registered 447 cases
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) acts as the Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. The agency is authorised to investigate any terror-related matter across the country without special permission of the states.
- It is a central agency mandated to investigate all the offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, and the offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations. These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders
- Headquartered in Delhi, the NIA has its branches in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru and Patna
What are the scheduled offences?
- The list includes the Explosive Substances Act, Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and relevant offences under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Information Technology Act. In September 2020, the Centre empowered the NIA to also probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror case.
The various features or provisions of the NIA (Amendment) ACT, 2019 are as follows:
- It applied the provisions of the NIA Act also to persons who commit a scheduled offence beyond India against Indian citizens or affecting the interest of India.
- It provided that the officers of the NIA shall have the similar powers, duties, privies and liabilities being exercised by the police officers in connection with the investigation of offences, not only in India but also outside India.
- It empowered the central government, with respect to a scheduled offence committed outside India, to direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation as if such offence had taken place in India.
- It provided that the central government and the state governments may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for conducting the trial of offences under the NIA Act.
- The NIA was empowered to probe cases of cyber terrorism under the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, passed by Parliament in July 2019.
Jurisdiction of NIA
- The law under which the agency operates extends to the whole of India and also applies to Indian citizens outside the country; persons in the service of the government wherever they are posted; persons on ships and aircraft registered in India wherever they may be; persons who commit a scheduled offence beyond India against the Indian citizen or affecting the interest of India.
- It inserted certain new offences in the Schedule of the NIA Act. Consequently, the NIA is also empowered to probe the offences relating to
counterfeit currency or bank notes,
manufacture or sale of prohibited arms,
How does the NIA take up a probe?
- As provided under Section 6 of the Act, State governments can refer the cases pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry)for NIA investigation. After assessing the details made available, the Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case. State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
- Even when the Central government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence has been committed which is required to be investigated under the Act, it may, suo motu, direct the agency to take up/over the probe. Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation.
- While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence which the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence
Context: As many as 100 people linked to the Popular Front of India have been arrested following the searches by the National investigation Agency.
What is a terror organisation?
- Section 2(m) of the UAPA defines “terrorist organisation” as an organisation listed in the Schedule to the UAPA, or an organisation operating under the same name as an organisation so listed in the Schedule.
- Schedule 1 currently lists 42 organisations, including Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen, Babbar Khalsa International, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, among others as terrorist organisations.
How is an organisation declared a terrorist organisation?
Under Section 35 of the UAPA if the central governmentbelieves that an organisation is involved in terrorism it has powers to declare an organisation a terrorist organisation .
The Schedule can be amended by the government to add or remove organisations from the list. The law states that an organisation shall be deemed to be involved in terrorism
if it —
(a) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, or
(b) prepares for terrorism, or
(c) promotes or encourages terrorism, or
(d) is otherwise involved in terrorism
What are the consequences of declaring an organisation a terrorist organisation?
The funding of the organisation, and the association of individuals with the organisation are criminalised.
- Section 38 of the UAPA requires a person who “associates himself, or professes to be associated, with a terrorist organisation with intention to further its activities, commits an offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation” is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
- However, such individuals are exempted from the provision if they have been members before the organisation was declared a terrorist organisation and did not take part in any activities of the organisation at any time during its inclusion in the Schedule.
- Section 20 of the UAPA prescribes punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation. It states: “Any person who is a member of a terrorist gang or a terrorist organisation, which is involved in terrorist act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
- Section 21 prescribes punishment for individuals holding proceeds of terrorism with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
- The UAPA under Section 24A also provides for forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism. The law states that even if the person is not convicted for being associated with a terrorist organisation, “proceeds of terrorism” can be forfeited to the Central Government or the State Government.
What is the recourse in law available to a terrorist organisation?
- An application can be made to the central government to remove an organisation from the Schedule by the organisation itself or any person affected by inclusion of the organisation in the Schedule as a terrorist organisation.
- A review committee is then appointed which is headed by a sitting or former judge of a High Court to “judicially review” the application.
Subject : International Relations
Context: Nearly 100 people have been killed and scores injured in violent border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the last week.
- The current configuration of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is the product of Soviet mapmakers drawing the dividing lines for Soviet republics after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in late 1991.
- The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km length is disputed. Almost half of its 1000 km border is disputed.
- Historically, the Kyrgyz and Tajik populations enjoyed common rights over natural resources.
- While regular talks have tried to resolve the issue, one of the crucial points of disagreement remains over the map which should be used for demarcation purposes.
- Restrictions on access to land and water resources that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
- Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan belong to the central asia region. Other countries of the region are Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan borders Uzbekistan and China.
- Communism peak is a mountain between Kyrgyztan and Tajikistan.
- Aral Sea is shrinking and it is between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
- Amu Darya and Syr Darya drain in Aral Sea.
- Ust-Urt plateau is between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
- Only Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan borders Caspian sea.
Subject : Polity
Context :SC has constituted a five judge bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee to hear the case of ‘Nikah halala ‘ in India.
- Sameena Begum, a Delhi-based victim of instant triple talaq and a fraud marriage approached the Supreme Court in 2018 seeking a ban on nikah halala and Polygamy.
- She requested the court that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, be declared arbitrary and in violation of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
- ‘Nikah halala’ is a process in which a Muslim woman has to marry another person and get divorced from him before being allowed to marry her divorcee husband again.
- Often a man pronounces triple talaq in a fit of anger. A little later, he realises his mistake and approaches a maulana who often tells him that he has exhausted all three chances at divorce; his erstwhile wife is now prohibited to him for reconciliation unless she marries another man, and he either divorces her or dies.
- For the purpose of going back to the erstwhile husband, sham marriages are enacted wherein a woman marries another man with a pre-decided date and time of divorce.
- The nikah is conducted with the understanding that the divorce shall take place the next day after the consummation of marriage.
- Usually, nikah halala stems from instant triple talaq and ends with it.
- In India, the Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage, passed after the invalidation of triple talaq by the Supreme Court, is silent on nikah halala.
- The Act made instant triple talaq a criminal offence but steered clear of halala which takes place as a consequence of triple talaq.
Subject : Polity
Context: The Election commission has turned down the request of the Jharkhand Chief Minister to disclose its opinion shared with the state Governor in the disqualification matter against him.
- EC said any communication between the EC and a Governor is “privileged” under Article 192 (2) of the Constitution and revealing it before an order is passed by the Governor would amount to a “breach of constitutional propriety”.
- The EC also said that any document pertaining to a reference received from the Governor under Article 192(2) is also exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act unless a final order is passed by the Governor.
- On August 25, the poll panel, in its opinion sent to Governor, had recommended Soren’s disqualification under Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for allegedly misusing his position to allot a stone-mining lease to himself last year.
- Section 9A prohibits elected representatives from entering into any contract with the government for “supply of goods” or “execution of any works undertaken” by it.
Article 191 of Indian Constitution
Decision on questions as to disqualifications of members.—
- Article 191 (1): A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State specified in the First Schedule, other than an office declared by the Legislature of the State by law not to disqualify its holder.
- If any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) of article 191, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.
- Provisions of Article 191(1)(e) also protect a legislator occupying a government position if the office in question has been made immune to disqualification by law.
- Article 191 (2): Before giving any decision on any such question, the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion.
Concept of ‘Office of Profit’
- The office of profit has been interpreted as a position that brings to the office-holder some financial gain, remuneration or benefit. The amount of such profit is immaterial.
- The concept forbids members of the legislature from accepting an office of profit under the executive so as to maintain the autonomy of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers.
- The intent is to avoid the conflict of interests between the duties and interests of an elected member.
What constitutes an ‘Office of Profit’?
- The constitution does not explicitly define the phrase.
- However, it has evolved over decades with subsequent judicial pronouncements.
- Supreme Court has listed certain factors while considering ‘office of profit’:
- whether the government is the appointing authority
- whether the government has the power to terminate the appointment
- whether the government determines the remuneration
- what is the source of remuneration
- the power that comes with the position.
Statutory provisions related to ‘Office of Profit’
- Union law: Parliament has also enacted the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, which has been amended several times to expand the exempted list.
- RPA Act, 1951: Clause 9A of the Act says that a person shall be disqualified if there is a contract involving him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to or for the execution of any works undertaken by that Government.
- State laws: Certain state legislatures have enacted laws in their respective states exempting certain offices from the purview of office of profit.
Indian banks may continue their fundraising by issuing Basel III-compliant and infrastructure bonds as they rush to meet rising credit demand and lock in funds at cheaper rates.
State-run banks have already raised ₹281 billion through a combination of Basel III-compliant additional Tier I perpetual bonds, Tier II bonds and infrastructure bonds in the last three months.
- AT-1 bonds are a type of unsecured, perpetual bonds that banks issue to shore up their core capital base to meet the Basel-III norms.
- These bonds were introduced by the Basel accord after the global financial crisis to protect depositors.
- There are two routes through which these bonds can be acquired:
- Initial private placement offers of AT-1 bonds by banks seeking to raise money.
- Secondary market buys of already-traded AT-1 bonds.
- These bonds are also listed and traded on the exchanges. So, if an AT-1 bondholder needs money, he can sell it in the secondary market.
- Investors cannot return these bonds to the issuing bank and get the money. i.e there is no put option available to its holders.
- The issuing banks have the option to recall AT-1 bonds issued by them (termed call options that allow banks to redeem them after 5 or 10 years).
- Banks issuing AT-1 bonds can skip interest payouts for a particular year or even reduce the bonds’ face value.
- These bonds are perpetual in nature — they do not carry any maturity date.
- They offer higher returns to investors but compared with other vanilla debt products, these instruments carry a higher risk as well.
- These bonds are subordinate to all other debt and senior only to equity.
- Basel-III-compliant AT 1 bonds come with a built-in ‘loss absorbency’ clause which means that in case of stress, banks can write off such investments or convert them into equity.
- The principal loss absorption (through write-down or conversion into equity shares) can be triggered by pre-specified trigger of CET1 falling below 5.5 per cent before March 2019 and 6.125 per cent thereafter.
- At the instance of the RBI, bonds can also be written down upon a point of non-viability (PONV) event happening.
- The PONV trigger event is the earlier of a) decision that a conversion or write-off, without which the firm would become non-viable, is necessary, b) decision to make a public sector injection of capital, or equivalent support, without which the firm would have become non-viable.
- The norms also state that if the authorities decide to reconstitute a bank or amalgamate a bank with any other bank under Section 45 of BR Act, 1949, then such a bank will be deemed as non-viable or approaching non-viability.
- If the bank reaches the point of non-viability, AT1 bonds are the first part of debt that will be written down.
Tier 2 bonds
- These are components of tier 2 capital, primarily for banks.
- These are debt instruments like loans, more than they are equity features like stocks.
- As with all bonds and other debt instruments, they do not give ownership or voting rights, but they do offer interest earnings to bondholders or owners.
- “Guaranteed” is not an appropriate word to be used for tier 2 bonds but it “specifies” earnings as interest rates.
- Tier 2 bonds are typically subordinated debt, behind tier one debt such as commercial loans.
- In the case of Basel III Tier 2 bonds, the principal can be fully written down at the PONV.
- While both Tier-1 and -2 instruments have significant loss-absorption features, the former are meant to absorb losses on a going-concern basis — the loss-absorption trigger kicks in fairly early. Hence, the high loss-absorption features of Tier-1 bonds can bail out depositors as well as investors in Tier 2 bonds, well ahead of a crisis or stress.
- The relatively lower risk in Tier 2 bonds compared to AT 1 bonds is reflective in the ratings of these bonds.
- Ratings for tier 1 instruments are notched down by both domestic and global rating compared to ratings assigned to the Tier 2 bonds.
- These are borrowings to be invested in government funded infrastructure projects within a country.
- They are issued by governments or government authorised Infrastructure companies or Non- Banking Financial Companies.
- They offer a decent rate of interest and tax benefits.
- The maturity of these bonds is often between 10 to 15 years with an option to buy-back after a lock-in of 5 years.
- These bonds are listed either on or both National Stock Exchange or Bombay Stock Exchange that provides you with an option to exit after the lock-in period.
- A Lock-in period is when you cannot sell a particular instrument.
- These bonds provide deductions up to Rs 20,000 from the taxable income under section 80CCF of the Income Tax Act; however the interest on the bonds is taxable in the hands of investors.
- So, the tax-saving long-term infrastructure bonds were basically not the tax-free bonds.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the key US interest rate again and signalled more hikes–an aggressive stance that has raised fears of an eventual recession.
- The increase takes the policy rate to 3.0-3.25% rates and would reach 4.4% by the end of 2022 and 4.6% in the next year–a more hawkish shift.
- Policy makers expect rates will be cut in 2024, to about 3.9%, and to 2.9% in 2025.
Fed Reserve and the Monetary Policy:
- Monetary policy in the United States comprises the Federal Reserve’s actions and communications to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates–the economic goals the Congress has instructed the Federal Reserve to pursue.
- The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve responsibility for setting monetary policy.
- The Federal Open Market Committee FOMC’s primary means of adjusting the stance of monetary policy is by changing its target for the federal funds rate.
- The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other depository institutions overnight.
- The FOMC has the ability to influence the federal funds rate–and thus the cost of short-term interbank credit–by changing the rate of interest the Fed pays on reserve balances that banks hold at the Fed.
- A bank is unlikely to lend to another bank (or to any of its customers) at an interest rate lower than the rate that the bank can earn on reserve balances held at the Fed.
- Rise in lending rates-Federal funds rate changes are rapidly reflected in the interest rates that banks and other lenders charge on short-term loans to one another, households, nonfinancial businesses, and government entities.
- Rise in deposit rate and other returns-The rates of return on commercial paper and U.S. Treasury bills–which are short-term debt securities issued by private companies and the federal government, respectively, to raise funds–typically move closely with the federal funds rate.
- Capital inflows to the US-relative rise in interest rate leads capital outflows from other countries into the US.
- Appreciation of dollar and depreciation of other currency-Changes in the relative attractiveness of U.S. assets will move exchange rates and affect the dollar value of corresponding foreign-currency-denominated assets (appreciation of dollar)
- The rupee depreciated to close at an all-time low of 80.86 against the US dollar after the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike and its hawkish stance.
- Rupee along with other Asian peers tumbled to a record low.
- The rupee depreciated to close at an all-time low of 80.86 against the US dollar after the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike and its hawkish stance.
The Bombay High Court (HC) has suspended the operation of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) order cancelling the banking license of the 110-year old Rupee Co-op Bank Ltd till next month –as the appeal to the order is pending before the Appellate Authority, Department of Financial Service (Banking Division) Ministry of Finance.
The Task Force for Co-operative Urban Banks (TAFCUB) recommended cancellation of licence of the bank.
Why did RBI cancel the licence of Rupee Cooperative Bank?
- The bank does not have adequate capital and earning prospects as per Section 11(1), Section 22 (3) (d) and Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
- Section 11 deals with requirements as to minimum paid-up capital and reserves.
- Section 22 deals with licensing of banking companies.
- Section 56 is about the applicability of the Act to cooperative societies, subject to modifications
- The bank has failed to comply with certain other provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
- The continuance of the bank is prejudicial to the interests of its depositors.
- It would be unable to pay its present depositors in full given the present financial condition.
- Adverse to the public interest if further allowed to do business.
What will happen to the depositors’ money in Rupee Cooperative Bank?
- Depositors with Rs 5 lakh or less in the bank would get back all of their money through the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC).
- Depositors with more than Rs 5 lakh would not get back their money beyond 5 lakh.
What is a banking licence?
- The RBI issues the licence under the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 for banking operations such as accepting deposits or lending .
- Parameters–The 1949 Act focuses on adequate capital and protection of the public interest before the licence is granted.
- Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) — the ratio of a bank’s available capital to its risk weighted credit exposure.
- Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) — the ratio of a bank’s total loans to total deposits in the same period.
- No company other than one that has been issued a banking licence is allowed to use the word bank in its name while doing business.
- The RBI audits banks every year, and can take action if it notes an increase in bad debts or other suspicious activities in their books.
- For example –if a bank does not have enough capital to cover its exposure and pay its depositors, its licence can be cancelled by the RBI.
Options other than cancellation:
- All banking activities like withdrawal can be suspended
- The board of directors can be superseded
- Appointment of administrator to revive the bank, including merging the bank with a financially stable bank, filing of criminal cases against defaulting directors, employees, and seizing of their properties.
- A Co-operative bank is a financial entity which belongs to its members, who are at the same time the owners and the customers of their bank.
- Co-operative banks in India are registered under the States Cooperative Societies Act.
- The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949, Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
- The rural co-operative credit system in India is primarily mandated to ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
- It comprises short-term and long-term co-operative credit structures.
- The short-term co-operative credit structure operates with a three-tier system –
- It comprises short-term and long-term co-operative credit structures.
- Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) at the village level and the are outside the purview of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and hence not regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. ,
- Central Cooperative Banks (CCBs) at the district level and
- State Cooperative Banks (StCBs) at the State level.
- StCBs/DCCBs are registered under the provisions of State Cooperative Societies Act of the State concerned and are regulated by the Reserve Bank.
- Powers have been delegated to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) to conduct inspection of State and Central Cooperative Banks.
- Primary Cooperative Banks (PCBs), also referred to as Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs), cater to the financial needs of customers in urban and semi-urban areas.
- UCBs are primarily registered as cooperative societies under the provisions of either the State Cooperative Societies Act of the State concerned or the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 if the area of operation of the bank extends beyond the boundaries of one state.
- There is duality of control over these banks with banking related functions being regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and management related functions regulated by respective State Governments/ Central Government.
Subject : Polity
- The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
- During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.
- A systematic and modern population census, in its present form was conducted non synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country.
- However, the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
- The decennial Census is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Subject : Environment
- The National Green Tribunal recently imposed a fine of Rs 120 crore on the Uttar Pradesh government for contamination of water bodies and groundwater in and around Gorakhpur.
- The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had allocated Rs 124.3 crore to Ramgarh Tal in Gorakhpur under the National Lake Conservation Project in 2011.
- The lake’s condition has improved significantly after its inclusion in the National Lake Conservation Plan in 2011.
- The lake’s Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) was 108 milligrams per litre, which has improved to 11 mg/L.
- BOD is the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria and other microorganisms while they decompose organic matter under aerobic conditions
- Biological oxygen demand is essentially a measure of the amount of oxygen required to remove waste organic matter from water in the process of decomposition by aerobic bacteria.
- Main sources of BOD are: leaves and woody debris; dead plants and animals; animal manure; effluents from pulp and paper mills, wastewater treatment plants, feedlots, and food-processing plants; failing septic systems; and urban storm water runoff etc.
- Higher BOD indicates more oxygen is required, signifying lower water quality. Low BOD means less oxygen is being removed from water, so the water is usually more pure.
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD)
- COD is a method of estimating how much oxygen would be depleted from a body of receiving water as a result of bacterial action.
- The difference between BOD and COD is: COD or Chemical Oxygen Demand is the total measurement of all chemicals (organics & in-organics) in the water, whereas, BOD is a measure of, the amount of oxygen that require for the bacteria to degrade the organic components present in water.
Total suspended Solids (TSS):
- It is the dry-weight of suspended particles, that are not dissolved, in a sample of water that can be trapped by a filter. These are analyzed through filtering methods.
- It is used to assess the quality of a specimen of any type of water or water body
Context: Plastic in foiod chain
- There is growing concern about the environmental and health impact of plastic pollution, especially since it breaks down into smaller pieces that begin to accumulate in the environment.
- Now, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have found that small pieces of plastic called nanoplastics can travel up the human food web, through plants, insects and even fish.
- Nanoplastics are tiny plastic debris particles smaller than 1,000 nanometres (1 nm is equal to one billionth of a metre).
How the study was conducted-
- Researchers have developed a new, metallic fingerprint-based method to detect and measurethe amount of nanoplastics in organisms.
- For their study, they applied the technique to a model food chain that contains three trophic levels (trophic level is the position an organism occupies in the food chain) — lettuce, which was the primary producer, black soldier fly larvae, the primary consumer, and insectivorous fish (roach) as the secondary consumer.
- For the study, the researchers exposed lettuce plants to nanoplastics from commonly found plastic waste in the environment — polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) nanoplastics — through contaminated soil for 14 days.
- They were then harvested and fed to black soldier fly larvae, insects that are used as a source of protein in many countries, and are also used as feed for chickens and cattle.
- After five days of feeding them the lettuce, the insects were then fed to the fish (roach) for five days. The roach, (Rutilus rutilus) is widely found in fresh and brackish water and is sometimes eaten and used as bait.
Travelling up the food chain
- By using scanning microscopy, the researchers examined the dissected plants, insect larvae and fish.
- Images showed that the nanoplastics from the soil were taken up from the roots of the plants and accumulated in the leaves.
- Subsequently, the contaminated lettuce transferred the nanoplastics to the insects.
- Imaging of the black soldier fly’s digestive system showed that both PS and PVC nanoplastics were found in the mouth and gut, despite allowing them to empty their guts for 24 hours.
- Both the lettuce and insects, however, contained a lower amount of PS particles, as compared to the PVC nanoplastics.
- In the fish that had fed on the contaminated insects, particles were detected in the gills, liver and intestine tissues.
- The liver contained the highest concentration of nano plastic, indicating that it is the primary target tissue for nanoplastics entering vertebrates.
No barriers against nanoplastics?
- Due to their small size, nanoplastics can likely pass through physiological barriers and enter organisms.
- The researchers note that the measurement of the absorption of nanoplastics from the soil by vegetables and fruits will help tell us whether and to what extent nanoplastics can enter our food chain and then our own bodies.
- The results show that lettuce can take up nanoplastics from the soil and transfer them into the food chain.
- This indicates that the presence of tiny plastic particles in soil could be associated with a potential health risk to herbivores and humans if these findings are found to be generalizable to other plants and crops and to field settings.
- However, further research into the topic is still urgently needed.
It is typically associated with the build-up of damaging or harmful chemicals in a living thing. These chemicals will not break down in the body or are not able to be excreted. This will cause the chemical to accumulate over time
Plants that are exposed to and absorb chemicals in the water or soil will accumulate them when they can’t break them down. When an animal starts to eat these plants they are also consuming the chemicals. The more plants they eat the more chemical they consume. This is called biomagnifications
Biomagnification occurs as the chemical moves further up in the food chain. The amount of chemical magnifies or the amount increases at each level.
Context: Draft National Electricity Plan
- In India’s energy transition, solar will emerge as a dominant source of energy, but coal is still going to be the mainstay of the country’s energy sector.
- In the coming decade, at least 40% more coal consumption is estimated in India.
- These trends are reflected in the draft version of the National Electricity Plan (NEP) released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
About the Draft NEP report–
- As per the Electricity Act, 2003, the CEA is supposed to prepare a National Electricity Plan once in five years.
- So far, the CEA has prepared three NEPs in 2007, 2013, and 2018-2019.
- The CEA prepares the report in two volumes one addressing energy generation and the other on energy transmission.
- The present draft report talks about estimates of energy generation in the next five-yearand 10-year scenarios.
What the report highlights–
- The draft report says, “Contribution of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) will be around 35.6% of the total energy of the country in the year 2026-27 and 45.09% by 2031-32.”
- It highlights that there is an additional coal-based capacity required till 2031-32, which may vary from 17 GW to around 28 GW.
- This is over and above the under-construction coal-based capacity of 25 GW.
Current Scenario of energy consumption–
- In 2021-22, India’s domestic coal requirement was 678 million tonnes (MT).
- It will increase to 831.5 MT by 2026-27 and 1018.2 MT by 2031-32.
- At present, 51.1% of the total installed capacity in the energy sector in India comes from coal.
- Out of the total 399.49 gigawatts (GW) installed capacity of the country, 236.10 GW comes from thermal, 6.78 GW comes from nuclear and 156.60 GW comes from renewables.
Need for new Thermal Power Plants (TPPs)–
- There was a total of 22.7 GW of coal plants, scheduled for retirement between 2017-22.
- Out of this, only 7.35 GW got retired from the scheduled ones which include 4.5 GW retiring due to old age criteria.
- Now, there is an estimate that 4.6 GW of TPPs will retire between 2022-27.
- Out of 22 GW that were scheduled for retirement, 16 GW of TPPs were those that did not have space to install flue gas desulphurisation (FGD). It is necessary to control sulphur dioxide (SOx) emissions. The majority of these TPPs did not retire. The central government is also extending the deadlines for installing FGD. So, no one should get confused with the government’s intention related to coal.
- Even today, the government is talking about installing 17 GW of thermal power plants in the most conservative scenario and 28 GW in the most optimistic scenario.
Energy transition is on the way–
- Since Independence, India has been focusing on capacity addition to meet the energy demand. In 1947, the country had just 1.36 GW of installed capacity.
- As compared to this, the country’s installed capacity for energy generation was 399.49 GW in March 2022.
- Now, India is not only looking for capacity addition but also focusing on clean fuel to meet its energy demand.
- As per the draft NEP, the country will aim for 865.94 GW of installed capacity at the end of the year 2031-32, and half of this will be from non-fossil fuel sources.
- This is India’s commitment to the global community in the fight against global warming.
- To achieve this, India plans to add 35 GW of coal to its existing capacity by 2031-32.
- Against this, the country plans to add 279.48 GW of solar and 93.6 GW of wind to its existing fleet during the same time frame.
Issues with the transition into Renewable Energy–
- Coal and gas as a mix have been the predominant player so far. Renewable energy contributes only 10% of the total power generation.
- Right now, it is not a problem. When we talk of a grid in which renewables will be 45%, then it will become a problem. We are reducing a reliable source that is coal and replacing it with a variable source that is renewable.
- In this case, grid management becomes a concern.
- Therefore, the country needs reliable resources for energy generation. It can be a hydro or storage battery.
- For the next five years, we have enough hydropower which can take care of these challenges. But beyond 2026, only hydro will not be able to offer that reliability. We need a battery energy storage system (BESS).
- The draft report is clear about it and underlines the fact that the country will need 51 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2031-32.
India’s effort to achieve this goal–
- India is hardly adding 10 to 12 GW of renewable capacity every year. It is not sufficient.
- If the country is serious about its ambition, it needs to add 40 to 50 GW of capacity every year. It needs a huge investment as well.
- The NEP draft report also gives a glimpse of it by saying that a total investment of Rs 3.4 trillion is required for BESS and Rs 12.52 trillion for renewables by 2031-32.
Under-utilisation remains a concern–
- Though capacity addition remains on top of the energy ambition of the country, proper utilisation of existing capacity (including TPP, gas and renewables) remains a challenge.
- The performance of a power plant is measured by using the plant load factor (PLF).
- This is a measure of the output of a power plant compared to the maximum output it could produce. It means if a power plant has a higher PLF, it is producing more energy also at a lower cost (per unit of electricity).
- The CEA’s draft NEP underlines this bitter fact. About TPPs, it says that once the power station is commissioned, the biggest challenge is to operate the station at a high PLF.
- In 2009-10, the national PLF was 77.5%. Now in 2021-22, the average PLF has declined to 58.87%.
- The draft NEP document foresees further decline and estimates it to reach 55% in 2026-27.
- The PLF of the coal-based power stations in the country has been decreasing steadily over the years.
- The PLF has varied from60.5 % in 2017-18, 60.9 % in 2018-19, 55.9% in 2019-20, 54.6% in 2020-21 and 58.8 % during 2021-22.
- Similarly, the draft NEP talks about gas infrastructure. Gas power plants have been running at a low PLF of around 23%.
- The low PLF is not due to a lack of gas pipeline infrastructure, but due to the unavailability of cheap sources of natural gas.
- Though, it claims that there will be improvement after that and the PLF of thermal power plants will be about 62% in 2031-32. But, it does not give any explanation of how it is going to improve.