Maharashtra: First case of Zika virus

The small village of Belsar in Purandar tehsil hosts a population of just about 3,500 people. In the beginning of the month of July, a few cases of fever were reported here. From among these, samples of five patients were sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune on July 16. From these, three people were found infected with chikungunya.

So, between July 27 and 29, a team of experts from NIV, headed by Dr Yogesh Gurav, head of the dengue and chikungunya department, visited Belsar. The team collected 41 suspected samples from the village and surrounding areas. And, as per NIVs report on 30 July, out of these samples, 25 people were diagnosed with chikungunya, three with dengue and samples of a 50-year-old woman were diagnosed with Zika virus — the first such case in the state.

Simultaneously, the woman has also been with chikungunya. The team of state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awte, assistant director Dr Kamlapurkar, Dr Mahendra Jagtap, and other experts from various departments visited Belsar on Saturday. “The woman from Belsar has recovered completely. She has no symptoms. Also, none of her family members share the symptoms,” informed Dr Awte, adding, “The team conducted disease surveillance of the village. An emergency meeting was held between the village sarpanch, gram panchayat members, staff at the Primary Health Centre (PHC) of Belsar and medical officers of Purandar tehsil, during which preventive measures and awareness were discussed. Administrative officials, gram panchayat members, medical officers, etc. from Belsar and adjoining areas were issued orders to conduct various prevention and awareness measures.”

Zilla Parishad chief executive officer Ayush Prasad said, “The Pune district administration requests people not to panic with regards to Zika virus. It’s due to the proactive work of field teams that the case was detected. We are working very hard to contain the spread and make the best healthcare available to our residents.”

According to the World Health Organisation, Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti, in tropical and subtropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Zika virus is also transmitted from mother to foetus during pregnancy, through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.


Eight core sectors’ production up 8.9% in June

The output of eight core sectors grew 8.9% in June, mainly due to a low base effect and uptick in production of natural gas, steel, coal and electricity.

The eight infrastructure sectors of coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity had contracted by 12.4% in June 2020 due to the lockdown restrictions imposed to control the spread of coronavirus infections.

In May this year, these key sectors had recorded a growth of 16.3%, while it was 60.9% in April.

According to the commerce and industry ministry data, production of coal, natural gas, refinery products, steel, cement and electricity jumped by 7.4%, 20.6%, 2.4%, 25%, 4.3% and 7.2 %, respectively, in June.

The same stood at -15.5%, -12%, -8.9%, -23.2%, -6.8% and -10% in the corresponding month last year. Crude oil output contracted by 1.8% during the month under review as against a negative growth of 6% in June 2020. Fertiliser segment recorded a growth of 2% in June.

During April-June period this fiscal, the eight sectors grew by 25.3% against a contraction of 23.8% in the same period last year. 


India’s nuclear power capacity to touch 22,480 MW by 2031

India's nuclear power generation capacity is expected to touch 22,480 MW by 2031 from the present 6,780 MW with 22 reactors.

According to the central government, one more atomic power plant with 700 MW (Unit 3 at Kakrapar Atomic Power Project, Gujarat) was connected to the grid in January this year.

When the third unit at KAPP starts commercial generation, then the total atomic power generation capacity will go up to 7,480 MW.

The KAPP-3 unit is expected to start commercial generation this September, SK Sharma, chairman & managing director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd had said.

The government said, currently there are 10 reactors (including 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor -PFBR- belonging to Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd Bhavini) totalling 8,000 MW under construction at various stages.

The government has also accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for the construction of 10 indigenous 700 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors to be set up in fleet mode.

On progressive completion of the projects under construction and accorded sanction, the total nuclear capacity is expected to reach 22,480 MW by 2031 (NPCIL's capacity 21,980 MW, Bhavini 500 MW).

"This fiscal we will be spending about Rs 18,000 crore as capital expenditure on our ongoing projects. The funding will be through a mix of internal accruals, central government budgetary support and long-term borrowings. The first two will be about 30 per cent, and the borrowings will be about 70 per cent of the project cost," Sharma had said.

Meanwhile, the commissioning status of the prototype fast breeder reactor remains unknown.

Bhopal Metro: Priority corridor gets new focus

Detailed design construction for Bhopal metro depot is complete, paving the way for more speedy development of priority corridor from AIIMS to Subhash Nagar, according to Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited sources.

The depot development would cost an estimated Rs 350 crore. It would be constructed at Stud Farms, near Subhash Nagar. It is expected to coincide with the construction of eight elevated Bhopal metro stations from AIIMS to Subhash Nagar. The latter is set into motion with the Urban development ministry setting new guidelines, which are being followed to the tee in Bhopal too. Stringent conditions with requirement of similar works are being looked into as selection of agency for development is at an advanced stage.

According to MPMRCL, civil work is almost 70% complete under Package-01 was in October 2018. The metro elevated section can be along the road connecting MP Nagar to AIIMS Bhopal.

The stretch is about 14.99 km long Purple Line (Karond Circle – AIIMS). Short term and long term urban landscape in the city is set to change after Bhopal metro becomes operational. The operational launch of the first phase of Bhopal metro is expected to be in August 2023, according to MPMRCL estimates.

The current focus is on design and construction of elevated metro rail stations, which includes viaduct portions within the stations and transition spans on either side. The eight stations would be at AIIMS, Alkapuri, Habibganj Naka, Habibganj, MP Nagar Zone-1, Arera Hills intersection, Kendriya Vidyalaya and Subhash Nagar. MPMRCL invited bids for the contract in March this year with an estimated cost of Rs 421 crore and completion target date is 847 days. Technical evaluation is limited to four main bidders. Stringent terms include previous work experiences. For instance, for a single project of the same nature should have been with a cost overlay of Rs 370 crore.

Medicinal plants cultivation gets a boost in Bundelkhand

Cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants like Lemongrass, Sataver, Ashwagandha, Khas and others can prove to be a boon for farmers in Bundelkhand region as these medicinal plants require less water and can stand in hot and humid weather conditions of the region.

This was said by chief scientist Alok Krishna of the CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants during a workshop organized by the institute and GIZ India in Lalitpur on strengthening marketing, processing and cultivation of the medicinal and aromatic plants in the Bundelkhand region.

Krishna highlighted how medicinal plants can adapt to the climatic conditions of the region and bring financial gains to the farmers. “In just eight months a farmer can yield 50 litres of lemongrass oils. Lemongrass cultivation needs no special arrangements to save the plants from extremely hot conditions nor does it need too much water,” he said and added that a road map for the agrarian growth will soon be prepared for the region by the CSIR-CIMAP.

“Bundelkhand can be developed as an ecotourism spot as it has a good forest cover. Also, scientific goat farming in which scientific practices are used for better milk production can help double the income of goat farmers in the region,” Krishna said Lectures on goat farming were delivered by expert Anupam Dixit from the Central Institute of Goat Farming Mathura and senior scientist Ravi Ranjan from Central Institute for Research on Goats, Mathura who highlighted that goat farming can further help in increasing income of the people in Bundelkhand region.

Pench among 14 tiger reserves to get elite tag

Fourteen tiger reserves of India, including three each in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, have attained the globally accepted Conservation Assured |Tiger Standards accreditation, the environment ministry announced on International Tiger Day on Thursday.

Surprisingly, the three most popular tiger reserves in terms of tourist footfalls — Corbett (Uttarakhand), Ranthambore (Rajasthan) and Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh) — did not get the CA|TS tag which is a conservation tool for best practices and standards to manage tigers.

Drawing attention to this fact during a function to share details of the elite tag of tiger conservation areas, environment secretary R P Gupta said, “When I saw the list, I found that the 14 areas (reserves) are such where tourists’ presence is not that much. So, it’s very vital that we just don’t make these tiger reserves a tourist destination as our topmost priority.”

The 14 reserves which figured in the list include Manas, Kaziranga and Orang in Assam; Sundarbans in West Bengal; Valmiki in Bihar; Dudhwa in Uttar Pradesh; Panna, Kanha and Satpura in Madhya; Pradesh; Pench in Maharashtra; Anamalai and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu; Parambikulam in Kerala; and Bandipur, Karnataka.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while tweeting on International Tiger Day, reiterated India’s commitment to ensuring safe habitats for tigers and nurturing tiger-friendly eco-systems.

As per the last census (2018), India has 2,967 tigers and 12,852 leopards. While the population of tigers recorded an increase of 33% since the last census (2014), leopard numbers recorded a jump of 62% since 2014.

China-Pak corridor in Indian territory: MEA

India rejected the recent “elections” held in PoK, while simultaneously rejecting a reference to the CPEC in a recent Pakistan-China joint statement, saying it lies in India’s territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan and which is resolutely opposed by India.

The Indian response also covered the reference to Jammu & Kashmir in the joint statement with the MEA spokesperson saying Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh are an integral and inalienable part of India.

Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India lodged a “strong protest” with the Pakistan government on a “cosmetic exercise” to hold elections in PoK.

”Such an exercise can neither hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in these occupied territories. Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories. We call on Pakistan to vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation.”

The election exercise, Bagchi said, is nothing but an attempt by Pakistan to camouflage its illegal occupation and the material changes undertaken by it in these territories.

On the CPEC, which India has opposed on the grounds that it violates its sovereignty, the MEA spokesperson said, “We resolutely oppose any attempts by other countries to change the status quo in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan as also to Pakistan bringing up any material change in Indian territories under its illegal occupation.

“We call upon parties concerned to cease such actions.”

Asked to respond to a meeting between Taliban leader Mullah Baradar and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, the MEA spokesperson avoided commenting on the meeting as such, but said India “wishes to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan, at peace with itself and neighbours.

“Unilateral imposition of will by any party will not be democratic, cannot lead to stability, and cannot provide legitimacy. Gains over the last two decades should be preserved.”