31, January 2018

  1. Nilgiri Marten

Source: The Hindu

A recent study has found that Pampadum Shola National Park located on the southern portion of Western Ghats is a safe haven of rare and most elusive Nilgiri Marten.

  • Nilgiri Marten: Endemic to the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Marten looks like a civet or a mongoose and it most prefers higher altitudes. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Schedule II, Part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
  • Pampadum shola national park: Coming under Munnar Wildlife Division, Pampadum Shola enjoys proximity of Kurunjimala Wildlife Sanctuary and Palani hills of Tamil Nadu. It is the smallest national park in Kerala state.

  1. Scorpene-class submarine Karanj

Source: The Hindu

The third Scorpene-class submarine – INS Karanj has been launched.

Karanj:

  • Karanj is the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) under the Project 75 programme of Indian navy. It is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. It is provided with all means and communications to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task.
  • It has superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels and hydrodynamically optimized shape. These stealth features give it an invulnerability, unmatched by most submarine.

Background:

  • The Scorpene submarines are a primary modernization requirement of the Indian Navy, which is currently faced with an ageing submarine fleet. MDL has the contract for the construction and transfer of technology for six Scorpene submarines. The submarines are being built in collaboration with French shipbuilding major Naval Group (formerly DCNS).
  • The first one, INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 14 last year. The second one, INS Khandari, was launched on January 12 this year is currently undergoing sea trials.

  1. India commissions high performance computer system Mihir

Source: The Hindu

India recently commissioned its High Performance Computer (HPC) system – named ‘Mihir’ (meaning Sun) – at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting at Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

Mihir:

  • The new system will be India’s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance and will propel India’s ranking from the 368th position to the 30th in the list of top 500 HPC facilities in the world. The country will now also be ranked 4th – after Japan, UK and USA – for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.

The new HPC facility is expected to improve the following services:

  • Weather forecasts at block level over India which can predict extreme weather events.
  • High resolution seasonal/extended range forecasts of active/break spells of Monsoon.
  • Very high resolution coupled models for prediction of cyclones with more accuracy and lead time.
  • Ocean state forecasts including marine water quality forecasts at very high resolution.
  • Tsunami forecasts with greater lead time.
  • Air quality forecasts for various cities.
  • Climate projections at very high resolution.

  1. Solar capacity reaches 20 GW on govt push

Source: The Hindu

India has achieved 20 GW (giga watt) cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the target for 2022 originally set in the National Solar Mission. The utility-scale cumulative installations now stand at approximately 18.4 GW, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 GW.

Key facts:

  • For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity additions in India during calendar year 2017. Solar installations reached 9.6 GW and accounted for 45% of total capacity additions.
  • The top state for solar installations was Telangana, followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

Challenges ahead:

  • The country has reached the milestone at a time when protectionist measures threaten to slow down activity in the industry. The pace of overall solar installations is expected to be less impressive in 2018 as several protectionist government policies appear poised to increase costs and uncertainty.
  • Also, experts say Centre’s revised solar installation target of 100 GW by 2022 has recently been clashing with Make in India Initiative to promote domestic manufacturing. The recently announced 70% preliminary safeguard duty recommendation, the ongoing anti-dumping case, and a 7.85% port duty on imported modules are together creating an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty that is taking a toll on the industry and slowing down installation activity.
  • The 20 GW of solar installations is a laudable achievement for India. However, it took eight long years to reach 20 GWs and hopefully the pace will pick up soon.

The National Solar Mission:

  • National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. The mission is one of the several initiatives that are part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Initial target was to achieve 20GW by 2022 which was later increased to 100 GW in the 2015 Union budget of India.
  • The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.

  1. Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project

Source: The Hindu

India and the World Bank have signed a $100 million loan agreement to support Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project. This is expected to promote rural enterprises, facilitate their access to finance, and create employment opportunities for youth, particularly women, in selected blocks of Tamil Nadu across 26 districts, directly benefitting over 400,000 people.

Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project:

  • The Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project will create an enabling environment for producer organisations and enterprises to promote businesses across select value chains. The project will enable producer organizations and enterprises in Tamil Nadu build businesses that will help them access finance, markets and networks and generate employment.
  • It will also specifically support eligible households from socially and culturally disadvantaged groups harness their existing assets, skills, and resources; break their entry barriers to value-added economic activities; enhance their ability to access finance, markets, technology, and related support services; help them graduate to value-added economic activities with higher returns such as garment manufacturing and food processing units, eco-tourism ventures, and businesses around creative industries.



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