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Methanol Economy

 

Relevance:

  • GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper III
  • Environment, Sci-tech, clean fuels, methanol economy

Recently:

  • NITI Aayog is working on road map for India On World Environment Day, 2018
  • The Concept of “Methanol Economy” is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries.
  • 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol.

Uses of Methanol as a fuel:

  • Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).
  • In atmospheric chemistry, NOX is a generic term for the nitrogen oxides that are most relevant for air pollution, namely nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
  • SOX refers to many types of sulfur and oxygen containing compounds such as SO, SO2, SO3 etc.
  • The gaseous version of Methanol – DME (Dimethyl Ether) can be blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks. DME is an isomer of methanol.
  • Methanol is a clean burning drop in fuel which can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel.
  • It can also be used in Hybrid and Electric Mobility.
  • Methanol Economy is the “Bridge” to the dream of a complete “Hydrogen based fuel systems”.
  • Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel, that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Bio-mass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2.

How can methanol help save our environment?

  • Methanol 15 % blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%.
  • Urban Transport contributes to close to 40% towards urban air pollution.
  • Annually 400000 deaths take place in India due to air pollution.
  • Field trials are under way for India to adopt M15 program in transportation sector.
  • The notification of fuels for M15 & M100 are already complete. Methanol 100% engine will look to replace diesel in its totality.
  • The C02 emitted, both from using Methanol and while producing Methanol can be tapped back to produce Methanol.
  • Thus, a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle is created to perpetually burn fuels without polluting the environment at all.
  • Similarly, CO2 from steel plants, Thermal Power plants, Cement Plants etc. can be tapped in large quantities to produce Methanol.

What is the plan of NITI Aayog?

  • Import control: NITI Aayog has drawn out a comprehensive plan to replace 20% of crude imports from Methanol alone.
  • Pollution control: Adopting Methanol in this scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40% and not to forget the benefits from import substitution.
  • Railways: Indian Railways alone burns three billion litres of diesel every year. Plans are in place to convert 6000 diesel railway engines to work on 100% Methanol and make railways a carbon neutral organisation.
  • Marine sector: The other sector where Methanol is becoming the fuel of choice because of emission benefits is the ‘Marine Sector’.
  • IMO (International Maritime Organisation) Regulations on sulphur particulates and NOX (0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020) will make it compulsive to switch to a clean fuel.

Conclusion:

  • Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy.
  • NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.

 

NMC Bill

 

Relevancy

  • G.S. Paper 2

Why in news?

  • On 2 January 2018, nearly three lakh doctors hit the streets, calling for a 12-hour long countrywide shutdown of out-patient department (OPD) services at all private hospitals.
  • The doctors called the day a “Black Day” in the history of medical profession.

What led to this mass agitation?

  • Doctors in the county are concerned about provisions in the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Union Health Minister JP Nadda on 29 December 2017.
  • According to the doctors, the bill is “anti-people and anti-poor” and it would “cripple” the medical profession.
  • The bill has now been referred to a standing committee for review.

Why was the NMC Bill drafted?

  • The contentious NMC Bill was the brainchild of a high-level committee headed by former NITI Aayog Chairperson Arvind Panagariya.
  • The bill was drafted following reports of corruption in the functioning of the Medical Council of India (MCI).
  • The bill proposes to replace the MCI as the top medical education regulator of the country with another body called the National Medical Commission.
  • If passed, it will also repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, which holds the provision for the functioning of MCI.
  • MCI has been surrounded by controversy since 2010, when the then president of the body was accused of corruption and bribery while granting permits for medical colleges.
  • To solve the menace of corruption, the bill replaces one body with another.
  • The difference between the two bodies lies in the fact that the new constituted body will have its members nominated and appointed by the government, while the MCI has elected members from the medical fraternity.

Salient Features of the Bill

  • The draft bill that was tabled in Parliament had the following provisions:
  • The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, which governs the Medical Council of India, will be repealed.
  • The Council will be replaced by the National Medical Commission as the top regulator of medical education in India.
  • Within three years of the passage of the bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils.
  • The NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government.
  • NMC will be responsible for framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals, assessing the requirements of healthcare, and ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils.
  • The NMC will also frame guidelines for determination of fees for up to 40% of the seats in private medical institutions. This has been incorporated to ensure relief to students from exorbitant fees.
  • The bill proposes to have a common entrance and licentiate* (exit) exam for medical graduates before they start practicing or enroll for post-graduate courses. The latter is to obtain license for practice.
  • Though in a new draft, the government has decided to do away with the licentiate feature.
  • The Ethics and Medical Registration Board will maintain a separate National Register, containing details, including all recognized qualifications, of a licensed AYUSH** practitioner.
  • AYUSH practitioners include: Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy.
  • The AYUSH practitioners can take up a “bridge course” of six months which will allow them to practice modern medicine.

Why Are the Doctors Opposing NMC?

The Indian Medical Association has been a vocal opponent of the bill.

“Bridge Course” for AYUSH Doctors

  • Section 49 of the bill, in a nutshell, allows for setting up of a ‘bridge course’ that homeopaths, Ayurveda practitioners, yogis and others who fall under the Indian system of medicine can take.
  • Post this course they can prescribe modern medicine.
  • The major concern of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other doctors is that a bridge course will promote quackery.
  • Largely homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicines don’t have side-effects.
  • However, allopathic medicines do, and if you don’t prescribe the right thing for what the problem actually is, a lot could go wrong.
  • There are many differences that a bridge course, be it six months or two years, cannot compensate.
  • There can be medico-legal aspects for this. The law is very strict for who can treat what and where. But this bridge course will leave a huge gap.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, a healthy doctor-patient ratio is 1:1,000. In India, the ratio is 1:1,674.
  • The government proposes to fix the demand-supply dynamic in the medical field through the bridge course but the only answer to lack of doctors cannot be this.
  • Instead, giving incentives to already qualified people to work in rural and semi-urban areas could help.
  • Some still argue that instead of totally junking the idea, can we not take inspiration from China’s “barefoot doctors”, and tweak the proposal a bit to make it work for places where there are no doctors?

Dissolving the Medical Council of India

  • Another proposal of the bill that hasn’t gone down well with many within the professional community is to replace the existing Medical Council of India with the National Medical Commission.
  • Dr KK Agarwal, former president of IMA, had earlier said that the move will “cripple” the functioning of the medical profession by making it completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators.
  • It will also give greater control to the government in running the commission.
  • But the government claims that the new body will have experts from related fields, which will put Indian standard of education at par with the global standards.

National Licentiate Examination

  • There is strict criticism against the National Licentiate Examination or the exit test.
  • The bill states that after completion of MBBS, students will have to appear for an exit test to get the license in order to practice medicine.
  • According to a report the move is “highly insensitive” towards the plight of the doctors/students who have otherwise been through a rigorous academic year.

What has the Govt done so far?

  • On 28 March, the cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved amendments pertaining to the National Medical Bill.
  • The amendments include the contentious “bridge course”, action against quackery and doing away with the licentiate exam for MBBS students.
  • The government has decided to approve the MBBS exam as an exit test instead of the National Exit Test to practice medicine.
  • Thus, the students will not be required to appear for a separate test.
  • The bridge course for AYUSH practitioners has been removed but to a limited extent.
  • Since this 6-month course aims to improve primary healthcare, it has been left upon the state governments to decide how they will address and promote healthcare in rural areas.
  • Some states have already implemented this bridge course.
  • Addressing the problem of quackery, the government has included a provision for imprisonment up to a year along with a fine up to Rs 5 lakhs against quacks.
  • They have further responded to the demands of the states and increased their representation in NMC.
  • The NMC will comprise of 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors.
  • The government has accommodated the recommendations made by the Parliamentary committee on some of the loudest criticisms against the bill.
  • However, the bill still has issues that need to be addressed, like the “bridge course”, which the government has simply pushed under a rug.

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