Karnataka set to tap the clouds yet again
GS PAPER - 03 ENVIRONMENT - Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
★ As 176 taluks reel under drought, the Karnataka government is hoping to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds.
More about the news:
★ Karnataka had previously used cloud seeding in 2003, 2009 and 2017. In 2017, the Karnataka government had successfully carried out a cloud seeding exercise called Project Varshadhare.
★ An independent evaluation committee had estimated that the project led to rainfall enhancement of 27.9%.
Cloud seeding :
★ Cloud seeding is a type of weather modification procedure.
★ It is an artificial way to induce moisture in the clouds so as to cause a rainfall.
★ In this process, silver iodide, potassium chloride and sodium chloride is sprayed on the clouds by using an aircraft. The chemicals condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets.
Source :- The Hindu
When pharma cos. don’t pay up penalties
GS PAPER - 02 GOVERNANCE - Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
★ Errant pharmaceutical companies charged with overpricing were slapped penalties of ₹3152.46 crore in the past five years, but the government was unable to recover even half the amount since 2013-14.
★ The amount recovered from pharma companies stands at a meagre Rs. 610.50 crore (till September 2018).
More about the news :
★ Whenever companies are found overcharging consumers on the prices of medicines, demand notices are issued by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) for the recovery of the overcharged amount, along with 15% interest thereon for violation.
★ If the manufacturers do not deposit the demanded amount, further action is initiated against them.
★ Explaining the dismal recovery rate on the violation of Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO), 2013, the NPPA said: “Pharmaceutical companies have been approaching the courts of law in relation to issues mainly of overcharging and pricing etc. They are, however, free to come into review before moving to court.”
★ Inconsistent leadership of the NPPA, the lethargic processing of overcharged amounts, and a lack of willingness to hold companies to account for violating DPCO norms are the reasons for low recovery rate.
Datas and Facts :
★ India is globally the third largest producer of medicines by volume and the 14th in terms of value because of the fact that Indian medicines are among the lowest priced in the world.
★ Out of the total production, about 50% of the medicines are consumed within India; the rest are exported.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) :
★ The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India.
★ NPPA is delegated with the powers to exercise the functions of the Central Government in respect of various paragraphs of the Drug Price Control Orders (DPCO) – DPCO, 1995 and now DPCO, 2013
★ NPPA implements the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012.
★ Fixation and revision of prices of scheduled drugs (those medicines included in Schedule I of the DPCO which are subject to price control) and formulations.
★ Monitoring of prices of decontrolled drugs and formulations, Implementation and enforcement of the provisions of DPCO in accordance with the powers delegated.
★ Monitoring the availability of drugs, identify shortages, taking remedial steps, etc.
★ The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
Source :- The Hindu
India asks Saudi to invest in strategic oil storage
GS PAPER - 02 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests
★ India is seeking investment from Saudi Arabia to build emergency crude reserves that will act as a buffer against volatility in oil prices and supply disruptions for the third-largest oil consumer.
India’s Strategic Petroleum reserve :
★ Saudi’s participation in the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve program was discussed at a meeting between the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih and his Indian counterpart Dharmendra Pradhan
★ India, which imports four out of every five barrels of oil it consumes, is expanding its strategic reserves to shield from perennial political risk in the Middle East and Africa that account for the bulk of its purchases.
★ India has already built 5.33 million tons of underground reserves in three locations, which can meet 9.5 days of the country’s oil needs.
★ Foreign oil companies have also been permitted to store oil in the storages on the condition that India can use the stock during an emergency. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has hired 3.25 million tonne of storage from the facilities in Karnataka
★ India also plans to build an additional 6.5 million tonne facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, which is expected to take the emergency cover against any supply disruption by another 11.5 days. India also has the first right to deny to sell the stored crude oil in case of an emergency.
★ India, which meets 83 per cent of its oil needs through imports, built the storages as insurance for any disruption in supplies. It has the right of first refusal to buy the crude oil stored in the facilities in case of an emergency.
★ Strategic engagements in energy will mutually benefit both our countries and further bolster the bilateral ties.
Source :- The Hindu
Sukhois hobbled by lack of blast pens near LoC
GS PAPER - 02 GOVERNANCE - Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
★ Sukhois(Su-30) couldn’t be stationed in forward areas near Line of Control(LOC) during Aerial Combat between India and Pakistan.It was because of bureaucratic delay in constructing ‘hard shelter’s also known as ‘blast pens’.
★ Blast pens are shelter to house fighter-type aircraft and provide protection to the aircraft from attack by conventional weapons or damage from high winds or other elemental hazards.It is also called as an aircraft shelter and a hardened aircraft shelter.
★ The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine,two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation.
★ It is a multirole fighter for all-weather,air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.
★ The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a variant of the Sukhoi Su-30 twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under licence by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
★ The IAF got the first batch of Su-30s from Russia in 1996 and has since contracted 272 aircraft, of which 240 have been inducted. But the construction of blast pens was not included in the original deal with Russia.
Source :- The Hindu
EC ducks issue of greater VVPAT usage
GS PAPER - 02 GOVERNANCE - Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
★ The Election Commission (EC) was approached by the leaders of Opposition parties expressing concern over the possibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs) being tampered with.
★ It was demanded that 50% of the EVM results be matched and cross-checked with VVPAT slips before declaring the Lok Sabha election results.
Expert Committee :
★ Chief Election Commissioner said that the committee of experts from the Indian Statistical Institute, constituted to determine a feasible threshold for counting of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips, would submit its report before the conclusion of the Lok Sabha election process.
★ EC had started counting VVPAT slips at one polling station in every Assembly constituency.
★ However, considering the opposition parties’ memorandum, the Commission appointed a high-powered committee from the Indian Statistical Institute to look into the issue.
★ As per the standard procedure, the first level check of EVMs and VVPATs is completed in the presence of representatives of political parties. A two-stage randomisation of the machines will also be done.
★ Before the actual use of EVMs and VVPATs at polling stations, mock polls are conducted on the machines in three stages.
★ Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is an independent system attached to an EVM that allows the voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
★ When a vote is cast, a slip is printed on the VVPAT printer containing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate voted.
★ This remains visible to the voter through a transparent window for seven seconds.
★ Thereafter, the printed slip automatically gets cut and falls into a sealed drop box.
A VVPAT machine consists of :
★ Printer: A printer gives the record of voter's selection
★ Display Unit: A display unit that shows any error
★ The VVPAT slip contains the following details:
★ A candidate's serial number
★ Name of the candidate
★ Corresponding symbol
Source :- The Hindu