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Insights Daily Current Events, 17 December 2014

Insights Daily Current Events, 17 December 2014

Scheme for Promoting use of Geotechnical Textiles in North East Region

The Ministry of Textiles has approved a “Scheme for promoting Usage of Geotechnical Textiles in North East Region (NER)” in order to capitalize on the benefits of Geotechnical textiles.

Aim: The scheme aims to utilize Geotextiles in developing infrastructure in NE by providing the incremental cost for utilization of Geotextiles up to 15% of the project cost.

How will this be helpful?

  • The use of this modern and globally proven technology will help in creating Roads and Infrastructure in North East (NE) which will require less maintenance and shall have longer life.
  • This will provide technological support, capacity building, training, market development support and create awareness about Geotextiles by supporting the entire Supply Chain.
  • The scheme helps in storing the rain water and is also helpful in preventing landslides.
  • Once the Technology is demonstrated in North Eastern Region which is one of the most difficult terrains, it is expected that usage of Geotextiles will increase in NER and also in rest of India which shall result in growth of Industry and hence employment.

Why in North Eastern States?

  • North Eastern Region has young Himalayas which are prone to landslides, has high seismic activity and weak soil conditions. The Geotextiles technology shall prove an apt solution for such conditions.
  • Traditional civil engineering solutions for construction of hill roads in these landslide prone and sinking terrains have not been very successful to retain the infrastructure for a longer duration, needing frequent restoration and repair leading to heavy expenses.
  • North Eastern Region is prone to heavy rain fall. The use of Geotextiles in water reservoirs will help in storing the rain water and shall address the water scarcity in the region.
  • The use of Geotextiles in slope and hill protection shall prevent the landslides which are common in North Eastern Region.

The North Eastern Region of the country comprises of eight states, Arunachal Prdesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The region occupies about 5.6% of the total geographical area of the country.

Geotextile:

Geotextiles are permeable fabrics which, when used in association with soil, have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain. These are typically made from polypropylene or polyester.

  • Geotextiles were originally intended to be an alternative to granular soil filters.
  • Usually geotextiles are placed at the tension surface to strengthen the soil.

Applications:

  • Geotextiles support many civil engineering applications including roads, airfields, railroads, embankments, retaining structures, reservoirs, canals, dams, bank protection, coastal engineering and construction site silt fences or geotube.
  • Geotextiles are also used for sand dune armoring to protect upland coastal property from storm surge, wave action and flooding.
  • A large sand-filled container (SFC) within the dune system prevents storm erosion from proceeding beyond the SFC. Using a sloped unit rather than a single tube eliminates damaging scour.
  • Geotextiles are used as matting to stabilize flow in stream channels and swales.
  • Geotextiles can improve soil strength at a lower cost than conventional soil nailing.

Sources: PIB, Wiki.

Implementation of ATMA

Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) Scheme is under implementation in 640 districts of 29 States & 3 UTs of the country.

Objectives of the Scheme:

  • to promote decentralized farmer-driven and farmer-accountable extension system through an institutional arrangement for technology dissemination in the form of an Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA)
  • encourage multi-agency and broad-based extension strategies
  • adopt group approach to extension and facilitate convergence of programmes in planning
  • Execution & implementation at district level.

Details:

  • Under the scheme grants-in-aid is released to the States/UTs with an objective to support State Governments efforts in revitalizing the extension system and making available the latest agricultural technologies in different thematic areas to increase production in agriculture & allied sectors through a Cafeteria of Activities which include Farmers Training, Demonstrations, Exposure Visits, Kisan Mela, Mobilization of Farmers Groups, Setting up of Farm School, Innovative Technology Dissemination, Research-Extension Linkages etc.

Sources: PIB.

India bans IS

The dreaded IS terror group has been banned in India, days after a Bangalore techie was allegedly found tweeting in support of the terrorist organisation.

  • The group has been proscribed under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act that relates to organisations listed in the Schedule to the U.N. Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism (Implementation of Security Council Resolutions) Order, 2007, made under section two of the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947 and amended from time to time.

Sources: The Hindu.

Gutka ban helped many kick the habit: WHO study

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation country office for India in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health across seven States in India shows that banning gutka, a form of chewing tobacco, helps users kick the habit.

Quick facts:

  • India is estimated to be the world’s largest consumer of smokeless tobacco.
  • WHO estimates indicate 26 per cent of adults use smokeless tobacco, a major cause of death and disease.
  • Nearly one million people die in India every year because of tobacco use.

Details about the study:

  • The new study conducted across Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and the National Capital Region, shows that there are “strong indications” that State-level laws banning gutka have a positive impact owing to reduced product availability and a decrease in its consumption.
  • It also shows as many as 92 per cent of the respondents support a gutka ban while 99 per cent agreed that a ban is good for the health of India’s youth.
  • A substantial proportion of respondents in each State (from 41-88 per cent) reported that they quit using gutka because of the ban.

These findings have a strong message that regulatory mechanisms are effective and can have a positive impact on the consumption pattern. The study revealed that product ban did impact use.

Sources: The Hindu.

Murthy is U.S. Surgeon-General

Indian-American physician Vivek Hallegere Murthy (37) has been confirmed as the 19th Surgeon General of America by the U.S. Senate.

  • He is youngest person and first person of Indian-origin to hold the post.

Surgeon General of the United States:

The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States.

  • The U.S. Surgeon General is nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate. The Surgeon General serves a four-year term of office.
  • The Surgeon General reports to the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), who may be a four-star admiral in the United States Public Health Service, Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), and who serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on public health and scientific issues.
  • The Surgeon General is also the ultimate award authority for several public health awards and decorations, the highest of which that can be directly awarded is the Surgeon General’s Medallion.
  • The Surgeon General is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and by law holds the rank of vice admiral.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

GST Bill: States to get relief

Union Finance Minister will seek the Cabinet’s nod on Wednesday for the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill on the Goods and Services Tax.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill proposes to empower both the States and the Centre to levy the GST. At present, the Centre can tax services but not sales and distribution of goods. States can currently tax sales and distribution of goods but not services. The Bill proposes that the Centre be empowered to tax sales of goods and States get to tax services.

The States have consistently demanded that the GST regime exclude real estate transactions and stamp duties. But the central government has said that extending the GST to real estate transactions will reduce black money generation in the sector. Consequently, low-cost housing will become more affordable.

Modifications in the Bill:

  • The Ministry has inserted into its draft Bill a provision guaranteeing compensation to States for losses of revenues owing to the transition to the GST.
  • Now, it is proposed that the Constitution itself will provide that the Centre transfer funds to States to make good their losses of revenue owing to the shift to the GST over the first five years of the transition.
  • The Bill provides further comfort to States by allowing them to charge additional 1 to 2 per cent GST to cover up for losses. This provision will have a sunset clause and will be available only for two to three years.

Several GST rollout deadlines have been missed over the lack of consensus between the Centre and the States over a number of issues. Since the GST will be levied on consumption of goods and services, States that are net producers stand to lose revenue.

A study commissioned by the Thirteenth Finance Commission had estimated that the simplification, efficiency and savings consequent to shift to a well-designed GST regime can boost India’s growth by up to 2.5 percentage points.

The GST will subsume into one levy all indirect taxes imposed by the Centre and the States. These include entry tax. The GST will subsume the services tax, excise duties, stamp duties, entry tax, central sales tax etc.

Sources: The Hindu.