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IASbaba Press Information Bureau (PIB)- 12th Sep to 18th Sep, 2016

  • September 20, 2016
  • 5
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis
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GS-2

 

Cabinet approves extension of contract between India and the International Seabed Authority for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules

(Topic: Cabinet decision)

About- Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM, has approved the extension of contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules for a further period of 5 years (2017-22). The earlier contract is expiring on 24th March 2017.

What are the outcomes by extending the contract?

India’s exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in area beyond national jurisdiction. Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international: players are also active.

What are Polymetallic nodules?

  • Polymetallic nodules, also known as manganese nodules are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea.
  • Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

Background-

  • India signed a 15 year contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMN) in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) (an Institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party) on 25th March, 2002 with the approval of Cabinet.
  • India is presently having an area of 75,000 sq.km., located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of PMN.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences is carrying out Survey & Exploration, Environmental Impact Assessment, Technology Development (Mining and Extractive Metallurgy) under polymetallic nodules program through various national institutes viz.–>
  • National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) + Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT) +  National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML) +  National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research (NCAOR) + National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) etc., in accordance with the Contract provisions. India is fulfilling all the obligations of the contract.

 

Cabinet approves establishment of Higher Education Financing Agency for creating capital assets in higher educational institutions

(Topic: Education)

About- Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM, has approved the creation of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).

Aim- To give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions

To be promoted by – HEFA would be jointly promoted by the identified Promoter and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with an authorised capital of Rs.2, 000 crore. The Government equity would be Rs.1, 000 crore.

Benefical outcomes –

  • HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.
  • HEFA would finance the civil and lab infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan. The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through the ‘internal accruals’ (earned through the fee receipts, research earnings etc) of the institutions. The Government would service the interest portion through the regular Plan assistance.
  • HEFA would be formed as a SPV within a PSU Bank/ Government-owned-NBFC (Promoter). It would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs. 20,000 crore for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions.

Membership-

  • All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions would be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA.
  • For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years.
  • This secured future flows would be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market.
  • Each member institution would be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.

 

Cabinet approves initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP)

(Topic: Education)

About- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the PM, has approved the proposal for initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP).

Project will be implemented as-

  • ‘Central Sector Scheme’ with total project outlay of Rs. 3600 crore. However, the project would be initiated with a cost of Rs. 2660 crore, with the possibility of additional financing of Rs. 940 crore at later stage. Out of the Rs.2660 crore, the Central share will be Rs.1330 crore and external assistance from the World Bank through International Development Association (IDA) Credit of Rs. 1330 crore ($ 201.50 million as first tranche).
  • Project will be implemented with the facility of Direct Funds Transfer to the accounts of beneficiary institutes. The project will be initiated in the current year and will be co-terminus with Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) i.e. 2019-20,

Major outcomes of the project are-

  • Better academic standards, through accreditation, filling up faculty positions, training faculty in better teaching methods, improved research outputs in institution in Focus States/UTs.
  • Better administration of the institutions with improved financial/academic autonomy
  • Better systems for assessment of Student Learning, higher transition rates.
  • Transparent and expeditious release of funds to institutes by way of Direct Funds Transfer (DFT) System.

An estimated 200 Government / Government aided engineering institutes and Affiliating Technical Universities (ATUs) including the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) will be selected.

Project will cover- All Government / Government aided engineering institutes, ATUs and CFTIs from Focus States/UT. High-performing TEQIP-I/ TEQIP-II Government / Government aided institutes/ATUs across the country would be eligible to participate in twinning arrangements for knowledge transfer, exchange of experience, optimizing the use of resources and developing long-term strategic partnerships.

Focus States are-

  • 7 Low Income States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh),
  • 3 Hill States (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand),
  • 8 North-Eastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura) and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Let’s know more about TEQIP –

  • Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) commenced in 2003 with World Bank assistance as a long term programme to be implemented in three phases.
  • First phase of TEQIP commenced in 2003 and ended on March 31st, 2009. It covered 127 institutes across 13 States including 18 Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs).
  • TEQIP-II commenced in August 2010, covering 23 States/Union Territories (UTs) and 191 Institutes (including 26 CFTIs). TEQIP-II is scheduled to conclude in October, 2016.
  • Both projects have had a positive impact on the infrastructure and educational standards in the technical institutions where they were taken up.
  • Institutions in the central, eastern and north-eastern region and hill States are at present in need of similar and specific interventions. The initiation and implementation of the project TEQIP-III will bridge this gap.

 

Cabinet approves Bilateral Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Swiss and Indian Nationals

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has given its approval for signing of the Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Swiss and Indian Nationals and its implementation.
Aim- To formalise the existing procedure for cooperation on the return of irregular migrants between the two countries without introducing any additional obligations or exacting timeframes

Benefits-

  • It would offer an opportunity to use the same as a model template for negotiations on the subject with other EU countries, which have been raising the issue regularly with us.
  • It would also help to leverage the Readmission Agreement to liberalise visa and work permit regimes for legitimate Indian travellers. This has been envisaged as a key goal in the recently concluded India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

Conclusion of the Bilateral Technical Arrangement (BTA) has been linked to the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as a package deal. It is noteworthy that the estimated number of irregular migrants in Switzerland who are thought to be from India is less than 100.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has given its expost-facto approval for the MoU between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management (NHPDM). The MoU was signed on 11th July, 2016 at Nairobi during the visit of the Prime Minister of India.

MoU-

  • Under the MoU, both the sides will collaborate on all matters relating to housing and human settlements through various strategies including training of personnel, exchange visits, expos/exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
  • Cooperation between the two countries will focus on upscaling slum upgradation and prevention initiatives based on the experience and implementation process of each country. They will collaborate on development and sharing of information on housing and real estate data base including market trends, best practices and investment opportunities.

Beneficial outcome-

  • It will encourage technical cooperation in facilitating access to affordable housing from locally available building materials.
  • It will also encourage technical cooperation in development of Government/Public employee facilitated housing.
  • This would be useful to explore ways of a delivery model towards Government employees housing scheme, including creating an enabling environment for participation in the delivery of such intended scheme by private sector players.

 

Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs 

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 07, 2016 between India and Mozambique on cooperation in the field of Youth Affairs and Sports during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Mozambique.
Help in-

  • Promotion of sports in the two countries and will promote exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth and in developing friendly relations.
  • It will also help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs and Sports.

 

Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and South Africa in the field of Information and Communication Technologies

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

About- Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of PM has been apprised of the MoU signed on July 08, 2016 between India and South Africa for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Help in-

  • Establish inter-institutional cooperation and relations between the two Parties in order to promote cooperation in the field of ICT.
  • It will also result in active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, Governments and other public organizations of the two countries in the field of ICT.

 

Leaders of BRICS countries to discuss urban transition in emerging smart city of Visakhapatnam 

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

About- Ministers and experts from BRICS countries will discuss urban transition and the attendant challenges in the member countries over three days from Wednesday this week in the emerging smart city of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation will inaugurate the three day conference on ‘Urban Transition in BRICS’ on September 14, 2016 which seeks to promote cooperation among member countries in urban sector.

Issues discussed-

  • Conference will discuss and evolve a common agenda for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa) countries to be presented at the HABITAT-III Conference to be held in Quito, Eucador.
  • Other issues to be discussed are- development of smart cities, financing urban infrastructure, inclusive housing, Climate change, regional planning, water and sanitation management and new reforms for urban renaissance.
  • Visakhapatnam Conference is being organized as a part of the Government’s efforts to take cooperation among BRICS group on various issues to the people for which several such meetings are being organized across the country.

Major concern over- Consequences of unplanned and unanticipated urban expansion in member countries, delegated from member countries called for enhancing planning, technical and financial capacities of city governments. They stressed on the need for coordination of policies of federal, provincial and city governments for an integrated approach to urban development and for forging effective partnerships with private sector for resource mobilisation in an enabling environment.

India and the BRICS

  • India currently holds the chairmanship of BRICS and has chosen ‘Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’ as the theme for this year and the BRICS Summit will be held in Goa in October this year.
  • BRICS nations account for over 3 billon population constituting 53.40% of world’s population, 23.10% of global GDP and 26.70% of world’s geographical area, spread over four continents.
  • Range of urbanization varies from 84% in Brazil, 73% in Russia, 64% in South Africa, 57% in China and 32% in India.
  • BRICS countries who are at different levels of urbanisation shared their experiences and approaches to emerging challenges and agreed on the need to enable planned and guided urbanisation to take advantage of urbanisation.
  • They have taken stock of deficiencies in urban structure, various aspects of smart city development, expanding slums and the need for ensuring liveable and sustainable human settlements, financing urban infrastructure and reforms required to enable urban renaissance in member countries.

 

BRICS countries call for ‘zero waste’ approach in water and sanitation management

(Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests) 

Issue- Placing water and sanitation management in urban areas among the most daunting challenges in the context of rapid urbanisation, BRICS countries have called for a ‘zero waste’ policy through reuse and recycling in a focussed manner. Participating in a discussion on ‘Resilient Water and Sanitation Management’ at the BRICS Urbanisation Forum in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, policy makers and experts from the member countries stressed on waste reduction and reuse.

Some highlights-

  • China has showcased the city of Shenzen where in only 6% of municipal solid waste is being dumped in the open. China Construction Group informed that daily 2,10,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste is being recycled to generate 4,300 MW of electricity. Waste-to-energy conversion of the city has been substantially enhanced since 1988 when only 150 tonnes of such waste was converted into power. Informed that 94% of solid waste being generated in Chinese cities is being recycled.
  • Experts have stressed the need to step up the capacities of cities to ensure such zero waste approach. Chennai is a leading example of resilience in water management being the first city in the country to set up a desalination plant enabling use of 200 million litres of sea water per day.
  • Rain water harvesting is ensured in all the buildings in the city to meet water needs of citizens, he said. Tamil Nadu Government is taking measures to supply 240 million litres of Treated Reusable Water per day to industrial units which could give more revenues than the income from supply of regular water
  • Noting that only 1% of readily usable water is available for use of humanity with 97% of water being in seas and another 2% being locked up in deep acquifers
  • Adoption of appropriate technologies and response mechanisms to meet water needs of people. Holistic approach to water management given the linkages with various other utilities
  • During a discussion on ‘New Towns and Regional Planning’, the experts called for developing new urban habitations based on sound economic logic so that the inhabitants of such new locations are not pushed into ‘poverty traps’. This needs to be ensured through necessary linkages with other centres of production and consumption for employment generation on a sustainable basis.
  • Experts from Brazil, China, India and South Africa voiced concern over unplanned and unanticipated urban expansion resulting in social and economic inequalities. Some of the experts called for ‘extended urbanism’ based on the principle of effective regional planning.
  • BRICS nations during today’s deliberations stressed on ensuring urban renaissance to stimulate economic growth besides enabling decent living for all sections of the society

 

Cabinet approves creation of GST Council and its Secretariat; First Meeting of the GST Council to be held on 22nd and 23rd September, 2016 in national Capital

(Topic: Cabinet decisions)

About- Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-second Amendment) Bill, 2016,

for introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country was accorded assent by the President on 8th September, 2016, and the same has been notified as the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.

Constitutional significance-

  • As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. The notification for bringing into force Article 279A with effect from 12th September, 2016 was issued on 10th September, 2016.
  • As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States
  • Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like- The goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain States, etc.

 

Council shall consist of the following members namely-

  • Union Finance Minister… Chairperson
  • Union Minister of State, in-charge of Revenue of finance… Member
  • Minister In-charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government… Members

Cabinet inter alia took decisions for the following-

  • Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution
  • Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi
  • Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-officio Secretary to the GST Council
  • Inclusion of the Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council
  • Create one post of Additional Secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India), and four posts of Commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India)
  • Cabinet also decided to provide for adequate funds for meeting the recurring and non recurring expenses of the GST Council Secretariat, the entire cost for which shall be borne by the Central Government.
  • GST Council Secretariat shall be manned by officers taken on deputation from both the Central and State Governments.

India Declares itself Free from Avian Influenza (H5N1)

(Topic: Health)

About- Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare has declared India free from Avian Influenza (H5N1) from 5th September, 2016.
India had notified outbreak of Avian Influenza (H5N1) at Humnabad, Bidar district, Karnataka. There has been no further outbreak reported in the country thereafter.

Control measures adopted in the radius of one Km around outbreak location included following-

  • Stamping out of entire poultry population including destruction of eggs, feed, litter and other infected materials, restriction on movement of poultry and poultry products to and from the area of outbreak, disinfection and cleaning up of infected premises and the Post Operation Surveillance Plan (POSP) from 6th June, 2016
  • Surveillance was carried out throughout the country. Surveillance around the areas of the outbreaks since completion of the operation (including culling, disinfection and clean -up)
  • Post the surveillance the state has shown no evidence of presence of Avian Influenza. India has declared itself free from Avian Influenza (H5N1) from 5th September, 2016 and notified the same to OIE.

 

Regional Conference on ‘Path Breaking and High Impact Initiatives in Citizen Centric Services Delivery System’

(Topic:  Public grievances)

About- Chief Minister of Assam inaugurated the 2-day Regional Conference on ‘Path Breaking and High Impact Initiatives in Citizen Centric Services Delivery System’ in Guwahati.

Aim- To create a common platform to share experiences in the formulation and implementation of citizen centric governance, improved public service delivery through e-Governance, transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly effective administration.

Theme for this year’s Conference is- ‘Path Breaking and High Impact Initiatives in Citizen Centric Services Delivery System’

Organised by- Conference is being organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, and Government of India in collaboration with the Government of Assam.

Participants- Delegates from 8 states of North Eastern Region including Sikkim and 4 states of Eastern Region i.e. West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand will participate in the conference.

Highlights-

  • As per the programme schedule, 5 sessions will be held during the conference, of which 3 sessions will be held tomorrow.
  • First session will be on ‘Transformational e-Initiatives in Health and Education Sectors’ which will comprise of presentation on e-Education and e-Health from Governments of Odisha and Tripura respectively. This will be followed by a panel discussion.
  • Second session will be on e-office implementation which aims at supporting governance by achieving a simplified, responsive, effective and transparent working in Government offices and web based grievance portal called as Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring system (CPGRAMS). This will be followed by a Panel discussion on Vision on Digital Transformation for Citizen Centric Delivery.
  • Second day of the conference, on September 16th, will have 2 sessions. Some important presentations will be ‘Organic State and Tourism Mission’ by Government of Sikkim; ‘Integrated Basin Development Livelihood Programme’ by Government of Meghalaya and ‘Cyber Security’ by Government of West Bengal. A panel discussion on Tele-linking remote and inaccessible areas will be the concluding session of the conference.

 

Standing Committee for Tribal Welfare Reconstituted

(Topic: Tribal welfare)

About- Standing Committee for Tribal Welfare (SCTW) of the Ministry of Tribal Welfare has been reconstituted with the Cabinet Minister as its Chairman and Minister of State as Vice Chairman.

Members of the committee are- Ministers of Tribal Welfare of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

Finance Secretary, Home Secretary, Secretary Ministry of Environment & Forest, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Secretary Ministry of HRD, Secretary Ministry of Rural Development, Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Secretary Ministry of Women and Child Development, Secretary Ministry of Culture will be the other members. Secretary Ministry of Tribal Affairs will be member Secretary.

Prof. TV Kattimani, Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh and Prof. (DR.) Karma Oraon, Head of Department of Anthropology, Ranchi University, Ranchi has been nominated as expert members for a period of two years.

Standing Committee-

  • Standing Committee would deliberate and recommend agenda for discussion at National Council for Tribal Welfare to provide broad policy guidelines to bring about improvement in lives of Scheduled Tribes community in the country, Review implementation of Forest Right Act, Review implementation of Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule of Constitution, Monitor implementation of Tribal Sub Plan and Monitor programme aimed at protecting vulnerable tribal groups.

 

Phase-III of PMGSY to focus on Maintenance of Roads and Financial Incentives

(Topic: Government schemes and policies and its implementation)

About- Phase-III of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY  is being finalised, wherein Sustainable Maintenance of Roads and Financial Incentives to best Performing States will be the key focus areas.

Punjab, Haryana, Gujrat and Karnataka are the four States in the country, which have achieved the target of construction of rural roads under PMGSY, well before the target year of 2019, set by the for connecting all un-connected habitations with all-weather roads.

Steps taken –

  • Ministry of Rural Development is planning to give a financial incentive of 5 percent to the best performing States for maintenance of roads and it is estimated that the government will earmark Rs 1200 crore for this purpose.
  • There are 8 to 9 States in the country which are building standard and durable rural roads well before the scheduled target.
  • Minister informed that so far 15 State governments have notified the State Rural Road Maintenance Policy and appealed to other states to complete this process in coming one to two months so that third phase of PMGSY can be rolled out.

 

FM launches the Web Responsive Pensioner’s Service portal to provide better services to the pensioners

(Topic: Pension and Public grievances)

About- Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs commended the new initiatives undertaken by the Office of the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) to serve the pensioners better through the newly launched Web Responsive Pensioner’s Service portal among others.

Portal developed by- Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO)

Aim- To provide a one-stop solution for pensioners to access information relating to status of pension cases, and pension payments processed by Central Ministries/Departments and Banks.

Help in- Speedy redressal of pensioner’s grievances

Highlights-

  • Finance Minister was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the new office premises of the Office of the CGA in the national capital.
  • FM lauded the role of CGA in handling the growing volume of Government revenue and expenditure through IT initiatives like the PFMS (Public Financial management System) and NTRP (Non Tax Receipt Portal)
  • Highlighted the importance of data analytics in assessing the quality of Government expenditure and revenue. Further appreciated the role of PFMS in ensuring that the funds reach the intended beneficiaries and are essentially used for the purpose they were intended for.
  • On the occasion, the FM launched a new Digital India initiative taken up by the O/o the Controller General of Accounts, namely, a Web Responsive Pensioner’s Service. Later, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed between the O/o Controller General of Accounts (CGA) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), India aimed at strengthening the Internal Audit function in line Ministries and Departments of the Government of India.

 

GS-3

Cabinet approves enhancing the buffer stock of pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes

(Topic: Issues of buffer stocks and food security)

About- Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the PM, has approved the proposal of Department of Consumer Affairs on enhancing the buffer stock for pulses up to 20 lakh tonnes. The buffer stock will be built through domestic procurement and imports of 10 lakh tonnes each.

Steps taken-

  • Specific variety of pulses and their respective quantities for the buffer stock, their phasing/procurement will be decided based on price and availability position, both domestic and global, and changes, if any, in the procurement plan for the current and subsequent seasons will be with due approvals.
  • Releases from the stock and procurement in subsequent year would be based on the prevailing pulse scenario as well as buffer stock position.
  • Requisite funds for this operation would be provided to the ‘Price Stabilisation Fund’ Scheme of the Department.
  • For creating the buffer stock, the domestic procurement operations will be undertaken by the Central Agencies namely FCI, NAFED and SFAC or any other agency as decided by PSFMC at the prevailing market prices if the prevailing market prices are above Minimum Support Prices (MSP), and at MSP, if otherwise.
  • State Governments may also be authorized, wherever possible, to undertake the procurement in a manner similar to decentralized procurement of food-grains.
  • Import of pulses under PSF to meet the buffer stock requirements would be undertaken through G2G contract and/or spot purchase from the global market through designated Public Sector Enterprise of Department of Commerce or any other agency designated by PSFMC.
  • Allocation/release of the pulses from the buffer stock would be made to States/ UTs and Central Agencies. Pulses would also be released through strategic open market sale.
  • For managing the buffer, professional pulses buffer management entity may also be engaged. The exercise will ensure a stable price regime for pulses and will also encourage domestic farmers to increase production of pulses.

 

LNG soon to be the fuel for barges

(Topic: Infrastructure- Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc)        

About- Haldia Dock Complex under Kolkata Port Trust has recently earmarked about 10 acres of land in the vicinity of Haldia Oil Jetty No. 1 for a period of 30 years for setting up of LNG storage facilities, with permission to lay pipelines and install unloading arms through tender cum auction. The project will be undertaken on land lease model by granting lease of land by middle of December, 2016. LNG facilities are expected to be developed within 24 months from date of allotment of land.

Why is LNG important?

  • This is an important development in context of the recent efforts of the Ministry of Shipping to reduce logistics cost and achieve the COP21 targets on cutting down pollution by introducing the use of LNG as fuel for barges.
  • Use of LNG is expected to save around 20 percent on fuel. Carbon Dioxide emissions are likely to get reduced by 20-25 percent and nitrogen/sulphur oxide emissions by 90 per cent. Government is therefore taking measures to facilitate the movement of LNG and its storage at places situated along the inland waterways.
  • Only a few advanced countries are using LNG powered barges at present. Therefore in that sense, the development at Haldia Dock Complex can be seen as a very positive one.4

Efforts made-

  • Efforts to introduce LNG as barge fuel are part of the overall efforts to promote transport on inland waterways and coastal shipping. Inland Water Transport (IWT) is a cost effective and environment friendly system and a lot of importance is being accorded to it since the last two years.
  • Work is already on for construction of terminals and other activities to facilitate navigation on river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas.

Steps taken by Ministry of Shipping-

  • Ministry of Shipping has been regularly holding discussions with Petronet LNG Ltd. (PLL) and Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
  • In the last follow up meeting earlier this month, IWAI was requested to share the details of projections on the cargo and pattern of traffic on NW-1 as per a study conducted for the Jal Marg Vikas Project so as to enable PLL to estimate the demand for LNG.
  • As a long term market for transportation of coal on LNG barges from the Eastern Coal Fields to various thermal power houses on Ganga, IWAI agreed to share with PLL the information they had gathered.
  • Construction of LNG barges at Indian shipyards would be entitled to the 20 per cent subsidy through the ship building subsidy scheme whose guidelines have already been released by the Shipping Ministry.

PLL-

  • PLL is in the process of preparing a Detailed Feasibility Report for setting up LNG facilities at Haldia, Sahibganj, Patna and Ghazipur on NW-I (Ganga) as per an MoU signed by them with IWAI during the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai in April this year.
  • PLL was requested to list out in detail the infrastructure support needed for moving to LNG as fuel for barges and specify the milestone for achieving the activities required to be accomplished.
  • The LNG storage hubs may be built along the river Ganga which would facilitate potential gas consumers in the hinterland also as LNG has the potential to replace LPG, Naphtha, and HFO fuel.
  • It would serve a variety of industries such as metal, ceramic and glass, food processing, refractory’s etc. as well as heavy mining machineries. LNG could even fuel the road transport sector.

Goa and Maharashtra also have a tremendous potential for introduction of LNG barges on their waterways. PLL was requested to explore the introduction of LNG barges for that region also. Similarly the option of LNG based vessels on NH-5 was also discussed in the meeting this month.

Launch of Nine-Day Long “Swachhta Saptah” At New Delhi Railway Station Marking As Swachh Paryavaran (Clean Environment) Diwas

(Topic: Railways initiatives for clean environment)

About- Minister for Railways launched Swachhta Saptah under the Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat Mission from New Delhi Railway Station.

Aim- In order to spread wider awareness on sanitation and cleanliness in rail premises and make hygiene a habit amongst the travelling public

What’s it and who is organising?

Indian Railways is organizing a special nine-day long public outreach programme scheduled from 17th September to 25th September 2016.

Cleanliness programme has certain defined thrusts like-

Swachh Stations (Clean Stations), Swachh Rail Gaadi(Clean Train), Swachh Neer(Clean Water), Swachh Parisar(Clean Complex), Swachh Sahyog(Cleanliness Participation), Swachh Samvad (Cleanliness Dialogue), Swachh Samarpan (Dedication for ensuring Cleanliness), Swachh Aahar (Clean Food) upto 25th September 2016.

Programme highlights-

  • Commencing the Swachhta Saptaah as Swacch Paryavaran Diwas(Clean Environment), Minister spelled out the Railway’s commitment by recounting the initiatives taken under the Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Various activities held at the station include Nukkad Natak by Scouts and Guides, Cleanliness drives and awareness campaign by SNCF Volunteers.
  • In keeping with the program, Indian Railways undertook intensive cleanliness drives on all stations.
  • Dustbins for garbage were provided and awareness programmes were undertaken.
  • All major stations on the Northern Railway were inspected by all levels of hierarchy from top executives and supervisory cadres.
  • A drive on garbage handling and disposal was also undertaken at railway stations, Trains and Depots. Tree plantation ceremonies were held at various places.

 

Sports Ministry to launch Talent identification portal

(Topic: Sports)

About- Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports has decided to start a Talent Search Portal under the Department of Sports.

Aim- The portal is intended to give a fair opportunity to talented children from every nook and corner of the country to pursue their dreams of achieving excellence in sports.

Portal details-

  • A format will be available on the portal to capture the key details of the child. After due scrutiny, children with potential will be given an opportunity to appear for a battery of tests which could be conducted at the nearest SAI Centre among others. Those who pass the battery of tests will be admitted to the training centres of SAI. Sports Ministry will also persuade the State Governments and others to admit some of such children in their centres. Such talented children who are not able to leave their current places of residence for any reason may be offered a scholarship to help them pursue excellence in sports.
  • The plan is to target talented children of 8 years and above. Efforts will be made to involve National Sports Federations, corporate houses and other stake-holders in the programme.
  • The portal is likely to be launched within a month.

Significance of Portal-

  • Details of the performance and potential of a child including video and photographs could be uploaded on the portal by children, their parents, relatives, teachers and others on the portal.
  • Portal will allow talented children to stake their claim for support including admission to sports training centres from the comforts of their homes and will simplify procedures. It will be particularly beneficial to the disadvantaged sections of the society.

 

Cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane receive Arjuna Award from Sports Minister

(Topic: Sports)

About- Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Vijay Goel here today conferred Arjuna Awards to cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in a function held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Rohit Sharma was conferred Arjuna Award for the year 2015 and Ajinkya Rahane for the year 2016. Sharma and Rahane could not earlier receive the Arjuna Awards from the President of India, as they were participating in international tournaments.

Arjuna Awards-

  • It was instituted in 1961, are given to sportspersons for consistently outstanding performance for four years preceding the year of award and who have also shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.
  • The awardees are given a statuette, a certificate, ceremonial dress and award money of Rs. 5 lakh

 

Ministry of water resources sign MOU with ministry of agriculture for speed implementation of Namami Gange Progamme 

(Topic: Water conservation)

About- Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR) signed an MoU in Delhi with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme.

Aim- It will ensure effective and efficient implementation of various projects of Namami Gange in coordination with MoA&FW.

MoU-

  • As per the terms of  MoU the MoA&FW  will develop   organic  farming  in  the  villages  along  Ganga  with  each  Gram Panchayat representing a single cluster, promote organic farming through awareness programmes, self help groups, mobile apps etc.
  • Ministry will also create awareness about balanced use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides promote micro irrigation for water conservation in Ganga Basin and will encourage livelihood opportunities and natural farming, based on animal husbandry, along Ganga.
  • Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation shall ensure necessary coordination, and support from the state governments and state level implementing agencies for various activities to be undertaken by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare as part of Namami Gange programme.
  • MoU will remain in effect for a period of three years and thereafter can be extended as mutually agreed between the parties.
  • Achievement of the implementation of this MoU shall be monitored by a steering committee consisting of the Nodal officers from each Ministry. Committee will meet on periodic basis, once in three months or whenever necessary to review the performance of this MoU and the agreed list of activities.

 

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Signed a MoU to Promote Organic Farming on the Banks of River Ganga

(Topic: Water conservation)

About- Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare signed a MoU with Ministry of Water Resources, Water Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to promote organic farming on the banks of river Ganga. According to this agreement, villagers situated on the banks of river Ganga will be encouraged for organic farming.

MoU-

  • As per agreement, under the Namami Gange project 1657 gram panchayats situated along the course of river Ganga starting from Uttarakhand to West Bengal, organic farming will be developed in 1657 clusters under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
  • Under this project, Ministry of Agriculture along with cluster formation, will provide training on Integrated Nutrient Management and micro-irrigation techniques.

Steps taken to promote-

  • To promote organic farming on the banks of river Ganga, clusters of gram panchayats will be formed, awareness campaigns will be launched and self help groups will be formed by the Ministry.
  • Apart from this, related information will be provided through mobile applications and awareness will be created among the masses about the side-effects of using chemicals, fertilizers and insecticides in farming will be created.
  • Initiatives will be taken to promote the improved ways of irrigation for water rejuvenation in Ganga valley. Also, organic farming and livestock based livelihood will be promoted on the banks of Ganga river.
  • Ministry of Agriculture is promoting organic farming under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana throughout the country especially in north-eastern states.

 

“Break Silos, Work United to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Says Shri Piyush Goyal While Addressing 11th Sustainability Summit, 2016 

(Topic: Sustainable development)

About- Union Minister of State(IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines addressing a plenary session at the 11th Sustainability Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

India and its achievement in Sustainable development-

  • Target-India will positively achieve the target of 40% of installed power capacity through Renewable Energy sources by 2030, as a part of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).
  • Outcome- This will facilitate India to achieve Sustainable and Inclusive Growth for future generations.
  • Steps taken- ‘24×7 Uninterrupted and Affordable Power for All’ as the cornerstone for achieving the 17 SDGs. It is the central factor to achieve a Sustainable and Inclusive Growth profile, whether it is hunger & poverty alleviation, health & education, water & energy security, industrial & urban growth and reducing inequality.
  • Increase investment in Renewable Energy- India is on the path to quadruple its investment on Research & Development in the Renewable Energy sector in the next 5 years and it expects a similar commitment and credible action on the ground from the Developed Nations rather than giving it a mere lip service.
  • Steps taken- Government’s progressive interventions in the direction of achieving a ‘Green Growth’ profile like cutting down the cost of solar power by 40% in the last 2 years, procuring best quality 9W LED bulbs for just Rs. 38 per unit and distributing 600000 units per day, scaling up the solar rooftop energy solutions by 130 times to 40000MW capacity in next 6 years, thermal power plants utilizing treated wastewater from nearby municipalities, which in turn would save fresh water to meet the daily needs of around 150 million people, inter alia.
  • Focus on Hydropower project- Hydropower is the focus area of Government it is deliberating on policy amendments in order to bring large Hydropower projects (greater than 25MW) under the ambit of Renewable Energy projects which hitherto is not the case. Following this step the target of Renewable Energy capacity addition would get increased to 225 GW by 2022 from the present 175 GW and this would open a wider market for greater investments in the Renewable Energy sector.

Developed Nation need to take the responsibility-

  • Developed Nations to own up their responsibilities and honour their commitments to enable an Open Access to Low Cost, Long Tenure Financing of clean energy projects and facilitating Modern Technology transfers to Developing Nations.
  • As it is high time that each country focuses on limiting their carbon footprint and not shift the burden on Developing countries like India, which despite its development imperatives is zealously pursuing the path of Sustainable Development.

 

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Government of India and the African Development Bank(AfDB) for hosting the Bank’s Annual Meetings at Ahmedabad

(Topic: Finance, Economic development)

About- India will be hosting the next Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group at Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre, Ahmedabad from May 22 to May 26, 2017.

This will be a mega international event to be attended by more than 5000 delegates from 80 member countries of the African Development Bank including the Governors, Alternate Governors, Executive Directors, policy makers and businesses.

Signed between- MoU was signed between GoI and AfDB today regarding the holding of the Annual Meetings. MoU outlines the roles of Govt of India and AfDB.

 AfDB-

  • The African Development Bank (AfDB) was established in 1963 with a view to promote the Economic Development and social progress of its regional members. India became member of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1983.
  • Union Finance Minister and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance are the Governor and Alternate Governor of the Bank respectively.

 

OPENING CEREMONY OF INDO-US JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE YUDH ABHYAS-2016

(Topic: Defence)

About- Exercise YUDH ABHYAS 2016, a joint military training exercise of Indian and US Armies, commenced at Chaubattia, Uttarakhand with the Opening Ceremony.

Highlights-

  • Indian and US soldiers stood side by side in an impressive military parade that saw the unfurling of the national flags of both countries while their National Anthems “Jana Gana Mana” and “The Star Spangled Banner” played.
  • Joint contingent gave a ceremonial salute to the two senior most officers of the US and Indian side reviewing the ceremony.
  • The US contingent is represented by a Company of 5thInfantry Battalion, 20 Infantry Regiment, 2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7 Infantry Division, US Army while the Indian side was represented by an Infantry Battalion.
  • The Indian Brigade Commander welcomed the US soldiers and in his inaugural remarks highlighted the common shared beliefs of democracy, freedom, equality and justice that both countries cherish.
  • Company strength army personnel from USA and an equal number of Indian soldiers are taking part in the two weeks long joint training exercise that will see them hone their tactical and technical skills in countering insurgency and terrorism in a UN Peace Keeping scenario involving a combined deployment at a Brigade level.
  • State of the art equipment for surveillance and tracking, specialist weapons for Close Quarter Battle with terrorists, explosive and lED detectors, as well as the latest communication equipments are being fielded by both sides.
  • Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of well developed tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations.
  • The experts from both sides will also hold discussions to share each others’ experiences in varied topics for mutual interest.?

 

Defence Minister Launches Upgraded Website of Department of Defence Production

(Topic: Defence)

About- As part of the PM ‘Digital India’ programme, Defence Minister launched the re-designed website of Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence. The website is now fully compliant to the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW).

Website re-designing-

  • It has been re-designed using the Content Management Framework (CMF) developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • It is now more user centric, user friendly, universally accessible and less vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Web pages have been made responsive and easy to access through different devices i.e. desktop; tablet PCs and mobile phones with varying screen sizes.
  • Website has also been optimized for viewing by different browsers and operating systems.
  • Revamped website has given comprehensive link to websites maintained by various wings and organisations under the department such as ‘Make in India’ defence portal, Ordnance Factory Board, DGQA, Directorate of Standardisation, Defence Offset Management Wing and websites of nine Defence Public Sector Undertakings.

 

Website of DDP provides-

  • News updates, policies, procedures, publications, directory of officials and media contents such as e-book, photo-gallery etc.
  • A link for online service of the Department – ‘Application for NoC for Export of Military Stores’ has been provided.
  • Provides complete information at one place to all stakeholders i.e. public, vendors, exporters, users (Armed Forces), producers (public and private), quality assurance agencies, industry associations, other Central Ministries and State Governments, about the various initiatives which DDP has taken and is taking to promote manufacturing and export in the defence sector under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
  • Related links of other Ministries/Departments like Finance, Commerce, Corporate Affairs, DIPP, DPE, MSME, etc have also been provided.

Features of the website

  • It is interactive and suggestions and clarifications related to defence production can be given or sought through the online feedback form.
  • Another feature of the website is its accessibility by visually impaired persons and persons with motor disabilities, who can access the web content using screen readers and other assistive technologies through accessibility links and icons conveniently placed on the standardized header and footer.

 

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade Celebrates Successful Completion of One Year of ‘Niryat Bandhu@ Your Desktop’ Programme

(Topic: Foreign trade)

About- Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) was identified as a nodal agency to conduct the novel online programme ‘Niryat Bandhu@ Your Desktop’ for entrepreneurs, exporters, importers, IEC holders by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

Implemented by – DGFT implemented Niryat Bandhu scheme

Aim-

  • To focus on mentoring the first generation entrepreneurs in the field of international trade.
  • For mentoring new and potential exporters on the intricacies of foreign trade through counselling, training, and outreach programme

Niryat Bandhu Scheme-

  • Niryat Bandhu Scheme was announced as part of Foreign Trade Policy 2009-14 on 13thOctober, 2011.
  • Scheme was given a major thrust in the new Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20. Online Certificate Programme in Export and Import Management offered by IIFT is an excellent effort which aims at empowering entrepreneurs and creating exporters under the same.
  • The programme, NIRYAT BANDHU @YOUR DESKTOP has been successfully implemented and has concluded its first year with completion of nine batches and beginning of the tenth batch.
  • Programme is handled by faculty of international repute having expertise in the area of international trade and well versed with the nuances of export-import procedures, documentation, regulations, financial schemes, currency management, risk management, customs and excise interface, etc. DGFT also extended total support for making this programme effective.
  • The total fee for the programme is Rs. 25, 000 where participants are required to pay Rs. 15,000 only and the balance of Rs. 10,000 is paid by DGFT.
  • A portal http://niryatbandhu.iift.ac.in/has also been set up for the programme, which provides details of the programme and latest news and happenings in the domain. T
  • The programme so far has received 215329 hits, 2300 registrations, 10 batches, 474 participants, and 177 business plans.
  • To mark successful completion of one year of the programme, IIFT celebrated the occasion on 5thSeptember, 2016 to take a review of the progress and streamline the path forward.
  • Toppers of each batch, overall toppers from all the batches and top three best business plans were felicitated. In the path forward it was decide that a programme exclusively in Hindi will be launched.

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