Here is the digest of important newspaper articles and quiz!
New Aviation Policy announced
The government has unveiled the New Aviation Policy. The policy aims to take flying to the masses by making it affordable and convenient. The salient features of the policy are following.
1) Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)
a) This scheme will come into effect in the second quarter of 2016-17
b) Airfare of about Rs 2500 per passenger for a one-hour flight
c) Viability Gap Funding(VGF)to airline operators
d) Creation of Regional Connectivity fund for VGF through a small levy per departure on all domestic flights other than Cat II/ Cat IIA routes, RCS routes and small aircraft below 80 seats at a rate as decided by the Ministry from time to time. VGF to be shared between MoCA and State Governments in the ratio of 80:20. For the North Eastern States, the ratio is 90:10
2) Route Dispersal Guidelines ((RDG)
a) Category I to be rationalized based on a transparent criteria, i.e., flying distance of more than 700 km, average seat factor of 70% and above and annual traffic of 5 lakh passengers
b) Withdrawal or revision of domestic operations to and within North East Region etc, subject to full compliance of RDG, can be done under prior intimation to MoCA at least three months before withdrawal or revision of the service
3) 5/20 requirement
a) Replaced with a scheme which provides a level playing field. All airlines can now commence international operations provided that they deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of total capacity (in term of average number of seats on all departures put together), whichever is higher for domestic operations.
4) Bilateral Traffic Rights
a) GoI will enter into ‘Open Sky’ ASA on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and countries located beyond 5000 km from Delhi
b) Whenever designated carriers of India have utilised 80% their capacity entitlements, the same will be renegotiated in the usual manner
5) Ground Handling Policy
a) The Ground Handling Policy/ Instructions/Regulations will be replaced by a new framework
b) Hiring of employees through manpower supplier or contract workers will not be permitted for security reasons
6) Airport PPP
a) Encourage development of airports by AAI, State Governments, the private sector or in PPP mode
b) Future tariffs at all airports will be calculated on a ‘hybrid till’ basis, unless specified otherwise in concession agreements. 30% of non-aeronautical revenue will be used to cross- subsidise aeronautical charges
7) Aviation Security, Immigration and customs
a) MoCA will develop ‘service delivery modules’ for aviation security, Immigration, Customs, quarantine officers etc in consultations with respective Ministries/Departments
b) Subject to minimum benchmarks being met, security architecture at the different airports will be proportionate to the threat classification and traffic volume
8) Helicopters and Charters
a) Separate regulations for helicopters will be notified by DGCA after due stakeholder consultation
b) MoCA to coordinate with Govt agencies and other helicopter operators to facilitate Helicopter Emergency Medical Services
9) Aviation Education and Skill Building
a) Estimated direct additional employment requirement of the Civil Aviation Sector by 2025 is about 3.3 lakh . All training in non licensed category will conform to National Skill Qualification Framework standards. MoCA will provide full support to the Aviation Sector Skill Council and other similar organisations/agencies for imparting skills for the growing aviation industry.
What is the response of the airlines? – The private airlines have said that the policy is very restrictive. With so many regulations in place, it has defeated the very purpose of privatisation. The capping of fares for the regional routes is seen as interfering in the operations of the airlines. The cess to support regional connectivity is also negative on the airlines.
New airlines which had lobbied for the scrapping of the 5/20 rule said that 0/20 does not mean anything. There has been no scrapping. It should have been 0/0.
India eyes mining in Indian ocean
India is in the process of signing a contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) that will give the country exclusive rights to mine for precious metals trapped in magma on the seabed of the Indian Ocean.
The Union Cabinet approved a proposal by the Earth Sciences Ministry to sign the agreement to mine for so-called polymetallic sulphides over 10,000 sq km around parts of central and southwest Indian ridges in the ocean. While the long-term mining projects will fructify only over decades, they will be of immense strategic and commercial value.
In 2002, the government was granted permission only to explore ocean regions and prospect for precious metals. Deep seabed polymetallic sulphides (PMS) contain iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold and platinum in variable constitutions and are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from the deep interior of the oceanic crust.
A key technical challenge is being able to develop the specialised drills and extraction-technology required to fish out the metals.
The ISA, under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), governs non-living resources of the seabed of international waters.
What is the ISA? – The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS).
The Authority, which has its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, came into existence on 16 November 1994, upon the entry into force of the 1982 Convention. The Authority became fully operational as an autonomous international organization in June 1996.
SC to hear plea against declaration of vermin
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court for quashing of three notifications of the Union government declaring nilgai, monkey and wild boar vermin for one year in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Once an animal is declared vermin, it is deprived of protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. As a result of these notifications, culling of these animals has been allowed in the selected regions for one year each.
The plea contended that indiscriminate slaughter of these animals is bound to have a detrimental effect on the food chain, leading to an ecological imbalance.
It also said that there had been no application of mind by the Centre in passing such arbitrary orders, which it contended were in violation of Article 14 of the constitution.
What is the issue with declaration of vermin? – The issue has to be seen in the light of increasing man-animal conflict in various states specially the problem of crop depredation by wild boars and nilgais.
However, officials and environmentalists also fear protected species could be hunted in the name of eliminating vermin. They pointed out it was not easy for field staff to differentiate meat of chital from nilgai’s or wild boar.
What are the provisions of WPA regarding vermins? – Section 62 of Wildlife Protection Act empowers Centre to declare wild animals other than Schedule I & II to be vermin for specified area and period.
For declaring animals as vermin area with clear administrative boundary has to be defined in which notification is applicable. Wild animal species to be declared as vermin and reasons thereof have to be mentioned. Period for which notification is contemplated is to be stated. The basis of recommendation like study, consultation, expert opinion and surveys etc need to be mentioned.
There are legal provisions for objective management of man-animal conflict. Section 11(1) a of the WPA authorizes chief wildlife warden to permit hunting of any problem wild animal only if it cannot be captured, tranquilized or translocated.
Besides, for wild animals in Schedule II, III or IV, chief wildlife warden or authorized officers can permit their hunting in a specified area if they have become dangerous to humans or property (including standing crops on any land).
LIGO detects another signal
LIGO scientists working with gravitational wave detectors at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, U.S., have announced witnessing the merging of a second black hole pair. They infer this from the observation of a gravitational wave (GW151226) detected on December 26, 2015.
When the wave hits the detector, the signal is mixed with noise (disturbances), to separate the two you need a mathematical method. This was developed mainly in India, by Sanjeev Dhurandhar, Bala Iyer and others. Early work by C.V. Vishveshwara is important.
The adaptation of matched filtering to detect gravitational waves was developed at IUCAA, Pune, under the leadership of Sanjeev Dhurandhar. Matched filtering also required the accurate modelling of expected signals – work that was carried out by Bala Iyer at RRI, Bangalore, and co-workers from France.
What is the status of LIGO India? – IndIGO, the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations, is an initiative to set up advanced experimental facilities, with appropriate theoretical and computational support, for a multi-institutional Indian national project in gravitational-wave astronomy.
Since 2009, the IndIGO Consortium has been involved in constructing the Indian road-map for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and a phased strategy towards Indian participation in realizing the crucial gravitational-wave observatory in the Asia-Pacific region. The current major IndIGO plans on gravitational-wave astronomy relate to the LIGO-India project. LIGO-India is a planned advanced gravitational-wave detector to be located in India, to be built and operated in collaboration with the LIGO USA and its international partners Australia, Germany and the UK. The project recently received the in-principle approval from the Indian government.
It would be implemented through the Department of science and technology (DST) and Department of atomic energy (DAE).
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