Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 August 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 August 2016


 

 

Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

 

Mahadayi tribunal term extended

 

The government has issued a notification extending the term of Mahadayi tribunal for a year. This could prolong the dispute between Karnataka and Goa over river water sharing.

  • An extension of term is provided in the normal course if the tribunal’s work is not completed within the stipulated period. Under proviso to Section 5 (2) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, the power is vested in the government which appointed the tribunal to extend its tenure.

Background:

current affairs

Source: New Indian Express

A water disputes tribunal set up under the Act is originally meant to complete its assigned work in three years. If the work is not completed, the government can extend its tenure by a year and further by a second year. The tribunal is yet to examine few witnesses. Its current tenure expires on August 20.

About the dispute:

The Karnataka government and Goa government are fighting on sharing of waters of the Mahadayi river (called Mandovi in Goa).

  • Mahadayi, also known as the Mandovi river, is known as a lifeline in the northern parts of Karnataka. The river originates and flows for 28 kilometer in Karnataka and goes through Maharashtra and Goa before meeting the Arabian Sea.
  • In order to divert 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha river basin, Karnataka government proposed to build canals to link Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of Mahadayi. However, objecting the move, Goa government argued that if Karnataka implemented the Kalasa-Banduri project, it would prove disastrous for the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats as the proposed project was deep inside the forest.
  • Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. The tribunal, which gave its interim order after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.

The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

Ministry wants SEZs’ tax sops to continue

 

The Commerce Ministry has raised with the Finance Ministry the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) sector’s concerns about the lack of clarity in the proposed Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime on the continuation of tax & duty exemptions.

Concerns:

Currently, many tax and duty incentives have been offered to SEZ units and developers in the SEZ policy to help them attract investments, and in turn, generate employment and boost exports. However, the proposed GST regime does not provide clarity on these SEZ-related incentives.

Way ahead:

Commerce Ministry has asked the Finance Ministry to continue incentives that are currently provided to the SEZs.

As per the current norms, SEZs are tax and duty-free enclaves and are deemed to be foreign territory for purposes of taxes, duties and trade. Other exemptions provided include:

  • Duty-free import and duty-free domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
  • No Central Sales Tax (CST), service tax and State sales tax.
  • Exemption from customs/excise duties for development of SEZs for authorised operations approved by the SEZ Board of Approval.
  • No excise duty on raw material procurement by SEZs from Domestic Tariff Area (or DTA, which is the area outside the SEZs but within India) as such procurement is treated as exports from DTA to SEZ.

What is a Special Economic Zone(SEZ)?

SEZ is a geographical region that has economic laws different from a country’s typical economic laws. Usually the goal is to increase foreign investments.

Who can set up SEZs? Can foreign companies set up SEZs?

Any private/public/joint sector or state government or its agencies can set up an SEZ.

What is the role of state governments in establishing SEZs?

State governments will have a very important role to play in the establishment of SEZs. Representative of the state government, who is a member of the inter-ministerial committee on private SEZ, is consulted while considering the proposal. Before recommending any proposals to the ministry of commerce and industry (department of commerce), the states must satisfy themselves that they are in a position to supply basic inputs like water, electricity, etc.

The main objectives of the SEZ Act are:

  • Generation of additional economic activity.
  • Promotion of exports of goods and services.
  • Promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources.
  • Creation of employment opportunities.
  • Development of infrastructure facilities.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Gujarat’s new land acquisition Bill approved by the President of India

 

The Gujarat Land Acquisition Bill 2016, that dilutes the Centre’s stringent provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, has been given approval by the President and will take effect on August 15th.

Contentious provisions in the Bill:

  • The Bill has done away with social impact assessment for projects related to defence and social infrastructure like building public roads, canals and schools and affordable houses and also for acquisition of land for industrial corridors.
  • It empowers the authorities to exempt projects “vital to defence of national security of the country”, “infrastructure and electrification project or affordable housing for the poor” or “industrial corridors set up by the State or its undertakings” and “infrastructure projects under public-private partnership” from social impact assessment or consent clauses as incorporated in the central Act.
  • It also allows the State or its undertakings to acquire land up to one kilometre on both sides of designated railway lines or highways in industrial corridor projects.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Should the Indian Standard Time (IST) be advanced to 6 hours?

 

Experts have proposed advancing the Indian Standard Time (IST) by half an hour. Stating that such a change is the need of the hour, scientists have said that advancing the IST by half an hour will save energy by upto three billion units every year.

Background:

The time zone for India is based on 82.5° E longitude, passing through Mirzapore, U.P. This makes it five hours and 30 minutes ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), based on the prime meridian. This is defined as the Indian Standard Time (IST), and has been official time since independence in 1947.

What’s the new proposal?Source: Wikipedia

Experts have suggested a change in IST to six hours ahead of UTC, instead of the present five-and-a-half hours. This would shift the longitude on which IST is based from 82.5° E to 90° E longitude at Bengal-Assam border.

Why?

According to experts, this shift may reduce the energy demand in the evenings as domestic lighting will be reduced by about 16%. This has many economic and operational benefits. It also saves about Rs 1500 crore per annum for the nation.

Analysis:

From West to East, India spans from 68° 7′ E to 97° 25′ E of the 0° longitude or the prime meridian. A spread of more than 29° implies almost two hours time difference in sunrises and sunsets between east and west part of the country. However, it is essential for a country to follow a standardised time so that offices, transport systems and communication systems can function smoothly. The current IST (UTC+5:30hrs) means that people in northeastern states have to work late into the dark, even though sun rises and sets early in their region. The current IST generates a heavy load in electricity, especially in the evenings which most companies find hard to meet and imposes substantial economic loss to the nation.

Sources: toi.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

  • Lothal: A Maritime Heritage Complex Committee with Secretary (Shipping) as Chairman has been constituted with members from related Ministries and Experts in Maritime Heritage for planning of a Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal. Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilisation, located in Gujarat. Lothal is famous for its dockyard—the world’s earliest known.Source: WIkipedia