Daily Current Affairs - 20-05-2021

On May 19, 2021, China and Russia began the biggest Nuclear Power Project. The Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chinese President Xi Jing Ping attended the ceremony that began the construction of the project on May 19, 2021.

Background

In 2018, Russia and China signed an agreement on Nuclear Energy Cooperation Project. Under the agreement, the countries agreed to build Unit three and Unit Four of the Xudapu Nuclear Power Plant and Unit 7 and Unit 8 of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant.

About the Project

The construction of the above four units is the major cooperation outcome of science and technology innovation and high-end equipment manufacturing between the countries. The contract value of the project is twenty billion USD. The nuclear reactors to be used in the project are third generation VVER-1200 reactors. After completion, the reactors will generate 37.6 billion kilo watt hours of electricity. Also, they will reduce 30.68 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and will also reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Background

The project is a standing evidence that Russia and China are increasing their close ties after facing huge pressure from European Union and United States on several issues including human rights violations. China has been speeding up its nuclear development to reduce its reliance on coal fired plants. This is being done to achieve its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2060.

China’s Nuclear Power

As of April 2021, there are forty-nine nuclear power plants in China. This puts the country in the third position amongst the nuclear powers. On the other hand, China is also pushing its third-generation nuclear technology Hualong Two. The Chinese have set a target of achieving 200 GW of Nuclear capacity by 2035.

An Iceberg recently calved off from the continent of Antarctica. This iceberg is now the largest iceberg in the world. It has been named as A-76.

About the Ice Berg

The Ice Berg is 170 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide. The ice berg was spotted by a European Space Agency satellite called Copernicus Sentinel. It is a two-satellite constellation that orbits the earth’s poles.

The Ice Berg is now floating on the Weddell Sea. Weddell Sea is a large bay in the Western Antarctic.

Satellites confirmed the calving of Ice Berg

The satellites confirmed the observations made by British Antarctic Survey. The British Antarctic Survey was the first to notice the breakaway.

Impact of the ice berg on sea level

Every time an ice berg calves out from Antarctica, it adds up to the rising sea levels. However, in this case, the ice shelf from which this berg carved out was already floating on water.

The Ice Shelf from which A-76 calved out is called Ronne Ice Shelf.

Predecessor of A-76

Prior to A-76, A-74 ice berg calved out from Antarctica. Both these calving were natural. The ice calving and regrowth occurs naturally in Antarctica at defined intervals. This process helps to maintain the ice levels in the region. However, influxes of warm water in the region are affecting this natural process and increasing the rate at which ice bergs calve out. The time taken by the ice bergs to calve out is now lesser than the time taken for the same amount of ice to regrow.

The Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel recently announced that around six cultural heritage sites have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

What are the six sites?

The following six places have successfully entered the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

With this, the total number of sites in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Tentative list has increased to 48.

Background

The Archaeological Survey of India sent nine entries. Out of this, six have entered the tentative list. These proposed sites will remain in the tentative list for a year.

Ganga Ghats of Varanasi

The Ghats of Varanasi are the riverfront steps that lead to the banks of river Ganges. There are 88 ghats. Most of these ghats were built in the 18th century when the city was under the rule of Marathas.

Satpura Tiger Reserve

It is located in Madhya Pradesh. The other major attractions of Satpura Tiger Reserve are Pandav Caves, Bee falls, Dhoopgarh Peak, Denwa Backwaters and rock paintings. The Denwa backwaters is the reservoir formed by the dam built on Denwa river.

Maharashtra Military Architecture

There are more than five hundred forts of various hybrid eras making Maharashtra one of the richest places in military architecture in the world. They were built between 1500 and 1800. During this period, the architecture conceived were largely military defensive architecture.

Hire Benkal Megalithic Site

It is located in Karnataka. Megalithic site is a large pre-historic stone that is used to construct a monument or structure. There are more than four hundred megalithic funerary monuments in Hire Benkal Megalithic site.

Bhedaghat Lametaghat of Narmada Valley

They are referred to Grand Canyon of India. One can experience the outstanding beauty of marble rocks and their glittering forms on the other side of Narmada river. Several dinosaur fossil fuels have been found here.

Here the Narmada river flows into a thirty-metre-deep gorge and flows between marble rocks. These marble rocks are formed by the metamorphic mechanism of limestone.

On May 19, 2021, the Government of India increased fertilizer subsidies to Rs 1,200 per bag. Earlier, it was Rs 500 per bag. Thus, the subsidies have been increased by 140%.

Why the subsidy?

The prices of fertilizers in the country are increasing at a faster rate. This is because prices of ammonia, phosphoric acid, etc are increasing internationally. They have increased by 60% to 70% internationally.

How will this benefit the farmers?

The actual price of fertilizer bag is now Rs 2,400. With the earlier subsidies, the farmer would have got the fertilizer bag at Rs 1,900. With the increased subsidy, the farmer will now get the bag at Rs 1,200. This is the rate at which he was getting the fertilizer bag earlier.

Budget to the increased Fertilizer subsidy

The GoI was spending Rs 80,000 crores for chemical subsidies earlier. Now, with the increase in subsidy, the Government of India will spend an additional Rs 14,775 crores.

This is the second major step in the interest of the farmers after the GoI recently transferred Rs 20,667 crores to the farmers account under PM-KISAN.

Background

The Government of India was following “No Denial” policy. Under this policy, anyone shall purchase the subsidised fertilizers through Point-of-Sale machines. In August 2020, the GoI restricted the limit to hundred bags. Later in January 2020, the restriction was further increased to fifty gags per month per person. This was done as the GoI was left with no headroom to revise the prices.