GS Paper I- History and Geography of the world and Society.

World’s Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant To Be Built In South Australia.

Background

  • The world’s largest solar-thermal power plant has been given development approval by the South Australian government.
  • Construction on the 150-megawatt Aurora plant, to be built by utility-scale solar power company SolarReserve, will begin in 2018 at an estimated cost of $509 million.
  • Chris Picton, South Australia’s acting energy minister, said the plant would create 650 construction jobs and 50 ongoing positions when completed.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The plant will work by using a series of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a receiver at the top of a 220-meter tower.
  • The sunlight will then heat molten salt to 565 degrees centigrade, generating steam to drive a turbine that will produce 150 megawatts of electricity making it the largest single-tower solar thermal plant in the world.
  • It will have the capacity to power 90,000 homes with eight hours of full load storage.
  • It will join the largest lithium-ion battery, built by Tesla to complement the state’s power grid during the high-demand summer, as another major renewable energy project in South Australia.
  • Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, described the plant as a preview of the future of power generation around the world.
  • He said that it is a significant step in the development of the Aurora solar thermal power station, which will bring clean power generation technology to South Australia.

Sources- Energyworld.

 

GS Paper II- Polity, Constitution.

In View Of New Media, EC Panel To Suggest Changes To Model Code.

Background

  • The Election Commission (EC) has set up a 14-member committee to suggest changes to Section 126 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, which prohibits poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading to voting, in the wake of media expansion.
  • Apart from suggesting modifications to the election law, the committee, constituted through an order dated January 8, 2018, will also study the impact of new media and social media during the “silence period” and its implication in view of Section 126 and suggest changes to the model code of conduct (MCC) accordingly.
  • It has also been tasked to examine the difficulties faced in regulating media platforms during the prohibitory 48 hours in a multi-phase election. The committee, chaired by Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha, will submit its report within three months.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Apart from nine officers of the EC, the panel will have one nominated member each from the I&B Ministry, Law Ministry, IT Ministry, National Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India.
  • The order came almost three weeks after the commission withdrew its notice issued to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for giving interviews to TV channels on December 13, 2017, a day before the second phase of the Gujarat polls.
  • The decision to issue Rahul a notice had evoked a strong reaction from the Congress, which questioned the move on the ground that it did not initiate action against news channels for airing BJP president Amit Shah’s interview and Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s press conference the same day as Rahul’s interview.
  • The EC eventually withdrew its notice and announced that the Commission is of the considered view that due to multifold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations.
  • The committee was subsequently set up.

Sources- The Indian Express.

 

GS Paper III- Bio-Diversity.

Environment Ministry Refuses Captive Breeding Of Chiru.

Background

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests has refused to allow captive breeding of the Tibetan antelope, whose underfur is used for making the famous shahtoosh shawls.
  • The shawls’ sale and possession is banned in India and in many countries.
  • The ministry rejected the suggestion made by a Parliament panel asking to consider captive breeding as it will add to livelihood of Kashmiris. It also cited that China and Mongolia are breeding Chiru goats (Tibetan antelope) for its wool, which is very expensive. The cost of an embroidered shahtoosh shawl can run into crores of rupees.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Chiru have long been hunted for their underfur, which is renowned for its quality and has traditionally been transported to Srinagar, where it is woven into an extremely fine fabric to make shawls.
  • It takes three to five hides to make a single shawl, and the wool cannot be sheared or combed; to collect the fur, the animals have to be killed.
  • The Parliament panel was of the view that the ministry should conserve and breed the Chiru goat, which can then be given to shawl makers for collecting hair. This would increase the number of these goats but would also add to the sustainable livelihood opportunities of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are a lot dependant on the handicraft of embroidered shawls.
  • The ministry said the Chiru is assessed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature 2017.
  • There have been representations from weavers and traders in J&K for the removal of ban on trade in shahtoosh through amendments in the Wildlife Acts of India.
  • The ministry added that the Chinese failed to keep the Chiru in captivity due to its poor survival rates. Any attempt to do conservation breeding of the Chiru at very high altitude regions of Ladakh may neither be economical nor feasible as humans cannot be posted there for more than two-three months.

Sources- The New Indian Express.