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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Nuclear Power Plants in India

14th July 2020

Why in News?

Recently, the government provided details related to various nuclear power plants in the country.

  • Presently, India has 22 operating nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 6780 MegaWatt electric (MWe).
  • Among these eighteen reactors are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs)and four are Light Water Reactors (LWRs).
  • The nuclear energy programmein India was launched  under the leadership of Homi J Bhabha.
  • Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR)is being implemented by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a wholly owned Enterprise of the Government of India under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor:

  • PHWR is a nuclear power reactor, commonly usingunenriched natural uranium as its fuel. It uses heavy water (Deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.
  • The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a typical pressurized water reactor.
  • While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yieldsgreatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel enrichment facilities.

Light Water Reactor:

  • The light water reactor is a type of thermal- neutron reactorthat utilizes normal water as opposed to heavy water.
  • It is fuelled byLow Enriched Uranium.
  • It uses water as both a coolant method and a neutron moderator.
  • It produces heat by controlled nuclear fission.

Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor:

  • A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that generates more fissile material than it consumes. These are designed to extend the nuclear fuel supplyfor electric power generation.
  • Breeder reactors achieve this because their neutron economy is high enough to create more fissile fuel than they use, by irradiation of a fertile material, such as Uranium-238or Thorium-232 that is loaded into the reactor along with fissile fuel.
  • PFBR is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactorpresently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu).
  • It is fuelled by Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel.

Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel:

  • MOX fuel is manufactured from plutonium recovered from used reactor fuel, mixed with depleted uranium.
  • Mixed oxide (MOX) fuel provides almost 5% of the new nuclear fuel used today.
  • MOX fuel also provides a means of burning weapons-grade plutonium (from military sources) to produce electricity.

Depleted Uranium:

  • In order to produce fuel for certain types of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, uranium has to be “enriched” in the U-235 isotope, which is responsible for nuclear fission.
  • During the enrichment process the fraction of U-235 is increased from its natural level (0.72% by mass) to between 2% and 94% by mass.
  • The by-product uranium mixture (after the enriched uranium is removed) has reduced concentrations of U-235 and U-234. This by-product of the enrichment process is known as depleted uranium (DU).

Foreigners Tribunals

Why in News?

A series of judgments delivered by the Gauhati High Court over the course of the last few weeks has brought into sharp focus the utter brutality of the regime governing the Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam.

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

In 1964, the govt brought in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order.


Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.

Who can setup these tribunals?

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Typically, the tribunals there have seen two kinds of cases: those concerning persons against whom a reference has been made by the border police and those whose names in the electoral roll has a “D”, or “doubtful”, marked against them.

Who can approach?

The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals. Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.

 How a person is declared foreigner by these tribunals?

Foreigners Tribunals, quasi-judicial authorities in Assam, have been deciding on matters pertaining to citizenship in order to identify foreigners.

  1. The process begins by the border police or the Election Commission referring the case of a suspected foreigner to the Foreigners Tribunal.
  2. The tribunal calls on the person to appear before it and prove that they are not a foreigner, and then passes an order in favour or against them.

Identity documentation:

  1. Persons appearing before Foreigners Tribunals need to produce identity documentation proving that they were born in India and are descended from persons who entered India before March 24, 1971.
  2. Such persons are allowed to produce secondary evidencesuch as university certificates or gaon panchayat certificates for this purpose.
  3. However, in order for such secondary evidence to be considered valid proof of their presence in India pre-1971, the person issuing the certificate must appear before the tribunal to testify and prove that the document is genuine.

What’s the issue now?

One in two people are declared foreigners because issuing authorities fail to appear before the Foreigners Tribunals to testify that the documents produced are genuine and true to their knowledge. The consequence of this lackadaisical approach is a drastic loss of right and liberty.

Reforms needed:

  1. Any such exercise demands a robust process that minimizes data infirmities.
  2. This would mean a complete rehaul of the methods used in Assam.
  3. Also, those who don’t make it to the list should get adequate legal recourse.

Facts for Prelims

Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC).

Union Home Minister launched Crime Multi Agency Centre (Cri-MAC).

  • Cri-MAC aims to share information between various police forces on heinous crimes.
  • It is meant to share information on heinous crimes and other issues related to inter-state coordination.


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