Bhopal gas tragedy
Four of the five patients who died of COVID-19 in Bhopal were the survivors of the city’s 1984 gas tragedy, and were suffering from respiratory illnesses that made them more vulnerable to the disease.
What was ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’?
- Post-midnight on December 3, 1984, Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) leaked from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals), an MNC, in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal.
- It is estimated that about 40 tonnes of gas and other chemicals were leaked from the Union Carbide factory.
- Methyl isocyanate is extremely toxic gas and if its concentration in the air touches 21ppm (parts per million), it can cause death within minutes of inhaling the gas.
- After the tragedy, the government of India enacted a Public Liability Insurance Act (1991), making it mandatory for industries to get insurance, the premium for this insurance would contribute to an Environment Relief Fund to provide compensation to victims of a Bhopal-like disaster.
US approves 2 missile deals with India
The US State Department has approved two potential missile deals with India, for an estimated $92 million and $63 million.
- The first deal, for which Boeing is the contractor, is for 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and related equipment. These missiles can be fitted onto Boeing’s P-8I (Poseidon-Eight India) maritime patrol aircraft, and are intended to enhance India’s capability in anti-surface warfare while defending its sea lanes.
- The second deal, for $63 million and principally contracted with Raytheon Integrated Defense System, is for 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes (MK 54 LWT Kit procurement required); and related equipment. Also included are MK 54 spare parts, torpedo containers, two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers and related equipment and support from the U.S. government and contractors.
Stating that the number of COVID-19 cases in India is rising, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is now advising the feasibility of using pooled samples for molecular testing of patient samples.
What is ‘pooled sampling’?
- A pooled testing algorithm involves the PCR screening (usual COVID-19 test) of a specimen pool comprising multiple individual patient specimens, followed by individual testing (pool de-convolution) only if a pool screens positive.
- As all individual samples in a negative pool are regarded as negative, it results in substantial cost savings when a large proportion of pools tests negative.
- But pooling of sample is not recommended in areas or population with positivity rates of >5% for COVID-19. Preferable number of samples to be pooled is five.
- In areas with positivity of 2-5%, sample pooling for PCR screening may be considered only in community survey or surveillance among asymptomatic individuals, strictly excluding pooling samples of individuals with known contact with confirmed cases and health care workers.
‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign
Union Human Resource and Development Ministry had launched a week long ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign for Crowd sourcing of Ideas for Improving Online Education ecosystem of India.
‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign is a one week long campaign for Crowd sourcing of Ideas for Improving Online Education ecosystem of India . The campaign aims to invite all the best brains in India to share suggestions/solutions directly with HRD Ministry to overcome constraints of online education while promoting the available digital education platforms.
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), has invited Proposals for ‘COVID-19 Indo-U.S. Virtual Networks’ that would allow Indian and U.S. scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research to carry out joint research activities through a virtual mechanism, leveraging existing infrastructure and funding.
About IUSSTF –
- The IUSSTF established under an agreement between the Governments of India and the United States of America in March 2000 is an autonomous bilateral organisation jointly funded by both the Governments that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia, and industry.
- The Department of Science and Technology, Governments of India, and the U.S. Department of State are respective nodal departments.
Pimpri Chinchwad is an extension of the city limits of Pune and a part of the Pune Metropolitan Region. Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has caught the eye for being swift and vigilant in their response to fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Actions taken by PCMC –
- Setting up of a war room – The room has been set up to properly manage the COVID situation in PCMC and it uses tools like GIS mapping, data analysis, monitoring of quarantined households, etc. A helpline number has also been set up to encourage concerned citizens to directly reach out to the authorities.
- Online assessment form – Of all the digital solutions available in the arsenal of PCMC, the PCMC Smart Sarathi mobile application truly stands out. Firstly, the app has a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Test. Secondly, the app has a quarantined movement check. This is a way to engage & survey quarantined patients with the intent of identifying their geographic location. Thirdly, PCMC has started a campaign through the app. via this campaign, they appeal to the citizens to volunteer towards relief measures.
- Social distancing measures – For the protection of our Swachhata Warriors, PCMC has made the provision of special Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all sanitation workers. Along with this, the sanitation staff has also been given regular instructions with provision of guidelines and SOPs on conducting disinfection in common public places and door to door waste collection and handling of waste.
Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and National Informatics Centre (NIC) has jointly launched CollabCAD.
What is it?
- It a collaborative network, computer enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design.
- The aim of this initiative is to provide a great platform to students of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) across country to create and modify 3D designs with free flow of creativity and imagination.
- This software would also enable students to create data across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualisation.
About Atal Tinkering Labs –
- Atal Innovation Mission housed at NITI Aayog is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- At the school level, AIM is establishing ATLs in all districts across India.
- ATLs established across India, provide tinkering spaces to children to hone their innovative ideas and creativity.
Earth’s seismic noise
Recently, the scientists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) reported a change in the Earth’s seismic noise and vibrations amid the coronavirus lockdown.
- The UK findings have come two weeks after seismologists at the Royal Observatory in Belgium observed a 30-50 per cent fall in levels of ambient seismic noise since schools and businesses were closed in mid-March.
- As per the Belgian study, due to the enforcement of lockdown measures around the world to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Earth’s crust has shown reduced levels of vibration.
What is ‘seismic noise’?
- In geology, seismic noise refers to the relatively persistent vibration of the ground due to a multitude of causes. It is the unwanted component of signals recorded by a seismometer– the scientific instrument that records ground motions, such as those caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and explosions.
- This noise includes vibrations caused due to human activity, such as transport and manufacturing, and makes it difficult for scientists to study seismic data that is more valuable. Apart from geology, seismic noise is also studied in other fields such as oil exploration, hydrology, and earthquake engineering.
- The seismic noise vibrations caused by human activity are of high frequency (between 1-100 Hz), and travel through the Earth’s surface layers. Usually, to measure seismic activity accurately and reduce the effect of seismic noise, geologists place their detectors 100 metres below the Earth’s surface.
- However, since the lockdown, researchers have said that they were able to study natural vibrations even from surface readings, owing to lesser seismic noise.
- Due to lower noise levels, scientists are now hoping that they would be able to detect smaller earthquakes and tremors that had slipped past their instruments so far.