Current Affairs -29 December 2022

Current News National Defence

Night trials of Ballistic Missile Agni V


On December 15, 2022, India has successfully conducted night trials of nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni V.


  • The missile is capable of striking targets at ranges up to 5,000 kilometers with very high degree of accuracy.
  • The missile test firing was conducted from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast at around 5.30 pm.

About Agni Missiles

  • The Agni missile class is the backbone of India's nuclear launch capability, as are Prithvi short-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and fighter aircraft.
  • Agni-1 to 5 missiles are designed & developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Other Ranges of Agni Missiles:
    • Agni I: Range of 700-800 km.
    • Agni II: Range more than 2000 km.
    • Agni III: Range of more than 2,500 Km
    • Agni IV: Range is more than 3,500 km and can fire from a road mobile launcher.
    • Agni-V: The longest of the Agni series, an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) with a range of over 5,000 km.
  • Agni-5 is an ingeniously built advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missile developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
  • It is a fire-and-forget missile, which cannot be stopped without an interceptor missile.
  • The missile has the capability of hitting targets beyond the range of 5000 km and is crucial for India's self-defense systems.

The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was launched in 1982-83 by the Indian Government which saw the projects of:

  • Prithvi (Short range surface to surface missile)
  • Trishul (short range surface to air missile)
  • Aakash (Medium range surface to air missile)
  • Nag (Third generation anti-tank missile)
  • Agni-I (Agni missile was later separated from the IGMDP due to its strategic importance)

Current News Ecology & Environment Pollution

World Bank Report on Air Pollution


On December 14, 2022, the World Bank released a report titled 'Striving for Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia'.

Background

  • Persistently hazardous levels of air pollution have caused public health crises in South Asia demanding urgent action.
  • Using a modelling approach over South Asia as a whole, the WB report lays out multiple scenarios and costs involved in reducing the region’s exposure to particulate matter (PM).

Key Highlights of the Report

  • Over 60% of South Asians are exposed to an average of 35 µg/m3 of PM2.5.
  • In some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) it spiked to as much as 100 µg/m3nearly 20 times the upper limit of 5 µg/m3 recommended by the WHO.
  • According to a World Bank report, India has six large Airsheds, some of them shared with Pakistan, between which air pollutants move. They are:
    1. West/Central Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) that included Punjab (Pakistan), Punjab (India), Haryana, part of Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.
    2. Central/Eastern IGP: Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bangladesh
    3. Middle India: Odisha/Chhattisgarh
    4. Middle India: Eastern Gujarat/Western Maharashtra
    5. Northern/Central Indus River Plain: Pakistan, part of Afghanistan; and
    6. Southern Indus Plain and further west: South Pakistan, Western Afghanistan extending into Eastern Iran.
  • When the wind direction was predominantly northwest to the southeast, 30% of the air pollution in Indian Punjab came from the Punjab Province in Pakistan and, on average, 30% of the air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna) originated in India.

What are Airsheds?

  • The World Bank defines an airshed as a common geographic area where pollutants get trapped, creating similar air quality for everyone.
  • The concept is demonstrated by a 2019 study that found approximately half of the population-weighted PM2.5 in Delhi comes from outside the territory, of which 50% is from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Major sources of Air Pollution in South Asia

  • Large industries, power plants and vehicles are dominant sources of air pollution around the world;
    • But in South Asia, other sources make substantial additional contributions.
    • These include combustion of solid fuels for cooking and heating, emissions from small industries such as brick kilns, burning of municipal and agricultural waste, and cremation.
  • Air pollution travels long distances— crossing municipal, state, and national boundaries—and gets trapped in large “airsheds” that are shaped by climatology and geography.

Indian Efforts to curb Air Pollution

  • The National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) (2019) aims to reduce (40% over 2017 levels by 2025-26) air pollution in 131 of India’s most polluted cities.
  • The government of India has set aside $1.7 billion to fight air pollution over the next five years, as per the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission.
  • (SAFAR) Portal: SAFAR is a national initiative introduced by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to measure the air quality of a metropolitan city.
  • Air Quality Index: AQI has been developed for eight pollutants viz. PM2.5, PM10, Ammonia, Lead, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide.
  • Parliament has approved to the establishment of the Commission of Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas.
  • The clean air action plan is implemented across the states with guidelines from WB.