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

China Successfully Tested Its First Photovoltaic Road.

Background-

  • China successfully tested its first photovoltaic highway based on home-grown technology in the country’s eastern Shandong province on 28th December, 2017. The road has wireless charging systems for electric vehicles.
  • The road is constructed using solar panels which have a thin sheet of clear concrete on top of them, protecting the surface.
  • The panels were built to transfer energy to electric vehicles passing on top of them.

Highlights Of The Development–

  • The one-kilometre segment of solar-powered highway covers a surface area of 5,875 sq.m. The stretch has three layers. At the bottom is an insulator to prevent moisture from getting to the photovoltaic devices in the middle layer, and on top is the layer of transparent concrete.
  • The tested segment of highway can generate 817.2 KW of power and is expected to generate 1 million KW hours of electricity each year. The electricity generated will be connected to China’s national power grid.
  • China has become the second country to construct a photovoltaic highway. France was introduced the world’s first photovoltaic road fitted with solar panels in late 2016.

Sources- The Hindu.

 

GS Paper II- Polity.

Lok Sabha Passes Bill To Hike Salaries Of Judges.

Background

  • The Lok Sabha on 4th January, 2018 passed a bill to hike the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Bill proposes to hike the salary of the Chief Justice of India to ₹ 2.80 lakh a month, and that of judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts to ₹ 2.5 lakh a month. Judges of High Courts will draw a salary of ₹ 2.25 lakh a month once this Bill becomes law.
  • The Rajya Sabha has to pass the Bill by 5th January, the last day of this session, failing which it will spill on to the budget session.
  • The salary hike, in line with the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission for officers of all-India services.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The discussion on the Bill saw members express concern over what they saw as threats to separation of powers, calls for hiked salaries for MPs, and even for reservation in the judiciary.
  • Replying to the debate, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed his support for the idea of an All-India Judicial Service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service for drawing the best legal minds to the judiciary. He said reservation could become a reality if such a service comes up.
  • He expressed concern over the Supreme Court setting aside the National Judicial Appointments Commission on the plea that the presence of the Law Minister would mean a judge appointed through the process may not be fair when hearing a case against the government. Mr. Prasad said some of the finest judges were appointed in times when the Law Minister was part of the process of appointment.
  • Making a strong pitch for separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, Mr. Prasad said this was part of the basic structure of the Constitution none could violate, adding that only those who were accountable could legislate.
  • He also referred to the pendency of judges’ vacancies, adding that the government could fill the vacancies only when the collegium made recommendations.
  • He said there were six vacancies in the Supreme Court and while the process was on to fill 129 vacancies in High Courts, there were 269 vacant posts of High Court judges for which no recommendations by the collegium had been received.

Sources- The Hindu.

 

GS Paper III- Economic Development, Security.

CCEA Approves Construction Of Over ₹6,800-cr Bi-Directional Zojila Tunnel In J&K.

 

Background

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 4th January, 2018 approved the ₹6,808-crore Zojila Tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir that will provide year-round connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh when completed.
  • Currently, Leh-Ladakh is cut off from the rest of India for almost six months due to heavy snowfall and threat of avalanches.
  • The project aims to construct a 14.15-km long two-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.2-km long egress or parallel escape tunnel, excluding approaches between Baltal and Minamarg in the state.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The government added that the project will be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in J&K.
  • The construction period of the project is estimated at seven years with a civil construction cost of ₹4,899.42 crore. The total capital cost of the project is ₹6,808.69 crore, which includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as the maintenance and operation cost of tunnel for four years.
  • The project will be implemented by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways through National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited.
  • The government said this project, along with other ongoing projects such as the 6.5-km long Z-Morh tunnel at Gagangir, would ensure safe, fast and cheap connectivity between the two regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Zojila Tunnel project will further increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities, the statement said, adding that on completion, the project would lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to national market and the region is able to receive tourist traffic round the year.

Sources- The Hindu.