News & Editorial Analysis 07 JUNE 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Train Accident Prevention in India:
Government Policies and Interventions
The safety measures required to prevent such disasters have come into sharp focus as a result of the terrible Odisha railway accident that claimed the lives of over 288 persons.
Why do train collisions occur in India?
Measures to prevent derailments and collisions were well defined and put into practise, according to the Performance Audit on Derailment in Indian Railways – a CAG (2022) study.
Results of the CAG audit:
India’s train accidents are primarily caused by:
For instance, out of 217 “consequential train accidents” that resulted in serious consequences, such as loss of life or injury, loss of railroad property, or disruption of traffic, 163 (or 75%) were caused by derailments from 2017–18 to 2020–21.
Track maintenance, deviation of track parameters above permitted limits, reckless driving and excessive speeds, and poor signalling systems (suspected cause of the Odisha train tragedy) are all factors that contribute to derailments.
The Indian government has taken the following steps to prevent train accidents:
The Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), along with the Indian industry, created the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system on its own.
By stopping trains from passing the signal at Red and immediately activating the train’s braking system (if the driver jumps the Red signal), it offers protection by preventing collisions.
To communicate any emergency message, the station master and loco-pilot use the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).
The Yeshwanthpur-Howrah Express and the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express were both devoid of KAVACH-TCAS.
RRSK, or Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh:
It was established in 2017–18 with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years with an annual spend of Rs 20,000 crore (of which Rs 15,000 crore came from budgetary support and Rs 5,000 crore came from internal Railways resources), with a capital of Rs 1 lakh crore.
The safety fund will be utilised for better rail maintenance, bridge restoration, train stock replacement, human resource development, and level crossing inspection and safety activities.
Even this amount was not “fully utilised” since the amount of funding allotted for track renewal projects reduced from Rs 9,607.65 crore (2018-19) to Rs 7,417 crore (2019-20).
In 2012, the Anil Kakodkar Committee on Railway Safety:
the installation of an advanced signalling system throughout the entire trunk route within five years, comparable to the European Train Control System. a change from coaches with the ICF design to those with the significantly safer LHB design.
The 2015 report by the Bibek Debroy Committee on Mobilising Resources for Major Railway Projects:
the establishment of a distinct safety department within Indian Railways, the creation of a thorough safety plan, the use of technology to increase safety, an improvement in track maintenance procedures, and an improvement in safety training programmes.
Derailments CAG Audit Report (2022):
By implementing completely automated procedures and enhanced technologies for track maintenance, it will be possible to guarantee the timely implementation of repair activities.
to develop guiding principles for allocating RRSK monies to each safety work item.
to make sure that the deadlines for conducting and concluding accident investigations are strictly followed.
Source à The Hindu
2 – Oil Reserves in Salt Caverns:
Infrastructure related issues
Engineers India (EIL), a government-owned engineering company, is researching the viability of creating strategic oil reserves in Rajasthan based on salt caverns.
The government’s goal of expanding the nation’s strategic oil storage capacity is consistent with this.
The three strategic oil storage facilities that are now in use by the nation are located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Mangaluru, and Padur.
Concerning the strategic oil reserves:
A country that maintains a stockpile of crude oil or petroleum products as a strategic precaution to ensure energy security and stability in the event of emergencies or disruptions in the oil supply is said to have a strategic oil reserve.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) advises all nations to keep emergency oil reserves that are sufficient for 90 days of import protection.
Information about India’s oil reserves:
India, the third-largest oil user in the world, imports more than 85% of what it needs.
India’s SPR capacity is presently 5.33 million tonnes, or roughly 39 million barrels of crude. 9.5 days’ worth of oil is now covered by India’s strategic petroleum reserves (SPR).
The storage facilities of oil marketing corporations in India also provide an additional 64.5 days of storage, for a total of about 74 days of petroleum demand coverage.
The present locations of India’s strategic crude oil storage facilities are Chandikhol in Odisha, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Mangaluru in Karnataka, and Padur in Karnataka.
Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), a fully owned subsidiary of the Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, is in charge of overseeing the building of the strategic crude oil storage facilities in India.
It is by far the most cost-effective method of storing petroleum products since the subterranean facility eliminates the need for large tracts of land, insures less evaporation, and make it simple to discharge crude into the caverns from ships because they are built much below sea level.
Source à The Hindu
3 – Solar Panels:
Solar panels, recognised as an essential instrument for cutting carbon emissions, present a disposal and replacement difficulty because they only have a 25-year lifespan.
About Solar E-Waste:
Electronic garbage produced by abandoned solar panels is referred to as solar e-waste. Since solar panels only last 20 to 25 years, disposing of them poses issues with managing the electronic garbage they produce.
What components make up a solar panel?
The main components of a PV module are glass, metal, silicon, and polymer fractions. Together, glass and aluminium make up about 80% of the overall weight and are non-hazardous.
However, a few additional materials, such as alloys, polymers, metals, and metallic compounds, are deemed potentially hazardous.
Recycling of PV modules is still not profitable.
Globally, the recycling of PV waste is still in its infancy. India does not have a strategy for the management of solar waste, but it does have lofty goals for solar power installation.
According to estimates, India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume will increase to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and close to 2 million tonnes by 2050.
Management of solar e-waste problems
Lack of thorough policy:
Comprehensive legislation and regulations addressing the treatment of solar e-waste are lacking in many nations, including India.
Growing amount of solar waste:
By 2030, India may produce over 34,600 tonnes of solar waste.
Insufficient recycling infrastructure:
insufficient infrastructure and recycling facilities.
High recycling costs:
Solar panels can be recycled for $20 to $30, compared to $1 to $2 for landfill disposal.
Toxic substances found in solar waste:
When improperly handled, the poisonous metals and minerals found in solar panels can cause environmental damage.
Limited understanding and application:
Lack of stakeholder awareness and insufficient enforcement of recycling laws.
Disposal in landfills:
Improper landfill disposal of solar waste, endangering the ecosystem.
Waste of resources:
Solar panels that have been discarded often include valuable materials including silver, copper, and quartz for semiconductors.
The following technologies can be used to recover valuable materials from solar e-waste:
Metals like copper and aluminium can be recovered from solar panels by shredding them into tiny bits and using subsequent separation methods.
Solar panels can be broken down at high temperatures using thermal processes like pyrolysis and gasification to recover precious materials and produce energy-dense gases or liquids.
Valuable metals, such as silver and copper, can be dissolved and separated from the solar panel components using chemical solvents or acids.
Processes that use electrochemistry
By using electrical currents or potential differences, electrochemical processes can be used to selectively remove metals from solar panel components.
Robotic systems that are automated:
For effective material recovery, advanced robotic systems with sensors and artificial intelligence can be employed to recognise and separate the various solar panel components.
Recently enacted Government Initiative:
Under the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change added Solar Waste Treatment in November 2022.
Ecological Credit Programme:
It was started under the Environmental Protection Act of 1986 and made public in the Budget for 2022–2023 with the intention of promoting sustainable practises and green growth.
Source à The Hindu
4 – Lavender Festival:
The Lavender Festival at Bhaderwah, Jammu, was officially opened by Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh as part of the One Week One Lab Campaign run by CSIR-IIIM.
The revolution involving lavender is in its second year. Bhaderwah is touted as India’s Lavender Capital and a prime location for Agri StartUps.
Aroma Mission and Lavender Revolution (also known as Purple Revolution):
The fragrant blooming plant known as lavender is prized for its calming fragrance and scented purple blossoms. It is commonly grown for its essential oil, which has a number of applications in aromatherapy, cosmetics, and food.
Launched in 2016 by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Aroma Mission, a division of the Union Ministry of Science & Technology.
to encourage entrepreneurship and support the native agro-economy based on fragrant crops.
Hydrosol, lavender water, and lavender oil.
supports the government’s initiative to double farm earnings, provide employment, and encourages entrepreneurship.
CSIR project to assist farmers, encourage the growth of aromatic crops, and bring about transformational change in the fragrance industry.
Phase-I and phase II:
Phase I taught approximately 44,000 people in 46 areas, while Phase II intends to employ over 45,000 skilled resources and assist farming households.
the Lucknow-based CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP).
Increasing the amount of land under cultivation, providing technical and infrastructure support, charging fair prices, and adding value to essential oils.
Source à The Hindu
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
LINE OF ACTUAL CONTROL:
With the Doklam and Galwan crises, the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has been very tense for the past few years, stopping just short of a war.
LAC: Line of Actual Control:
In the context of the Sino-Indian border dispute, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a hypothetical line that divides territory under Indian control from area under Chinese control.
The borders that each nation claims in the Sino-Indian boundary dispute are distinct from the LAC. The entire Aksai Chin region is covered by the Indian claims, whereas Zangnan (South Tibet) and Arunachal Pradesh are covered by the Chinese claims. The term “actual control” does not apply to these assertions.
Generally speaking, the LAC is separated into three sectors:
the western sector between the Indian state of Ladakh and the Tibetan and Xinjiang autonomous regions; the middle sector between the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Tibetan autonomous region; and the eastern sector between the Indian states of Zangnan (South Tibet) and Arunachal Pradesh and the Tibetan autonomous region. The McMahon Line is typically followed in this industry.
Agreements and shortcomings:
Following the visit by the then-Indian Prime Minister to China in December 1988, the relationship between the two countries gained momentum.
Since then, four agreements (in 1993, 1996, 2005, and 2013) have been signed between the two nations to maintain peace along the LAC, laying the groundwork for handling the border issue and encompassing the full spectrum of engagement from top-level government meetings to border personnel gatherings in the field.
These arrangements have been effective for more than 20 years. The LAC’s increased tension, though, raises the possibility that the agreements aren’t adequate.
The Indian security establishment currently believes that it is necessary to stop China’s “salami slicing tactics” and that it should be “unyielding” with China.
While toughness is necessary, it’s also important to pinpoint the causes of the LAC’s escalating conflicts and concentrate on finding solutions.
According to some experts, the rise in LAC occurrences is not solely attributable to hostility because advances in surveillance technologies have made it possible to see the movement of hostile forces in previously inaccessible places.
This improves the reaction capability, which raises the likelihood of encounters and confrontations when combined with higher unit densities, greater infrastructure, enhanced logistics, and the availability of aviation assets.
without affecting border claims, converting the LAC into a Line of Control (LC) and outlining it on a map and in real life. This will lessen the advanced troops’ desire to advance slowly. Although it can seem challenging, this can be done if both parties show maturity and use technology.
Additionally, it needs to develop a strong infrastructure in its challenging border regions to ensure the effective transit of personnel and other logistical supplies.
Border guards should carry on their conversation, promptly disengage, keep a safe distance, and defuse tensions.
The two parties should refrain from taking any actions that could worsen the situation and adhere to all existing agreements and conventions on China-India boundary concerns.
The LAC’s contested sections can be treated as no-entry zones, or both sides should be permitted to patrol them at mutually agreed-upon intervals.
In order to maintain the status quo and boost confidence, joint patrolling of the contested areas needs to be investigated.
So that local concerns may be resolved swiftly, it is necessary to strengthen the engagement channels and confidence-building measures already in place.
A long-term solution to the India-China border issue cannot be found right away due to its complexity. Therefore, it is preferable that both parties think about adopting quick, practical efforts to stabilise the LAC and lessen the likelihood of a confrontation.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
INTERLOCKING SYSTEM IN INDIAN RAILWAYS:
The Coromandel Express collided with the stationary goods train from behind due to “configuration” of the track, according to recent comments made by the railway minister, causing the three-way train catastrophe in Odisha.
According to the minister, the configuration of the track upon which everything runs underwent such a change. When it comes to speedy operation and “locking” of point switches, the electric “point machine” is a crucial piece of railway signalling equipment.
It is crucial to the safe operation of trains. Train movement will be significantly hampered by the failure of these devices, and dangerous conditions may occur from any installation-related flaws that are not fixed.
What does the railway term “interlocking” mean?
A key safety mechanism utilised in the operation of train movements on railway tracks is interlocking in railway signalling systems. It guarantees that train movements proceed without interference from one another, avoiding accidents.
An interlocking system is made up of three basic parts: the point, the track occupancy sensing devices, and the signal. These three elements’ operations are coordinated by the interlocking system to govern train movement.
What purpose does each of these three key elements serve?
To show the condition of the track in front, signals (which are lights in the colours green, red, and yellow) are set along the tracks.
Electrical circuits called track circuits, also referred to as track occupancy sensing equipment, are used to identify the presence of trains.
Trains can switch tracks at points.
What are the points’ workings?
The wheels of a train are guided by the points, which are movable rails, towards either a straight or a diverting route.
They are often situated where two tracks that are headed in separate directions converge. The point is fixed in place once the direction of a train has been established. As a result, once a direction has been established, the point cannot change it until the train has past.
A computer screen (or numerous screens) that display the full image of the station layout as well as the live (real-time) movement of trains on tracks, the signals, and the location of the points serve as the system’s digital interface. All trains operate in this configuration, everywhere. Data logger is the name of this computer interface.
The system detects whether a track is occupied in what way?
Track occupancy sensors come in a variety of designs. Typically, sensors that detect the passage of wheels on rails are put on the tracks.
Axle counters are another name for them. To ascertain if the entire train has passed by, they count how many sets of wheels or axles have crossed them.
How is the setup of the entire system?
The interlocking system, which is managed remotely from the station, is fed with a “sound logic” of what constitutes safe train running.
A pointsman would physically operate the point to alter its direction for an arriving train and to lock it in previous times, when technology was more primitive. After making sure that the track is clear of any obstructions, someone would then manually flag a green signal for the train. The driver would follow the flag while moving forward.
Only about 100 minor stations still use manual levers to operate these points out of the 7,000 or so stations in the Indian Railways network today. Even though the fundamental logic of the rest is based on tried-and-true standard operating procedures for safety, the rest work electronically.
In the case of the Coromandel Express, the logic in the computer would be that the signal to the train should be green if the Up line, on which the Coromandel was located, is empty, if the point is directed to the Up line, and if it is locked for the Coromandel.
Is this system secure?
The system will attempt to halt the approaching train if any one of the three elements (signals, points, and track occupancy sensors) does not match the overall “safe” logic given into the computer.
This means that the signal will automatically turn red, alerting the approaching train that something is wrong and that it should stop, if the point is not locked, not set to the proper direction, and/or the sensing equipment detects that the track is not clear.
A system that errs on the side of safety is what is known as a “fail safe” system.
Who manages and oversees the interlocking signals system, and how?
Typically, trained employees from the railways’ signalling and telecommunications department—commonly referred to as “signallers” or “signal operators”—operate and maintain the interlocking system.
They are in charge of establishing the signals, keeping an eye on the track circuits, and ensuring that trains travel safely.
Worldwide, interlocking systems are employed in railway networks. Although signalling techniques and technologies differ between nations, the fundamental idea of avoiding incompatible train movements does not.
Can this system be manipulated?
Any machine is “prone to failure even if it runs smoothly 99.9% of the time, but digging work may snap cables, wear and tear and short circuit etc. can cause failures,” as Railway Board Member (Operations and Business Development) Jaya Varma Sinha stated on Sunday. These things don’t typically occur. However, any system has a.1% chance of failing for any reason at any time.
In order to improve safety, the committee recommended that tracks and signalling systems be modernised. According to the Bibek Debroy Committee (2015), this will reduce the likelihood of such incidents in the future. There is still a need for further technological modernization of the railway.
Along with it, mock experiments and ongoing skill-development programmes are needed to raise railway employees’ awareness levels and reduce the possibility of human error to zero.
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