ASEAN-India High Level Conference on Renewable Energy
Why in News
• The ASEAN-India High Level Conference on Renewable Energy has been launched on 7-8 February 2022 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The two-day high-level conference will focus on the theme “Experience and Innovation for an Integrated Renewables Market”.
• The Ministerial session was addressed by the Power Ministers of ASEAN Member States and their senior representatives.
• The dignitaries spoke about renewable energy ambitions, progress and priority areas for their countries and reiterated their commitment to further India-ASEAN cooperation in this area.
• Director General, International Solar Alliance (ISA) briefed the Ministers on the vision and plans of ISA and its potential benefits to the ASEAN member states.
• Shri RK Singh, Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, Government of India delivered his keynote address in it and said that India and ASEAN can work together towards developing a complete ecosystem for renewable energy which will enable knowledge sharing. Promotes capacity building and technical assistance and also explores joint initiatives for the development of renewable energy generation centers in the region.
• The Minister congratulated Indonesia for assuming the presidency of the G20 in 2022 and said that India would work closely with the Indonesian Presidency to facilitate as well as accelerate the global energy transition.
• Reiterated India’s commitment to working closely with ASEAN to establish strong ties in the renewable sector based on historical and cultural ties between ASEAN and India.
About the conference:
• The ASEAN-India High Level Summit will host 5 technical sessions, which will facilitate peer-to-peer discussions between experts from India and ASEAN on topics of mutual interest.
• The session will also provide a global audience including policy makers, professionals, academicians and students from all over the world a glimpse of India-ASEAN plans to further their cooperation in renewable energy.
GS PAPER II
Why in News
• The Union Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget for the year 2022-23, announced that the National Ropeway Development Program – “Parvatmala” project will be launched on a Public-Private Partnership-PPP basis.
• The project will be a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative to traditional roads in difficult mountainous areas.
• The objective of the project is to improve connectivity and convenience for travelers, apart from promoting tourism in the inaccessible hilly areas.
• The project can also cover congested urban areas, where conventional common transport system is not possible.
• The Finance Minister had announced that in the year 2022-23, contracts for 8 ropeway projects for a distance of 60 km would be awarded. The project is currently being taken up in areas like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir and other northeastern states.
• Developing an efficient transport network in hilly areas is a major challenge. Rail and air transport networks are limited in these regions, while there are technical challenges in the development of road networks. In view of this background, ropeway has emerged as a convenient and safe alternative mode of transport in the region.
• The government has decided to develop ropeways in the hilly areas of the country. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has so far been identified to develop highways across the country and regulate the road transport sector.
• However, in February 2021, the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 were amended, which enables the ministry to look after the development of ropeways and alternative transport. The move will give a boost to the sector by establishing a regulatory regime.
• The Ministry will also have the responsibility of development as well as manufacturing, research and policy development in this area of ropeway and alternative mobility solution technology. Creating an institutional, financial and regulatory framework for technology will also come under the purview of this allocation.
• Major factors driving ropeway infrastructure
• Economical mode of transport: Since ropeway projects are built in a straight line in hilly terrain, the cost of land acquisition in this project is also low. Therefore, despite the higher cost of construction per kilometer of route than road transport, the construction cost of ropeway projects can be more economical than that of road transport.
• Faster mode of transport: Due to the aerial mode of transport, one advantage of ropeways over road projects is that ropeways can be built in a straight line in a mountainous area.
• Environment friendly: low emission of dust. The containers of the material can be designed in such a way as to avoid spreading any kind of dirt in the environment.
• Last Mile Connectivity: Ropeway projects adopting 3S (One Way Cable Car System) or equivalent technologies can carry 6000-8000 passengers per hour.
Benefits of ropeway
Ideal for tough/challenging/sensitive terrain
• Long rope span: This system can cross obstacles like rivers, buildings, ravines or roads without any problem.
• Ropes tied to the towers: This requires less space on the ground and also does not pose any obstacles for humans or animals.
• This mode of transport will provide mobility to the people living in difficult areas and help them become part of the mainstream. Villagers/farmers living in such areas will be able to sell their produce to other areas, which will help them to increase their income.
• Economy: Ropeway with multiple cars powered by the same power-plant and drive mechanism. This reduces both construction and maintenance costs. The use of a single operator for the entire ropeway results in another saving in labor cost. On flat land, the cost of the ropeway is competitive with narrow-gauge railroads and the ropeway is far superior in the mountains.
• Flexible: Transportation of different materials – A ropeway can simultaneously transport different types of materials.
• Capability to handle large slopes: Ropeways and cable-ways (cable cranes) can handle large slopes and large differences in height. Where a road or railroad requires switchbacks or tunnels, the ropeway travels directly up and down the fall line. In England the Old Cliff Railway and the ski resort ropeway in the mountains take advantage of this facility.
• Less land requirement: The fact that only narrow-based vertical supports are required at intervals, leaving the rest of the land free, has allowed the construction of ropeways in built-up areas and in places where there is intense competition for land use.
MoU with Uttarakhand
• The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has initiated a study conducted by M/s McKinsey & Company for the development of ropeways in the country.
• The study suggested that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways may launch a national ropeway development program called “Parvatmala”, similar to the “Bharatmala” programme.
• The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) has signed an MoU with the government, for the development of ropeways in the state of Uttarakhand.
• Initially set up in Uttarakhand, seven projects have been identified. DPR for Kedarnath and Hemkund Sahib Ropeway is in progress and NIT has been invited for the same.
• Similar proposals have been received from the governments of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir for the development of ropeway.
GS PAPER II
Fintech open summit
Why in News
• In an effort to showcase the importance of the fintech industry, NITI Aayog in association with PhonePe, AWS and EY has organized a three-week long virtual summit ‘Fintech Open’ from February 7 to February 28.
• Union Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Shri Ashwini Vaishnav inaugurated the summit in the presence of Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog.
• In a first of its kind initiative, FinTech Open will bring together regulators, fintech professionals and enthusiasts, industry leaders, the start-up community and developers to collaborate, exchange ideas and innovation.
• Fintech Open aims to create a comprehensive learning experience.
It has three objectives:
o Encouraging an open eco-system in the fintech industry
o Promote innovation and development
o Ensuring financial inclusion and leveraging new models like account aggregators in the next round of fintech innovation.
• The summit will include in-depth interactions, in-depth discussions, webinars, round table discussions, etc., highlighting the innovations and challenges of various start-ups. Additionally, fintech related works will also be showcased and the most innovative start-ups will be recognized in the virtual felicitation ceremony.
• Sameer Nigam, Founder and CEO, PhonePe said, “We are delighted to partner with NITI Aayog on this initiative, which aims to accelerate India’s fintech revolution. The fintech industry is playing a vital role in facilitating financial inclusion across the country. We look forward to the next few weeks where we will have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from across the industry to create meaningful new programs for the eco-system.
• One of the highlights of the summit will be India’s largest fintech hackathon ever, providing an opportunity to the elite developers and start-up community to present breakthrough concepts with the potential to solve real-world problems.
• In addition, to foster creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial mindset among children, another hackathon for school students will also be organized through Atal Innovation Mission’s Atal Tinkering Labs network.
GS PAPER II
Winter Olympics and Representation
Why in News
Why in News
• Winter Olympic Games 2022 has started in Beijing. Skier Arif Khan leads a four-member Indian contingent during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
• Skier Arif Khan will participate in the Games as the only Indian.
• He has qualified for slalom and giant slalom events.
• India has sent a six-member team including a coach, a technician and a team manager to Beijing.
• Arif Khan is the first Indian to qualify for two events at the same stage of the Games. Their events will be held on February 13 and February 16. The Beijing Winter Olympics are to be held from February 4 to February 20, 2022.
• Aarif khan
• Born in Baramulla district of Kashmir, Arif Khan started skiing at a very young age and won the first National Slalom Championship at the age of just 12.
• He then won two gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom events at the South Asian Winter Games in 2011.
• Arif Khan’s father Yasin Khan has a ski store in Gulmarg. Apart from the tourists, they also provide their services as a guide for the skiers there.
• He started skiing outside his shop. Arif Khan won the National Junior Championship for the first time at the age of 12.
• He won this competition for three consecutive years. He participated in the Asian Alpine Ski Championships for the first time in the year 2005.
• Arif Khan has represented India in the World Ski Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2019.
• He has been the winner of the National Open Championship consecutively from the year 2011 to the year 2015. Arif Khan is the first Indian athlete to qualify directly for two different events in the Winter Games.