Daily Current Affairs : 18-Jan-2020

Major Topics Covered :





  5. TCEPF


  7. ENDORSED TrueNat




Part of GS- 1 Geography

Why in news?

The Supreme Court cleared the path for construction of an international airport at Mopa in Goa by lifting the suspension on Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to the project.


• The top court had in March last year suspended the EC granted for the greenfield airport and had directed the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) to revisit the decision in light of its impact on the ecology there.

Goa's current airport at Dabolim is a civil enclave operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at a military airfield owned by the Indian Navy.

Civilian and military operations share a common runway and result in severe airside congestion.

• While lifting the suspension on EC, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta noted the assurance tendered on behalf of concessionaire GMR Goa International Airport Limited that it would adopt a zero-carbon programme both in the construction and operational phases of the airport.

The top court-appointed the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to oversee compliance with the directions issued by it in the matter.

Source: AIR


Part of GS- 3 Economy

Why in news?

Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on 18th January, 2020, launched the APNA UREA - Sona Ugle brand of Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Limited (HURL) at a function in New Delhi.


HURL is Joint Venture Company promoted by the three Maha Ratna Companies - Coal India Limited, NTPC Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

• Government had approved the revival of three sick Urea plants located at Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni, which have been undertaken by HURL.

• The other two plants at Ramagundam and Talcher will also commence production soon.

• The country is importing 70 to 80 Lakh metric tonne of fertilizer every year.

• The commissioning of these five units, the total production of Urea will increase by over 63 Lakh Metric Tonne per annum. He said the revival of five Urea plants will reduce dependence on imports.

Source: AIR


Part of GS-Health

Why in news?

Pneumococcal vaccine developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India has been pre- qualified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the third week of December 2019.


• The prequalification of the vaccine by WHO was based on the results of a phase-3 trial (the final phase of human clinical trial) carried out in 2,250 children in Gambia, a small West African country.

• The pneumococcal vaccine PNEUMOSIL is a conjugate vaccine to help produce stronger immune response to a weak antigen.

• Serum Institute had optimised an efficient conjugate vaccine manufacturing processes for its meningitis a vaccine (MenAfriVac), which was used for manufacturing the pneumococcal vaccine.

• According to a November 2019 UNICEF report, pneumonia caused 1,27,000 deaths in India in 2018, the second highest number of child mortality under the age of five in the world. In India, pneumonia and diarrhoea cause the most deaths in children under five years.

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS- 1 Geography

Why in news?

A Concession Agreement for completing the 6.5-kilometre long Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir was signed on 17th January, 2020 in New Delhi.


• Under the agreement, the two-lane bi-directional tunnel with parallel escape tunnel will be completed in 3.5 years at a cost of 2379 Crore rupees.

Z-Morh Tunnel is a road tunnel project and is the first step toward ensuring all-weather connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil in Ladakh region of India.

• Z-Morh Tunnel will provide all-weather road connectivity to Sonmarg tourist spot in Jammu and Kashmir.

It mostly remains closed during the winters due to heavy snowfall in Gagenger area.

The tunnel gets its name from its Z formation between Sonamarg and Gagangir.

• The project includes construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel with approaches on NH-1 at Srinagar-Sonmarg-Gumri Road from 61 kilometres to 89.30 kilometres on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer Annuity basis.

• The pact between NHIDCL and APCO Amarnathji Tunnelway was signed in the presence of Road Transport and Highways Minister.

Source: PIB


Part of GS- 3 Economy Why in news? The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said telecom service providers will need to deposit all unclaimed money of consumers, including excess charges and security deposit, in the Telecommunication Consumers Education and Protection Fund (TCEPF).


• The authority observed that there is a need to bring clarity among service providers in depositing money which they are unable to refund to the consumers.

• TRAI said, adding that while some service providers were depositing money only on account of excess billing revealed in the audit, others were depositing unclaimed money such as security deposits and plan charges of failed activations.


F Regulations, 2007, which have now been amended, provide the basic framework for depositing unclaimed money of consumers by service providers, maintenance of the TCEPF and other related aspects. Source: The Hindu

'OPTION IN GOODS' Part of GS- 3 Economy Why in news? The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said on 15th January, 2020, said that stocks exchanges can launch ‘option in goods’ in their commodity derivatives segment.


• This is in addition to ‘options on commodity futures’.

• The provision shall pave the way for launching options contracts in commodities based on underlying spot market price and settlement through compulsory delivery.

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• For the first time, Indian commodity derivatives market will witness both European as well as American options, where as in securities market options are restricted to European style only.

• It can reduce the risk for the hedgers.

• Options in agriculture commodities can prove to be an important tool to replace minimum support price intervention scheme of the govt. OPTION IN GOODS

• A contract for the purchase or sale of a right to buy or sell or a right to buy and sell in the future, such underlying goods, is called ‘option in goods’, a derivatives contract.

• The exchanges should also make necessary disclosures such as open interest of top 10 largest participants/group of participants in “option in goods” (both long and short) and the details of their combined open interest in underlying constituents. Source: The Hindu


Part of GS- Health Why in news? The World Health Organisation has endorsed TrueNat, an indigenous molecular diagnostic tool for tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis. The disease remains a threat to public health and is the top infectious cause of death globally.

Highlights: What is the TrueNat TB test?

The TrueNat TB test is a new molecular test that can diagnosis TB in one hour as well as testing for resistance to the drug rifampicin. World Health Organisation (WHO) endorses TrueNat test

This was to consider the latest evidence on the use of the Molbio TrueNat MTB/RIF test as well as the Xpert MTB Ultra.1 The outcomes of the meeting will be disseminated as updated WHO guidelines by April 2020.

• In the meantime WHO has issued a Rapid Communication on the use of Molecular Assays as initial tests for the diagnosis of tuberculosis and Rifampicin resistance. How does the TrueNat test work?

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The machine looks for the DNA specific to the TB bacteria. If the machine detects it, it then uses PCR to copy (amplify) small segments of DNA and this DNA can then be used in many different laboratory procedures.

In 2018, an estimated 10 million people developed TB and 1.5 million died of it while at least a million children become ill with it every year.

• Also about 5,00,000 new cases of multidrug 2 and rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (MDR/RR-TB) are estimated to emerge annually but only one in three cases was reported by countries to have been diagnosed and treated in 2018.

The test works by the rapid detection of TB bacteria using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique.

In December 2019 WHO held a meeting of its Guidelines Development Group.

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• WHO has noted that since the approval of Xpert MTB/RIF in 2010, significant additional evidence has been generated on its use as initial test for the diagnosis and rifampicin- resistant TB. Source: The Hindu


Part of GS- 3 Economy Why in news? An expert group reviewing the Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC) has asserted that renewable energy power plants shall be treated as “must run” and electricity from these plants shall not be curtailed for any commercial reasons.


Part of the latest draft IEGC prepared by the group, the provision comes at a time when a number of states have repeatedly resorted to not scheduling power from renewable sources, citing high costs.

• Renewable players have raised concerns in recent months about rising instances of state power distribution companies unplugging their generating capacity from the grid and delaying payments.

The unplugging, also called backing-down, stems from the poor financial status of discoms, because of which a number of them have started going back on their PPA commitments with solar and wind power producers.

• The renewable sector was previously accorded a ‘must run’ status in the 2010 IEGC, despite which states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have curtailed electricity from such sources.

• A ‘must run’ status means that the concerned power plant has to supply electricity to the grid under all conditions.

Wind, solar, wind-solar hybrid and hydro plants (in case of excess water leading to spillage) shall be treated as MUST RUN power plants and shall not be subjected to curtailment on account of merit order despatch or any other commercial consideration. Source: Indian Express GLOBAL DROSOPHILA- APDRC5 Part of GS- Health Why in news? The city is set to host the fifth edition of the Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC5), which is being organised in the country for the first time by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).


Drosophila is one of the most widely-used and preferred model organisms in biological research across the world for the last 100 years.

• Several discoveries in biology have been made using this.

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• Its genome is entirely sequenced and there is enormous information available about its biochemistry, physiology and behaviour.

About Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC):

The last four editions of this conference took place in Taipei, Seoul, Beijing and Osaka. Source: The Hindu

This biennial conference aims to promote the interaction of Drosophila researchers in the Asia-Pacific region with their peers in the rest of the world.

It will bring together scientists from all over the world who use the fruit fly, Drosophila, as a model organism to address basic and applied questions.

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