1. FLOATING WETLANDS
- News: Workers inspect floating rafters full of plants that are said to filter dirty water. The rafters have been installed by the AAP government to clean Sanjay Van lake in Delhi
- About Floating Wetlands:
- Floating wetlands are foam platforms with plants over the surface of the lake – green islands of sorts that appear to float in the water.
- The plants will absorb nutrient pollutants from the water since the surface of the roots will house bacteria that can remove organic waste from water.
- However, the plants themselves might be insufficient, and an aeration system has to be installed to provide oxygen in the water.
- The oxygen is then utilised by the bacteria to remove pollutants like ammonia and reduce biological oxygen demand levels in the water.
- The plants themselves are expected to help remove around 10 to 12 per cent of nutrient pollutants in the water.
- This is only during the growth phase.
- Once the plants have matured, their uptake of nutrients from the water will reduce further making aeration a crucial part of the system to aid the bacteria in consuming organic pollutants from water.
- Plants that grow on the platforms include yellow and red canna, spider lily, elephant ear plants, pampas grass, and soft rush or bulrush plants.
- About Water Aeration:
- Water aeration is the process of increasing or maintaining the oxygen saturation of water in both natural and artificial environments.
- Aeration techniques are commonly used in pond, lake, and reservoir management to address low oxygen levels or algal blooms.
- Water aeration is often required in water bodies that suffer from hypoxic or anoxic conditions, often caused by upstream human activities such as sewage discharges, agricultural run-off, or over-baiting a fishing lake.
- Aeration can be achieved through the infusion of air into the bottom of the lake, lagoon or pond or by surface agitation from a fountain or spray-like device to allow for oxygen exchange at the surface and the release of gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane or hydrogen sulfide.
- Decreased levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) is a major contributor to poor water quality.
- Not only do fish and most other aquatic animals need oxygen, aerobic bacteria help decompose organic matter.
- When oxygen concentrations become low, anoxic conditions may develop which can decrease the ability of the water body to support life.
2. PAPUA NEW GUNIEA
News: Papua New Guinea indefinitely banned flights from India on Tuesday and accused the country’s diplomats of “deception” over apparent breaches to COVID-19 travel rules.
3. INDIA’S FIRST PRIVATE SECTOR HAND GRENADES
- News: Marking a first in ammunition supply by the private sector to the Army, Nagpur-based Economic Explosives Limited (EEL) handed over the first batch of Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG).
- The first batch of MMHG manufactured by EEL following Transfer of Technology from Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), was handed over to the Army.
- The EEL had taken the technology from DRDO in 2016.
- Extensive trials were successfully undertaken by the Army and Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) in 2017-18 in plains, deserts and high altitudes over summer and winter.
- The MMHG grenades will replace Grenade No. 36 of World War I vintage design still in service.
- The EEL had signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence on October 1, 2020 to supply 10 lakh modern hand grenades to the Army and Air Force. The deliveries will be spread over two years from the bulk production clearance.
- The grenade offers multiple advantages to soldiers in terms of safety and penetration attack as compared to the vintage hand grenades.
- The MMHG operates on a dual mode. In the offensive mode, the grenade does not have a fragment sleeve and is used for low-intensity attacks. This mode is used when the soldier targets the attack within five metres from the point of burst.
- In the defensive mode, the grenade is assembled with its fragmenting sleeve. This grenade mode is used when the soldier is in shelter and the enemy is in an open area.
- The MMGH, as per the website, has a minimum shelf life of 15 years from manufacturing under normal storage conditions, proving that it is stable and can be used for a long time.
4. NATIONAL MONETISATION PIPELINE
- News: The Narendra Modi government is selling India’s “crown jewels”, built over the past 70 years with public money, to help three or four people, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said about the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP).
- About National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP):
- The NMP has been announced to provide a clear framework for monetisation and give potential investors a ready list of assets to generate investment interest.
- The government has stressed that these are brownfield assets, which have been “de-risked” from execution risks, and therefore should encourage private investment.
- Structuring the monetisation transactions, providing a balance risk profile of assets, and effective execution of the NMP will be key challenges.
- In a monetisation transaction, the government is basically transferring revenue rights to private parties for a specified transaction period in return for upfront money, a revenue share, and commitment of investments in the assets. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) and infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), for instance, are the key structures used to monetise assets in the roads and power sectors.
- These are also listed on stock exchanges, providing investors liquidity through secondary markets as well. While these are a structured financing vehicle, other monetisation models on PPP (Public Private Partnership) basis include: Operate Maintain Transfer (OMT), Toll Operate Transfer (TOT), and Operations, Maintenance & Development (OMD). OMT and TOT have been used in highways sector while OMD is being deployed in case of airports.
- Roads, railways and power sector assets will comprise over 66% of the total estimated value of the assets to be monetised, with the remaining upcoming sectors including telecom, mining, aviation, ports, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, warehouses and stadiums.
- In terms of annual phasing by value, 15% of assets with an indicative value of Rs 0.88 lakh crore are envisaged for rollout in the current financial year.
- The NMP will run co-terminus with the National Infrastructure Pipeline of Rs 100 lakh crore announced in December 2019.
- The estimated amount to be raised through monetisation is around 14% of the proposed outlay for the Centre of Rs 43 lakh crore under NIP.
- Among the key challenges that may affect the NMP roadmap are: lack of identifiable revenues streams in various assets, level of capacity utilisation in gas and petroleum pipeline networks, dispute resolution mechanism, regulated tariffs in power sector assets, and low interest among investors in national highways below four lanes.
- While the government has tried to address these challenges in the NMP framework, execution of the plan remains key to its success. Structuring of monetisation transactions is being seen as key.
- The slow pace of privatisation in government companies including Air India and BPCL, and less-than-encouraging bids in the recently launched PPP initiative in trains, indicate that attracting private investors interest is not that easy.
- Monetisation potential of toll road assets, though being a market-tested asset class with established monetisation models, is limited by the percentage of stretches having four lane and above configuration.
- The total length of national highway (NH) stretches with four-lane and above is estimated to be about 23% of the total NH network