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Insights Daily Current Events, 27 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 27 May 2016


 

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

 

Rs.5,534 cr investment in basic urban infra under Atal Mission approved in 6 States for 2016-17

The Centre has approved an investment of over Rs 5,530 crore for providing basic infrastructure in over 110 cities across six states under AMRUT scheme for the current fiscal.

  • The cental assistance to these states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand and Meghalaya – will be to the tune of Rs 2,453 crore.
  • The funds will used for providing household water taps, improving water supply, sewerage networks/septage management, storm water drains, urban transport and provision of open and green spaces in these cities.

About AMRUT:

  • AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
  • AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, sewerage, storm-water drains, transportation and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
  • Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
  • AMRUT will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above. It would cover some cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few state capitals and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.
  • Under this mission, states get the flexibility of designing schemes based on the needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring.
  • States will only submit state annual action Plans to the centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released. But, in a significant departure from JNNURM, the central government will not appraise individual projects.
  • Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakhs.
  • Under the mission, states will transfer funds to urban local bodies within 7 days of transfer by central government and no diversion of funds to be made failing which penal interest would be charged besides taking other adverse action by the centre.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

 

Centre prepares to dilute wetland protection rules

 

The Union environment ministry has proposed to overhaul the regulations which identify and protect wetlands under the Environment Protection Act (EPA).

The Environment Ministry has made the following proposals:

  • The time-bound process set under the regulations of 2010 should be done away with, along with the existing central authority, leaving it almost entirely in the hands of state governments.
  • A state-level authority should be constituted to identify the wetlands. It will be headed by the chief minister and includes the chief secretary and other state officials, with four experts on board, who can also be from the government. The recommendations of this CM-headed authority are to be then sent to the state government for approval or rejection. The Centre will only be informed of the decision by the state. Only the 26 Ramsar wetland sites will get automatic protection.
  • Wetlands would be put to ‘wise use for maintaining ecological character, achieved through implementation of eco-system approaches, within the context of sustainable development’. These terms have not been strictly defined in law and are only conceptually explained in the regulations.
  • Do away with the elaborate list of activities that are prohibited or restricted. But, prohibit reclamation of wetlands, conversion to non-wetlands, diversion or impediment of inflows and outflows from the wetland and ‘any activity having or likely to have adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland’. However, the rules then give the Centre powers to allow these activities as well. The need for the environmental impact assessment before permitting such activities is also to be done away with.
  • Also, appeals against the decisions of the central wetlands authority with the NGT are not allowed. But, aggrieved entities can file cases against violations of these rules.

Background:

The 2010 regulations created a central authority of government officers and experts to oversee the protection of wetlands. It gave a fixed time for states to identify and demarcate wetlands and the Centre again a fixed time period to notify and protect these, as is now done for environmental and forest clearances.

  • The process of identifying and demarcating the wetlands included recommendations and advice of scientific experts at state levels. Some wetlands falling in high altitudes and ecologically sensitive areas, beside the 26 Ramsar Convention sites, were to be automatically given protection.
  • The 2010 regulations prohibited seven types of activities in wetlands, such as reclamation and setting up of new or expansion of existing industries. It required prior state government permission be sought for an array of other activities impacting wetlands. And, that the permission be given following an environmental impact assessment as required under the EPA.
  • Also, the central government held the power of permitting any activity on the recommendation of the central wetlands authority, which had four independent experts on board.
  • The earlier regulations allowed appeals against the decisions of the central wetlands authority with the NGT.

Sources: bs.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Three new defence ministry committees search for radical reform

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has convened a set of independent committees to recommend reforms in the defence sector.

  • The committees include one charged with reshaping the basic patterns of defence spending; another with galvanising defence procurement by restructuring the ministry’s acquisitions agency; and five sub-committees that evaluate how to bring in the private sector.

Details:

  • The first committee will recommend measures to “rebalance” defence allocations between revenue and capital expenditure. With just 25 per cent of the defence budget available for equipment modernization after 75 per cent goes on running expenses, especially on a bloated manpower bill, the committee will look at how to cut down manpower without reducing the military’s combat capability.
  • A second committee has been constituted to study “the setting up of a Defence Procurement Organisation in the Government of India.” The committee is required to suggest the functional mandate of the proposed procurement body, its organisation and staffing, and to suggest how autonomously it could function.
  • A third group of sub-committees has been constituted to salvage the “strategic partners” (SPs) model for private sector participation in “Make in India”, which the Dhirendra Singh committee had recommended last year and which was further given shape by the VK Aatre Task Force early this year.

Sources: bs.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Why Jan-Dhan Yojana is gaining currency in Uttar Pradesh & West Bengal

According to a study, Jan-Dhan Yojana has more takers in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal than any other state. Data show that the two states account for more than one-fourth of deposits accrued so far.

  • As of May 18, Jan-Dhan Yojana had garnered deposits of around Rs 37,775 crore. Of this, the share of Uttar Pradesh was Rs 5,916 crore, while West Bengal’s was Rs 4,932 crore. Thus, the two states accounted for nearly 29% of deposits amassed so far.
  • Also, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal account for 24% of total accounts opened under the scheme. So far, about 219 million accounts have been opened under Jan-Dhan Yojana, of which around 57 million are zero-balance accounts.

Why so?

According to the study, one of the reasons for higher deposit mobilisation in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is the lack of formal banking facilities, particularly in rural areas in the two states.

  • Also, in West Bengal, after the collapse of the unregulated financial sector due to the Saradha scam, there has been an increase in deposit collection from rural areas. Notably, in West Bengal, of the total of about 19 million accounts under Jan-Dhan Yojana, nearly 13 million are rural accounts. In Uttar Pradesh, of the nearly 33 million accounts, close to 20 million are rural accounts.

About Jan-Dhan Yojana:

Jan-Dhan Yojana, launched in 2014, envisages universal access to banking facilities with at least one basic banking account for every household, financial literacy, access to credit, insurance and pension facility. In addition, the beneficiaries get RuPay debit card, with inbuilt accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh.

The plan also envisages channelling all government benefits from Centre, state and local body to the beneficiary accounts and pushing the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme of the Union government.

Sources: bs.


 

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

 

Bankruptcy Code of limited use for current asset woes: Moody’s

 

Pointing to the limited legal infrastructure at hand, rating agency Moody’s has said banks in India may get limited help from the new Bankruptcy Code to solve current asset quality woes. It said the bankruptcy law was credit positive for Indian banks, but challenges remained.

  • According to Moody’s, banks in India would still have limited avenues available to dispose of distressed assets. The lenders would, in general, remain reluctant to make appropriate haircuts to reflect their current weak operating conditions.

Details:

  • Moody’s noted, “India’s new Bankruptcy Code would significantly boost the bargaining power of creditors against large debtors for the resolution of distressed assets. However, the current weak legal framework for asset resolution remains a key structural credit weakness for Indian banks.”
  • Moody’s has pointed out significant infrastructure constraints to be overcome before the framework could become fully operational. Legal resources and information utilities have to be built to support the new restructuring procedure.
  • Another constraint that had to be dealt with was the time required for various stakeholders to accumulate the requisite legal experience and precedents for the new system to be fully up and running.

Background:

The Parliament, in May 2016, passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill, 2016. The code seeks to ensure time-bound settlement of insolvency, faster turnaround of businesses and create a unified data base of serial defaulters.

  • The Code will consolidate and amend existing laws related to insolvency resolution and reorganization of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner.
  • It provides for setting up Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to regulate professionals, agencies and information utilities (IUs) engaged in resolution of insolvencies of companies.
  • It also provides for establishment of National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRT) as nodal adjudicating authorities for resolution of insolvency, liquidation and bankruptcy.
  • The code seeks to give a push to the ease of doing business in the country.

Sources: bs.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

  • The Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Arush’, the seventeenth in the series of twenty Fast Patrol Vessels (FPVs) was recently commissioned at Kochi. It is designed and built by M/s Cochin Shipyard Limited.

 

  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (Irena) Annual Review 2016, India ranks fifth in the world in renewable energy (RE) job creation, with 416,000 employed in the sector during 2015. In the world, 8.1 million persons are employed in the clean energy space. China tops the list with 3.5 million, followed by Brazil with 918,000.

 

  • RBI has directed all banks and white-label ATM operators to have chip-and-pin based card infrastructure. Earlier, the regulator has directed banks to issue only chip-and-pin based cards and migrate old cardholders to these new cards. RBI said though the cards comply with the new norms, ATMs continue to process card transactions based on data from the magnetic stripe, the old system. As a result, cards being used in ATMs are more prone to skimming frauds.