Daily Current Affairs for 14th September 2020

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Assam Baghjan well fire tamed 110 days after blowout

Why in News?

The flame atop the Baghjan Well No 5 in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district has been tamed, 110 days after the well had a disastrous blowout. Oil India Limited and foreign experts succeed in cutting fuel by diverting natural gas.


  • Gas has been spewing uncontrollably from the Baghjan well since the blowout on May 27.
  • The blowout led to uncontrolled flow of gas from the well.
  • OIL India sought support from ONGC, which immediately deployed their Crisis Management Team (CMT).
  • OIL also mobilized a Singapore based firm for disaster control.
  • While the clearing operations were going on at the well site, the well caught fire on 9thJune 2020 around noon time, spreading the fire in an area of about 200 meters around the well site.
    • The cause of the fire has not been ascertained till now.
  • Around one thousand six hundred families had already been evacuated from the nearby affected areas and are camped in relief camps set up at nearby safe areas.
  • The well is located in the vicinity of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Maguri Motapung Beel, a wetland.
    • OIL has engaged an accredited agency to carry out environment impact in and around Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Maguri Motapung Beel.
    • Due to seepage of crude, condensate and other chemicals from the gas well, there has been large-scale damage to the ecology of the area, according to environmentalists and various groups.

What is a Blowout?

  • A blowout is the uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from an oil well or gas well after pressure control systems have failed.
  • If not properly monitored, changes in pressure that can occur while the well is being drilled can cause combustible hydrocarbons to flow unchecked and at high pressures and flow rates.
  • If this flow of hydrocarbons is not stopped in time, the hydrocarbons can ignite into a deadly firestorm called a blowout.

Major industrial disaster happened in 2020 in India:

  • A major gas leak in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. At least 11 people were killed and over 350 injured after styrene monomer gas leaked on May 7 morning at a South Korean-owned factory making polystyrene products in Visakhapatnam city.
  • In the second incident, a boiler blast at a government-owned thermal power plant near Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu.
  • Raigarh town in Chhattisgarh, poisonous gas leaked from a paper-producing factory.

Laws related to Industrial Disaster:

  • The Environment Protection Act, 1986, which gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.
  • Hazardous Waste (Management Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 1989:Industry required to identify major accident hazards, take preventive measures and submit a report to the designated authorities
  • Manufacture, Storage And Import Of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989: Importer must furnish complete product safety information to the competent authority and must transport imported chemicals in accordance with the amended rules.
  • National Green Tribunal, 2010,provides for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests.

Institutional mechanism to address the chemical industrial disaster management in India:

Proposed Measures:

To address this pertinent issue, following proposed safety measures have to be taken into consideration:

  • Devise a roadmap with action plan for institutionalization, implementation and review of National Guidelines on Chemical Industrial Disaster Management, developed by NDMA.
  • The focus should be on the localized risks and behavio based safety, which can be emphasized through analytical research, surveys and studies of this sector, also involving the institutions.
  • Up gradation of specialized national, state level institutes in the field of chemical industrial disaster management, which can undertake training, capacity building, research, consultancy and advocacy activities, in order to support the Government and the entire chemical industry.
  • Integration of State and District Disaster Management plans on chemical (industrial) aspects, along with standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Medical Emergency Management Plan should be the inherent part of the Onsite and the Offsite emergency plan.

Criminal justice system bought to ridicule

Why in News:

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram Sunday said the Delhi Police had brought the “criminal justice system to ridicule” by naming CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and other scholars in a supplementary chargesheet filed citing “disclosure statements” in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots case.

What is exactly Criminal Justice stands for?

Criminal Justice refers to the agencies of government, charged with the function of enforcing law, adjudicating crime, and correcting criminal conduct.

Components of CJS

The criminal justice systems have the following three components:

  • Law Enforcement: Law enforcement agency takes report for crimes. It is also responsible for investigate crimes and gather evidence. It includes police forces in India.
  • Adjudication: This pertains to judicial processes and can be further divided into:
  • Prosecution: Prosecutors are lawyers who represent the state throughout the court process – from the first appearance of the accused in court until the accused is acquitted or sentenced.
  • Prosecutors review the evidence brought to them by law enforcement to decide whether to file charges or drop the case and present them in the court.
  • Defense Lawyers: They defend the accused against the government’s case. They are ether hired by the defendant or (for defendants who cannot afford an attorney) they are assigned by the court.
  • Courts: Courts are run by judges; whose role is to make sure the law is followed and oversee what happens in court.
  • Corrections and Prisons: They supervise convicted offenders when they are in jail, in prison, or in the community on probation or parole.

Some grim facts:

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, there is high level of backlog or the ‘pendency rate’ with India’s courts and police.
  • The backlog with courts appears much higher as compared to that in case of police.
  • Crimes against women, such as rapes and dowry deaths, continue to see a low conviction rate, of around 20%.
  • Under-trial prisoners are kept in overcrowded jails pending investigation and trial.
  • Enormous shortfalls in the number of police chowkis, weapons, and forensic science laboratories (FSLs).
  • India faces an acute shortage of policemen, judges, prosecutors and inadequate judicial infrastructure. With a ratio of 144 police officers per 100,000 citizens, the Indian police is operating at 30% vacancy.
  • The Economic Survey of 2018-19projected that we would need more than 8,500 additional judges overall, including eight at the Supreme Court over the next five years to clear the backlog.
  • The Indian police-to-population ratio is much lower than the United Nations’ recommended 222 per 100,000 citizens.
  • As of 1 January 2017, the vacancy rate among police officers across the country (civil and armed)
  • was 22%.
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest vacancy rate, with more than half of sanctioned posts vacant.
  • The number of police personnel and judges (per capita) in India is lower than most other G-20 countries.

Reforming Criminal Justice system

Some committee’s recommendation:

  • Madhav Menon Committee:It submitted its report in 2007, suggesting various recommendations on reforms in the CJSI.
  • Malimath Committee Report:It submitted its report in 2003 on the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).
  • The Committee had opined that the existing system “weighed in favour of the accused and did not adequately focus on justice to the victims of crime.”
  • It has provided various recommendations to be made in the CJSI, which were not
  • A five-member committee, headed by NLU Delhi’s Vice-Chancellor Ranbir Singh, and has GS Bajpai, NLU Delhi; Balraj Chauhan, NLU Jabalpur; appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The committee is required to recommend amendments to the three statutes that govern India’s criminal justice system — the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973; and the Indian Evidence Act,1872.
  • Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.

Way Forward

  • The Justice Malimath Committee on ‘Reforming Criminal Justice System’ rightly observes that “The entire existence of the orderly society depends upon sound and efficient functioning of the Criminal Justice System.”
  • Unless it is made sure that criminal justice system functions with speed, fairness, transparency and honesty, it is difficult to bring down prevailing “crisis of legitimacy”.
  • Improving law and order requires cooperation across all rule-of-law institutions.

Graphene mask inactivates coronavirus under sunlight

Why in News:

Researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have produced graphene masks with an anti-bacterial efficiency of 80 per cent, which they say can be raised to almost 100 per cent with exposure to sunlight for 10 minutes. Initial tests showed promising results in the deactivation of two coronavirus species.

Understanding Graphene

  • Graphene is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.
  • It is an allotrope of carbon.
  • Graphene is known for anti-bacterial properties.
  • The researchers created a laser-induced form of graphene and tested it on E coli.
  • It showed anti-bacterial efficiency of about 82 per cent. Most of the E coli were dead after 8 hours.
  • Initial tests on two human coronavirus species showed the graphene inactivated over 90 per cent of the virus in five minutes and almost 100 per cent in 10 minutes under sunlight.
  • The team now planning to test the graphene on the Covid-19 virus

Eggs or not: why MP is debating mid anganwadi meals again

Why in News?

The debate around eggs in the school feeding programme has resurfaced, as the Madhya Pradesh government banned eggs in anganwadis.


The proposal to provide eggs to children under the Supplement Nutrition Scheme (SNS) under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) was first mooted in 2009.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS):

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.

  • The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.
  • Tenth five-year plan also linked ICDS to Anganwadicentres established mainly in rural areas and staffed with frontline workers.
  • In addition to fighting malnutrition and ill health, the programme is also intended to combat gender inequalityby providing girls the same resources as boys.

Components of ICDS:

How prevalent is malnourishment in Madhya Pradesh?

  • Madhya Pradesh is one of the worst affected states by malnourishment, with the state’s tribal population worst affected.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NHF-4), at least 42% of children under age five are stunted while another 43% are underweight.
  • 26% are wasted (thin for their height) while 9% are severely wasted.
  • The lockdown has disrupted various government schemes for providing nutrition.
  • A survey conducted by the NGO Vikas Samvad found that the nutrition intake dropped in children (by 51%), pregnant women (67%) and lactating mothers (68%).
  • The majority of children and women affected are tribals and SCs.

Why is it a difficult decision for MP?

  • Over 40% of Madhya Pradesh’s population is vegetarian.
  • The proposal has faced stiff opposition from various communities, notably the Jain community.

Draft NDHM policy: experts warns of structural problems

Why in News:

The government’s existing draft to manage patient health data under the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) has problems that may make it difficult for patients volunteering for digital health IDs to have full control or visibility over how their data is used, according to experts.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)
The NDHM would provide technology to manage and analyse data, and create a system of personal health records and health applications.

  • Central to the “ecosystem” would be a Personal Health Identifier (PHI) to maintain a Personal Health Record (PHR).
  • The PHI would contain the names of patients and those of their immediate family, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address, location, family ID and photograph.
  • Under the National Digital Health Mission, every Indian will be given a digital health ID which will contain information regarding disease, medical reports, medicine prescribed and consultant doctor details of a person.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA),which runs the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, would be designing and implementing the NDHM.
  • While the core systems of NDHM like Health ID, Digi-Doctor and Health Facility Registry shall be owned, operated and maintained by the Government of India, Private stakeholders will be given an equal opportunity to integrate with the core system and create their own products.
  • The NDHM would be a voluntary programme.

Structural problems in the policy:

  • It is a policy document issued under no statutory framework and on a topic that partly impacts India’s federal structure, because health is a state subject.
  • Not only can it not bind the state, it also isn’t binding on the National Health Authority (NHA) that is enforcing it —
  • Under this policy, it is unclear whether person will be notified each time about data is being used, and it is unclear who will enforce that.
  • Problems also arise where the ability of an individual to ensure their data is erased.
  • The policy allows the patient to only request that their data be erased if they’re withdrawing their consent, but this request can also be denied.
  • The definition of a consent manager is also not clear enough in the current policy to understand whether the role will be played by a private firm, NGO or government body.

Other Challenges:

  • To achieve the proposed shift in the storage and retrieval of medical records in the country, the digital integration of interfacesof various stakeholders in the healthcare sector will have to be achieved.
  • The low penetration of digital technology in rural areas will be a challenge in ensuring the potential of inclusivity and accessibility offered by NDHM.
  • Dealing with ethical issues, breach of privacy, and dealing with social stigma are significant challenges for the NDHM.
  • The digital health mission must be backed up by high-quality public health infrastructure. 
  • The biggest hurdle for NDHM is the meagre health budget of India.

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