Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 19th October -2020



Context: The Eighth Edition of annual Indian Navy (IN) – Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bilateral maritime exercise SLINEX-20 is scheduled off Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from 19 to 21 October 2020.

  • The previous edition of SLINEX was conducted off Visakhapatnam in September 2019.


  • SLINEX-20 aims to enhance inter-operability, improve mutual understanding and exchange best practices and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations between both navies.
  • In addition, the exercise will also showcase capabilities of our indigenously constructed naval ships and aircraft.
  • SLINEX series of exercise exemplifies the deep engagement between India and Sri Lanka which has strengthened mutual cooperation in the maritime domain.
  • Interaction between the SLN and IN has also grown significantly in recent years, in consonance with India’s policy of ‘Neighborhood First’ and Hon’ble PM’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’.
  • Synergy developed during SLINEX exercises resulted in seamless coordination of joint SLN – IN efforts in September 2020 to render assistance to MT New Diamond, a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), which had caught fire off the East Coast of Sri Lanka.
  • The exercise is being conducted in a non-contact ‘at-sea-only’ format in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.


2) BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile:

Naval version of BrahMos, testfired successfully.

  • Brahmos is a supersonic cruise missile hitting a target in the Arabian Sea.
  • BrahMos as ‘prime strike weapon’ will ensure the warship’s invincibility by engaging naval surface targets at long ranges, thus making the destroyer another lethal platform of Indian Navy.
  • The highly versatile BrahMos has been jointly designed, developed and produced by India and Russia.

Brahmos Missile:

  • BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
  • Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
  • It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
  • However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
  • Brahmos is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft, with a weight of 2.5 tonnes.
  • Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missile currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.


3) BS VI Norms:

Context: Terming introduction of BS VI compliant vehicle standard since April 2020 across the country as a revolutionary step towards reduction of vehicular pollution the Minister explained that BSVI helped reduce pollution caused by vehicles.

  • BSVI fuel reduces the NOx emission by 70% in diesel cars, by 25% in petrol cars and reduces particulate matter (PM) in vehicles by 80%.
  • The minister highlighted the steps to reduce industrial emissions which include closure of Badarpur and Sonipat Thermal Power Plants, conversion to zig zag technologies in Brick Kilns, 2800 industries switching to PNG fuel and ban on petcoke and furnace oil.
  • Union Minister informed the netizens about CPCB’s SAMEER App by appealing to everyone to download the app, which gives complete information about the polluted areas in various cities across the country.
  • It identifies areas having heavy pollution with a red mark.

BS – VI norms:

  • Bharat stage (BS) emission standards are laid down by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine and spark-ignition engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • The central government has mandated that vehicle makers must manufacture, sell and register only BS-VI (BS6) vehicles from April 1, 2020.
  • The first emission norms were introduced in India in 1991 for petrol and in 1992 for diesel vehicles.
  • Followed these, the catalytic converter became mandatory for petrol vehicles and unleaded petrol was introduced in the market.

Difference between BS4 and BS6

  • Both BS-IV and BS-VI are unit emission norms that set the maximum permissible levels for pollutants that an automotive or a two-wheeler exhaust can emit.
  • Compared to the BS4, BS6 emission standards are stricter.
  • Whereas makers use this variation to update their vehicles with new options and safety standards, the biggest modification comes in the permissible emission norms.

What area unit BSI, BSII, BSIII, BSIV, and BSVI emission norms?

  • The abbreviation BS, as mentioned above, refers to ‘Bharat Stage’. It is prefixed to the iteration of the actual emission norms.
  • The primary rules with the soubriquet Asian nation 2000 were introduced in the year 2000, with the second and third iterations being introduced in 2001 and 2005 with the soubriquet BSII (BS2) and BSIII (BS3), respectively.
  • The fourth iteration, BSIV, was introduced in 2017 and therefore the delay between the introduction of BS3 and BS4 resulted in fast-tracking the BSVI or BS6 emission norms rather than BSV (BS5) norms.
  • On 29 April 1999, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all vehicles in the country had to meet Euro I or India 2000 norms by June 1, 1999, and Euro II would be mandatory in the National Capital Region (NCR) from April 2000.
  • Carmakers were not prepared for this transition and in a subsequent judgment, the implementation of Euro II was deferred.
  • In 2002, the government accepted the report submitted by the Mashelkar committee, which proposed a road map for the rollout of Euro-based emission norms in India.
  • It also recommended a phased implementation of future norms, with regulations being implemented in major cities first and extended to the rest of the country after a few years.
  • Based on the recommendations of the committee, the National Auto Fuel policy was announced officially in 2003.
  • The road map for the implementation of the BS norms was laid out until 2010.
  • The policy also created guidelines for auto fuels, reduction of pollution from older vehicles and R&D for air quality data creation and health administration.
  • The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Since October 2010, Bharat Stage (BS) III norms were enforced across the country.
  • BS-IV emission norms were put in place in 13 major cities from April 2010, and the entire country from April 2017.
  • In 2016, the government announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.
  • In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court banned the sale and registration of motor vehicles conforming to Bharat Stage IV emission standard in the entire country from 1 April 2020.
  • On 15 November 2017, the Union petroleum ministry, in consultation with public oil marketing companies, decided to bring forward the date of BS-VI grade auto fuels in NCT of Delhi with effect from 1 April 2018, instead of 1 April 2020.
  • The phasing out of the 2-stroke engine for two-wheelers, the cessation of production of the Maruti 800, and the introduction of electronic controls have been due to the regulations related to vehicular emissions.


4) Delhi Air Pollution:

Context: Every year in October, Delhi’s air quality starts to dip and a war of words between different governments erupts.

  • On October 15, when the AQI touched very poor for the very first time this season, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the contribution of stubble burning was only 4 per cent that day
  • Air pollution in Delhi and the whole of the Indo Gangetic Plains is a complex phenomenon that is dependent on a variety of factors.
  • The first and foremost is the input of pollutants, followed by weather and local conditions.

Why does air pollution rise in October each year?

  • October usually marks the withdrawal of monsoons in Northwest India.

During monsoons:

  • The prevalent direction of wind is easterly.
  • These winds, which travel from over the Bay of Bengal, carry moisture and bring rains to this part of the country.
  • Once monsoon withdraws, the predominant direction of winds changes to north westerly.

During summers:

  • The direction of wind is north westerly and storms carrying dust from Rajasthan and sometimes Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    According to a peer reviewed study conducted by scientists at the National Physical Laboratory, 72 per cent of Delhi’s wind in winters comes from the northwest, while the remaining 28 per cent comes from the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • In 2017, a storm that originated in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait led to a drastic dip in Delhi’s air quality in a couple of days.
  • Along with the change in wind direction, the dip in temperatures is also behind the increased pollution levels.
  • As temperature dips, the inversion height — which is the layer beyond which pollutants cannot disperse into the upper layer of the atmosphere – is lowered.
  • The concentration of pollutants in the air increases when this happens.
  • Also, high-speed winds are very effective at dispersing pollutants, but winters bring a dip in wind speed over all as compared to in summers.
  • The combination of these meteorological factors makes the region prone to pollution.
  • When factors such as farm fires and dust storms are added to the already high base pollution levels in the city, air quality dips further.

What is the role of farm fires?

  • Farm fires have been an easy way to get rid of paddy stubble quickly and at low cost for several years.
  • With the use of combine harvesters, the practice became more common as the harvester leaves behind tall stalks, which have to be removed before replanting.
  • But the practice gained widespread acceptance starting 2009, when the governments of Punjab and Haryana passed laws delaying the sowing of paddy.
  • The aim of passing this law was to conserve groundwater as the new sowing cycle would coincide with monsoons and less water would be extracted.
  • This, however, left very little time for farmers to harvest paddy, clear fields and sow wheat for the next cycle.
  • The paddy straw and stalks have high silica content and are not used to feed livestock.
  • The easiest, but the least productive, way to get rid of it is to set it on fire.

Over the past 11 years, the practice has thrived despite efforts made by the Centre and state governments primarily because the alternatives, like the happy seeder machine which helps mulch the residue, are seen as unavailable, and money and time consuming by smaller farmers.

  • A 2015 source-apportionment study on Delhi’s air pollution conducted by IIT-Kanpur also states that 17-26% of all particulate matter in Delhi in winters is because of biomass burning.
  • Over the years, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) has developed a system to calculate the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s pollution.
  • Last year, during peak stubble burning incidents, its contribution rose to 40%.
  • Over the past few days, it has been 2%-4%, indicating that a variety of factors, not just stubble burning, are responsible for the dip in quality.
  • The stubble burning season is around 45 days long. Air in Delhi, however, remains polluted till February.

What are the other big sources of pollution in Delhi?

  • Dust and vehicular pollution are the two biggest causes of dipping air quality in Delhi in winters.
  • Dry cold weather means dust is prevalent in the entire region, which does not see many rainy days between October and June.
  • Dust pollution contributes to 56% of PM 10 and the PM2.5 load, the top contributors being road 38 % of PM 2.5 concentration, the IIT Kanpur study said.
  • Vehicular pollution is the second biggest cause of pollution in winters.
  • According to the IIT Kanpur study, 20 % of PM 2.5 in winters comes from vehicular pollution.
  • Over the years, governments have taken several steps to address pollution from vehicles.

The introduction of BS VI (cleaner) fuel, push for electric vehicles, Odd-Even as an emergency measure, and construction of the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways are all part of the effort to reduce vehicular pollution, which is more harmful as it is released at breathing level.

During the lockdown, this year

  • Delhi saw among the cleanest air since comprehensive records have been kept since 2015.
  • It also saw above average temperatures in September, which meant the air remained cleaner for longer.
  • With vehicles back on the road, temperature dipping and stubble burning starting, Delhi’s air is set to get worse.


5) Sustainable Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility:

Context: A sustainable Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility has been developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI).

Solid Waste Processing Facility

  • The facility will help to achieve decentralized decimation of solid waste.
  • It will also help in creating value added products.
  • The system has adopted the Bio-Digestion process as it creates minimum pollution.
  • The special features of the facility includes segregating wastes such as masks, diapers, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • It also comprises disinfection capabilities that can break COVID-19 chain through Ultra Violet C radiation and by adopting hot-air convection methods.
  • The facility runs entirely on solar energy.
  • Facility uses the plasma arc for solid waste disposal that converts wastes into plasma state.


  • The residue from the facility would be rich in carbon. It can be used in agriculture as fertilizer and to make bricks for construction purpose.


  • The primary objective of the system is to remove the burden of the segregation responsibilities by adopting advanced segregation techniques.
  • The CSIR-CMERI seeks to establish a Decentralised Waste Management Technology that will help in reducing the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel usage.
  • It will also help in achieving Zero-landfill and Zero waste besides, creating jobs.

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