Daily Current Affairs : 17th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Airport Economic Regulatory Authority
  2. Open Acreage Licensing Policy
  3. Wolbachia
  4. Facts for Prelims : Tribal University

1 . Airport Economic Regulatory Authority

Context : The Rajya Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008, whereby the Airports Authority would not determine tariff structures in the case of privatised airports as that was part of the bid offered at the time of the privatisation.

About Regulation of Airports

  • Before setting up of AERA Airports Authority performed the role of the airport operator as well as the regulator, which results in conflict of interest.  This situation has often led to complaints of a mis-match between the aeronautical charges levied by the Airports Authority and the quality of services rendered at airports which are controlled by the Airports Authority.  
  • The Naresh Chandra Committee, set up by the Central Government to prepare the road map for civil aviation sector had recommended the setting up of an independent regulatory authority.
  • Hence Airports Economic Regulatory Authority(the Regulatory Authority) was established so as to create a level playing field and foster healthy competition amongst all major airports to encourage investment in airport facilities to regulate tariffs for aeronautical services etc.  
  • It is, therefore, considered necessary to enact a law for the establishment of the Regulatory Authority to regulate tariff and other charges for the aeronautical services rendered at airports and to monitor performance standards of airports and also to establish Appellate Tribunal to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals.

About Airport Economic Regulatory Authority

  • The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) is a statutory body constituted under the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 with its head office at Delhi.

Statutory functions of the AERA

  • To determine the tariff for the aeronautical services taking into consideration:
    • The capital expenditure incurred and timely investment in improvement of airport facilities.
    • The service provided, its quality and other relevant factors.
    • The cost for improving efficiency.
    • Economic and viable operation of major airports.
    • Revenue received from services other than the aeronautical services.
    • The concession offered by the Central Government in any agreement or memorandum of understanding or otherwise.
    • Any other factor which may be relevant for the purposes of this Act.
  • To determine the amount of the Development Fees in respect of major airports.
  • To determine the amount of the Passengers Service Fee levied under rule 88 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 made under the Aircraft Act, 1934.
  • To monitor the set Performance Standards relating to quality, continuity and reliability of service as may be specified by the Central Government or any authority authorized by it in this behalf.
  • To call for such information as may be necessary to determine the tariff under clause
  • To perform such other functions relating to tariff, as may be entrusted to it by the Central Government or as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.

2 .   Open Acreage Licensing Policy

Context : The government on Tuesday signed revenue-sharing contracts for 32 hydrocarbon blocks offered under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) Rounds II and III, adding 60,000 square km to India’s exploration map.

About OALP

  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy is one of the main component of Hydro Exploration Licensing Policy
  • Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bed methane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not already covered by exploration). 
  • The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it is suitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances. 
  • What distinguishes OALP from New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) of 1997 is that under OALP, oil and gas acreages will be available round the year instead of cyclic bidding rounds as in NELP. Potential investors need not have to wait for the bidding rounds to claim acreages.
  • Successful implementation of OALP requires building of National Data Repository on geo-scientific data.

About Hydro Exploration Licensing Policy

  • Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) is a policy adopted by Government of India o6 indicating the new contractual and fiscal model for award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production (E&P).
  • HELP replaces the present policy regime for exploration and production of oil and gas, known as New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), which has been in existence for 18 years.

Features of HELP

  • Uniform License: It provides for a uniform licensing system to cover all hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single licensing framework, instead of the present system of issuing separate licenses for each kind of hydrocarbons.
  • Open Acreages: It gives the option to a hydrocarbon company to select the exploration blocks throughout the year without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Revenue Sharing Model:  The earlier contracts were based on the concept of profit sharing where profits are shared between Government and the contractor after recovery of cost. Under the profit sharing methodology, it became necessary for the Government to scrutinize cost details of private participants and this led to many delays and disputes. Under the new regime, the Government will not be concerned with the cost incurred and will receive a share of the gross revenue from the sale of oil, gas etc. Bidders will be required to quote revenue share in their bids and this will be a key parameter for selecting the winning bid.  They will quote a different share at two levels of revenue called “lower revenue point” and “higher revenue point”.  Revenue share for intermediate points will be calculated by linear interpolation.  The bidder giving the highest net present value of revenue share to the Government, as per transparent methodology, will get the maximum marks under this parameter.
  • Marketing and Pricing Freedom has been granted, subject to a ceiling price limit, for new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature Areas. The policy provides marketing and pricing freedom to the gas production from existing discoveries which are yet to commence commercial production as on 1.1.2016 as well as for future discoveries. Considering the imperfections in gas markets in India, and to protect the interests of the consuming sector, a ceiling based on the landed cost of the alternate fuels has been imposed.

3 . Wolbachia

Context : To control the spread of dengue and chikungunya, scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research have turned to an unlikely new ally — bacteria.

About the Findings

  • ICMR researchers have developed a strain of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the main vector that transmits the viruses that cause dengue — into which Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria, is introduced.
  • Wolbachia “inhibits” viral infection, which means, “people will feel the mosquito bite but they will not be infected. The bacteria will not allow the virus to replicate in the mosquito and so, the virus won’t be transmitted through a bite
  • The mosquito variant has been named the Puducherry strain since it was developed at the Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC), Puducherry in collaboration with Monash University in Australia.
  • With the introduction of the new strain, there will be a gradual decline in the number of dengue cases. The mosquitoes in India will be replaced with those carrying Wolbachia bacteria

About Wolbachia

  • Wolbachia are natural bacteria present in up to 60% of insect species, including some mosquitoes.
  • However, Wolbachia is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the primary species responsible for transmitting human viruses such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
  • For many years, scientists have been studying Wolbachia, looking for ways to use it to potentially control the mosquitoes that transmit human viruses. The World Mosquito Program’s research has shown that when introduced into the Aedes aegypti mosquito, Wolbachia can help to reduce the transmission of these viruses to people. This important discovery has the potential to transform the fight against life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases.
  • Wolbachia is safe for humans, animals and the environment. Two independent risk assessments have been conducted, both of which gave an overall risk rating of ‘negligible’ (the lowest possible rating) for the release of mosquitoes with Wolbachia

4 . Facts for Prelims

Tribal University

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2019, for establishing a Central University and Tribal University in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Tribal University will offer research facilities in the fields of art, culture and technology to the tribal population.

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