Insights Daily Current Events, 24 March 2016
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Government to build 2.95 crore houses for rural poor
The government recently approved the “House for All” scheme to construct 2.95 crore houses in rural areas, setting a 2022 deadline. The Centre has already rolled out the urban component of the scheme with a target of two crore houses.
- The “House for All” scheme will be implemented across the country except Delhi and Chandigarh, and its beneficiaries will be identified through the socio-economic caste census.
- This scheme will be implemented in two phases. The estimated expenditure for implementing the housing project from 2016-19 is Rs 81,975 crore. It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house from 2016 to 2019.
- Of the total expenditure estimated in housing for all, Rs 68,000 crore would be provided through budgetary provisions and the rest of Rs 21,975 crore will come from borrowing through Nabard.
- Importantly, the new scheme has enhanced the unit assistance to Rs 1,20,000 in plain areas and to Rs 1,30,000 in hilly states/difficult areas.
- The scheme also envisages setting up a National Technical Support Agency at the national level to provide support in achieving the target set under the project.
Paper 2 Topic: bilateral agreements.
India-UAE agreement for $75 billion investment in NIIF gets clearance
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to mobilise up to $75 billion long-term investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
- The MoU was signed in February during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UAE.
- The MoU will help establish a transparent and high-level framework and collaboration platform under which both countries intend to explore ways to facilitate and expand the participation of UAE’s investment institutions in appropriate infrastructure projects and institutions in India including NIIF.
- A joint working group comprising of the concerned representatives of both parties would take forward cooperation under this MoU and to discuss and agree the terms, principles and criteria jointly.
- The Union Cabinet, in July 2015, had approved creation of National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) as a trust that will have a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.
- The Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
- The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
- The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
- Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund.
- The government has budgeted to contribute Rs.20,000 crore to the fund in the current fiscal year while another Rs.20,000 crore is expected to be raised through sovereign wealth funds.
- The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
Paper 3 Topic: space.
Cabinet approves procurement of launch services for GSAT-11
The union cabinet has given its approval for the procurement of launch services and realisation of ground segment for GSAT-11 spacecraft at a cost of Rs.1,117 crore. GSAT-11 will be ready for launch by the end of 2016.
- The ground segment is being realised to address the rural communication requirements.
- The ground segment of GSAT-11 will also enable the utilisation of a small portion of the bandwidth for societal services apart from providing in-orbit testing support.
- It will also provide a high throughput capacity of about 10 Gbps to render broadband connectivity, especially in rural areas.
- In 2009, Government of India had approved the development of GSAT-11, which is touted to be one of the largest Indian communication satellite. GSAT-11 has a mission life of about 15 years.
- GSAT-11 is a four-tonne geostationary communications satellite, which has a mission life of about 15 years.
- The GSAT-11 will not only link all the towns and villages in this country with quality high-speed Wi-Fi service, it will also integrate internet and television services.
- The satellite is currently under development at Department of Space and ISRO facilities.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: bilateral agreements.
MoU between India and UAE
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post-facto approval to the Letter of Intent signed in February 2016 between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of India and the National Qualifications Authority of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E).
- The Letter of Intent will strengthen relations between the two countries and pave the way for bilateral cooperation between the two countries on skill development and recognition of qualifications.
- Following this, the Cabinet has also given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of India and the National Qualifications Authority of the U.A.E. for cooperation in skill development and recognition of qualifications.
- The MoU will pave the way for bilateral cooperation between the two countries on skill development and recognition of qualifications. Also the MoU will facilitate workforce mobility, skill development and placement of youth in overseas jobs in UAE.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Extension of time period of the Scheme “Special Industry Initiative for J&K” Udaan
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for extension of time period of the Scheme “Special Industry Initiative for J&K” (SII J&K) Udaan till 2019-20. Initially the time period of Udaan was upto 2015-16.
Udaan is a national integration scheme with the goal to mainstream J&K youth with rest of the country. The scheme not only provides skill enhancement and job opportunity but also leads to counter – radicalization and weaning away youth of J&K from militancy.
- Udaan provides exposure to the youth of J&K to the best of corporate India and corporate India to the rich talent pool available in the State.
- So far, 67 leading corporates have partnered with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under UDAAN with a commitment to train youth from the State covering Organized Retail, Banking, Financial Services, IT, ITES, Infrastructure, Hospitality etc.
- It is expected that the target of the Scheme, to train and enhance employability of 40,000 graduates, post graduates and three year engineering diploma holders, will be achieved by 2019-20.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure-energy.
Annual Target of Electrifying 7000 Villages Achieved
The government has achieved its annual target of electrifying 7000 villages during this (2015-16) fiscal year under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
About Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rural Electrification Scheme:
The scheme, also known as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, was launched by the Power Ministry after subsuming the previous Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidhyutikaran Yojana (RGGVJ) as it rural electrification component.
Aim of the Scheme: It aims to augment power supply to rural areas and strengthen sub transmission and distribution lines.
Major components of the scheme:
- To separate agricultural and non agricultural feeders.
- To strengthen and augment sub transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas, including metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers.
- It would increase the number of hours of power supply in rural areas.
- Reduction in peak load.
- Improvement in billed energy based on metered consumption.
- Provides access to electricity to rural households.
The scheme has an outlay of 76000 crore, of which centre has committed to provide a grant of Rs. 63000 crore.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement, an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
- India’s intention to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement would now be conveyed to the Depository State (Turkmenistan). India would become party to the Agreement upon consent of the founding members.
Benefits for India:
- Accession to the Agreement would enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interaction with the Eurasian region.
- Further, this would synchronise with our efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity.
Ashgabat , known as Poltoratsk between 1919 and 1927, is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan in Central Asia, situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range.
- The Ashgabat Agreement, which aims to develop a shortest trade route between Central Asian countries and Iranian and Omani ports, was initially signed among Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Oman and Qatar back in April 2011 and was given additional support in 2014 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed.
- Whilst Oman called for early completion of basic technical requirements so that the corridor can be operational by 2015, Qatar withdrew from the agreement in 2013. However, Kazakhstan promised to join instead, which will increase the project’s significance and extend it further into Central Asia.
- The Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan (ITK) railway line will be the major route according to the Ashgabat Agreement, which became operational in December 2014 and was also included as part of India-funded North-South international transport corridor (NSITC).
Paper 2 Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
World Bank to extend Rs 9,000 crore support to Swachh Bharat Mission
The government has approved 1.5 billion dollar (about Rs 9,000 crore) World Bank support for the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in rural areas.
- The project basically provides for incentivising states on the basis of their performance in the existing SBM-Gramin. Incentivisation of states was approved by the Cabinet while approving the SBM-Gramin in September, 2014.
- The current approval provides for the mechanism of such incentivisation through World Bank credit.
- The states will pass on a substantial portion of more than 95% of the Performance Incentive Grant Funds received to the appropriate implementing levels of districts, Blocks, GPs etc.
- The end-use of the incentive grants will be limited to activities pertaining to the sanitation sector.
The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched in October 2014, consists of two sub-missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) (SBM-G), which will be implemented in rural areas, and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), which will be implemented in urban areas.
- SBM-G seeks to eliminate open defecation in rural areas by 2019 through improving access to sanitation. It also seeks to generate awareness to motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices, and encourage the use of appropriate technologies for sanitation.
- SBM-Gramin mainly focuses on ensuring the use of toilets, besides their construction. The States and their implementing agencies will be given incentives for meeting performance standards: reducing open defecation, sustaining their open defecation-free status and improving solid and liquid waste management in rural areas.
Facts for Prelims from “The Hindu”:
Tool to check solar plant parts
Solar Mango, a solar energy consulting firm, has come out with a web-based tool ‘PV SAVVY’ to help people choose key components of the right quality required for solar power plants. In the absence of a mechanism to evaluate solar power system parts, PV SAVVY aims to provide a checklist of green practices and assist people in selecting better quality components. PV SAVVY analyses certifications such as IEC that are necessary for good quality solar components.
India, France Sign MoU for 6 Nuke Reactors
India and France have signed an MoU for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.