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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 13th January to 19th January – 2020

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  • January 22, 2020
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Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 13th to 19th January, 2020

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GS-2

Signing of Historic Agreement to end the Bru-Reang Refugee Crisis

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Signing of an agreement between: Government of India, Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives

Under the new agreement

  • Around 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura and would be given aid from the Centre to help with their rehabilitation and all round development, through a package of around Rs 600 crores. 
  • These people would get all the rights that normal residents of the States get and they would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and State governments.
  • Each of the displaced families would be given 40×30 sq.ft. residential plots, in addition to the aid under earlier agreement of a fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakhs, Rs. 5,000 cash aid per month for 2 years, free ration for 2 years and Rs. 1.5 lakhs aid to build their house. The government of Tripura would provide the land under this agreement.

What is Bru-Reang refugee crisis?

In 1997, following ethnic tension, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru-Reang tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Since 2010, Government of India has been making sustained efforts to permanently rehabilitate these refugees. The Union government has been assisting the two State governments for taking the care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1622 Bru-Reang families returned to Mizoram in different batches. 

On 3rd July, 2018, an agreement was signed between the Union government, the two State governments and representatives of Bru-Reang refugees, as a result of which the aid given to these families was increased substantially. Subsequently, 328 families comprising of 1369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement. There had been a sustained demand of most Bru-Reang families that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security.


IBBI amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Voluntary Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2017

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Voluntary Liquidation Process) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 on 15th January. 2020.

The aforesaid amendment provides that a Liquidator shall deposit the amount of unclaimed dividends, if any, and undistributed proceeds, if any, in a liquidation process along with any income earned thereon into the Corporate Voluntary Liquidation Account before submission of an application for dissolution of the corporate person. It also provides a process for a stakeholder to seek withdrawal from the Corporate Voluntary Liquidation Account.

MoU between NITI Aayog and Union Territory of Ladakh for Development of Infrastructure Projects

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

Under this MoU, NITI Aayog will be supporting the UT’s administration through its key initiative ‘Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure Projects (D3S-i)’.

  • The partnership lays thrust on the identification of high-impact priority projects, expedited project implementation, addressing structural-level issues and creating unique models of development for the Union Territory of Ladakh. 
  • NITI Aayog has committed to assist the UT’s administration in creating a strategic plan for identifying prioritized infrastructure projects and by providing end-to-end transaction-management support for the identified projects. 
  • A dedicated team of professionals is expected to be stationed at Ladakh for identification and development of projects in the UT, especially in tourism, solar energy and basic infrastructure.

India and Bangladesh ink key agreements in Information & Broadcasting sector

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation with neighbouring countries)

A formal co-production agreement was signed on the biopic of “BangaBandhu”, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, which will be released during the birth centenary year of Bangabandhu. Bangladesh has decided to celebrate the ‘Mujib Year’ from March 17, 2020 to March 17, 2021 to mark the centenary year of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh.

Deepening India’s engagement with Bangladesh, an airtime exchange programme between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Radio Betar was also launched. With today’s launch content from Maitree service has started airing in Dhaka and reciprocally content from Bangladesh Radio Betar has started airing on All India Radio in Kolkata.


India and Finland ink MoU to enhance bilateral defence cooperation

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation with other countries)

The MoU on co-operation in the field of Production, Procurement, Research and Development of Defence related Equipment and Industrial cooperation has been inked on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue 2020. 

Under the broad ambit of the MoU, cooperation between Finnish companies and Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings could be explored.

Timelines:

  • A draft MoU between the two countries in the field of defence cooperation amongst others was under discussion since the DefExpo 2018 and has now been formalised in the run up to DefExpo 2020, to be held in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow between February 5-9, 2020.
  • In 2019, Mr Juusti had led a delegation to Aero India in Bengaluru and post his visit, the Permanent Secretary had evinced their interest to participate in the ‘Make in India’ vision and formalise an arrangement for Defence Industrial cooperation through an MoU. 
  • On February 13, 2016, Prime Minister of Finland Mr Juha Sipila had bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during his visit to India for the inauguration of the ‘Make in India’ week. 
  • In April 17, 2018, Prime Minister Modi held a bilateral meeting with Mr Sipila during the first India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm, Sweden. Also, a delegation from Finland had visited India between November 29 – December 02, 2018 to explore new business opportunities for Finnish companies.

World Bank and Government of India Sign $88 million loan agreement for the implementation of Assam Inland Water Transport Project

(Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation with international organisations)

The Government of India, the Government of Assam and the World Bank signed a loan agreement of $88 million to help modernize Assam’s passenger ferry sector that runs on its rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra.

A majority of Assam’s more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands, providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.

The Assam Inland Water Transport Project (AIWTP) will 

  • Help Assam improve the passenger ferry infrastructure and its services
  • Strengthen the capacity of the institutions running the inland water transport
  • Technically better designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels (both new and retrofitted) will make the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption to nature.
  • The Assam Inland Water Transport Project will help develop a modern, efficient and safe river transport system for the large volume of passengers and cargo carried by the vessels.
  • Inland Water Transport is also a more sustainable mode of transport. It provides low-carbon and low-cost options when compared to the cost of constructing and maintaining flood-resilient roads and bridges across the long stretches of the Brahmaputra river.
  • The project will also help build modern ferry terminals. In doing so, the project will draw guidance from ‘working with nature’ principles that aim to design new infrastructure or rehabilitate existing infrastructure in a way that works with natural river processes.
  • The terminals will have better access, lighting and signages while the new vessels will allow for individual seats, and separate toilets. Moreover, a strengthened regulatory regime will ensure reduction in overloading, adherence to time schedule and better crew standards.

Assam has the largest network of navigable waterways in India. The Government of Assam has taken on the challenge of modernizing the ferries sector which, though vital to the state, remains largely informal. With World Bank support, the government is creating an institutional framework that will mainstream Inland Waterways as a mode of transport that is both attractive and well-suited to a wide cross-section of people living in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.


GS-3

India’s communication satellite GSAT-30 launched successfully

(Topic: Space Technology)

GSAT-30  has a unique  configuration of  providing flexible  frequency segments and  flexible coverage.    

The  satellite  will provide  communication services  to Indian mainland and islands  through Ku-band and wide coverage  covering Gulf countries, a large number  of Asian countries and Australia through  C-band. GSAT-30  will provide  DTH Television  Services, connectivity  to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange,  Television uplinking and Teleport Services,  Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and  e-governance applications. The satellite will also  be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging  telecommunication applications.

In  the days  ahead, orbit-raising  manoeuvres will be performed  to place the satellite in Geostationary  Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) by using  its onboard propulsion system. During the final  stages of its orbit raising operations, the two solar  arrays and the antenna reflectors of GSAT-30 will be deployed.    Following this, the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration.    The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit  tests.


Meeting of the Island Development Agency focusing on ‘Green Development in the Islands to reach a new Height’

(Topic: Tourism; Environment)

The Island Development Agency reviewed the progress made towards the programme “Holistic development of islands”. For the first time in the country, under the guidance of IDA, an initiative of sustainable development in the identified Islands within scientifically-assessed carrying capacity has been taken-up. 

Development Plans with focus on creation of jobs for the islanders through tourism promotion as well as export of seafood and coconut-based products made in the Islands have been prepared and are being implemented in four islands of Andaman & Nicobar and five islands of Lakshadweep. In the second phase, suitable sites in 12 more islands of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and 5 islands in Lakshadweep have been covered.

Model tourism projects

  • Both Land-based and Water Villas were planned and bids have been invited for private sector participation. 
  • As a unique initiative, to spur investment, it was decided to obtain clearances for implementation of the planned projects up-front. 
  • All necessary clearances would be in place before bids finalization. 
  • Environment and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances have already been obtained for four exemplary tourism projects of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Strengthening infrastructure support

  • Projects for improving air, sea and digital connectivity are being implemented. 
  • Port Blair and another 7 islands in Andaman & Nicobar would get digitally connected through submarine optical fibre cable by June, 2020. 
  • Better communication services would facilitate setting up of Information Technology based and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the islands with incentives through Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands Industrial Development Scheme (LANIDS), 2018 notified on 1st January, 2019. 
  • The proposed airports in Great Nicobar Island of Andaman & Nicobar and Minicoy Island of Lakshadweep would catalyze the development process in the region.

Way Forward

  • Formulate separate policy for maintaining a clean, green and healthy environment in the islands. 
  • Implement suitable strategies for sustainable utilization of fisheries resources available in Exclusive Economic Zone around the islands. 
  • Adequate technology-based facilities need to be provided to enhance fish collection, storage, processing and export of value-added products which would provide more jobs and generate additional income for the islands.

Year End Review 2019 – Ministry of Power

Availability of reliable and affordable energy is key for development of any country.  Electrification of approximately 2.6 Crores households achieved

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA): Launched in Sept., 2017 with the objective to achieve universal household electrification by providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households in rural and urban areas by 31st March, 2019

Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram JyotiYojana (DDUGJY): 100% villages across the country stands electrified as on 28thApril, 2018

Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) was launched in the year 2014 for improving and augmenting the distribution and sub-transmission systems in Urban areas with a view to improve reliability. Under the scheme, till today, system strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution network has been in 371 circles. 560 additional urban Towns have been IT-enabled, and about 30,000 kms of HT/LT lines have been installed across 546 circles in the country. 820 new substations have been constructed, while more than 50,000 Distribution transformers have been installed. For better work flow management in the Utilities, IPDS has also funded Enterprise resource planning (ERP) across several Utilities, out of which implementation has been completed in 6 Utilities.

Smart Metering: In the current financial year, Ministry of Power has issued guidelines to all States to convert all existing consumer meters into Smart meters in prepaid mode. Operation of Smart meters in prepaid mode would allow consumers to pay as per their own financial convenience and electricity consumption requirements.

Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY): A scheme for financial and operation turnaround of Power Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) was launched by the Government for State owned Distribution Utilities at a time when the outstanding debts and losses of the Distribution utilities had increased to levels that were adversely affecting the viability of the Power and Banking Sectors. The purpose of UDAY was to usher reforms across the Power and coal Sectors through competitive and cooperative federalism to pave the way for 24X7 affordable and reliable Power for all. UDAY incorporated a slew of measures, including financial re-engineering measures, as well as operational improvement measures.

Atal JyotiYojana (AJAY) and Solar Study Lamp scheme: Over 1.48 lakh Solar LED Street Lights commissioned in rural areas under AJAY and over 59.18 lakh Solar Study Lamps distributed to school going students under Solar Study Lamp scheme.

North Eastern states: Over 1 crore LED bulbs, 93,900 LED tube lights and 3.65 lakh energy efficient fans distributed under UJALA scheme. Over 1 lakh LED street lights installed under SLNP.

Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA): Over 36.10 crore LED bulbs, 71.61 lakh LED tube lights and 23.10 lakh energy efficient fans distributed across the country. This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 47 billion kWh per year with avoided peak demand of 9,590 MW, estimated GHG emission reduction of 38 million CO2 per year and estimated cost saving of INR 18,935 crore per year in electricity bills of consumers.

Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP): Over 1 crore energy efficient LED streetlights have been installed across the country. This has resulted in estimated energy savings of 6.9 billion kWh per year with avoided peak demand of 1,152 MW, estimated GHG emission reduction of 4.76 million t CO2per year and estimated annual cost saving of INR 2,686 crore in electricity bills of Municipalities.

National E-Mobility Programme: Procurement process of 10,000 e-cars concludedThe price discovered for e-cars is 25 % less than similar cars in marketTill date, 1510 e-cars deployed/under deployment for Government offices and 470 Captive Chargers (300 AC & 170 DC) commissioned in these offices.

Electric Vehicles Charging Infrastructure: EESL is also installing Public Charging Stations to promote Electric vehicles. Till date, 65 nos. of Public Charging Stations (PCS) have been commissioned in New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) area. MoUs signed with multiple stakeholders across the country.

Building Energy Efficiency Programme (BEEP): Building energy efficiency project has been completed in 10,310 buildings including Railway stations and Airports.

Agricultural Demand Side Management (AgDSM): Over73,600 energy efficient pumps have been installed in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Decentralized solar power plants: Decentralized solar power plant of60 MW cumulative capacity commissioned in the state of Maharashtra.

 

Prelims oriented News

National Youth Day: 13th Jan

Thuglak, a Tamil magazine: Founded by the late Cho Ramaswamy

November 26, 2019: 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Indian Constitution by the Constituent Assembly

Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu National Award: Prof. M S Swaminathan – Doyen of Agricultural Science

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): The largest singular & specialized disaster response force in the world

IRAD project: Will enhance the analytical capabilities based on international best practice, and will also help to perform analysis based on collected data for further improvement/corrective measures to be taken at accident spot/accident prone areas by the concerned Road Authority.

There are two main agricultural seasons in India – 

  • ‘Kharif’ from 1st April to 30th September
  • ‘Rabi’ from 1st October to 31st March.

FASTag Rules relaxed for 65 NHAI toll plazas having High Cash Transactions

  • The concerned fee plazas have been allowed to convert up to 25 per cent of all fee lanes to hybrid (cash plus FASTag) lanes during this time.
  • The move comes in the wake of NHAI raising concerns regarding high cash transactions on its 65 identified fee plazas. NHAI has pointed out that most of the fee plazas are functioning with one hybrid lane on each side and while efforts are being made to bring more fee plazas within the ambit, the said identified fee plazas were facing heavy traffic rush on the hybrid lanes.
  • With a view to save the citizens from inconvenience, the Ministry has decided that depending on the traffic pile up at these 65 fee plazas, not more than 25 percent FASTag lane of Fee Plaza may be temporarily converted to hybrid lanes.
  • At least 75% lanes of these 65 fee plaza remain declared and operational as ‘FASTag lane of Fee Plaza’ in order to incentivize the vehicles carrying FASTag.

Novel coronavirus outbreak in China

Coronaviruses are large family of viruses, which cause illnesses to people and also circulate in animals including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can also evolve and infect people.

  • Also known as Wuhan coronavirus, Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus and Wuhan pneumonia, is a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA coronavirus first reported in 2019
  • The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing.
  • The mode of transmission is unclear as of now. 
  • 2019-nCoV can transmit between humans (it was earlier believed to transmit only from animals to humans). This is a worrying development because it means the viral infection may spread further and much more rapidly, especially in the backdrop of the ongoing yearly migration in China on account of the Chinese New Year festivities when millions of people travel across China.
  • Although as per World Health Organization’s risk assessment the risk for global spread has been stated as low.

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