By: D.K Choudhary
Cabinet Approvals on January 4 2017
i. The Union Cabinet under PM Modi approved signing of an agreement between India and Uruguay for cooperation and mutual assistance in Customs Matters.
ii. Government also gave its approval for signing of an agreement for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and allied sectors between India and Portugal.
iii. Central government also approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on bilateral cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sectors.
Centre Approves new Projects for Ganga Cleaning over Rs. 370 Crore
i. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved many new projects at an estimated cost of over Rs 370 crore for its ongoing Ganga rejuvenation programme in Haridwar and Varanasi and also decided to include six more cities\towns under surface cleaning exercise of the river using trash skimmers.
ii. In Haridwar, 68 MLD sewage treatment plant (STP) in Jagjeetpur and 14 MLD STP in Sarai have been approved at an indicative cost of Rs 110.30 crore and Rs 25 crore respectively under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode.
iii .Under this model, payments are made on annuity basis to ensure that contractors do not abandon projects midway.
iv. In-principle approval for the implementation of 50 MLD sewage treatment plant at Ramana in Varanasi has been given at an indicative cost of Rs 120 crore under Hybrid Annuity-based PPP mode.
v. The ‘Namami Gange’ programme was launched as a mission to achieve the target of cleaning river Ganga in an effective manner by involving all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin states namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
vi. The programme is responsible for river surface cleaning, STP infrastructure, river front development, bio-diversity, afforestation and public awareness.
Swachh Bharat survey, Swachh Survekshan 2017 Begins in 500 cities
i .In order to encourage competition for improving sanitation standards in the respective area, the government started, Swachh Survekshan 2017 from January 4, 2017.
ii. The survey will be conducted by Quality Council of India to rank 500 cities across the country on cleanliness.
iii. The cities will be judged on the basis of data provided by Municipal bodies which will caryy 900 marks, direct observations and independent assessment would carry 500 marks and citizen feedbacks with 600 marks.
iv. The areas to be evaluated includes waste collection, sweeping and transportation carrying 40 Percent marks, Open defecation free and toilets will carry 30 Percent marks, municipal solid waste-processing and disposal 20 Percent, information, education and behaviour change, and Capacity building – Swachh Bharat Mission e-learning portal with 5 Percent.
v .The citizens can give their feedback by either giving a missed call on 1969 to record their response or by filling up a feedback form on the Swachh Survekshan website.
Telangana and Assam Joins UDAY Scheme
i. Assam and Telangana signed a pact with the Power Minister, Piyush Goyal to join the UDAY scheme on January 4, 2017 in New Delhi in a bid to improve the performance of state run power distribution companies (DISCOM).
ii. Since the launch of the UDAY Scheme, the Power Ministry has signed Agreements with 18 states to join the Scheme. With the joining of Assam and Telangana, the total states covered under the scheme rose to 20.
iii. The scheme envisages the State Governments to bear 75% of their respective DISCOM debt outstanding as on September 30, 2015.
iv. The Government of Telangana would take over Rs. 8,923 crore of the total Rs. 11,897 crore of DISCOM Debt while the Assam government would take over Rs. 928 crore out of total Rs. 1,510 crore DISCOM Debt and the balance debt would be re-priced or issued as State guaranteed DISCOM bonds.
v. This would enable Telangana and Assam to save an annual interest cost of about Rs 387 and Rs 37 crore, respectively. Telangana will also reduce its Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses and Transmission losses to 9.95% and 3% respectively which would bring additional revenue of around Rs. 1476 crores.
vi. Similarly additional revenue of Rs. 699 crore would accrue to Assam on reduction of AT&C losses and transmission losses to 15% and 3.4% respectively.
vii. The two states is also expected to have a gain of around Rs. 1200 crores & Rs. 260 crores respectively through Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient domestic as well as industrial/commercial equipment
National Green Tribunal Imposes Stay on Pune Metro rail project
i. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench on January 3, 2017, issued an interim stay on any construction activity in relation to the Pune Metro rail project passing through the Mula-Mutha river bed in the city.
ii. The Tribunal’s West Zone bench comprising Justice U D Salavi and Dr Ajay Deshpande granted interim stay Pune Metro route of corridor between Vanaz and Ramwadi passing through the riverbed, after an Environmental Interest Litigation (EIL) was filed by a group of prominent personalities.
iii. The group of applicants objected to the Pune metro rail route alignment proposed through a 1.7 km stretch of the Mutha river bed and argued that construction on the river bed would destroy the eco-system of the river and cause environmental damage.
iv. However, there is no restriction on the planning or approval process of the project. The next hearing has been scheduled on January 25, 2017.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
♦ The National Green Tribunal is a statutory body established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources
♦ Founded: 18 October 2010
♦ Chairman: Justice Swatanter Kumar
Reign of King Kansa kickstarts largest open-air theatre fest in Odisha
i. The 11-day world’s largest open air theatre festival ‘Reign of King Kansa’ began in Bargarh district, Odisha.
ii. This festival is based on Krishna Leela and Mathura Vijay which are enacted in 14 main places at Mathura and four places in Gopapura
iii. The festival is a symbolic representation of the triumph of good over evil, and is a post-Independence phenomenon to mark the end of British rule.
iv. 75 artistes have been selected to play various characters in the Dhanu Yatra at Mathura while 45 artistes would perform at Gopapur and 3,000 artistes from 120 cultural troupes will perform at the Raj Durbar and Ranga Mahal.
Odisha State Festival :
♦ Dola Yatra, Jagannath Rath Yatra, Konark Dance Festival
Election Commission of India Announces Assembly polls Dates for Five States
The Chief Election Commissioner, Dr Nasim Zaidi on January 4, 2017, announced the schedule of upcoming Assembly elections in five states including Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
♦ The Union Government’s demonetisation decision and the fight against black money would have great impact on the Assembly elections.
Announcements made by the Election Commissioner
i. Polling Dates
1.Uttar Pradesh: Polling will be held in seven phases from 11 February, 15 February, 19 February, 23 February, 27 February, 4 March and 8 March
2.Manipur: Polling will be held in two phases between 4 March and 8 March
3.Uttarakhand: 15 February
4.Punjab: 4 February
5.Goa: 4 February
ii. All elections will be held simultaneously and the candidates will have to open bank accounts because any expenses above Rs 20,000 will have to be made through the bank accounts and through cheques only. Election Commission would strictly monitor election expenses by candidates to curb Black money.
iii. Candidates would not be allowed to use loudspeakers after 10 pm. The police and electoral officers would ensure strict actions against those violating the direction.
iv. Candidates can spend up to Rs 28 lakh in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh in Manipur and Goa.
v. Assembly Elections will be Persons with Disabilities-friendly. The Commission would also set up all women-managed polling stations. However, the number of such polling stations has not yet been declared yet.
vi. The commission has increased the height of voting compartments by 30 inches for secrecy.