Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 February 2018
Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana
Context: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarkhand as part of ‘Chardham Mahamarg Pariyojana’.
Facts related to Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel:
- The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity to Yamunotri, one of the dham on Chardham Yatra, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country.
- It will reduce the travel distance from Dharasu to Yamunotri by about 20 km and travel time by about an hour.
- The project will be falling along NH-134 (old NH-94) in the State of Uttarakhand.
- The project will be built under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode. This is funded under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of RT&H and forms part of ambitious Chardham Plan.
About Chardham Pariyojana:
The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna, or the Chardham highway development project, is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas. The project’s main objective is to develop around 900 km of national highways. These highways will be built in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
The project will make travel to the Char Dham (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) safer and more convenient. The project involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes. Apart from widening, the road transport and highways ministry plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.
- For Prelims: Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel, Chardham.
- For Mains: Need for infrastructure development.
Topic: Poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
National Urban Housing Fund
Context: The Union Cabinet has given approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs.60,000 crores.
About National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF):
NUHF will facilitate raising requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals i.e. Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Parternership (AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) is sustained and construction of houses to address the gap in Urban Sector progresses smoothly.
This fund will be situated in Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
Efforts by government to improve Urban housing:
With an estimated slum population of about 65 million and another 0.9 million homeless people in urban India, the Housing for All / Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY-HFA), which aims to provide a home to all urban poor by 2022, is an important urban policy thrust. The government has so far sanctioned 39.4 lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
Housing, despite all the noise the government makes about it, does not get either policy bandwidth or adequate funding, particularly when it comes to mass housing in urban areas for the not-poor (they’re not rich either) middle class. This needs to change. Governments – both at the Central and State levels – need to lead the way as developers of affordable and liveable housing stock in cities. And they need to look seriously at not only building to sell, which is what they have been doing, but building to let. In other words, publicly owned housing which is available for use by private individuals.
- For Prelims: PMAY.
- For Mains: Urban Housing- Need, challenges and solutions.
Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Tribunal to settle Mahanadi water dispute
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of a tribunal to settle a row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing the waters of the river Mahanadi. This is in keeping with the recent Supreme Court order directing the Centre to set up a tribunal in response to a plea by the Odisha government to stop the Chhattisgarh government from constructing several weirs on the river.
With a chairperson and two other members, the tribunal will be formed according to the provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD), 1956. The Chief Justice of India would nominate the chairperson and members for the tribunal from among the judges of the apex court or high courts.
As per provisions of the ISRWD Act, 1956 the Tribunal is required to submit its report and decision within a period of 3 years which can be extended to a further period not exceeding 2 years due to unavoidable reasons.
What’s the dispute?
Odisha and Chhattisgarh are locked in a dispute over the Mahanadi waters since the mid-80s. Odisha claimed that Chhattisgarh government has been constructing dams in the upper reaches of the Mahanadi, depriving its farmers who are heavily dependent on the rivers waters. Chhattisgarh has been against the setting up of a tribunal, and argued that the water sharing agreement was with the erstwhile Madhya Pradesh government, before the state was carved out in 2000.
- For Prelims: Mahanadi river, ISRWD Act.
- For Mains: inter- state river water disputes.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
NITI Forum for Northeast
Context: The Union Government has issued order setting up the ‘Niti Forum for North-East’.
About NITI Forum for Northeast:
‘Niti Forum for North-East’ has been set up to identify constraints and recommend suitable interventions for speedy and sustainable growth in northeast region.
Functions: The NITI Forum for Northeast is tasked to identify various constraints on the way of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the North East Region of the country and to recommend suitable interventions for addressing identified constraints. It will also review the development status in the NER.
Composition of the Forum:
- Members of the Forum will include Secretaries of Ministries of Road Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, New & Renewable Energy, Health & Family Welfare, Human Resource Development, Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
- Chief Secretaries of Northeastern states of Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram will also be members of the Forum. Secretary, North East Council (NEC), Shillong will be Member Secretary. Joint Secretary (NE), MHA, besides a number of experts from various fields will also be members of the Forum.
- The forum will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER).
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Context: The government recently interacted with the stakeholders including Farmer Producer Organisations and farmers, to gather input on their concerns and suggestions thereof on the modalities of Operation Greens.
What is Operation greens?
Operation Greens aims to promote farmer producers organisations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management. The operation aims to aid farmers and help control and limit the erratic fluctuations in the prices of onions, potatoes and tomatoes. It was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech.
Significance of Operation greens:
Operation Green (OG) wants to replicate the success story of Operation Flood, in fruits and vegetables, starting with three basic vegetables—tomatoes, onions and potatoes (TOP). The main objective of OG is to reduce price volatility in these commodities, and thereby helping farmers augment incomes on a sustainable basis, as also provide these basic vegetables to consumers at affordable prices.
The litmus test of the success of this OG would be if it can contain roller-coaster rides of booms and busts in prices, and avert scenes of farmers dumping potatoes and tomatoes on roads, as is happening in several parts of India today. Also, containing prices going through the roof compelling the government to put bans on exports, de-stocking or even having income-tax raids on traders.
For Prelims: Operation Greens, Operation Flood.
Topic: e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Government reboots eNAM
Context: In a bid to engage more farmers on the electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM) platform, the government has unveiled mobile payment facility BHIM, and other features in regional languages as well.
The eNAM has been strengthened with features like MIS dashboard for better analysis, BHIM and other mobile payment facilities, enhanced features on mobile app such as gate entry and payment via mobiles, integration of farmers database and e-learning module.
It is an online platform with a physical market or mandi at the backend. It is an instrument to create a national network of physical mandis which can be accessed online. It seeks to leverage the physical infrastructure of mandis through an online trading portal, enabling buyers situated even outside the state to participate in trading at the local level.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Context: The indigenous light transport aircraft (LTA) Saras PT1N recently completed the second of the proposed 20 test flights.
What is Saras? SARAS PT1N is first Indian multi-purpose civilian aircraft in light transport aircraft category. It is an indigenous aircraft developed by the National Aeronautics Laboratories (NAL), which is overseen by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
Mizoram to get first regional agricultural centre with Israeli collaboration:
Context: A regional centre for agriculture has been set up with Israeli collaboration in Mizoram — the first of its kind in the northeast region. The centre has been set up to exclusively process citrus fruits.
Background: There are 22 such centres operational in India, including in Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. The first such centre was established in 2008 in Haryana.
International Mother Language Day: 21 February:
Context: The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. With this, UNESCO aims at preserving it and promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education.
The theme of 2018’s International Mother Language Day is ‘linguistic diversity and multilingualism for sustainable development.’
SDG4: International Mother Language Day also supports target 6 of Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.”
Background: There are more than 7,000 languages in the world; India alone has about 22 officially recognised languages, 1635 rationalised mother tongues, 234 identifiable mother tongues, according to Census 2001.
India to host World Environment Day 2018:
Context: India is the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which will take place on June 5, 2018.
Theme: “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
Background: World Environment Day is a UN Environment-led global event, the single largest celebration of our environment each year, which takes place on June 5 and is celebrated by thousands of communities worldwide. Since it began in 1972, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated across the globe.