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Insights Daily Current Events, 11 March 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 11 March 2015

Commemorative Celebrations of World War -1

Indian Army is Commemorating the Centenary of the First World War from 10 Mar to 14 Mar 2015 in New Delhi in memory of the 1.5 million Indian Soldiers who fought in the war and over 74000 who made the supreme sacrifice.

  • 10th March coincides with the Battle of Neuve Chapelle marking the British Offensive in Artois region of France in which the Garhwal Brigade & Meerut Division of the Indian Corps participated.
  • The time period 2014 to 2018 is being commemorated as the Centenary of World War-1.

Sources: PIB.

 

Mega Food Parks

The Minister of State for Food Processing Industries recently said that a total 42 Mega Food Parks (MFPs) have been sanctioned by the Government for setting-up in the country. Out of these, 21 Mega Food Parks have been accorded final approval and are at various stages of implementation, while 4 Mega Food Parks are progressing towards meeting the conditions for final approval.

Mega Food Parks Scheme:

The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.

Aim of the Scheme: The Scheme is aimed at providing modern infrastructure facilities along the value chain from farm gate to the market with strong backward and forward linkages.

What these food parks provide?

  • They facilitate the efforts to increase the level of processing of agricultural and horticultural produce, with particular focus on perishables, in the country and thereby to check the wastage.
  • The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
  • The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
  • CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
  • The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.

Implementation and financial assistance:

  • Mega Food Park project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act. State Government/State Government entities/Cooperatives applying for setting up a project under the scheme are not required to form a separate SPV.
  • The financial assistance for Mega Food Park is provided in the form of grant-in-aid at 50% of eligible project cost in general areas and at 75% of eligible project cost in NE Region and difficult areas (Hilly States and ITDP areas) subject to maximum of Rs. 50 crore per project.

Benefits:

  • Reducing post harvest losses.
  • Maintainance of the supply chain in sustainable manner.
  • Additional income generation for the farmers.
  • Shifting the farmers to more market driven and profitable farming activities.
  • It will be a one stop shop where everything will be available at a single location.
  • As per experts, it will directly employ 10,000 people.
  • This integrated food park will help reduce supply chain costs.
  • It will also reduce wastage across the food value chain in India and improve quality and hygiene to create food products in the country.

Difficulties in implementation:

  • Major challenges being faced by the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in implementation of the Mega Food Park projects, include acquiring contiguous land of 50 acres or more in the name of SPV, obtaining term loan from the Banks, difficulties in obtaining various statutory clearances from the State Government Departments/Agencies, timely contribution of equity by the promoters, lack of cohesiveness amongst the promoters etc.
  • Ministry has made various amendments in the scheme and its guidelines from time to time to address these challenges to improve the pace of implementation of MFPs.

 

Sources: PIB, oneindia.com.

Land Bill clears Lok Sabha hurdle

The controversial Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill was recently passed by the Lok Sabha. The Bill was passed with 9 amendments.

  • In the official amendments it moved, the government accommodated some concerns of the Opposition and allies, such as dropping social infrastructure from the five categories of land use exempted from the consent clause.
  • However, other key points of contention — the Social Impact Assessment and the restoration of the consent clause — remained unresolved as the Bill moves to the Rajya Sabha, where the government is outnumbered — and the Opposition plans to force the Bill to a Select Committee.

Changes introduced in the Bill:

  • Land shall be acquired up to 1 km on both sides of designated railway lines or roads for industrial corridor.
  • Government shall undertake a survey of wasteland and arid land and maintain a record.
  • A provision is included in the Bill for providing employment to project affected families.
  • Hearings to be held in districts where land acquisition takes place.
  • Courts won’t need government nod to take cognisance of offence under CrPC.
  • ‘Five year’ clause for completion of project on acquired land will be augmented and amended by the length of the project. No acquisition will be transferred to private persons.
  • Under section 33 compulsory employment clause shall be inserted.
  • Land acquired for Hospitals, Educational Institutions and other Social Projects will not come under definition of Industrial Corridor.
  • Government to ensure before notification land acquired would be bare minimum required for a project.

 

Sources: The Hindu, ET.

 

RTI Act applies to A-G’s office

Stating that even under common parlance the office of the Attorney General of India has always been understood to mean a “constitutional authority,” the Delhi High Court recently refused to accept that this office was outside the ambit of the Right to Information Act and further directed it to reconsider the RTI application that it had rejected on these grounds.

Background:

  • The issue had come into question when a petition challenging an order by the Central Information Commission was up for hearing before a Bench of the Supreme Court.
  • The CIC had held that the office of the AGI was not a public authority under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
  • The petition was also challenging a letter by the AGI refusing all information to the petitioner under the RTI act.

RTI Act:

Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. It replaces the erstwhile Freedom of information Act, 2002.

  • The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a “public authority” (a body of Government or “instrumentality of State”) which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.
  • The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally.
  • The Act covers the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir, where J&K Right to Information Act is in force.
  • Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly. In a decision of Sarbajit Roy versus Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Central Information Commission affirmed that privatised public utility companies continue to be within the RTI Act.
  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) has also held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.

Exclusions:

  • Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule like IB, Directorate General of Income tax (Investigation), RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence etc. are excluded from providing the information.
  • Agencies specified by the State Governments through a Notification will also be excluded.
  • The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information relating to allegations of human rights violation could be given but only with the approval of the Central or State Information Commission.

CIC:

The Central Information Commission (CIC) is set up under the Right to Information Act and is the authorised body, established in 2005, under the Government of India.

  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission, the body that hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.

The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

  • The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee;
  • The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and
  • A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.

 

 

JD(U) issues whip on eve of trust vote

The ruling Janata Dal (United) in Bihar has issued whip to party legislators to vote for the present government seeking a trust vote in the State Assembly.

Whip:

A whip is the instruction issued by political parties to vote according to the party line in a legislature.

  • Violation of the party whip could lead to expulsion under the Anti Defection Act.

A whip is of three kinds.

  • A one-line whip is non-binding, and merely serves to inform the members of the vote.
  • A two-line whip seeks attendance in the legislature during the vote.
  • A three-line whip is a clear-cut directive, to be present in the legislature during the vote and cast vote according to the party line. Violation of the whip could lead to the member’s expulsion from the House.

In India, under the anti-defection law, a three-line whip can be violated only by more than one-third of a party’s strength in the legislature.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.

 

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