Insights Daily Current Events, 04 July 2016
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways under Green Highways Project
The government recently launched the initial plantation drive on 1,500 km of National Highways at a cost of about Rs 300 crore under the National Green Highways Mission.
The government, in September 2015, flagged off its Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy 2015. The policy aims to help the environment, help local communities, and generate employment by planting trees along all the highways in the country.
- The vision of the policy is to provide dignified employment to local people and communities.
- Under this policy, every year 1% of the total cost of highway projects will go to the Green Highways Fund. That works out to around Rs.1,000 crore every year.
- The policy’s objectives include developing a framework for the plantation of trees along highways, reducing the impact of air pollution and dust, providing shade on glaring hot roads during summer, reducing the impact of noise pollution and soil erosion, preventing the glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles, and generating employment.
- The Policy envisages a strict system of auditing whereby money will be released by the government to the empanelled agencies only if they have achieved a survival rate of 90% the previous year.
- The implementation and progress of plantation will be monitored via images by Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO and audit will involve modern information technology tools.
- According to the policy, contracts for greening will be given to NGOS, agencies, private companies and government organisations with proven track record in the past in the field. Those selected will be responsible for the survival and health of trees and will be strictly monitored by a body appointed by the ministry.
- The target for the first year is to cover 6,000 km of highways.
- The greening project has a huge potential to generate jobs and can prove to be a game-changer for agriculture and rural economy. It is estimated that greening of one km of highway provides employment to ten people.
- The community will gain in terms of huge employment opportunities and entrepreneurship development.
- Also, the afforestation is expected to help in sequestering approximately 12 lakh mt carbon annually.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Logistics performance index
India has improved its ranking in the World Bank Group’s bi-annual “Logistics Performance Index 2016“, jumping from 54th in 2014 to 35th in 2016. This was announced by the World Bank Group in its recent launch of the report.
- In the latest ranking India has gone past countries like New Zealand, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Latvia and Indonesia who were ahead of it in the index.
India has improved significantly in the following sub-indices:
- The efficiency of customs and border management clearance, improving from 65 to 38.
- The ability to track and trace consignments, improving from 57 to 33.
- The quality of trade and transport infrastructure, improving from 58 to 36.
- The competence and quality of logistics services, improving from 52 to 32.
- On the remaining two sub-indices – the ease of arranging competitively priced shipments and the frequency with which shipments reach consignees within scheduled or expected delivery times – by 5 and 9 places respectively.
The World Bank Group’s bi-annual report ‘Connecting to Compete 2016: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy’, launched recently, captures critical information about the complexity of international trade. The Logistics Performance Index (LPI) within the report scores 160 countries on key criteria of logistics performance.
- The scores are based on two sources of information: a worldwide survey of logistics professionals operating on the ground (such as global freight forwarders and express carriers), who provide feedback on the countries in which they operate and with whom they trade; and quantitative data on the performance of key components of the supply chain, such as the time, cost and required procedures to import and export goods.
- The World Bank studies the policy regulation as well as supply chain performance outcomes across six sub-indices of the Logistics Performance Index and ranks countries based on their performance in all the indices.
Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Automation to hit textile sector jobs
According to a recently released report, the textile industry in the country is unlikely to create more jobs along with the growth in the industry.
What the report says?
Textile and apparel industry in India is likely to create only 29 lakh jobs compared to the government’s target of one crore new jobs, even as the sector’s market size is expected to grow by 40% to $142 billion in the next five years.
This is mainly because of automation. The technological advancement leading to increased efficiency may reduce job opportunities. The spinning, autoconers and auto-splicers divisions have replaced a job of 20 workers by 2 workers. The inter-fiber shift, moving from relatively labour intensive spun yarn to synthetic filament segment, are also leading to lower job creation.
- As per a World Bank report, 69% of the jobs in India are at a higher risk of being replaced by automation.
- Also, according to the report, absence of FTAs with the EU, Australia and Canada, almost 55 lakh jobs are lost to added exports that would have been generated if the FTAs were signed.
- The government recently approved a Rs.6,000 crore package for textiles and apparel sector with an aim to create one crore new jobs in three years and attract investments of $11 billion.
- Along with this, both Central and state governments need to actively promote hub and spoke model in the sector to increase supply of suitable jobs to rural women and youth.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure.
Development of Port-Rail Connectivity Projects approved under Sagarmala Programme
The Ministry of Railways will be taking up 21 port-rail connectivity projects, at an estimated cost of more than Rs.20,000 Crores, as identified under the port-connectivity enhancement objective of Sagarmala, the flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping.
- These projects are aimed at strengthening the rail evacuation network and the last mile connectivity to the ports. In addition, another six projects are being considered by the Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL).
- The Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL), which has been incorporated by the Ministry of Shipping, would take up the projects after prioritizing them. IPRCL has already awarded 3 port connectivity projects for Vishakhapatnam and Chennai ports for quick evacuation of cargo, and another 19 projects are in the pipeline.
The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast. The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:
- Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development.
- Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
- Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.
- In addition to strengthening port and evacuation infrastructure, it also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ). This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing schemes and programmes such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Nuclear plants insured
India’s first insurance policy covering public liability to an atomic power plant operator has been issued to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
- The insurance policy was issued by the country’s largest non-life insurer New India Assurance Company Ltd.
- NPCIL got the insurance policy covering all its atomic power plants. The total premium came around Rs. 100 crore for a risk cover of Rs. 1,500 crore.
- The policy complies with all the provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act.
- The policy would cover the liability towards public as a consequence of any nuclear accident in the plants covered under the policy and also the right of recourse of NPCIL against equipment suppliers.
- However, the reinstatement premium would be decided post a claim based on the capacity — to underwrite the risk-available with the insurers. Reinstatment clause in an insurance policy enables a policyholder to extend the insurance cover to the original limit on payment of premium post a claim.
- The policy does not have any ‘policy excess’ — part of the claim a policyholder has to bear himself.
The Central government had announced in June 2015 the setting up of the Rs. 1,500-crore India Nuclear Insurance Pool to be managed by national reinsurer GIC Re.
- The GIC Re, four government-owned general insurers and also some private general insurers have provided the capacity to insure the risks of up to Rs 1,000 crore with the balance Rs 500 crore being obtained from the British Nuclear Insurance Pool.
- The insurance pool was formed as a risk transfer mode for the suppliers and also NPCIL.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: disaster management.
NDRF trains one lakh people in one month for better reach
To ensure resilience and better preparedness against disasters, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has trained over a lakh people across the country in one month on the do’s and don’ts during man-made or natural emergencies.
- This was achieved between June 1 and 30 as part of a special initiative when instructors and trainers of the NDRF reached 482 villages, towns and cities to sensitise people about disasters that occur specifically in those areas and also in general.
- Under this Community Awareness Programme, a total of 1,07,112 people in 22 States were trained in basic understanding of disaster management and combat by the NDRF in 482 sessions. The force also trained school students.
The aim of this first-of-its kind exercise was to sensitise the vulnerable sections to disasters and bring about a sense of community capacity building. It is believed that if a community was well prepared to combat issues like floods and earthquakes, the loss of life and property could be brought down significantly.
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.
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.
- Organize Public Awareness Campaigns.
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: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Ozone layer over Antarctic shows signs of healing
Atmospheric scientists have seen signs of the mending of the ozone hole above the Antarctic. Scientists have said that this healing is a direct result of the curb on the release of chlorofluorocarbons following from the Montreal protocol of 1987.
- Scientists have found that the ozone hole has shrunk by more than four million square kilometres since 2000. This is the year when ozone depletion was at its peak.
What is ozone hole?
The ozone hole is a region of depleted layers of ozone above the Antarctic region, whose creation is linked to increased cases of skin cancer.
Factors responsible for the depletion of ozone:
Depletion of ozone is due to many factors, the most dominant of which is the release of chlorine from CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which destroys the ozone. CFCs are released by products such as hairsprays, old refrigerators etc.
According to scientists, there are three stages in the ozone recovery process:
- Reduced rate of decline.
- Levelling off of the depletion.
- Ozone increase linked to reduction of the levels of CFCs.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. The original Montreal Protocol was agreed on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.
- The Montreal Protocol includes a unique adjustment provision that enables the Parties to the Protocol to respond quickly to new scientific information and agree to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol. These adjustments are then automatically applicable to all countries that ratified the Protocol.
- Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform).
- These compounds significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation.
- So far, 197 countries have signed the Protocol.
- The treaty now calls for complete phase out of HCFC by 2030.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
SC rues barriers for disabled in govt. service
Quashing the central government’s earlier orders on restricting reservation for the differently-abled in promotion to Group A and Group B posts, the Supreme Court has ruled that 3% reservation shall be provided to them in all posts and services under the Government of India.
The government had confined such reservation to Group C and Group D posts. In its memoranda issued in 1997 and 2005, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had also created a distinction between posts to be filled through direct recruitment and those through promotion, while stating that no reservation shall be provided in posts to be filled through promotion in Group A and Group B categories.
Supreme Court’s observations:
- The Court has declared the DoPT memoranda as “illegal and inconsistent” with the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
- The apex court has said that the government must scrutinise the barriers to their entry by rigorous standards within the legal framework of the 1995 Act.
- The court has also directed the government to extend 3% reservation to PWD (persons with disability) in all identified posts in Group A and Group B, irrespective of the mode of filling up such posts.
Significance of this judgement:
This is the first authoritative judgment that has explicitly directed the government to do away with the distinction and give benefits of reservation to the differently-abled, without any classification.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Two indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircrafts were recently inducted into the IAF squadron, known as the ‘Flying Daggers 45’. The aircraft is equipped to handle air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, bombs and rockets. It is considered to be the lightest multi-role supersonic aircraft of its class. HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) are the key state-run defence companies that are behind the design and development of this Light Combat Aircraft. The combat aircraft uses fourth generation technologies and has intentionally been made longitudinally unstable to enhance manoeuvrability. The Tejas has a ‘glass cockpit’ which displays ‘real-time’ information to the pilot. The multi-role radar on Tejas – which was developed as Indian–Israeli venture – is meant to facilitate all weather use of a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry. It is the primary targeting sensor on the LCA.