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1.In the air (The Hindu)

2.Gold nano particles to detect lead in wastewater (Down to Earth)

1.In the air (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of no-fly list, which is a welcome innovation to keep unruly passengers in check. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The Centre has decided to put unruly air passengers on a no-fly list ranging from three months to a lifetime, depending upon the gravity of the offence, is stringent but welcome. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), based on inputs from various airlines, will compile this no-fly list. It will also maintain the record of all blacklisted passengers. The list will be put in the public domain.
  • The new rules are, specifically, a response to the recent case of unruly and violent behaviour by a MP on board an Air India plane six months ago. There have been other recent incidents of ‘VIP’ misbehaviour with airline staff both in the air and on the ground. Air India had imposed a temporary no-fly ban, which was subsequently withdrawn after a grudging apology from him. Existing guidelines and rules on unruly behaviour did not have provisions for a no-fly ban, necessitating these rules.

No fly list

  • The concept of a no-fly list comes from the United States of America where the federal government terrorist-screening centre maintains a list of people who are barred from boarding commercial flights in and out of America and even over its airspace.
  • The quantum of punishment is to be decided by an internal committee of the airline in question based on evidence produced by both the airline and the passenger within 30 days, during which time the passenger would not be allowed to fly.
  • No compensation will be offered to the passenger in case the allegations of the airline are proven wrong. Aggrieved passengers can appeal within 60 days to an appellate committee. Other airlines will not, however, be bound by one airline’s no-fly ban.

The rules divide unruly behaviour into three categories depending on the nature and gravity of threat to other passengers, crew or to airline property- 

  • Level 1- Unruly Behaviour (physical gestures, verbal harassment, unruly inebriation etc.) – Ban up to 3 months
  • Level 2– Physically Abusive Behaviour (pushing, kicking, hitting, grabbing, sexual harassment etc.) – Ban up to 6 months
  • Level 3- Life Threatening Behaviour (choking, murderous assault and damage to aircraft operating systems) – Minimum ban of 2 years with no upper limit
  • There are also incidents of egregious behaviour by VIPs and unruly passengers have not been isolated events, passenger anger has also been a consequence of airline inefficiencies. The record of some airlines in ensuring service on time and avoiding over-booking of tickets that result in last-minute cancellation of tickets is not satisfactory.
  • Airlines must be careful not to hold out the threat of the no-fly list to keep passenger frustration in check, and thereby evade giving a full explanation for their mistakes.
  • The rules also impose certain obligations on airlines such as establishing Standard Operating Procedures, training their cabin crew, flight crew and ground staff. Further, airlines are required to constitute Internal Committees to adjudicate on complaints of unruly behaviour.
  • The Internal Committee is to be headed by a retired Sessions Judge and is required to adjudicate on and decide the complaint within 30 days and in case it fails to do so, the passenger shall be free to fly.
  • In the event that the decision of the Internal Committee is unacceptable to the passenger, he has the option to appeal before an Appellate Committee within 60 days of the decision of the Internal Committee.

Way ahead

  • Though it will empower the airlines to impose strict penalties in case of alleged misbehaviour or graver offences by passengers. But in the case of India, these appear necessary in particular because of a widespread culture of entitlement, especially among ‘VIPs’, and growing incidents of air rage.
  • The no-fly list system, which has been adopted by other countries too, is a relatively new development in civil aviation. Care must be taken by the airlines to ensure that the imposition of the no-fly ban is used as the last resort; ideally, it should remain in the books as a deterrent.

Question– What is a no-fly list? What there is a necessity of no-fly list in India?

2.Gold nano particles to detect lead in wastewater (Down to Earth)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the innovative method to detect water contamination. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Gold, the favourite metal of Indian women, is increasingly becoming popular among scientists as well, though for a different reason. A group of India researchers has used gold nanoparticles to develop a simple method to detect lead in wastewater.

The experiment

  • The new technique makes of specially-produced miniscule particles of the yellow metal, and the property of gold nanoparticles to change colour when they ‘bunch-up’ in the presence of metal particles such as lead because of their optical properties.
  • In the study done by scientists at the CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar, a solution of gold nanoparticles was prepared in water. When this solution was exposed to lead, a colour change from violet to blue occurred within a few minutes due to collecting together of nanoparticles.
  • It was also found that diluting the gold-nanoparticle solution resulted in a colour change even when small amount of lead was present. This is important as the quantity of wastewater is usually much more than the amount of lead dissolved in it.
  • Exposure to lead is known to cause severe and irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system in children, and to the kidneys in adults. It can also result in complications during pregnancy and lead to birth defects.
  • Industrial activities such as smelting, use of pesticides, battery production, landfill leaching are major sources of lead contamination in the environment
  • This method of detecting lead particles using specially-produced gold nanoparticles is a rapid, one-step method. It is a cost-effective method vis-à-vis the more traditional methods of lead detection.

Way ahead

  • Though there is a maximum acceptable limit of lead in wastewater there is no known ‘safe’ level for humans. According to the World Health Organisation, lead poisoning is completely preventable. Therefore, there is a need of a simple and rapid method for detecting lead that is cost-effective and easily administered in lieu of the existing expensive and time-consuming methods.

Question– Explain how gold nano particles can help to detect contamination from water. What are its implications?