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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 19th October to 25th October – 2020

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  • October 27, 2020
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PRESS INFORMATION BUREAU (PIB) IAS UPSC – 19th October to 25th October – 2020

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GS-2

Preparation framework for Block and District development plans

(Topic: Cooperative Federalism)

The preparation framework for Block and District development plans has been unveiled. This framework is a step-by-step guide for Block and District Panchayats to formulate plans and will assist planners, concerned stakeholders at appropriate level.

  • Promote inclusive development at the block and district levels by focusing on locally available resources, local people’s aspirations and priority areas
  • Serve as an important tool for all resource persons, stakeholders associated with decentralized planning in intermediate / block and district panchayats
  • Play an important role in transforming rural India by providing accelerated, participatory and inclusive growth

The 73rd amendment to the Constitution of India formalized the three-tier Panchayati Raj system –

  1. Gram Panchayat at village level
  2. Intermediate Panchayat at Block 7a / taluka / mandapal level
  3. District Panchayat at district level.

The grants of the 15th Finance Commission are also being distributed to Intermediate and District Panchayats from 2020-21. 

  • A total of Rs 60750 crore is to be distributed to the Panchayats in the year 2020-21. 
  • Out of which Rs 45774.20 crore is for Gram Panchayats, Rs 8750.95 crore for intermediate Panchayats and Rs 6224.85 crore for District Panchayats. 
  • These institutions need to be assisted to in formulation of comprehensive Block Development and District Development Plans for rural areas.

National Deworming Day

(Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health)

According to the World Health Organisation, about 241 million children in India in the ages of 1-14 years are at a risk of parasitic intestinal worms or STH. This means, India accounts for approximately 28 per cent of the total number of children globally estimated to be at-risk of STH infections.

National Deworming Day

The objective of the National Deworming Day is at eradicating intestinal worms also known as Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH), among preschool and school-age children (enrolled and non-enrolled) between the ages of 1-19 years through the platform of schools and anganwadi centers in order to improve their overall health, nutritional status, access to education and quality of life, reads the operational guidelines issued for NDD by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

  • The deworming activity is carried out in all government and government aided schools and anganwadi centers. 
  • On this day, Albendazole tablet (deworming drug) is administered to children. The day is followed by a Mop-Up Day (MUD) with the intent of deworming children who missed the dose on the NDD.
  • According to the government data, in the first round of deworming, 8.9 crore children (1-19 years) were covered. With each round, the coverage of NDD has increased and in February 2019, the programme reached out to 22.12 crore children.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the nodal agency for providing all States/UTs with guidelines related to National Deworming Day (NDD) implementation at all levels. The programme is being implemented through the combined efforts of Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Urban Development, and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) also provide support to deworming program.

What Are Intestinal Worms?

Intestinal worms are parasites that live in the human intestines and consume nutrients and vitamins that a child consumes. There are three main types of STH that infect people

  1. Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides)
  2. Whipworm (Trichuris trichiura)
  3. Hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale)

These worms depend on the human body for their food and survival and while being there, they lay thousands of eggs each day.

STH transmission:

Soil-transmitted helminths are transmitted by eggs that are passed in the faeces of infected people. Adult worms live in the intestine where they produce thousands of eggs each day. In areas that lack adequate sanitation, these eggs contaminate the soil. This can happen in several ways:

  • Eggs that are attached to vegetables are ingested when the vegetables are not carefully cooked, washed or peeled;
  • Eggs are ingested from contaminated water sources;
  • Eggs are ingested by children who play in the contaminated soil and then put their hands in their mouths without washing them.

In addition, hookworm eggs hatch in the soil, releasing larvae that mature into a form that can actively penetrate the skin. People become infected with hookworm primarily by walking barefoot on the contaminated soil.

There is no direct person-to-person transmission, or infection from fresh faeces, because eggs passed in faeces need about 3 weeks to mature in the soil before they become infective. Since these worms do not multiply in the human host, re-infection occurs only as a result of contact with infective stages in the environment.

The Symptoms

Some of the common and visible signs of intestinal worm infection include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and dysentery. Also, heavy infections often make children too sick or too tired to concentrate at or even attend school. If untreated or undiagnosed, worms can have a long term effect on a child’s health and development.

What is the impact?

Often children consume enough calories but they still suffer from undernutrition largely because their diets are deficient in the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development.  In addition to this, suffering from intestinal worms’ infection aggravate and intensify the loss of nutrients, especially vitamin A and Iron. This co-existence of micronutrient deficiencies and worm infestation result in impaired growth and development of our young ones.

Soil-transmitted helminths impair the nutritional status of the people they infect in multiple ways.

  • The worms feed on host tissues, including blood, which leads to a loss of iron and protein.
  • Hookworms in addition cause chronic intestinal blood loss that can result in anaemia.
  • The worms increase malabsorption of nutrients. In addition, roundworm may possibly compete for vitamin A in the intestine.
  • Some soil-transmitted helminths also cause loss of appetite and, therefore, a reduction of nutritional intake and physical fitness. In particular, T. trichiura can cause diarrhoea and dysentery.

Morbidity is related to the number of worms harboured. People with infections of light intensity (few worms) usually do not suffer from the infection. Heavier infections can cause a range of symptoms including intestinal manifestations (diarrhoea and abdominal pain), malnutrition, general malaise and weakness, and impaired growth and physical development. Infections of very high intensity can cause intestinal obstruction that should be treated surgically.

The Treatment

Albendazole tablet is the suggested deworming drug and its dosage depends on how young a child is. According to experts, Albendazole is an effective drug and doesn’t have any significant adverse effects.

Prevention is better than Cure

Two main areas for prevention of worm infestation include 

  • Ensuring improved access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene and overall clean surroundings to children so that chances of any infection are minimised
  • Improving the quality of food consumed (by optimal processing and cooking techniques like washing raw fruits and vegetables with clean water)

To not let the worms breathe 

  • Promote the integration of deworming activities within existing public health programs and inter-sectoral platforms in order to optimise coverage
  • Plan optimal delivery strategies for deworming activities that are responsive to local conditions

Cabinet approves 

Memorandum of Understanding between India and Nigeria on Cooperation in the Exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes

  • The MoU has been signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) of India and by National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria at Abuja.
  • Enable potential interest areas of cooperation such as, Remote sensing of the earth; Satellite communication and satellite-based navigation; Space science end planetary exploration; Use of spacecraft, launch vehicles, space systems and ground systems; Practical applications of space technology including geospatial tools and techniques
  • This MoU would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from Department of Space (DOS)/ISRO and National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementation.

MoU between ICAI, India and CPA, Papua New Guinea

  • To hold and conduct technical events, seminars and conferences in PNG,
  • Establishing possible cooperation and collaboration in areas of Corporate Governance, technical research and advice, quality assurance, forensic accounting, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other subjects of mutual interest.
  • Share available unrestricted information concerning the accountancy profession in India and PNG and internationally when required, develop the modules for specific subjects for CPA, PNG Examination.
  • To have students and faculty exchange programs.
  • Offer short term professional courses in the domain of accounting, finance and audit in PNG.

ADB, India sign $177 million loan for state road improvements in Maharashtra

(Topic: India and international forums and agreements)

  • Will improve connectivity between rural areas and urban centres in the state enabling rural communities to better access markets, employment opportunities and services. Improved mobility will expand development and livelihood opportunities outside of the state’s major urban centers to second-tier cities and towns thus reducing income disparities.
  • Will also strengthen road safety measures by developing a road safety audit framework that will protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, and children, following the international best practice. 
  • Update road maintenance system by encouraging 5-year performance-based maintenance obligations to contractors to sustain asset quality and service levels.
  • Focus on training the Maharashtra Public Works Department project staff to build their capacity in climate change adaptation and disaster resilient features in road design, road maintenance planning and road safety.

World Bank- IMF annual meeting 2020

(Topic: India and international forums and agreements)

Theme 1: “Unleashing the South Asian Century through Human Capital for All “ and “Investing in Covid-19 Vaccines and Primary Healthcare Delivery System”

  • India has been following a pre-emptive, proactive, and graded response characterised by a “Whole of Society, Whole of Government” approach to manage the challenges posed by the global pandemic.
  • Innovation, ability and agility of the private sector has supported the efforts to fight COVID in a big way. PPEs, N95 masks, Oxygen, ventilators and diagnostic tests kits were developed at a jet pace to ensure self-sufficiency. 
  • Medical infrastructure saw an exponential growth, from having one lab in March, 2020 to around 2000 laboratories as on date with nearly half of the labs from the private sector. The same is true for dedicated ICU facilities and isolation centers.
  • India is making use of Information Technology in virtually every aspect of COVID management- AarogyaSetu app and ITIHAS, a cellular based tracking technology has been used for surveillance and identification of potential clusters, RT-PCR app for testing, facility app for managing information on admitted patients, all integrated with a single COVID portal.
  • Rolled out a special economic and comprehensive package of 272 US Billion Dollars – equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (Self Reliance India Programme) which includes a component of increasing investments in public health and health reforms to prepare India for future pandemics.

1st ever Ministerial Meeting of G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group

(Topic: India and international forums and agreements)

India is committed to the policy of zero tolerance against corruption and unaccounted money

  • The India’s Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 got amended after 30 years in 2018 to introduce a number of new provisions including criminalizing the act of giving bribe also in addition to taking bribe and at the same time putting in place an effective deterrence for such actions by individuals as well as corporate entities. It aims at checking corruption in big places and striking hard against corporate bribery. It seeks to establish a vicarious liability so that the actual bribe giver is also exposed.
  • The aim is to bring in more transparency, more citizen centricity and more accountability in governance and is indicated by its decisive initiatives to operationalize the institution of the Lokpal in the country to check corruption at high places.
  • The world is presently combating serious emerging challenges of Fugitive Economic Offenders and Assets which flee across national jurisdiction. India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 empowers authorities for non-conviction based attachments and confiscation of proceeds of crime and properties as well as assets of a Fugitive Economic Offender.

India has ceased the issue of the accused taking shelter in the foreign country and concealing the proceeds of crime.


After 35 years, India assumes the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization

(Topic: India and international forums and agreements)

After 35 years, India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization,  marking a new chapter in the 100 years of productive relationship between India and ILO.

The Governing Body (GB) is the apex executive body of the ILO which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget and elects the Director-General. At present ILO has 187 members.

It will also provide a platform to appraise participants of the transformational initiatives taken by Government in removing the rigidities of labour market besides makingits  intention clear about universalization of social security to all workers whether in organised or unorganised sector.


GS-3

Final trial of anti-tank guided missile ‘Nag’ successful, ready for induction in Army

(Topic: Defence)

  • In a major boost for the indigenisation in defence sector, India today successfully carried out the final trial of the Nag anti-tank guided missile after which the weapon system is now ready for induction into the Indian Army.
  • Indian Army has been looking for such a missile system to take down the enemy tanks and other armoured vehicles.
  • The Nag Missile system fired from a Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA) can take our targets at ranges of 4 to 7 kilometres and is fitted with an advanced seeker to home on to its target.

Details

  • A third-generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night
  • The Army needs third-generation ATGMs with a strike range of over 2.5km with fire and forget capabilities. It needs them to equip its mechanised infantry units to carry them on their Russian BMP vehicles.
  • The army is currently using second-generation Milan 2T and Konkur ATGMs and has been looking for about third-generation missiles, which are important for stopping advancing enemy tanks.
  • The Defence Ministry in 2018 had cleared the acquisition of 300 Nag missiles and 25 NAMICAs for the Indian Army.

India’s first Multi-modal Logistic Park

(Topic: Transport)

Location: At Jogighopa in Assam

  • The Rs 693.97 crore park will provide direct air, road, rail and waterways connectivity to the people. 
  • It will be developed under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojana of the Government of India
  • Cost effective mode of transport will be cheaper option for trade, business and transportation and will boost the trade across the borders especially with our eastern neighbours by leaps and bounds

Bharatmala Pariyojana

  • It is an umbrella program for the highways sector.
  • Initiated by: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Status: 

  • A total of 322 projects in a length of 12,413 km have been awarded and 2921 km has been constructed under Bharatmala Pariyojana till August 2020.
  • Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana: Implementation of 34,800 km of national highways in 5 years (from 2017 to 2022) has been approved (Rs. 5,35,000 crore).
  • Phase-II: Around 48,000 km of road network across India by 2024.

Objectives:

  • To optimise the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across India by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through effective interventions
  • To generate a large number of direct and indirect employment opportunities in the construction and infrastructure sector
  • To connect 550 districts in the country through national highway linkages.
  • Effective measures: Development of economic corridors, inter corridors and feeder routes, national corridor efficiency improvement, border and international connectivity roads, coastal and port connectivity roads and Greenfield expressways. 

Features: 

(1) Improvement in the efficiency of existing corridors through the development of Multimodal Logistics Parks and elimination of chokepoint

(2) Improving connectivity in North East and increasing harmony with Inland Waterways

(3) Emphasis on the use of scientific and technological planning

(4) Satellite mapping of corridor

(5) Delegation of powers for successful completion of Phase I by 2022.

Do you know?

  • Economic Corridors: These are integrated networks of infrastructure within a geographical area designed to stimulate economic development.
  • Greenfield Projects: They lack constraints imposed by prior work on the site. Typically, it entails development on a completely vacant site and architects start completely from scratch.
  • Brownfield Projects: They carry constraints related to the current state of the site and might be contaminated or have existing structures that architects have to tear down or modify in some way before the project can move forward.
  • Multimodal Logistics Parks: These are a key policy initiative of the Government of India to improve the country’s logistics sector by lowering overall freight costs, reducing vehicular pollution and congestion, and cutting warehousing costs.
  • Chokepoint: It is a single point through which all incoming and outgoing network traffic is funnelled and hence, leads to congestion and traffic.

Development of Indigenous Software solution for VTS and VTMS

(Topic: Technology)

  • Vessel traffic services (VTS) and Vessels Traffic Monitoring Systems (VTMS) is a software for determining vessel positions, position of other traffic or meteorological hazard warnings and extensively manages the traffic within a port or waterway.
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) contribute to safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic. 
  • Vessels Traffic Management Systems are installed in some of the busiest waters in the world, and are making valuable contribution to safer navigation, more efficient traffic flow, and protection of the environment. 
  • Traffic flow in busy approach routes, access channels, and harbours can be coordinated safely, in the best interest of port and its users. Incidents and emergency situations can be dealt with quickly. 
  • Data from traffic movements can be stored and used as reference information for port administration, port authorities, coastguards and search and rescue services.

Development of the indigenous VTS software will reduce the expenditure of foreign exchange on this issue and also minimize the dependence on foreign support for VTS software. Accordingly, indigenous development of VTS software will benefit with respect to:

  • Saving of foreign exchange for various VTSs in India
  • VTS Software can be provided to Indian trade friendly nations viz. Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Bangladesh and Gulf countries.
  • Will also minimize the cost for future upgradations of software.
  • Shall be easier to interconnect with MIS/ERP softwares of ports.
  • Availability of Indian VTS software shall make Indian companies to be competitive commercially in global bids.

Government committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation

(Topic: Animal Conservation; Environment and Biodiversity)

International Snow Leopard Day is observed on 23rd October. 

  • International Snow Leopard Day came into being on 23rd October, 2013 when Bishkek Declaration was adopted by 12 countries on the conservation of snow leopards.
  • The 12 countries included: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Government of India has been conserving snow leopard and its habitat through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL). The PSL was launched in 2009.

India has identified three large landscapes, namely, 

  1. Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh
  2. Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand
  3. Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh

In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states and UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. 

Protecting the snow leopard and its habitat ensures protection of the major Himalayan rivers that support the teeming millions downstream. It also ensures that the ecological balance is maintained in these fragile ecosystems.

  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • India has also launched a community volunteer programme “HimalSanrakshak” 
  • The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high-altitude Himalayas. Snow Leopard is in the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-UNDP funded project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity
  • “New Delhi Statement” of strengthening the resolve of the snow leopard range countries towards conservation of the mountain ecosystems of Central and South Asia.
  • First National Protocol was also launched last year on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations. In line with other projects, this initiative exclusively focuses on developing landscape-based management plans, habitat restoration plans, livelihoods improvement, mitigation of wildlife crime and illegal trade in wildlife, human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategies, improving awareness and communications strategies.
  • The project also encourages the States and UTs to adopt innovative strategies to resolve issues related to multi-stakeholder landscape management, human-wildlife conflicts, wildlife crime and trade in wildlife parts and products, capacity building, climate-smart energy solutions etc.

Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme: This multi-lateral programme comprises of 12 snow leopard range countries and they have developed national priorities and identified large landscapes to support viable populations of snow leopards. 

Snow Leopard 

  • It is also known as Ghost of the mountains. 
  • They are positioned as the top predator in the food web.
  • It acts as an indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem in which they live. 
  • Habitat: Higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in  J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • India is home to 5 big cats: Snow Leopard, Lion, Tiger, Common Leopard, and Clouded Leopard.
  • Snow Leopard capital of the world: Hemis, Ladakh.
  • Threat: Reduction in prey populations, illegal poaching and increased human population infiltration into the species habitat and illegal trade of wildlife parts and products 
  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS): Appendix I
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule I
  • Hemis National Park is the biggest national park of India and also has a good presence of Snow Leopard.

Waste Management in India

(Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation)

Years of neglect, lack of foresight and complete absence of urban planning has left India with mountains of waste-landfills, waste-choked drains, water bodies and rivers. This is called “legacy waste”, a cumulative consequence of decades of neglect and lack of foresight.

India faces a challenge of treating and getting rid of the legacy waste, with simultaneous and continuous accumulation of fresh everyday waste

How staggering is the issue?

  • India generates the most waste globally, about 275 million tonnes of waste per year. 
  • With current waste treatment rates of about 20-25%, the majority of waste remains untreated, in a heap, on landfills, and an equal amount in drains and river bodies.
  • Drains and water bodies, emptying out into Indian rivers, also carry with them an unimaginable amount of waste. The Ganga is among the top 10 polluted rivers in the world, together accounting for 90% of the total ocean plastic pollution.
  • Central, state, city and municipal governments, over decades, have not been able to prevent the situation, nor deal with its scale. 
  • Out of a total 92 large WTE(Waste-to-Energy) plants only a small fraction is operational. The plants that are operational, run at suboptimal capacity. 

Suggested solutions:

India needs affordable, decentralised, customised solutions:

  • Municipalities need to have access to affordable technology. 
  • Local situations needs local solutions:
    Today most of the technology/equipment needed for waste management is imported, expensive and often not suited in our varied local situations.Amphibian equipment to clean water bodies is imported and can work well for large water bodies. Indigenisation of design and manufacturing of such equipment for smaller drains and water bodies is essential. 
  • Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) needs to kick in immediately. 

Ease of procurement of technology and equipment: 

Evolving a less cumbersome process for the procurement of technology and equipment is imperative.
State governments are hit by a double whammy due to lack of technology and a rigid procurement system. 

Policy change:

Policy which provides a direction to accelerate the removal of waste exponentially is needed. 

  • One way, used internationally, is to unlock the land value under landfills.
    Allowing agencies, companies or industry that clear waste, to own the land can fund the clean-up. 
  • Development of skilled and trained professional personnel to operate and maintain the waste management chain, right from collection, operation and maintenance of waste-handling plants.
  • Moving to a zero-waste society
  • Central, and integral to success, is design. Design in the collection, of centralised and decentralised waste treatment plants, and of the equipment used.
    Design of waste management should be the bedrock of a well-planned smart city, town or village.

What are the sustainable strategies to address the problem of solid waste?

A multi-pronged approach, including Technical, organisational and financial strategies for sustainable waste and resource management, is required.

Waste-to-energy technologies

In recent years, waste disposal companies have increasingly been offering partners in developing and emerging countries technologies for recovering energy from waste, based in part on their potential for climate change mitigation.

Avoidance of marine litter

Various national policy instruments are being examined to determine their effectiveness in reducing marine litter; models are generated to demonstrate their economic, environmental and social impact.

Electronic waste

Extended Producer Responsibility and “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle” are the best of available sustainable strategies for handling of Electronic waste.

Economic instruments

For local and national administrations, the costs associated with waste management are considerable. In addition to the traditional approaches to financing, economic incentive systems can be developed to avoid or recycle waste. The focus here is on concepts such as product taxation, deposit systems or user charges.

India’s Solid waste management rules, 2016 and E-waste management rules, 2016 are good examples of sustainable strategies to problems of waste management.

Solid Waste treatment and disposal utilizing plasma arc gasification process is an option for eco-friendly solid waste management in which large volume reduction of waste up to 95% is possible. The plasma gasification process uses electricity to generate high temperature plasma arc (above 3000°C) inside the plasma reactor which converts the waste into syngas. The produced syngas when passed through a series of gas purification system comprising of catalytic converter, redox reactor, cyclone separator, scrubber and condenser is ready for use in gas engines for generation of electricity.The residual ash can bemixed with cement for preparation of recycled bricks for usage in construction. Thus, Science helps in the creation of ‘Wealth from Waste’.

Some of the salient features of SWM Rules, 2016 include: –

  • The source segregation of waste and Responsibilities of Generators has been mandated.
  • Integration of waste pickers/ rag-pickers and waste dealers/ Kabadiwalas in the formal system
  • Generator will have to pay ‘User Fee’ to waste collector and for ‘Spot Fine’ for Littering and Non-segregation
  • New townships and Group Housing Societies have been made responsible to develop in-house waste handling, and processing arrangements for bio-degradable waste.
  • Problems of construction and demolition waste, horticulture waste and garden waste and strategies to resolve them are also mentioned briefly in rules.

Some of the salient features of the E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018 are as follows:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which put the onus on the producer for the management of the final stages of the life of its product, in an eco-friendly way.
  • The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the global best practice to ensure the take-back of the end-of-life products.
  • A new arrangement entitled, ‘Producer Responsibility Organisation’ (PRO) has been introduced to strengthen EPR further.

Prelims-oriented News

Malabar 2020 Naval Exercise: A bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise

Highest number of COVID- 19 recoveries: India

Introducing asafoetida (Heeng) cultivation in Indian Himalayan region

  • Farmers of the remote Lahaul valley in Himachal Pradesh takes up cultivation of asafoetida (Heeng) to utilize vast expanses of waste land in the cold desert conditions of the region
  • Asafoetida is one of the top condiments and is a high value spice crop in India. 
  • India imports about 1200 tonnes of raw asafoetida annually from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan and spends approximately 100 million USD per year. 
  • Lack of planting material of Ferula assa-foetida plants in India was a major bottleneck in cultivation of this crop.
  • Raw asafoetida is extracted from the fleshy roots of Ferula assa-foetida as an oleo-gum resin. Although, there are about 130 species of Ferula found in the world, but only Ferula assa-foetidais the economically important species used for the production of asafoetida. 
  • In India, we do not have Ferula assa-foetida, but other species Ferula jaeschkeana is reported from the western Himalaya (Chamba, HP), and Ferula narthex from Kashmir and Ladakh, which are not the species that yield asafoetida.

Ayushman Sahakar Fund: For creation of healthcare infrastructure by cooperatives

  • Cooperatives utilizing the scheme would be able to bring revolution in comprehensive health care services in rural areas
  • Formulated by the apex autonomous development finance institution under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)
  • NCDC’s scheme aligns itself with the focus of the National Health Policy, 2017, covering the health systems in all their dimensions- investments in health, organization of healthcare services, access to technologies, development of human resources, encouragement of medical pluralism, affordable health care to farmers etc. It has a comprehensive approach-hospitals, healthcare, medical education, nursing education, paramedical education, health insurance and holistic health systems such as AYUSH. Ayushman Sahakar scheme fund would also assist cooperative hospitals take up medical / Ayush education.
  • The scheme also provides working capital and margin money to meet operational requirements. The scheme provides interest subvention of one percent to women majority cooperatives.

Navy Operationalizes First Batch of Women Pilots: The first batch of women pilots of Indian Navy have been operationalized on Dornier Aircraft by the Southern Naval Command (SNC) at Kochi. The three women pilots were part of the six pilots of the 27th Dornier Operational Flying Training  (DOFT) Course, who graduated as ‘Fully operational Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) Pilots’ at a passing out ceremony held at INS Garuda, Kochi in 2020.

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