Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 April 2017
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Power Purchase Agreement for Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project signed
Madhya Pradesh government has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to supply 24% of electricity generated from the Rewa ultra mega solar project to be set up in the state.
About the project:
Rewa Ultra Mega Solar (RUMS) project is a joint venture of Solar Energy Corporation of India and MP Urja Vikas Nigam, where in both parties have 50% stake.
- When completed, it will be the world’s largest singlesite solar power project.
- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the lead transaction advisor for this project that will mobilise USD 550 million in private investment and avoid a million tonnes of GHG (Greenhouse gas) emissions.
India’s solar power capacity has crossed 12 GW, with the addition of 5,525 MW solar power generation capacity last fiscal year. Among the states, Andhra Pradesh added the maximum solar capacity in 2016-17 (1,294.26 MW), followed by Karnataka (882.38 MW) and Telangana (759.13 MW). Other major additions were in, Tamil Nadu (630.01 MW), Rajasthan (543 MW), Punjab (388 MW), Uttar Pradesh (193.24 MW) and Uttarakhand (192.35 MW).
The Centre has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar, 60 GW from wind, 10 GW from bio-power and 5 GW from small hydro-power (up to 25 MW capacity each). At present, of the 310 GW installed power generation capacity, 46 GW is from renewable power generation capacities.
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.
Portal and Mobile App of RUSA
The government has launched the unique portal and mobile app of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).
- The portal is a one-stop for States’ Higher Education Plans, decision of the States’ Higher Education Councils and details of the resources under this scheme.
Some of the key highlights of the App are:
- It will capture the fund allocation as per the Project Approval Board, the instalment-wise fund release by the centre and the state, the institution-wise key project, vendors appointed and the payment made to them as also stage-wise photos and time stamps of payments made and comments entered.
- Component-wise details give a quick snapshot into the funding of RUSA projects. Whether it is infrastructure grants of equity initiatives, this window gives a peek into the funds approved, the amount released, the sum utilized and the percentage of work completed.
- Stakeholders can also get granular details on the money released from the centre and the state. The date stamps give a picture on the timelines followed and the pictures provide the ground reality.
- Tracking projects is the soul of this App, and every initiative is tagged with a unique ID number, thus providing the entire story of how an idea germinated and matured.
- A powerful Dashboard gives an overall picture of the scheme and the state-wise performance of the impact that the programme has made.
RUSA was initiated to incentivise and disincentivise state actions. It aimed at creating new universities through upgradation of existing autonomous colleges and conversion of colleges in a cluster.
- The scheme was launched in 2013 and aimed at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.
- The central funding (in the ratio of 60:40 for general category States, 90:10 for special category states and 100% for union territories) would be norm based and outcome dependent. The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions.
Objectives of the scheme are as follows:
- Improve the overall quality of state institutions by ensuring conformity to prescribed norms and standards and adopt accreditation as a mandatory quality assurance framework.
- Usher transformative reforms in the state higher education system by creating a facilitating institutional structure for planning and monitoring at the state level, promoting autonomy in State Universities and improving governance in institutions.
- Ensure reforms in the affiliation, academic and examination systems.
- Ensure adequate availability of quality faculty in all higher educational institutions and ensure capacity building at all levels of employment.
- Create an enabling atmosphere in the higher educational institutions to devote themselves to research and innovations.
- Expand the institutional base by creating additional capacity in existing institutions and establishing new institutions, in order to achieve enrolment targets.
- Correct regional imbalances in access to higher education by setting up institutions in unserved & underserved areas.
- Improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities of higher education to SC/STs and socially and educationally backward classes; promote inclusion of women, minorities, and differently abled persons.
Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
31st Meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council
Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, chaired the 31st Meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council held recently.
- The topics discussed in the meeting included the points put forth by the Members on challenges in combating adulteration, strengthening the enforcement machinery and testing Infrastructure, training and capacity Building of all stakeholders.
Consumer Protection Councils:
The Consumer Protection Act postulates establishment of Consumer Protection Councils at the Central and State levels for the purpose of spreading consumer awareness. The objects of the Councils, as per the Act, shall be to promote and protect the rights of the consumers such as:
- The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.
- The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
- The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
- The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
- The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
- The right to consumer education.
Central Consumer Protection Council:
The Consumer Protection Act empowers the Central Government to establish a Central Consumer Protection Council consisting of the Minister in charge of consumer affairs in the Central Government as its Chairman and such number of other official and non-official members representing such interests as may be prescribed.
- Under the Consumer Protection Council Rules 1987, the membership of the Council is restricted to 150 members including the Central Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs as the Chairman. The term of the Council is three years.
- To monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Council, the Central Government may constitute a standing working group from amongst the members of the council under the Chairmanship of the Member Secretary of the Council.
- The Council shall meet as and when necessary, but at least one meeting of the Council shall be held at such time and place as the Chairman may think fit.
Paper 2 Topic; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
PM launches projects related to SAUNI Yojana
Phase I of SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) project was recently dedicated to the Nation. This is the second milestone in the Rs 12,000 crore project to pump Narmada water in 115 dams of arid Saurashtra region after the PM dedicated to public phase-I of the Link-I canal in August last year.
What is the SAUNI Yojana?
The project is not a part of the Narmada project but is based on it. 1 MAFT (million acre feet) flood water has been allotted to Saurashtra by the state government and this water will be pumped to major reservoirs in the region under the SAUNI Yojna. Unlike traditional irrigation projects, SAUNI is technically a ‘linking’ project, where the water will be filled in irrigation dams that are already equipped with canal network. This network of canals will then help channel water into farms.
Also, SAUNI project involves making pipe canals instead of the conventional open canals. The pipelines in the SAUNI project are underground, which means that no land needs to be acquired.
Paper 2 Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
SC refers anti-defection law issue to larger Bench
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea of former Samajwadi Party leader and MP Amar Singh seeking its direction that anti-defection law is not applicable to an elected member of a House, who had been expelled by his party.
- The court said the issue raised by the petitioner needed to be examined by a larger bench and referred the case to the Chief Justice of India to constitute an appropriate bench to decide the case.
In 1996, the Supreme Court had concluded in G. Viswanathan versus Hon’ble Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly that a legislator expelled from his party shall be deemed to have “voluntarily given up” his membership of that party who got him elected and nominated him to the House. This legal fiction of deeming him to continue in the party post-election as an “unattached member” makes him therefore vulnerable to disqualification from the House on the ground of defection under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.
Under the Viswanathan judgment, the expelled legislator would still be susceptible to the “whims and fancies” of the leaders of the party which threw him out despite the fact that subsequently, after his expulsion, he had gone ahead and formed his own political party.
What’s the issue?
At the centre of the controversy is the Supreme Court’s interpretation of paragraph 2(1) of the Tenth Schedule in the Viswanathan judgment of 1996. The court held that even if a member was thrown out or expelled from the party, for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule he would not cease to be a member of the political party that had set him up as a candidate for the election. He would continue to belong to that political party even if he was treated as “unattached.” The court had held that the act of voluntarily giving up the membership of the political party may be either “express or implied.”
The anti-defection law:
The 10th Schedule to the Constitution, popularly referred to as the ‘Anti-Defection Law,’ was inserted by the 52nd Amendment in 1985.
The grounds for disqualification are mentioned under Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2). A Member of Parliament or state legislature is deemed to have defected:
- When the elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party.
- If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.
- Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party.
- Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member.
Exceptions under the Law:
- Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and rejoin the party if he demitted that post.
- A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its party legislators voted for the merger.
- The law initially permitted splitting of parties, but that has now been outlawed.
Sources: the hindu.