Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 September 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Government plans 27,000km economic corridors
The government is planning to make 44 highway stretches totalling 27,000 km to be developed as “economic corridors” for seamless movement of cargo vehicles, cut delays, deepen economic activities and create jobs.
- This will be the biggest highway expansion plan since the rolling out of Golden Quadrilateral and North South East West Corridor, totalling 13,000 km during the Vajpayee regime.
- The new stretches pass through and connect major hubs of economic activities such as manufacturing clusters and ports.
- It will help in decongesting 30 top cities in the country by building ring roads and logistics hubs along these corridors.
- The new plan is expected to be completed in six years. The government is exploring several funding options, including road development cess, loans from agencies and also private investment.
- The government is also planning to develop another 15,000 km as feeder routes to these economic corridors. 40 interconnecting corridors will also be developed to link 44 economic corridors and the Golden Quadrilateral. This network will carry 80% of the country’s freight.
- The government will also rebrand national highways as national corridors, economic corridors and feeder roads, a move aimed at helping in navigation and identifying the roads. The corridors have been identified using satellite imagery.
In this regard, the Union highways ministry is preparing a proposal to seek the cabinet approval for the execution of this programme.
Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Chinese daily warns of setbacks to China-Pakistan economic corridor
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is generating a vigorous internal debate, pitting those who advocate a lighter reliance on the project against others who view the undertaking as a cornerstone of security of the New Silk Road-Beijing’s ambitious connectivity plan.
- Critics are highlighting the burgeoning costs of keeping the corridor secure. According to them, it is unlikely that China will change its supportive attitude on the CPEC in the short term, but the increasing cost of security is becoming a big problem in efficiently pushing forward the project.
- But, supporters view the CPEC as a project that can result in the emergence of a stable Pakistan. In turn, that would yield a major geostrategic prize, as it could disrupt the spread of extremism in the region, through which China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road will pass.
It should be noted here that the economic corridor, linking Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Gwadar Port in southwest Pakistan, passes through some turbulent regions.
It is unlikely to be plain sailing for China and Pakistan in their attempts to push forward the CPEC due to challenges such as a complex regional environment, and people in the two countries should be prepared for potential setbacks.
About the CPEC project:
- The 3,000-km CPEC connecting Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through PoK is stated to cost $46 billion.
- This project will shorten the route for China’s energy imports from the Middle East by about 12,000 kms.
- The project includes building of highways, railways as well as pipelines. It is among the six economic corridors conceived under China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Infra pool to have separate funds for roads, clean energy
The government has tweaked the structure of the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF).
- The fund will now have two dedicated funds — one for roads and another for clean energy.
- This is aimed at getting long-term funds into these two crucial sectors of the economy.
- This will also reduce pressure on banks, which are the primary source of finance for long-term infrastructure projects.
- 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 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Approved strength of judges enough to end backlog: Law panel head
Law Commission of India Chairman and former Supreme Court judge Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan has said “working judges”, and not increasing sanctioned strength of judges, may be a solution to modern-day demands of judicial workload caused by the heightened legal awareness among the public about their liberties.
According to Justice Balbir Singh, “Increasing the sanctioned strength of judges will not solve the problem. We need working judges.”
Why workload has increased?
Workload has increased because of an increase in awareness among the public and education. There has also been an expansion of liberty.
What needs to be done now?
Steps should be taken to fill the sanctioned strength rather than increase the number of judges over and above the current sanctioned strength to solve pendency.
His view comes at a time when the Supreme Court has directed the Law Commission to file a report within a year on whether it is permissible to rid the apex court of routine appeals crowding the court, to help it focus on cases of national and public interest. Also, Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur had recently called for over 70,000 more judges to be appointed to courts all over the country to clear the backlog.
The present vacancies in the High Courts number over 480 when the sanctioned strength is 1079.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
GSAT-11 to be launched in early 2017
GSAT-11 is set to be launched early next year on the European Ariane launch vehicle.
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 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.
- GSAT-11 is designed to generate a bandwidth of more than 12 gbps primarily for users of Internet driven services, VSAT operations and rural connectivity.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Devendra Jhajharia has won gold in the men’s javelin throw F46 event at the Rio Paralympics. Earlier, Devendra had won gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympic with a record throw of 62.15 metres.
- Goa is set to host meet of BRICS environment ministers on September 16. Environment ministers of the BRICS nations will take part in this. The meeting is aimed at enhancing mutual cooperation in critical areas like air and water pollution, liquid and solid waste management, climate change and conservation of biodiversity.
- Operation calm down: It is an army operation in J&K. It aims to clear out protesters and militants from the region.
- The third edition of BRICS Urbanisation Forum Meet has begun in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The conference will discuss about ways to increase the productivity and make a separate urban finance system and create employment opportunities.