Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 October 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India, Algeria mull fertilizer JV
India is keen to join hands with Algeria to explore the possibilities of setting up a multi-billion dollar fertilizer project, bearing in mind the phosphatic reserve available in this North African country which is estimated to be more than 5 billion tonnes. A meeting in this regard was also recently held between the two countries.
The estimated phosphate reserve in Algeria is estimated to be more than 5 billion tonnes and possible Indian investment in the sector is expected to be $5 to 7 billion.
Implications of this move:
Around 90 to 95% phosphate being used by Indian fertilizer companies is imported and the production cost is also very high. The price of fertilizer in India is expected to come down along with the subsidy burden if the talks between the two countries lead to setting up of a joint venture mega fertilizer company in Algiers.
India currently imports raw phosphate resources from a number of African countries including Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Syria, as also from Russia, Canada and Israel among others.
- Indian fertilizer industry is producing about 12.28 million tonnes of nitrogen and 4.37 million tonnes of phosphatic nutrient production.
- India ranks second in the production of nitrogenous fertilizers and third in phosphatic fertilizers.
- According to a report of department of fertilizers, by 2016-17, fertilizer demand in the country is projected to increase to about 336.77 lakh tonnes of urea, 124.13 lakh tonnes of DAP, 59.48 lakh tonnes of SSP and 47.93 lakh tonnes of MOP.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
KWDT-II verdict disappoints AP, TS
The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar has decided to confine the reallocation of Krishna water between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- In its recent verdict delivered, the KWDT-II decided to maintain status quo on the allocation made to upper riparian States Maharashtra and Karnataka and take up further action on distribution of water to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh out of the allocation made to the erstwhile united State.
- The verdict would mean that the project specific allocations and other operational protocols would be confined to the two States much against their demand that allocations be made afresh among the four riparian States.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had submitted pleas on the need to reallocate water among the four States consequent on the bifurcation of the erstwhile AP.
- They contended that the allocation in 2013 was made before the enactment of the AP Reorganisation Act and that even Parliament had given its endorsement for reconsideration of the allocations made before bifurcation.
- The two States had argued that Section 89 in the AP Reorganisation Act 2014 was implicitly incorporated to ensure reallocation among all the riparian States.
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT):
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) was set up under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to adjudicate upon the water dispute regarding the Inter-State river Krishna and the river valley thereof.
The tribunal gave its award in 1973. While the Tribunal had in its earlier report detailed two schemes, Scheme A and Scheme B, the final award only included Scheme A and Scheme B was left out. Scheme A pertained to the division of the available waters based on 75% dependability, while Scheme B recommended ways to share the surplus waters.
The KWDT in its award outlined the exact share of each state. The award contended based on 75% dependability that the total quantum of water available for distribution was 2060TMC. This was divided between the three states in the following manner.
- Maharashtra 560 TMC.
- Karnataka 700 TMC.
- Andhra Pradesh 800 TMC.
Review of the Award:
The tribunal in its first award provided for a review of its award after 31 May 2000. However no such review was taken up for more than 3 years after that.
- In April 2004, the second KWDT, was constituted by the Government of India following requests by all three states.
- The second Krishna Water Dispute Tribunal gave its draft verdict on 31 December 2010. The allocation of available water was done according to 65% dependability, considering the records of flow of water for past 47 years.
- According to KWDT II, Andhra Pradesh got 1001 TMC of water, Karnataka 907 TMC and Maharashtra 666 TMC. Next review of water allocations will be after the year 2050.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Green train corridors
The Indian Railways has declared the Okha-Kanalus (141 Kms) and Porbandar-Wansjaliya (34 Kms) sections of Gujarat in Western Railway as the Green Train Corridors.
What are Green train corridors?
Green Train Corridors are sections of the railways which will be free of human waste on the tracks.
How is this being achieved?
This is being achieved by the installation of bio-toilets in all coaches of Indian Railways.
Railways have taken up a mammoth task of providing human discharge free bio-toilets in all its coaches to make the entire railway track a green corridor by 2020. Railways have already provided around 48,000 bio-toilets in about 14,000 passenger coaches.
The 114-km stretch in Tamil Nadu between Rameswaram and Manamadurai had been identified as a Human Waste Discharge Free Train Corridor and was formally inaugurated as the first green corridor in July this year. Accordingly, ten passenger trains consisting of 286 coaches moving over this section have been provided with bio-toilets.
The technology of environment-friendly bio-toilets has been developed jointly by the Indian Railways and the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) through an MoU.
These toilets function in a manner that the human waste is collected in tanks below the toilets and the same is decomposed by the use of various bacteria.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
International Conference on Voter Education:
- The first ever Global Conference on Voter Education titled ‘Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation’ is being held in New Delhi.
- It is being organized by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in association with UNDP.
- Motto – “No Voter to be Left Behind”.
- This Conference represents nearly 40% of the world’s population under a single roof, bears the testimony to the importance of the Conference on the world stage.
- People are at the center of focus of this conference and deliberations would be held in great detail so as to adopt best practices across the world to ensure Voter Education and maximum Electoral Participation of the People.
- Participants are also planning to establish a Global Knowledge Network on Voter Education, VoICE.NET, which will be an innovative wide platform to share knowledge resources, interact on discussion board, sharing platform for events and practices in various countries and also extend knowledge and resource support to all stakeholders.
2nd joint tactical exercise by India and China:
- As part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China, under the provisions of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, 2013, the Indian and Chinese armies recently held Second Joint Exercise “Sino India Cooperation 2016”. It was held in Ladakh.
- During the day long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian Border village was painted. Thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance.
- The exercise is aimed at increasing the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.
- The joint exercise, compliments the Hand in Hand series of the India -China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas of India and China.
- The Indian Navy has commissioned the highly manoeuvrable fast attack craft INS Tihayu at the Eastern Naval Command.
- INS Tihayu is the second ship of the four follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (FO-WJFAC), being built by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE).
- Conceived, designed and built indigenously, the commissioning of this ship completes the addition of another chapter to the nation’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and indigenisation efforts in the field of warship design and construction.
- Named after Tihayu island (presently known as Katchal island) in the Nicobar group, the 320-tonne INS Tihayu, measuring 49 meters can achieve speeds in excess of 35 knots.
- The ship is capable of operating in shallow waters at high speeds and is equipped with enhanced fire power. Built for extended coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol the warship is fitted with advanced MTU engines, water jet propulsion and the latest communication equipment.
Smarter railway stations:
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Urban Development Ministry and the Railways to redevelop railway stations and surrounding areas under the Smart City plan.
- To begin with, 100 railway stations and an adjoining area of 300-800 acres would be redeveloped in the Smart Cities and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Cities plans.
- At present, railway stations in 10 cities could be taken up for the redevelopment with the involvement of the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC). They are Varanasi, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry.
- Countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, the U.K. and Belgium have shown interest in the redevelopment of railway stations.
- The scope of the MoU will be extended to over 500 cities in time. The cost of redeveloping about 500 acres in the Smart City Plans of 60 approved cities is approximately Rs. 1,500 crore.
- The validity of the MoU is five years and can be extended with the consent of both the ministries.