Insights Daily Current Events, 22 January 2015
Housing for All
Prime Minister recently chaired a review meeting on the goal of “Housing for All” by 2022. The meeting was to finalise the contours of the Housing for All Mission, which is one of the priority commitments of the Government.
- The programme was mentioned in the President’s Address to Parliament in June 2014 where he said “By the time the nation completes 75 years of its Independence, every family will have a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24×7 electricity supply and access.”
- The same commitment was made in the Budget for 2014-15 where the Finance Minister had announced Housing for All programme. The Finance Minister had said “Our government is committed to endeavour to have housing for all by 2022.
- The programme proposes to build 2 crore houses across the nation by 2022. This would cover both slum housing and affordable housing for weaker sections. It will cover urban poor living in slums, urban homeless and new migrants to urban areas in search of shelter. It would cover metros, small towns and all urban areas.
- The programme would begin with a baseline survey to assess the demand for such housing and identify resource requirements. The houses that need to be built are over 6 lakhs in Delhi, 16 lakhs in Mumbai, 4 lakhs in Chennai and 4 lakhs in Kolkata. These figures may go up after the demand assessment is completed.
- The Programme involves an urban reform component to generate the resources and capacities for urban housing, a set of guidelines, an element of government support and a significant contribution from beneficiaries, in addition to bank financing. A large portion of the programme is to be financed in a PPP mode by leveraging land and other resources in urban areas. A large number of process improvements and policy changes are also inherent in the programme.
First priority under the new scheme is being given to towns and cities along the banks of the River Ganga and its tributaries.
NDRF Celebrates 10th Raising Day
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) celebrated its 10th Raising Day recently.
NDRF personnel have done commendable jobs in different disasters by rescuing people in distress like J&K Floods, floods in Assam and Meghalaya, landslide in Malin gaon and at other places.
The Disaster Management Act has made the statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.
- Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act on 26 Dec 2005.
- NDRF has been proving its importance by highly skilled rescue and relief operations, regular and intensive training and re-training, capacity building & familiarization exercises within the area of responsibility, carrying out mock drills and joint exercises with the various stakeholders.
- Vision of NDRF is to emerge as the most visible and vibrant multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled, high-tech force capable to deal with all types of natural as well as manmade disasters and to mitigate the effects of disasters.
ROLE AND MANDATE OF NDRF:
- Specialized response during disasters
- Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations
- Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills
- Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills
- Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards)
- Community Capacity Building Programme
- Public Awareness Campaign
- Exhibitions : Posters, Pamphlets, literatures
Why it is said to be UNIQUE?
- It is the only dedicated disaster response force of the world.
- The only agency with comprehensive response capabilities having multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled, high-tech, stand alone nature.
- Experienced paramilitary personnel specially trained and equipped for disaster response.
- Capabilities for undertaking disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building.
Sources: PIB, ndrfandcd.gov.in.
Heritage City Development Scheme (HRIDAY) launched
The National Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) was recently launched.
Aim: It seeks to preserve and rejuvenate the rich cultural heritage of the country.
- It is a Rs. 500-crore project for reviving the heritage of 12 cities including Varanasi, Mathura, Gaya, Dwarka and Puri.
- HRIDAY seeks to promote an integrated, inclusive and sustainable development of heritage sites, focusing not just on maintenance of monuments but on advancement of the entire ecosystem including its citizens, tourists and local businesses.
- With 32 UNESCO recognized natural and cultural heritage sites, ranking second in Asia and fifth in the world, the tourism potential of the country is still to be fully harnessed and the new scheme will help in this regard.
- Central government will meet the entire expenditure under the scheme. But, the states and local urban bodies are requested to supplement their resources for rapid development of heritage cities.
- The project will work through a partnership of Government, Academic Institutions and local community combining affordable technologies.
The 12 cities selected for the scheme are Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Warangal, Puri, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Velankanni.
Petrol costs more than ATF in India
Recent findings show that petrol in India costs more than the superior jet fuel, Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) used in aeroplanes, as the government has levied a record excise duty on the fuel used in two-wheelers and cars.
- Traditionally, petrol being of lesser quality than ATF, would cost less. But four consecutive excise duty hikes in three months have reversed this.
- Petrol in Delhi costs Rs 58.91 per litre. On the other hand, Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), which has a higher octane than petrol and is a heavier fraction in the distillation process, is priced at Rs 52.42 a litre.
- After four duty hikes totalling Rs 7.75 per litre, petrol now attracts highest ever excise rate of Rs 16.95 per litre.
- In nine cuts, petrol price has been reduced by a cumulative Rs 14.69 per litre. This reduction would have been higher but for the excise duty hikes – first by Rs 1.50 on November 12, then by Rs 2.25 on December 2 and Rs 2 each on January 2 and January 16.
- According to data available from Petroleum Ministry, excise duty on petrol was Rs 10.53 per litre in April 2002 when the fuel was first deregulated or freed. This rose to Rs 14.59 by May 2005 by when government control was back in place.
- The fuel was again deregulated in June 2010 and since then retail rates have more or less moved in tandem with international trends. Since August, the retail rates have been on the decline as global oil prices slumped to multi-year lows.
Why the government has raised Excise duty?
- Government raised excise duty to meet its budgetary deficit.
- It had collected Rs 94,164 crore, or 52 per cent of the total excise collections, from duty on petroleum products. The excise duty hike will give the government at least Rs 18,000 crore more this fiscal year.
- On diesel, excise duty was Rs 2.85 a litre in April 2002 which rose to Rs 4.74 in March 2008 before dipping to Rs 2.06.
- It now stands at Rs 9.96 per litre, the highest ever.
- The fuel was deregulated in October and has seen five retail price cuts totalling Rs 10.71 a litre.
- Diesel currently costs Rs 48.26, the lowest since April 2013.
Petrol in April 2002 was priced at Rs 26.54 a litre while diesel cost was Rs 16.59 per litre.
The excise duty is made up of basic duty of Rs 8.95, special excise duty of Rs 6 and additional excise duty of Rs 2 per litre. ATF attracts an excise duty of 8 per cent.
Sources: The Hindu.
Haemorrhagic fever alert sounded
The Health Ministry has sounded an alert in Gujarat and Rajasthan of a possible Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) outbreak.
This comes in the wake of medical officials in Jodhpur reporting high grade fever in five functionaries working in a private hospital.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever:
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is caused by infection with a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) in the family Bunyaviridae. The disease was first characterized in the Crimea in 1944 and given the name Crimean hemorrhagic fever. It was then later recognized in 1969 as the cause of illness in the Congo, thus resulting in the current name of the disease.
- The hosts of the CCHF virus include a wide range of wild and domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. Many birds are resistant to infection, but ostriches are susceptible and may show a high prevalence of infection in endemic areas, where they have been at the origin of human cases.
- The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.
- The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.
- Human-to-human transmission can occur resulting from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
- Hospital-acquired infections can also occur due to improper sterilization of medical equipment, reuse of needles and contamination of medical supplies.
Signs and symptoms:
- Onset of symptoms is sudden, with fever, myalgia, (muscle ache), dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).
- There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion. After two to four days, the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and lassitude, and the abdominal pain may localize to the upper right quadrant, with detectable hepatomegaly (liver enlargement).
The antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit. Both oral and intravenous formulations seem to be effective.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, WHO.