· China has successfully tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter jet J-31 (now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon).
· The newest version of twin-engine FC-31 took to the air for the first time recently. It is considered as China’s answer to the US F-35, the world’s most technically advanced fighter.
· The newest FC-31 has better stealth capabilities, improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity than the previous version which debuted in October 2012 It is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC). FC-31 has a maximum take-off weight of 28 metric tons, flight radius of 1,250 km, and top speed of Mach 1.8 (i.e. 1.8 times the speed of sound).
· It can easily carry 8 tons of weapons, hold six missiles in its internal weapons bay, plus another six under its wings. It also has been equipped with an electro-optical targeting system and helmet-mounted display.
· Some analysts say the FC-31 bears a close resemblance to the US’s F-35.
· China by introducing this fighter jet is trying to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes especially 5th generation fighter jet.
· When completed, the FC-31 will become the China’s second 5th-generation fighter after the J-20, which was put on its first public performance at the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2016.
About Stealth aircrafts
· Stealth aircrafts are designed to avoid detection mainly by using a variety of stealth technologies. These technologies reduce emission/reflection of radar, infrared, visible light, radio-frequency (RF) spectrum and audio.
Allahabad High Court has ruled that land belonging to religious body can be used for public purpose.
· China’s top legislature has passed Environment Tax to levy environment tax on polluters, especially on heavy industries. It will enter into force on January 1, 2018.
· The law aims to improve taxpayers’ environmental awareness, force companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production. Key Facts Under the new law, companies will pay environment taxes ranging from 350 yuan ($60) to 11,200 yuan ($1870) per month for noise.
· It set rates of 1.4 yuan on water pollutants, 1.2 yuan on stipulated quantities of air pollutants and a range of 5 to 1,000 yuan for each ton of solid waste. It allows provincial-level governments to raise rates for air and water pollution by up to 10 times after approval by local legislatures.
· Under it, lower rates can also be applicable if emissions are less than national standards. It only targets enterprises and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into environment.
· Punishments for evasion or fraud have not been specified, but it says that offenders will be held liable in line with the law on administration of taxation and the environmental law.
· Greenhouse gas Carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the major contributors to global warming, is not included in the levying list.
· China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), due to its heavy reliance on coal to provide electricity to its population of 1.37 billion (world’s largest). Since 1979, China has collected a “pollutant discharge fee” which not enforced by any law. In 2015, it collected 17.3 billion yuan (about 2.5 billion dollars) from some 280,000 businesses.
· However, it was found that some local governments were exploiting loopholes and exempting pollution enterprises.
STEPS TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO REDUCE THE AIR POLLUTION IN METRO-CITIES
1. Bharat stage-IV emission norms have been implemented in 13 mega cities including NCR for new 4-wheelers from 2010.
2. Mass emission standards (Bharat Stage III) have been notified for two, three wheelers and diesel driven agricultural tractors from April 1, 2010 throughout the country.
3. Stringent Emission Standards have been implemented to regulate emissions from in-use vehicles from October 2004.
4. Supply of improved diesel and gasoline.
5. Operating Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) mode public transport in Delhi.
6. Introduction of metro in Delhi to promote use of mass public transport system.
7. Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards are implementing the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 to restore air quality.
8. A mutually time targeted programme is implemented under Corporate Responsibility for Environment Protection (CREP).
9. Special drives for prevention and control of pollution in 17 categories of highly polluted industries.
10. Standards are developed for Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and load based standards for particulate matter (PM) including revision of PM emission standard for cement industry.
About Bharat Stage (BS) norms
The Bharat Stage (BS) norms are emission control standards introduced by the government in 2000 to keep a check on air pollution.
· Based on the European regulations (Euro norms), these standards set specifications/limits for the release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles.
· Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms. The current norms in India are BS IV in 33 cities and BS III in the remaining country.
· Implementation of the BS V standard that was earlier scheduled for 2019 has now been skipped. BS VI, originally proposed to come in by 2024 has been now advanced to 2020, instead.
The effects of BS VI norms on the Indian automobile industry are-
1. Moving to BS6 will need a 80,000 crores worth upgrade in oil refining infrastructure. So, we can expect another cess to the government in the coming days. It could be integrated into fuel prices like most other cesses.
2. The biggest impediment to BS6 norms will be the availability of BS6 compliant fuel, both petrol and diesel.
3. In India, where small cars are preferred, fitting DPF in the limited bonnet space would involve major design and re-engineering work. Bonnet length may have to be increased, which would make vehicles longer than 4 metres, and attract more excise duty under existing norms.
SCR module reduces oxides of nitrogen by injecting an aqueous urea solution (AUS 32, which contains ammonia) into the system when the exhaust is moving. Infrastructure needs to be set up across the country for the supply of AUS 32. The optimisation and fitment of this technology too would take an estimated 3-4 years.