News: The Centre has extended the concession period for its ambitious multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs) scheme from 30 to 45 years.
The government has planned to build 35 such mega freight-and-transport hubs under its flagship Bharatmala scheme, aiming to smoothen freight mobility, improve efficiency and reduce logistics costs.
The extended concession period, among the longest in the infrastructure sector, will help investors recoup their investment and generate surplus.
About Multi Modal Logistics Park Scheme (MMPL):
National Highways Logistics Management Ltd (NHLML) has been established as a special purpose vehicle by the National Highways Authority of India for the scheme.
The MMLPs are set to be developed in phases with each phase (about three) of a five-year period.
This would have given investors only around 15 years to recover their investment and generate a surplus.
With each MMLP expected to require over ₹1,000 crore of investment, a longer 45-year concession period would give the necessary fillip to the scheme.
Sprawled across at least 100 acres, MMLPs will be set up as public-private partnerships, entailing a total capital investment of ₹50,000 crore.
These parks are aimed to transform the existing point-to-point logistics model to a hub-and-spoke model. Here, freight from various places will arrive at a hub, where it will be warehoused before being despatched to another hub, after which it will proceed to other smaller locations.
Multi-modal logistics parks will allow seamless freight aggregation, warehousing and distribution, and will provide value-added services such as customs clearances and IT services.
This is expected to reduce India’s high logistics cost of around 13-14% of GDP to single-digit levels as in most advanced economies.
The government may conclude bidding for at least four multi-modal logistics parks under the new concession period this year. This includes the Chennai MMLP, which is likely to bid out in July, and the ones at Nagpur, Bengaluru and Indore.
Detailed project reports for a dozen other multi-modal logistics parks are in different stages of finalization, and once they are available, more bids could be invited this year or early next year.
However, at the end of 45 years, the facility will return to the government. Under the earlier 30-year plan, the operator had the right of first refusal for an extension of 30 years.
Multi-modal logistics parks closer to ports or airports would provide opportunity to develop right infrastructure for transhipment of goods and trading with single window facility for export and imports.
Apart from the longer concession period, the government has taken several other measures to make multi-modal logistics parks attractive for investors, including changing the bid parameters and linking it to minimum guaranteed revenue share, and easier exit clauses for original investors, with permission to bring joint venture partners at different stages of the project.
Multi-modal logistics parks are attracting good investor interests and the results would be visible when projects are awarded later this year.
The focus on the logistics sector through the PM Gati Shakti plan will give a fillip to the economy.
About Bharatmala Project:
The Bharatmala Pariyojana is a centrally-sponsored and funded Road and Highways project of the Government of India.
The total investment for 83,677 km (51,994 mi) committed new highways is estimated at ₹10.63 lakh crore (US$140 billion), making it the single largest outlay for a government road construction scheme (as of March 2022).
The project will build highways from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and then cover the entire string of Himalayan territories – Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand – and then portions of borders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar alongside Terai, and move to West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and right up to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Mizoram.
Special emphasis will be given on providing connectivity to far-flung border and rural areas including the tribal and backward areas.
It is both enabler and beneficiary of other key Government of India schemes, such as Sagarmala, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Industrial corridors, UDAN-RCS, BharatNet, Digital India, Parvatmala and Make in India.
2. COOKING OIL OR EDIBLE OIL
News: Retail prices of branded edible oil are inching down as packaged consumer goods firms pass on the gains from import duty cuts and cooling global prices, in a relief for millions of households scarred by rising prices.
About Cooking Oil:
Cooking oil is plant, animal, or synthetic liquid fat used in frying, baking, and other types of cooking.
It is also used in food preparation and flavoring not involving heat, such as salad dressings and bread dips, and may be called edible oil.
Cooking oil is typically a liquid at room temperature, although some oils that contain saturated fat, such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are solid.
There are a wide variety of cooking oils from plant sources such as olive oil, palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil (rapeseed oil), corn oil, peanut oil and other vegetable oils, as well as animal-based oils like butter and lard.
Heating as well as heating vessel rapidly changes characteristics of cooking oil.
Oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when heated above certain temperatures, especially when heating repeatedly.
The toxic risk is linked to oxidation of fatty acids and fatty acids with higher levels of unsaturation are oxidized more rapidly during heating in air.
India’s Edible oil import:
India’s edible oil imports are set to fall for the third year in a row on a rise in local oilseed supplies and as a rally in vegetable oil prices to a record high dented demand.
The world’s biggest importer of edible oils is likely to make overseas purchases of 12.9 million tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing year ending on Oct. 31, down from 13.13 million tonnes a year earlier.
Edible oil consumption in India trebled over the past two decades as the population grew, incomes rose, and restaurants sprang up to cater to a crowd that started eating out more often.
In the current marketing year, the government has lifted restrictions, but record high prices are dampening consumption.
India buys palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, with soyoil mostly imported from Argentina and Brazil. It purchases sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine.
3. PRIVATE CAPTIVE NETWORKS
News: Tech firms eyeing captive 5G networks have pushed back against the demand for a level playing field by telecom companies, on the grounds that those would not compete with public networks, will be used for self-consumption, would not be resold, and therefore do not need to be regulated as telcos.
About Private Captive Network:
A private captive 5G network is basically a network set up by a private entity for the use of just one organisation.
It is similar to a captive coal mine in that the 5G service offered by this captive network will only be utilised by the enterprise concerned, and no one else.
4. GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM
News: The government is going all out to complete GIS mapping of national highways for better planning, execution and monitoring of the road network and timely completion of projects.
What is Geographic Information System:
A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of database containing geographic data (that is, descriptions of phenomena for which location is relevant), combined with software tools for managing, analyzing, and visualizing those data.
In a broader sense, one may consider such a system to also include human users and support staff, procedures and workflows, body of knowledge of relevant concepts and methods, and institutional organizations.
The uncounted plural, geographic information systems, also abbreviated GIS, is the most common term for the industry and profession concerned with these systems.
It is roughly synonymous with geoinformatics and part of the broader geospatial field, which also includes GPS, remote sensing, etc.
Geographic information systems are utilized in multiple technologies, processes, techniques and methods. They are attached to various operations and numerous applications, that relate to: engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, insurance, telecommunications, and business.
Details of the initiative by NHAI:
Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is expected to come to the aid of road construction agencies as it would provide detailed information on alignments and any obstruction in the path of highways.
Tasked to take up the speed of highway construction to 50 km per day, the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has asked all its field units as well as state governments to complete the GIS mapping process of the national entire highway network by 31 July.
They have been told to use the data for mapping, already gathered by the Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications, for field verification exercise.
Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG-N), Gandhinagar, Gujarat has done GIS mapping of approximately 130,000 km of national highways. But this data now needs to be updated and verified by field units of the different agencies for the ministry.
GIS mapping makes use of satellite images but goes beyond it by analysing satellite data in order to provide authorities with an accurate picture of the project.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the prime highway executing agency, has almost completed the exercise for the NHs assigned with them with the cooperation of their field units. It is expected that once other agencies also complete the task by next month, work on new highway alignments could be started at a faster pace.
GIS mapping of the entire network of highways is one of the most important requirements for planning, executing and monitoring of the network and the ministry is moving at rapid pace to involve all agencies and update and verify mapping work already done by Bisag.
GIS provides agencies with tools for building resilient infrastructure for the future and supporting strategic repairs and upgrades to existing networks, the official quoted above said.
GIS maps contains a very detailed visual representation of any infrastructure facility including location, topography, facilities and structures, and images.
As these maps can easily be assessed even through mobile phones and shared, it makes the process of road construction and finalisation of highway networks easier.
MoRTH has decided to upload the entire NH network on a single unified platform irrespective of the executing agency, be it NHAI, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), Border Roads Organization (BRO) or state governments, to avoid duplication.
5. INDIA’S NUCLEAR POWER PROGRAMME
News: GE Steam Power has signed a $165 million contract with BHEL for the supply of three nuclear steam turbines out of six units for NPCIL’s domestic nuclear program- phase 1 being developed at Gorakhpur, Haryana (units – 1 to 4 (GHAVP)) and Kaiga (Kaiga-5&6) Karnataka. It will represent 8.4GW of CO2 free electricity for the country.
About India’s three Stage nuclear power Programme:
India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Homi Bhabha, the well-known physicist, in the 1950s to secure the country’s long term energy independence, through the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India.
The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling the thorium reserves of India to be utilised in meeting the country’s energy requirements.
Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as India has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves, but one of the largest shares of global thorium reserves at about 25% of the world’s known thorium reserves.
However, thorium is more difficult to use than uranium as a fuel because it requires breeding, and global uranium prices remain low enough that breeding is not cost effective.
The Indian nuclear establishment estimates that the country could produce 500 GWe for at least four centuries using just the country’s economically extractable thorium reserves.
6. PHASI WOOD FOR JAGANNATH CHARIOT
News: Taking shape Traditional artisans busy constructing the giant wooden chariots of the three main deities of the Jagannath Temple in Puri on Wednesday ahead of the annual Rath Yatra on July 1.
About Phasi Wood for Jagannath Chariot:
Phasi wood is used in chariot. The chariot is used in the Jagannath Yatra of Puri later in the year.
Three new wooden chariots to carry the presiding deities of the Srimandira temple at Odisha’s Puri are constructed every year for the Ratha Yatra.
Phasi trees are mostly found in the alluvial floodplain of the Mahanadi.
These trees take 50-60 years to mature.
The trees for the chariot have to be pencil straight, six feet in girth and 12-14 feet in height. If the girth is less, they cannot be used.
Around 865 logs of Phasi, Dhaura (Anogeissus latifolia), Asan (Terminalia elliptica) and Simal (Bombax ceiba), along with a few others, are the tree species majorly used for the construction of chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra every year.
About Jagannath Yatra of Puri:
Jagannath Rath Yatra is celebrated by worshipping Lord Jagannath (ruler of the world), his elder brother Balbhadra (Balaram) and sister Subhadra.
Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the east coast of India.
In the Yatra, Lord Jagannatha and siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra ride the three colourful chariots in their annual sojourn to their garden house and birthplace Gundicha Temple, where they stay for seven days before returning, is a meticulously planned event that sees the congregation of lakhs of devotees.
Features: The huge, colourfully decorated chariots, are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees on the badadanda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha temple, some two miles away to the North.
Gundicha temple is beautifully made on the lines of the Kalinga style of architecture.
After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Srimandira.
The festival is also known as Gundicha yatra, Ghosa yatra, Navadina yatra, Dasavatara yatra and by a variety of other names.
7. CORAL AND CORAL REEFS
News: Scientists have recorded four species of corals for the first time from Indian waters. These new species of azooxanthellate corals were found from the waters off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The azooxanthellate corals are a group of corals that do not contain zooxanthellae and derive nourishment not from the sun but from capturing different forms of planktons.
They are deep-sea representatives with the majority of species being reported from depths between 200 metres and 1,000 metres.
They are also reported from shallow waters unlike zooxanthellate corals that are restricted to shallow waters.
Corals are marine invertebrates within the class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria.
They typically form compact colonies of many identical individual polyps.
Coral species include the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.
Although some corals are able to catch plankton and small fish using stinging cells on their tentacles, most corals obtain the majority of their energy and nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium that live within their tissues.
These are commonly known as zooxanthellae and give the coral color. Such corals require sunlight and grow in clear, shallow water, typically at depths less than 60 metres (200 feet; 33 fathoms).
Corals are major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs that develop in tropical and subtropical waters, such as the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. These corals are increasingly at risk of bleaching events where polyps expel the zooxanthellae in response to stress such as high water temperature or toxins.
8. KEIBUL LAMJAO NATIONAL PARK AND SANGAI
News: Members of seven youth clubs, people from all walks of life and women activists in the villages surrounding the 40-sq. km Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) in Manipur have now taken up the cudgels to ensure that the BJP-led government does not shift the proposed heritage park from the government-approved site.
About Keibul Lamjao National Park:
The Keibul Lamjao National Park is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India. It is 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi) in area, the only floating park in the world, located in North East India, and an integral part of Loktak Lake.
The national park is characterized by floating decomposed plant material locally called phumdi. It was created in 1966 as a wildlife sanctuary to preserve the natural habitat of the endangered Eld’s deer (Cervus eldi eldi).
In 1977, it was gazetted as national park.
The park is a swamp with floating mass of vegetation created by accrual of organic garbage and biomass with soil particles that has been thickened into a solid form called phumdis, at the south–eastern side of the Loktak Lake, which has been declared a Ramsar site.
While the area on the periphery of the park is privately owned, the park itself is predominantly state-owned and the remaining areas are divided between the tribal groups of the Thang, Brel and Maril tribes who claim ownership rights.
The park, primarily composed of moist semi–evergreen forests, has a rich amalgam of aquatic, wetland and terrestrial ecosystem.
The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of Eld’s deer found only in Manipur, India. It is also the state animal of Manipur.
Its common English name is Manipur brow-antlered deer or Eld’s deer and the scientific name is Rucervus eldii eldii.
Sangai is listed as Endangered in IUCN.
Its original natural habitat is the floating marshy grasslands of the Keibul Lamjao National Park, located in the southern parts of the Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.
The brow-antlered deer or the dancing deer is found in its natural habitat only at Keibul Lamjao National Park over the floating biomass locally called phumdi in the southeastern part of Loktak Lake.
It is located between 24°27’ N and 24°31’ N latitude and 93°53’ E and 93°55’ E longitudes.
The park covers an area of 40 km2and the home range of the deer in the park is confined to 15–20 km2.
9. DOLMENS IN KERALA
News: Dolmens, a historical landmark of the Anchunadu valley, are in peril due to unrestricted entry to sites and lack of initiatives for their protection.
A dolmen is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone or “table”.
Most date from the early Neolithic (4000–3000 BC) and were sometimes covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus. Small pad-stones may be wedged between the cap and supporting stones to achieve a level appearance.
10. SANTHAL REBELLION
News: The Santhal community is in the spotlight after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominated one of its leaders, Droupadi Murmu, for the election to the highest Constitutional post of India.
Santhal is the third largest Scheduled Tribe community in the country after Gond and Bhil.
About Santhal Rebellion:
The Santhal rebellion (also known as the Sonthal rebellion or the Santhal Hool), was a rebellion in present-day Jharkhand, Eastern India against both the British East India Company (BEIC) and zamindari system by the Santhal.
It started on June 30, 1855 and on November 10, 1855, martial law was proclaimed by the East India Company which lasted until January 3, 1856 when martial law was suspended and the rebellion was eventually suppressed by the Presidency armies.
11. NEGEV DESERT
News: Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday unveiled a rare ancient mosque in the country’s south that the antiquities officials said sheds light on the region’s transition from Christianity to Islam.
About Negev desert:
The Negev or Negeb is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel.
The region’s largest city and administrative capital is Beersheba in the north.
At its southern end is the Gulf of Aqaba and the resort city and port of Eilat.
News: A type of poliovirus derived from vaccines has been detected in London sewage samples, the World Health Organization and British health officials.
Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus.
In about 0.5 percent of cases, it moves from the gut to affect the central nervous system, and there is muscle weakness resulting in a flaccid paralysis.
This can occur over a few hours to a few days.
The weakness most often involves the legs, but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck, and diaphragm.
Many people fully recover.
In those with muscle weakness, about 2 to 5 percent of children and 15 to 30 percent of adults die.
Cases have decreased by 99% since 1988.
The wild version of the virus now exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a type of vaccine that contains small amounts of weakened but live polio still causes occasional outbreaks elsewhere.
13. NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR MINORITIES
News: In an alleged faux pas, the Aam Adami Party (AAP) today posted on its social media account a picture of BJP leader Iqbal Singh Lalpura among the corrupt who had been arrested in Punjab recently.
About National Commission for Minorities:
The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India.
Original notification of 1993 was for five religious communities; Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Muslims, later in 2014, Jains community was also added.
As per Census 2001, these six communities consists of 18.8% of the country’s population.
The Commission has the following functions:
Evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
Monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
Make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
Look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
Cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against Minorities and recommend measures for their removal.
Conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
Suggest appropriate measures in respect of any Minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments.
Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
The Commission has the following powers:
Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
Requiring the discovery and production of any document.
Receiving evidence on affidavit.
Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
The act states that the Commission shall consist of:
a Vice Chairperson and
Five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity; provided that five members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities.