Current Affairs - January 2017

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Railway Ministry unveils Mission 41K to save energy worth Rs 41,000 crore

Union Railway Ministry has unveiled ‘Mission 41K’ to save Rs. 41,000 crore on the Indian Railways’ expenditure on energy consumption over the next 10 years.

The launch of this programme was announced at a Roundtable Discussion on Energy Initiatives of Indian Railways with external stakeholders headed by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Key Facts
  • This target of ‘Mission 41K will be achieved by taking a slew of measures which include moving 90% of traffic to electric traction over diesel from present 50% of the total rail traffic.
  • The railways will also procure more and more electricity at cheaper rates through open market instead of sourcing it through DISCOMs. Thereby it hopes to save as much as 25% on its energy expenses.
  • New technologies will be also explored to bring down electric consumption and change the energy mix of Indian Railways.
  • The Electrification Mission will help Indian Railways to reduce dependence on imported fuel, change energy mix, and rationalize the cost of energy for Railways.

In the 2016-17 Budget, Indian Railways already had set a target of generating 1000 MW of solar power and 200 MW of wind energy. During 2014-2015 period, Indian Railways had consumed over 18.25 billion units of electrical energy for its traction and non-traction application for which it paid a total of Rs 12,635 crore. In the same period, for diesel traction it spent Rs 18,586 crore.

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India becomes associate member of CERN

India formally became an associate member of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) with the government completing the internal approval procedures for the agreement it signed in November 2016.

Prior to it, in September 2016, CERN Council had adopted a resolution upgrading India’s position as associate member from earlier ‘observer’ status (since 2004).

Benefits for India
  • Now, India can take part in meetings of the CERN Council and its committees (Scientific Policy Committee and Finance Committee). However India will not have voting rights on decisions of the council.
  • It will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers from India in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes.
  • It will open up new avenues for Indian scientists to engage with their counterparts in front line research in physics and engineering. Also, Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments.
  • It will help to boost India’s science credentials and give access to high end scientific technology. It will also make Indian scientists eligible for staff appointments in CERN.
  • Besides, Indian industries will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts. Thus, it will open up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.

About European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)

  • CERN as an organisation is world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. It is situated in North West suburbs of Geneva on France-Swiss Border. It was established in 1954.
  • Members: It has 22 member states, four associate members (including India, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine) and three International Organisations have observer status.
  • Functions: The laboratory helps scientists and engineers probing fundamental structure of Universe using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems.
  • Provide the necessary infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research including particle accelerators.
  • Achievements: CERN operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
  • It is associated with the discovery of the Higgs Boson which is popularly known as the God particle.
India-CERN
  • India has been actively involved in CERN’s activities for over 50 years. Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to various projects of CERN.
  • In 1991, India and CERN had signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific cooperation. Since then India and CERN have signed several other protocols.
  • Indian scientists had active in construction of the LHC in the areas of design, development and supply of hardware accelerator components, software development and deployment in the machine.
  • They also had played significant role in the CMS (Compact Muon Experiment), one of the two large experiments that led to discovery of God particle.

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