12, April 2018

LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging is an active remote sensing system that can be used to measure vegetation height across wide areas

  • LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data over broad areas. Two types of LIDAR are topographic and bathymetric. Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.
  • LIDAR systems allow scientists and mapping professionals to examine both natural and manmade environments with accuracy, precision, and flexibility. NOAA scientists are using LIDAR to produce more accurate shoreline maps, make digital elevation models for use in geographic information systems, to assist in emergency response operations, and in many other applications.
  • LIDAR data sets for many coastal areas can be downloaded from the Office for Coastal Management Digital Coast web portal.

  1. Cabinet approves Exploration and Exploitation of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) from areas under Coal Mining Lease allotted to Coal India Limited (CIL) and its Subsidiaries

Source: PIB

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, gave its approval for issuing a notification amending clause 3(xiii) of the notification dated 03.11.2015 issued by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural gas under Section 12 of the Oil Fields (Regulation and Development) Act, 1948 (ORD Act, 1948).
  • Due to this amendment relaxation is granted under the Petroleum & Natural Gas Rules 1959 (PNG Rules, 1959), to Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries for not applying for grant of license/lease under the PNG Rules, 1959 for extraction of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) under their Coal Bearing Areas.

Impact:

  • The decision is in line with the Government’s initiatives of ‘Ease of Doing Business’. It will expedite the exploration and exploitation of CBM, enhance the availability of natural gas and reduce the gap in demand and supply of natural gas. The increased development activities for exploration and exploitation of CBM gas reserves in-and-around the block will generate economic activities which in turn has potential to create employment opportunities in CBM operations and in the industries.

Background:

  • Government of India has earlier issued a notification on 03.11:2015 granting rights to CIL and its subsidiaries for exploration and exploitation of CBM from all coal bearing areas for which they possess mining lease for coal.
  • Clause 3(vi) of the Notification provides that the “Lessee shall submit application under the P&NG Rules 1959 for grant of Mining Lease (ML) for CBM to MoP&NG along with detailed recommendations of Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL).

Coal Bed Methane (CBM)

  • India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM.
  • Coal has the ability to store gas in significant amounts, because its surface can adsorb gases.
  • Although the form of coal is solid and it looks like ahard rock, but there are a lot of pores smaller than a micron scale, so that coal is like a sponge.
  • This condition causes the coal surface becomes so broad so that it can absorb large amounts of gas. If the gas pressure is higher, the ability to adsorb gas coal will also increase.
  • Gas trapped in coal mainly consist of methane gas, so the gas is generally referred to as Coal Bed Methane or CBM. CBM is classified as an unconventional energy.
  • Permeability in coal is created by naturally occuring fractures referred as cleats.
  • Coal bed methane is similar to natural gas, differing only in the way that it is formed and stored in the Earth’s crust
  • Unlike much natural gas from conventional reservoirs, coal bed methane contains very little heavier hydrocarbons such as propane or butane, and no natural gas condensate. It often contains up to a few percent carbon dioxide

Exploration in India

  • The Gondwana sediments of eastern India host the bulk of India’s coal reserves and all the current CBM producing blocks.
  • The vast majority of the best prospective areas for CBM development are in eastern India, situated in Damodar Koel valley and Son valley.
  • CBM projects exist in Ranging South, Raniganj East and Raniganj North areas in the Raniganj coalfield, Currently, commercial production has commenced from Raniganj South CBM block operated by M/s. GEECL since July 2007.
  • Exploitation of Coal Bed Methane and Oil & Natural Gas has been placed under the administrative control of Ministry of Petroleum. They are governed by Oil Fields (Regulations and Development Act, 1948) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules, 1959. The safety aspects are covered under the Oil Mines Regulation, 1984.

Advantages of CBM as a fuel CBM is an environmentally safe gas:

  • Methane has been labelled as a Green House Gas (GHG) by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Its global warming potential is 21 times more than that of the Carbon Dioxide. But CBM is considered as a clean fuel which on combustion emits only carbon dioxide and water.
  • So, is not only considered as an efficient fuel. Using CBM as a fuel will halt its emission into environment and thus reducing emission of green house gas from coal mining.
  • Extraction of CBM prior to coal mining activities makes mining activities safer by degassing the coal seams. Extraction of CBM would help in increasing the domestic gas production.

Benefits of extracting methane before mining operations

  • Enhances the productivity of coal because less slowdowns in production caused by gas.
  • Reduction in dust concentrations due to reduction in velocity.
  • Improves safety of mines due to the lower methane contents.
  • Improved worker comfort.

Unconventional Gas Reservoirs

  • Conventional reservoirs of oil and natural gas are found in permeable sandstone.
  • Unconventional Gas Reservoirs occur in relatively impermeable sandstones, in joints and fractures or absorbed into the matrix of shales [Shale is a Sedimentary Rock], and in coal.
  • Given current economic conditions and state of technology, they are more expensive to exploit.
  • Example: Tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane.

  1. Boost to Ease of Doing Business in Petroleum & Natural Gas Sector

Source: PIB

Cabinet approves Delegation of Powers to Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Finance to approve the award of the Blocks/Contract Areas to successful bidders under HELP/OALP after International Competitive Bidding (ICB)

Key facts:

  • In line with the Government initiative of ease of doing business, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for delegating the powers to Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Finance Minister to award the Blocks/Contract Areas to successful bidders under Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) after International Competitive Bidding (ICB) based on the recommendations of Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS).
  • Under HELP, Blocks are to be awarded twice in a year. Therefore, this delegation of powers will expedite the decision making process on awarding blocks and give a boost to the initiative of ease of doing business.

Impact:

  • Under the NELP Policy, ECS considers the Bid Evaluation Criteria (BEC), conducts negotiations with the bidders wherever necessary and make recommendations to CCEA on award of blocks.
  • The CCEA approves the award of blocks.
  • The entire process, including Inter Ministerial Consultations (IMC) is quite lengthy and time consuming.
  • In consonance with the Government initiativeof ‘Ease of Doing Business’, it is desirable to shorten the duration of time taken foraward of the Blocks / ContractAreas.
  • Under the NewHydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy’ the competitive bidding will be continuous and blocks will be awarded twice a year.

Background:

  • Government of India launched a new policy regime for Exploration & Production (E&P) sector namely Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in 2016 which is paradigm shift from earlier policy regime.
  • The main features of new Policy regime are Revenue Sharing Contract, single Licence for exploration and production of conventional as well as unconventional Hydrocarbon resources, marketing & pricing freedom, etc.
  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) under HELP, is main innovative feature wherein investor can carve out Blocks of their own interest and submit an Expression of Interest (Eol) throughout the year.
  • Based on the areas for which expression of interest has been expressed bidding will be conducted every 6 months.

HELP:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP).

Four main facets of this policy are:

  • Uniform license for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbon,
  • An open acreage policy,
  • Easy to administer revenue sharing model and
  • Marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced.

The decision will enhance domestic oil & gas production, bring substantial investment in the sector and generate sizable employment. The policy is also aimed at enhancing transparency and reducing administrative discretion.

HELP vs NELP

  • Recognising the higher risks and costs involved in exploration and production from offshore areas, lower royalty rates for such areas have been provided as compared to NELP royalty rates to encourage exploration and production.
  • A graded system of royalty rates have been introduced, in which royalty rates decreases from shallow water to deepwater and ultra-deep water.
  • At the same time, royalty rate for on land areas have been kept intact so that revenues to the state governments are not affected.
  • On the lines of NELP, cess and import duty will not be applicable on blocks awarded under the new policy. This policy also provides for marketing freedom for crude oil and natural gas produced from these blocks.  This is in tune with Government’s policy of “Minimum Government –Maximum Governance”

  1. Indore 3R Declaration on Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land, and Clean Air in Cities- UNITED NATION CENTRE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Source: PIB

The 8th Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific, 9-12 April 2018, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, is co-organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) of Government of India, the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan (MOEJ), and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) of Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) / UN DESA, under the overall theme ofAchieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency- A 21st Century Vision for Asia-Pacific Communities” and under the Chairmanship of Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

Key facts:

  • Achieving access to Clean land, clean water and clean air are fundamental rights of citizens.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) have, inter-alia, a common objective to make cities and human settlements safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable.
  • In order to achieve this objectives sound management of, 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), circular economic development, sustainable waste management and resource efficiency assume paramount importance.
  • Pursuing 3R as an economic industry could further enable cities to move towards on the path of sound material cycle societies and circular economic development to achieve necessary socio-economic and industrial transformation through the sustainable use of natural resources, enhanced water and energy security, reduced carbon foot-print, and improved land, water and air quality.

THE DECLARATION

Cognisant of the above socio-economic context in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs and the NUA, we, the Mayors, city and local government authorities and representatives at the Asian Mayors’ Policy Dialogue on Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency, as part of the 8th Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific held at Indore, Madhya Pradesh (India), do hereby declare and adopt, on this 11th day of April 2018, our commitment to: 

 

  1. Accelerate movement of holistic waste management in our cities through prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling of all waste streams (including industrial waste, municipal solid waste, and domestic waste water) with an objective to achieve clean land, clean water and clean air, including Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction;
  2. Implement local-level actions to make cities clean, safe, smart, resilient, resource efficient, inclusive and sustainable through the effective implementation of 3R policies and promote tenets of circular economy for moving towards a zero waste society;
  3. Foster sustainable urban development planning and practices focusing on eco-products, green energy, rainwater harvesting, conservation of water bodies, urban farming with composting, safe disposal of agricultural waste, green city development, green construction materials, etc. for maintaining bio-diversity;
  4. Inspire citizens to take proactive ownership for managing their own waste, including segregation at source, on-site processing of bio-degradable waste, safe handling of other waste forms and safe disposal by concerned agencies;
  5. Partner and collaborate with civil society organizations, including integration of informal sector with formal waste management chain in order to provide decentralized approaches to 3R, along with providing sustainable livelihood opportunities, while minimizing health and environmental impacts;
  6. Leverage national and international collaborations to promote (i) 3R as an economic industry,  3R-related science, technology and infrastructure, inter-municipal, inter-indsutry and city-to-city cooperation, (ii) public-private-partnerships (PPPs) for integrated waste management, and expand investment opportunities in the 3R space;
  7. Strive towards complete ban of illegal disposal of plastics in eco-sensitive or eco-fragile areas, including in tourist areas close to oceans, rivers, lakes, wetlands, other water bodies and mountains, to preserve coastal, marine and mountains ecosystems and resources, keeping in mind the widespread plastic littering which affects eco-systems; 
  8. Undertake to work towards sound and sustainable wastewater management and treatment and reuse with an objective to achieve water security and water quality for sustaining livelihood, in view of the the critical  nexus between water quality, water security and effective implementation of 3R policies, programmes and infrastructure development;
  9. Focus on sound and effective management of new emerging waste streams such as  micro-plastics, chemicals and hazardous waste, e-waste, medical waste and construction and demolition waste;
  10. Promote and facilitate the use and development of viable existing and emerging technology, including Information and Communication technologies to strengthen the waste management value chain; and
  11. Engage in dissemination and acceptance of national and international best practices in 3R among all stakeholders for wide-scale adoption and replication.

Nagoya Headquarters:

  • The United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) was established in 1971 based on the agreement between the United Nations (UN) and the Government of Japan dated 18 June 1971

Objectives and activities of the UNCRD as:

 

  • To serve as a training and research centre in regional development and planning and related fields for developing countries which may wish to avail themselves of its services;
  • To provide advisory services in regional development and planning and related fields at the request of developing countries;
  • To assist developing countries in promoting the exchange of data on research, practical experience, teaching, and other relevant subjects in regional development and planning and related fields; and
  • To assist and cooperate with other organizations, national or international, concerned with regional development and planning and related fields.

  1. DIPP comes out with fresh notification on definition of start-ups

Source: The Hindu

Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), under the Union Ministry for Commerce and Industry, has come out with a new notification on definition of start-ups

New notification:

  • According to the notification, an entity shall be considered as a start-up up to a period of seven years from the date of incorporation/registration, if it is incorporated as a private limited company (as defined in the Companies Act, 2013) or registered as a partnership firm (registered under Sction 59 of the Partnership Act, 1932) or a limited liability partnership (under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008) in India.
  • In the case of start-ups in the biotechnology sector, the period shall be up to ten years from the date of its incorporation/ registration, it added.
  • The notification also said that the turnover of the entity for any of the financial years since incorporation/ registration should not exceed ₹25 crore.

Key facts:

  • The definition also said that the entity should be working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or if it is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.
  • However, an entity formed by splitting up or reconstruction of an existing business shall not be considered a ‘start-up’

Startup eligible

  • An entity shall cease to be a start-up on completion of seven years from the date of its incorporation/ registration or if its turnover for any previous year exceeds ₹ 25 crore.
  • In respect of start-ups in the biotechnology sector, an entity shall cease to be a start-up on completion of ten years from the date of its incorporation/ registration or if its turnover for any previous year exceeds ₹ 25 crore.
  • A start-up shall make an online application over the mobile app or portal set up by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion for recognition, it added.
  • The notification also said that a start-up being a private limited company or a limited liability partnership incorporated on or after 1st day of April 2016 but before 1st day of April 2021, can claim 100% tax exemption on profits for three out of seven years, as per the prescribed norms.
  • The notification also provided tax relief for issue of shares by start-ups over the fair market value, with certain conditions.
  • For availing the tax relief for issue of shares over the fair market value, the aggregate amount of paid-up share capital and share premium of the start-up after the proposed issue of shares should not exceed ₹ 10 crore.
  • Further, the investor/ proposed investor, who proposed to subscribe to the issue of shares, should either have an average returned income of ₹ 25 lakh or more for the preceding three financial years or net worth of ₹2 crore or more as on the last date of the preceding financial year.
  • The start-up had to obtain a report from a merchant banker specifying the fair market value of shares in accordance with rules.

  1. All you need to know about ISRO’s IRNSS-1I satellite scheduled

Source: The Hindu

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the IRNSS-1I satellite on April 12 at 04:04 a.m. from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, through its PSLV-C41. It will be the 20th flight of PSLV-XL version. This satellite will transmit signals for the accurate determination of position, navigation and time.

  • This launch comes exactly two weeks after ISRO’s launch of communication satellite GSAT-6A, with which it lost contact in two days.
  • The navigation satellites, dubbed India’s own GPS (Global Positioning System), are meant for giving precise information of position, navigation and time of objects or people. They were built by a consortium of six Indian companies led by Alpha Design Technologies Ltd., Bengaluru.

What is IRNSS?

  • IRNSS stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It is a set of satellites which together can provide India a regional positioning system similar to the GPS. According to the ISRO website, the system is designed to give position accuracy better than 20 metres to users in its primary coverage area. It can also service regions extending up to 1500 km around India’s boundary.

How many IRNSS satellites are up there now?

  • There are currently seven IRNSS satellites (1A to 1G) in orbit. A, B, F, G are placed in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth and they orbit along with the Earth. The remaining three, C, D, E, are located in geostationary orbit-they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth along the equator and orbit along with the Earth.
  • The last IRNSS, 1H, which was launched on August 31, 2017 was unsuccessful as the satellite did not come out of its heat shield.

What are the applications of IRNSS?

  • These satellites help not just in land navigation but also in marine and aerial navigation. The data from these satellites can be used to give vehicle drivers visual and voice navigation assistance. They also help in disaster management and in proper time-keeping.

Specifications of IRNSS-1I

  • Weighing 321 tonnes, the PSLV-C41 will put the IRNSS-1I into orbit 19 minutes and 19 seconds after lift-off. The IRNSS-1I weighs 1425 kg at lift-off and is the ninth satellite in the IRNSS satellite constellation. It will be placed in a sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit and at its closest point will be 284 km above the Earth and at its farthest will be 20,650 km above the Earth.
  • Like all other IRNSS satellites, IRNSS-1I will also carry two payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload – the former to transmit signals for determining position, velocity and time and the latter for determining the frequency range of the satellite.



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