Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 24 January 2023

INS Vagir commissioned into the Indian Navy

GS Paper - 3 (Defence Technology)

The Indian Navy on 23 January 2023 commissioned the fifth diesel-electric Kalvari-class submarine Vagir. It is among the six submarines being built by the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai, in collaboration with the French M/s Naval Group under Project 75. Four of these submarines have already been commissioned into the Navy and a sixth will be commissioned next year.

What are the specifications of Vagir?

  1. The latest submarine gets its name from the erstwhile Vagir, a submarine which served the Navy between 1973 and 2001 and undertook numerous operational missions.
  2. The construction of the new Vagir began in 2009 and it took its maiden sea sortie in February last year. Also known as Sand Shark, the submarine was delivered to the Indian Navy in December 2022.
  3. Vagir represents stealth and fearlessness, as it comes with features like an advanced acoustic absorption technique.
  4. Vagir will boost the Indian Navy’s capability to further India’s maritime interests and is capable of undertaking diverse missions including anti-surface warfareanti-submarine warfareintelligence gatheringmine laying and surveillance missions, the government release said.

Kalvari-class background

  1. Vagir is a Kalvari-class submarine, which includes other vessels, such as the INS KalvariINS KhanderiINS KaranjINS Vela and INS Vagsheer.
  2. Of these, Kalvari and Khanderi were commissioned in 2017 and 2019, and Vela and Karanj were inducted in 2021.
  3. Vagir has now been commissioned and Vagsheer was launched in 2022 and is expected to be inducted next year.
  4. The submarines in the current Kalvari-class take their names from erstwhile decommissioned classes of submarines named Kalvari, which included KalvariKhanderiKaranj and Vela classes — comprising Vela, Vagir, Vagshir.
  5. The now-decommissioned Kalvari and Vela classes were one of the earliest submarines in the post-independence Indian Navy, which belonged to Soviet origin Foxtrot class of vessels.

Technical details of INS Vagir

  1. The design of the Kalvari-class of submarines is based on the Scorpene class of submarines designed and developed by French defence major Naval Group formerly DCNS and the Spanish state-owned entity Navantia.
  2. This class of submarines has Diesel Electric transmission systems and these are primarily attack submarines or ‘hunter-killer’ types which mean they are designed to target and sink adversary naval vessels.
  3. The Kalavari class of submarines has an estimated endurance of approximately 50 days. They also have the capability of operating in a wide range of Naval combat including anti-warship and anti-submarine operations, intelligence gathering and surveillance and naval mine laying.
  4. These submarines are around 220 feet long and have a height of 40 feet. It can reach the highest speeds of 11 knots (20 km/h) when surfaced and 20 knots (37 km/h) when submerged.

 

EU expanding import of LNG

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

The EU is weaning itself off piped Russian gas by rapidly expanding imports of liquified natural gas, much of it fracked in the US. As liquified natural gas tankers carrying fracked US gas start to land in northern Germany, climate activists are calling it a major setback in the effort to limit global heatingLNG is to compensate for lost Russian gas supplies, with four new terminals set to come online in Germany alone.

What is liquified natural gas or LNG?

  1. LNG is natural gas reduced to a liquid state (liquefaction) through intense cooling to around -161 degrees Celsius (-259 Fahrenheit).
  2. This liquid gas is 600 times smaller than the original volume and is half the weight of water.
  3. The compressed fossil fuel, which is constituted almost wholly of methane — a potent greenhouse gas —, can be transported around the world by ship.
  4. After arriving at its destination, the cargo is regasified in a floating terminal and redistributed through pipelines.
  5. But despite LNG’s export potential, the high cost of liquefaction and producing LNG has limited its market.
  6. The coolingliquefying and transport processes, as well as the post-transport regasification procedures, also require a lot of energy.

What’s the climate impact of LNG?

  1. A lot of energy is required to extract natural gas from a reservoir, to transport from the gas field to the LNG facility for processing, to chill gas to such low temperatures, and to hold it at that temperature before it is warmed and regasified following a long sea or train journey.
  2. Methane loss across the supply chain risks also contributes to LNG’s high emissions.
  3. Because of LNG’s much more complex production and transport process, the risks of methane leakages along the production, transport and regasification chain are simply much higher and therefore much more emissions-intensive.
  4. The emissions intensity of piped gas from Norway in particular is almost 10 times less than average LNG emissions.
  5. Meanwhile, LNG emits 14 times as much carbon as solar power when producing the equivalent amount of energy, and 50 times as much carbon as wind power.

 

SEBI ban on agri commodities trade

GS Paper -3 (Agriculture)

Shetkari Sanghatana, the farmer’s union started by the late Sharad Joshi, launched an indefinite agitation outside the office of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in Mumbai. The protest was against the continued suspension of derivates trading in seven agri commodities.

Background of the SEBI ban:

  1. On 20 December 2021 the capital markets regulator suspended futures trading in seven commodities, viz., wheat, paddy (non-basmati), moong, chana, soyabean and its derivatives, mustard seed and its derivatives, and palm oil and its derivatives on the exchanges.
  2. The SEBI order allowed the squaring of contracts but said no new contract would be allowed in these commodities.
  3. The trading was initially suspended for a year, but in December 2022, the ban was extended for another year, i.e., until 20 December 2023.

How does the derivative trade in commodities work?

  1. Agricultural commodities like cotton, paddy, soyabean, soya oil, mustard seed, etc., are traded on the National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX).
  2. Derivatives are short-term financial contracts that are bought and sold in the market. Profits are made in the derivatives trade by predicting price movements of the asset that underlies the contract.
  3. The derivatives trade can be in futures and options. In a futures contract, a supplier pledges to sell a certain quantity at a fixed price at a future date.
  4. Farmers can put fixed amounts of their produce, which fits the quality standards of the exchange, to be sold at a fixed price almost like price insurance.

Why are farmers protesting against the ban?

  1. The futures trends provided by the exchange are an important indicator for farmers. More than individual farmers, the Farmers Producer Companies (FPCs) trade on the exchanges.
  2. The Shetkari Sanghatana has always been against government intervention in agri markets. The SEBI’s action is anti-farmer, and has been taken at the behest of a few traders who want to control the markets.
  3. It is argued that given the exchanges work on technology and allow for participation of traders from across the country, price discovery is better than in physical markets.

 

The Ken-Betwa river link project

GS Paper -1 (Geography)

The Steering Committee of the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) held its third meeting in New Delhi. It was chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Water Resources, in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, who reiterated that KBLP was a “flagship” project of the national government and that it “is critical for the water security and socio-economic development of Bundelkhand region”.

 

More about the news:

  1. The Union Cabinet approved KBLP at a total cost of Rs 44,605 crore.
  2. In this project, the national and the Madhya Pradesh governments will link the Ken River with the Betwa River so that the latter can water the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh.

What is the Ken-Betwa link?

  1. The link will be in the form of a canal that will be fed by the new Daudhan Dam on the Ken, to be built within Panna Tiger Reserve.
  2. The national government has said that the dam will generate 103 MW of hydroelectric power.
  3. The linking canal will flow through Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh and Jhansi districts, with the project expected to irrigate 6.3 lakh hectares of land every year. 

Some concerns

  1. Hydrological and ecological experts aren’t convinced, however, mainly because the government’s plan is based on a ‘surplus and deficit’ model that they have said has little basis in science.
  2. They are also concerned that the project will endanger the water security of Panna.
  3. There are also significant legal problems with the approval granted to the KBLP.

What are the legal problems?

  1. Approval by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife to the Ken-Betwa link Project has not been proved to be necessary for the improvement and better management of the wildlife therein as provided in Section 35(6) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  2. The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court made this categorical observation vis-à-vis plans to create a high reservoir-dam on the Ken river in the Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve for the KBLP.
  3. It concurred with the applicants’ prayer at the apex Court: that the wildlife approval given by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) at its meeting on August 23, 2016, was ultra vires.
  4. The Indian government catalysed this approval despite an expert body created by the Standing Committee of the NBWL itself saying that “an independent hydrological study of river Ken is necessary” and that “no developmental project should destroy the ecology of remnant fragile ecosystems and an important tiger habitat in the country”.

 

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