Radiation Technology for Cleaner India

Radiation Technology for Cleaner India

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre signed MoU to set up a Sewage Sludge Hygienisation Plant at Ahmedabad

Today on 21st April, 2015 India enters into a new era of utilizing advanced technology of Radiation Processing for Hygieniesing Sewage Sludge by signing of MoU between Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre will provide all technical and scientic support for setting up a 100 tons per day dry sewage sludge hygienisation Cobalt -60 Gamma Irradiation Plant at Ahmedabad. Largely, sludge is disposed in unoraganized manner resulting in environmental pollution and spread of diseases.

The sludge produced carries a heavy microbiological load and therefore its disposal has been a challenge to the urban development authorities. Bacterial counts including pathogens generally observed in sludge can vary between 105 to 109 per gram. Sludge also contains worms, ova, viruses, helminthes, weeds etc. It also contains toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants like pesticides, polyaramatic hydrocarbons, drugs and other persistent pollutants. Sludge is a rich source of many macro (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium),micro nutrients (Zinc, Iron, Copper, Manganese) and organic carbon essential for soil. If the sludge can be treated in effective and economic way to meet the prescribed norms, it can be recycled by safely applying it on land for various applications including agricultural. High energy gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 can kill pathogens, reduce odours and degrade organic chemival contaminants and thus making sludge safer for use or disposal. With this initiative of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Bhabha Atomic Research centre, a beginning is made to utilize advanced technology for hygienising sludge for cleaner India (Swachcha and Swastha Bharat).

The MoU is signed by Smt. D. Thara, Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation on behalf of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Dr. K.L. Ramakumar, Director, Radiochemistry and Isotope Group on Behalf of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in the presence of Dr. Lalit Varshney, Head, Radiation Technology Development Division, Shri G. Ganesh, Head, TT&CD and other senior officials from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.


Damage to Rabi Crops

As per inputs received from States and based on preliminary assessment, 93.81 lakh hectare area under crops was affected due to hailstorm, unseasonal rains as

on 16.04.2015. However, it is too early to arrive at the exact assessment of damage to production to rabi crops due to rains/hailstorms etc. As regards suicide by farmers due to agrarian distress, information is furnished by State Governments. As per report received from some of the states, namely, Punjab, Karnataka, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, there have been no incidents of farmers suicides due to agrarian distress caused by unseasonal rains and hailstorm. Government of Maharashtra has however reported three case of farmers’ suicide due to untimely rains and hailstorms during the period January to March 2015.

Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is concerned with coordination of relief measures necessitated by drought, hailstorm, pest attack, cold wave/frost. In the event of any or more of the listed natural calamities taking place in the State(s), fund is readily available with the State Governments under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). Additional financial assistance, over and above SDRF is considered from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for natural calamities of severe nature and is approved on basis of Memorandum of State Government in accordance with established procedure keeping in view items and norms in vogue for assistance.

So far memoranda have been received from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana seeking financial assistance Rs.744.48 crores, Rs.8252 crores and Rs.1135.91 crores respectively in the wake of hailstorm from NDRF.

Inter Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) have been constituted to visit the affected States to assess the damage to crops and recommend financial assistance in accordance with extant norms and procedure. IMCTs have already visited the States of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and assessed the ground situation.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Agriculture Sh.Mohanbhai Kundaria in Lok Sabha today.


Promoting ‘Make In India’ Initiative in Pharmaceutical Sector

The Government has taken various measures to promote the ‘Make in India’ initiative in pharmaceutical sector. In this direction, the Government had constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Health Research. The mandate of this Committee was to carefully study the whole issue of APIs of critical importance by identifying important APIs and then working out a package of interventions/concessions required to build domestic production capabilities and examine the cost implications. The committee which has since submitted its recommendation has, inter-alia, recommended establishment of Mega Parks for APIs with common facilities such as common Effluent Treatments Plants (ETPs), Testing facilities, Captive Power Plants/assured power supply by state systems, Common Utilities/Services such as storage, testing laboratories, IPR management, designing etc., maintained by a separate Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV).

These recommendations are being examined for formulation of a Policy for Promotion of Manufacturing of Bulk Drugs.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri Ananth Kumar in the Lok Sabha today.


Pharma Jan Samadhan, an on-line system launched to take action related to non-availability and overcharging of medicines

All essential medicines specified in the National List of Essential Medicines, 2011 (NLEM) are included in the First Schedule of DPCO, 2013 and are under price control. However, Life saving drugs are not defined in the Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013.

Based on the available pharmaceutical database in terms of moving annual turnover (MAT) of scheduled and non-scheduled drugs, both with respect to volume and value, there is no general evidence to believe that essential/scheduled drugs or non-scheduled drugs are being sold at high price due to shortage/insufficient supply of the drugs in the country. In order to provide a consumer friendly mechanism to resolve such grievances, NPPA has started Pharma Jan Samadhan (PJS), which is an online system for receiving and taking action related to non-availability and overcharging with respect to pharmaceuticals.

There is a mechanism of monitoring the stock and availability of the essential drugs/scheduled drugs under para 21(1) DPCO, 2013 that provides for submission of quarterly return in respect of production/import and sales of scheduled medicines (NLEM medicines) and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients contained in scheduled formulations by the manufacturer/importer/marketer. Further, any manufacturer/importer wanting to discontinue manufacture/import of a scheduled formulation has to apply to NPPA at least 6 months in advance, and NPPA can direct applicant to continue production/import upto 1 year.

NPPA monitors shortages & non-availability of drugs on the basis of reports received from State Drugs Control Administration and also complaints, if any, received from individuals etc. On receipt of such reports, NPPA immediately takes up the matter with the concerned manufacturer and advice them to rush the stock in the affected area.

This information was given by Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of State of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Lok Sabha today.


Pricing of Fertilizers

The Department of Fertilizers has been implementing Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Policy for Phosphatic & Potassic (P&K) fertilizers w.e.f. 1.4.2010. Under the NBS Policy, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on annual basis is provided on each grade of the subsidized P&K fertilizers depending upon its nutrient content. The Maximum Retail Prices of P&K fertilizers are fixed by the fertilizer companies.

At present, freight for primary movement (from factory/port to nearest rake point in District) of P&K fertilizers subject to a maximum distance of 1400 KM is reimbursed to P&K fertilizer companies. Subsidy on account of direct road movement of P&K fertilizers from factory/port to blocks/district headquarters is paid as per the actual claim subject to the equivalent rail freight upto a maximum of 500 Kms as per rates fixed by Govt. from time to time on the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial Committee. With effect from 1.4.2012, the secondary freight for movement of P&K fertilizers from nearest rake point to blocks/district headquarters has been abolished and it has been left to the P&K fertilizer companies to load the cost incurred on secondary freight into the MRP of these fertilizers. However, for movement of P&K fertilizers in difficult areas having difficult terrain and high transportation cost such as in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K and 7 North Eastern States, special compensation on account of extra cost involved in secondary movement of these fertilizers (except SSP) has been announced for each state.

In view of varied cost of secondary freight for different companies moving fertilizers to different parts of the country and also due to different rates of taxes levied by different states, the fertilizer companies fix the MRP of the same P&K fertilizer at different MRP in different states. Under the present dispensation the MRP of the P&K fertilizers will continue to vary from State to State.

In case of Urea, MRP is statutorily fixed by the Government of India and at present it is Rs. 5360/- per MT (exclusive of the central excise duty for domestically produced urea and countervailing duty for imported urea (which is 1% at present) and state VAT which differs from state to state).

Further, the Government of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have levied additional VAT on natural gas used by urea plants situated in these states. Impact of this additional VAT is calculated per MT of urea on the quantity of urea sold in these states, separately for each state and is recovered from the farmers of these respective states by charging Rs. 940/- per MT and Rs. 300/- per MT.

This information was given by Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of State of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Lok Sabha today.

New Urea Policy (NUP) – 2015 is under consideration of the Government.

No Brownfield/Greenfield Investment in the Fertilizer sector has taken place since 1999. The availability of gas has been one of the major limiting factor to the growth of urea industry in the country. Presently, the availability of domestic natural gas is not even sufficient to meet the demand of existing gas based urea units in the country. Due to shortage of domestic gas, many FO/LSHS/Naphtha based urea plants which have converted to gas recently, are meeting its requirement of gas by using Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG).

New Urea Policy (NUP) – 2015 is under the consideration of the Government. There is no proposal to increase MRP of Urea. The MRP of urea is statutorily fixed by the Government of India and at present it is Rs. 5360 per MT (exclusive of the central excise duty for domestically produced urea and countervailing duty for imported urea (which is 1% at present) and state VAT which differs from state to state). With respect to Neem Coated Urea, it has been decided to restrict the extra 5% of MRP to be charged by the companies for future to the extent of 5% of the existing MRP of urea only i.e. Rs.5360 per MT.

There is no proposal of free supply of fertilizers to help dry land farmers to survive under various circumstances.

This information was given by Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of State of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Lok Sabha today.


No Proposal to Revise the Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme

There is no proposal with the Government to revise the Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme.

So far as subsidy on Phosphatic and Potassic fertilizers is concerned, there was no additional requirement of funds during 2014-15. However, due to payment of carried over liability on Urea subsidy amounting to about Rs.17628 crores for 2013-14 in the year 2014-15 and increase in subsidy on indigenous urea due to its higher production cost, there was an estimated shortage of funds for payment of subsidy on indigenous urea to the tune of Rs.27477 crore. In order to meet the outstanding subsidy claims on indigenous urea, additional demand was made for allocation under supplementary grants and also under revised estimates. But no additional allocation was made to under the above head of account. However, after allocation of funds under BE 2015-16, the pending subsidy claims on indigenous urea are being cleared.

In order to meet the outstanding urea subsidy claims, a request was also made for allowing the Department to avail loans from PSU banks upto Rs.27477 crore under a Special Banking Arrangement (SBA). However, the request was not considered.

This information was given by Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of State of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Lok Sabha today.


Global Exhibition on Services to Serve as a Platform to Enhance Strategic Cooperation and Develop Synergies Between Players of Services Sector

Global Exhibition on Services (GES) is being organized from 23-25 April, 2015 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. GES will serve as a platform to enhance strategic cooperation and develop synergies between the players of the services sector in India with its global counterparts.

GES is being organized by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry in association with Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Addressing a curtain raiser press conference in the Capital today, Minister of Commerce & Industry Smt. N. Sitharaman informed that GES would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 23rd April, 2015 while the valedictory session will be addressed by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley.

The Commerce Minister informed that the focus sectors of GES are IT & Telecom, Tourism, Media & Entertainment, Healthcare, Logistics, Professional Services, Education, R&D, Space and SME in Services.

Smt. Sitharaman informed that more than 60 countries have already confirmed their participation out of which around 39 countries are also taking the exhibition space. The Commerce Minister said that the exhibition is first of its kind and would henceforth become an annual feature. Around 300 exhibitors are participating in diverse sectors and more than 500 foreign delegates are participating in the GES. The exhibition would see more than 3000 B2B meetings and a series of seminars and conferences on relevant sectors.


The Tourism and Culture Minister of Odisha meets Dr Mahesh Sharma; Requests assistance to promote tourism and culture in the state

The Tourism and Culture Minister of Odisha, Shri Ashok Chandra Panda met the Union Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma in New Delhi today. Shri Panda briefed the Minister about the potential for giving boost to tourism in the state by promoting the rich cultural heritage of the stateand improving connectivity.

Sh. Panda sought help from the Union Tourism and Culture Minister to set up a Tagore Cultural Complex, Odisha dance Museum in memory of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, and also setting up an International Museum Day at Puri. He further requested the release of funds worth Rs. 8 crore for 8 Projects for which utilization certificates have already been sent to the Union Ministry of Tourism. Some of these important projects include development of Buddhist Circuit, Silk Route, development of Golden Triangle among others.

Shri Ashok Panda said that connectivity is an important factor tofacilitate the growth of tourism to a destination. Although Bhubneswar was declared an International Airport in 2013 and has a new state of the art terminal, there is no International flight from the Airport till date, he said. Shri Panda requested that International carriers be allowed to operate from Bhuwaneswar Airport and as well as Air India should also operate an international flight from there.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma appreciated the efforts being made by the State of Odisha to promote Culture and Tourism and generate employment and income for the local people. Dr Sharma said that the demands of the state are genuine and assured all possible help of the Central Government to the State of Odisha.


Dr Mahesh Sharma chairs 31st Annual General Meeting of the Society of National Council of Science Museums of Ministry of Culture

Puducherry Science Centre to be inaugurated on 3rd May, 2015

The Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma chaired the 31st Annual General Meeting of the Society of National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) of Ministry of Culture at National Science Centre in New Delhi today.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that NCSM has been doing a commendable work in creating awareness on science and technology, educating students in science and technology, and enhancing public understanding and engagement with science. He appreciated NCSM for setting up 60 innovation hubs in different science museums and centres in the country specially for young children. He said that it will inspire the young minds to make innovations and develop a culture of innovation in the country. Dr Sharma suggested that our youth should visit science museums and this aspect should be incorporated in their curriculum. He also said that science and culture need to be intertwined and it is necessary for equitable development of both fields. Culture needs to be interpreted with modern science and technology parameters and science needs to understand culture and both are needed for national development, he explained.

The Minister said that India is known for its rich heritage and culture with its long history of science. We must make efforts to highlight this glorious past in which science was highly developed, he added. The world has changed and expectations have also changed and so the upgradation, updation and propagation of science and technology is required on a continuos basis, he said.

Offering his salute to the galaxy of intellectuals present at the meeting, the Minister said that the wisdom of the experts should be consolidated and disseminated to the masses.

The Chairman of the Governing bodyof NCSM, Prof. R.C.Sobti said that the very purpose of NCSM is to supplement the formal science education to foster a spirit of enquiry and creativity among the students. He also said that mobile science units are being set up to tap the potential and knowledge of rural people. He also emphasized upon the need of science centres in every district of the country and the district level competitions can be organized to promote the engagement of people in science. The state of the art centres are needed to fulfill the purpose of NCSM and digital intervention is required to make them more popular. He also said that these initiatives can boost tourism also as the tourists can visit these centres.

The NCSM is the longest and largest formal network of science museums in the world. It has already developed 46 science centres and museums in the country. Another 2 are ready for opening. The NCSM reaches out to more than 13.5 million visitors every year. The Puducherry Centre will be inaugurated on 3rd May, 2015. A New Science city is also being developed in Guwahati. 9 additional projects shall also be taken up for implementation during 12th and 13th plan period. The Mobile Science exhibition units have also been inaugurated. The Virtual Science Museum of India will be created soon and hosted on www.museumsofindia.gov.in. The NCSM has also won the “Times of India Social Impact Award” in the education category.

The meeting was attended by the members of the Governing Council of National Council of Science Museums. The Chairman of the Governing Body Prof. R.C.Sobti and other members including Prof Sushma Bhatnagar, Dr Saroj Ghose, Shri G. S. Rautela, Dr Adarsh Chaudhary and Sh C. K. Das were also present at the meeting among others.

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