1. PROJECT BOLD OF KVIC GETS ARMY SUPPORT IN LEH
THE CONTEXT: The Project BOLD (Bamboo Oasis on Lands in Drought) of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has received Indian Army’s support in Leh
- On August 15, Army planted 20 bamboo saplings at its compound in Leh.
- This is the first ever attempt to grow bamboo trees in the high Himalayan terrains with the objective of preventing land degradation and developing green cover.
- In continuation with this effort, 1000 bamboo saplings will be planted at village Chuchot in Leh on 18th August.
- These bamboo plants will be ready for harvest in 3 years.
- While this will create sustainable income for the local tribal population; it will also contribute to environment and land protection.
KVIC is a statutory body set under KVIC Act 1956 with the following objectives:
• The social objective of providing employment.
• The economic objective of producing saleable articles.
• The wider objective of creating self-reliance amongst the poor and building up of a strong rural community spirit.
Major schemes under KVIC:
- Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) is a credit-linked subsidy programme launched by Ministry of MSME in 2008-09 for creation of employment in both rural and urban area of the country.
- SFURTI is a Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries Ministry of MSME has launched this scheme in the year 2005 with the view to promote Cluster development. KVIC is the nodal Agency for promotion of Cluster development for Khadi as well as for village industries Products.
2.ESIC NOTIFIES RELIEF SCHEME FOR COVID-HIT
THE CONTEXT: The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation has notified a relief scheme for the dependents of ESI insured persons in case of their death due to COVID-19 that would give a minimum of 1,800 a month.
- The scheme would cover the families of the insured who had been registered on the ESIC portal for at least three months before being diagnosed with COVID-19 and had been in employment on the date of diagnosis.
- In case of death due to COVID-19, the spouse, son up to 25 years of age, unmarried daughter and widowed mother of the insured would be eligible for the relief.
- The scheme, which would be effective for two years from March 24, 2020, would provide for 90% of the average daily wages of the insured to be paid to dependents.
- ESIC is a statutory body set up under the ESIC Act 1948
- It administers the Employees State Insurance Scheme.
- ESI is a multidimensional social security scheme for the workers of India.
- It provides medical care to self & family, cash benefit in certain contingencies and maternity benefit to female workers
- The ESI scheme is applicable to all factories and other establishments as defined in the Act with 10 or more persons employed in such establishment
- Beneficiaries, whose monthly wage does not exceed Rs 21,000 are covered under the scheme.
Reference: The Hindu
INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
3. CENTRE MUST CONNECT ALL STATES TO FOOD SCHEME FOR ROBUST PDS: PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE
THE CONTEXT: Only 23 states have implemented the Decentralized Procurement Scheme (DCP) so far — 15 to procure rice and eight to procure wheat — despite the scheme being in place for 23 years according to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer affairs and Public Distribution
- Under the scheme, introduced in 1997-98, food grains are procured and distributed by state governments.
- The states procure, store and issue food grains under targeted public distribution system and other welfare schemes of the Government of India.
- The scheme can help strengthen the public distribution system (PDS) by allowing states to distribute their produce to locals. This allows people to buy food grains according to their preferences.
KEY OBSERVATIONS OF THE REPORT
- The scheme is not yet mandatory for states, but the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should encourage them to implement it.
- The scheme will not only help reduce the cost of distribution, but also aid distribution of grains on minimum support price
- The Centre should help states implement the system by delivering basic services within a dedicated time frame.
- The scheme also reduces the PDS transportation costs. The food grains that remain unutilised with the state governments are procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for its central pool.
- The amount spent by state governments on the purchase, collection and distribution of food grains is reimbursed by the Indian government under this scheme. The value of the surplus stock that is given to FCI is adjusted in the states’ accounts.
- A majority of states exclusively buy wheat and paddy through the DCP system. Punjab is the only state that pays for the grains through arhtiyas (middlemen). The rest make payments electronically.
- The committee has requested that the central government speak with state governments to make them better understand the challenges associated with the scheme and try to resolve them.
- The committee wanted to know if the government was conducting a review of the DCP plan.
- The NITI Aayog has formed an evaluation advisory committee to assess the scheme’s operation.
Reference: Down to earth
4. ELECTRICITY AMENDMENT BILL 2021: WHY ARE STATES LIKE WEST BENGAL OPPOSING IT?
THE CONTEXT: The central government is facing opposition to the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 even before it is introduced in Parliament.
KEY CHANGES PROPOSED IN THE BILL
- The Amendment is bringing in provisions to de-license power distribution allowing private sector players to enter the sector and compete with state-owned power distribution companies (discoms).
- The move would allow consumers to choose between power distribution companies.
- Finance Minister had announced in the union budget that the government would bring a framework to allow consumers to choose between power distribution companies.
- Power distribution in most of the country is currently controlled by state-owned distribution companies with some cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad being exceptions where private players operate power distribution.
- Discoms are however struggling with high levels of losses and debt.
- The government has brought out a number of schemes to restructure the outstanding debts of discoms while incentivising them to reduce losses.
- However, such schemes have only brought short term financial space for discoms which have tended to continue to accumulate losses and debts post restructuring schemes such as the UDAY scheme launched by the government in 2015.
WHAT IS ARE THE OBJECTIONS TO DELICENSING OF POWER DISTRIBUTION?
- States have highlighted concerns that allowing the entry of private players could lead to “cherry-picking”, with private players providing power to only commercial and industrial consumers and not residential and agricultural consumers.
- Tariffs for power currently vary widely in India with commercial and industrial players cross subside the power consumption of rural residential consumers and agricultural consumers by paying far higher tariffs.
- The amendment would lead to “a concentration of private, profit-focussed utility players in the lucrative urban-industrial segments while poor and rural consumers would be left to be tended by public sector discoms.
- Experts say that there is the possibility that the move could lead to cherry picking by the private sector, especially till the time the tariff structure builds in cross subsidies.
- According to minutes of a meeting held between the Power Ministry and state governments, Union Power Minister R K Singh assured states that the minimum area to be covered by private sector competitors would be defined in a manner to include an urban rural mix, a universal service obligation, and elements of cross-subsidy in the ceiling tariff.
WHAT ARE OTHER KEY CONCERNS?
- Other key concerns that states have raised are higher penalties for failure to meet Renewable energy Purchase Obligations (RPOs)
- And the requirement that Regional Load Dispatch Centres and State Load Dispatch Centres follow instructions by the National Load Dispatch Centre.
- Mamata Banerjee said in her letter to the PM that the proposed amendment “strikes at the roots of federalism”.
- States have also thus far failed to meet earlier RPOs and had also requested a rationalisation of penalties for not meeting RPO requirements.
- National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC) is constituted as per a 2005, Ministry of Power (MOP) and is the apex body to ensure integrated operation of the national power system.
Reference: Indian express
ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE
5. ONLY 9 POLLUTION CONTROL BODIES SHARE DETAILS OF PUBLIC HEARINGS ONLINE: CSE TRANSPARENCY INDEX
THE CONTEXT: Pollution control bodies of most Indian states shared no or partial information on public hearings of development projects online, a new study found.
- There are 34 state pollution control boards (SPCB) and pollution control committees (PCC) in the country that make pollution information public on websites. Of them, those in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Andaman & Nicobar, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu and Uttar Pradesh did not share any detail of public hearings, according to the report.
- The study was conducted the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based non-profit that ranked all the state pollution control panels based on transparency in several parameters.
- Websites of sixteen SPCBs and PCCs provided incomplete information. Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand provided executive summaries and minutes of meetings, but not the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports, the paper mentioned.
- Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim shared executive summaries and draft EIA reports, but not minutes of public hearings, according to the report.
- Himachal Pradesh shared minutes of meeting and draft EIA report but didn’t specify the date of the next public hearing.
- Haryana, Jharkhand and Tripura shared meeting minutes only of projects for which public hearings are over. Assam pollution control board has shared just the list of public hearings conducted and no other detail on their website, the researchers wrote in the report.
- Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli have a common pollution control body and the one in Lakshadweep does not have a website.
- Only Karnataka, Telangana, Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Goa and Mizoram have put out all the necessary information on public hearings on their websites.
- Public hearing is a mandatory step in the process of getting an environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for projects under Category ‘A’ in the Schedule.
- Projects that fall under Category B are cleared by the state government or the state-level environment impact assessment authority.
- The interaction between locals and government officials as well as proponents of upcoming project brings transparency in the environmental clearance system
NOTE: STUDENTS NEED NOT REMEMBER THE GRANULAR DATA. THEY ARE GIVEN TO PROVIDE CONTEXT.
Reference: Down to earth
6. WHY HAITI IS PRONE TO DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKES?
THE CONTEXT: Earthquakes have been wreaking havoc in Haiti since at least the 18th century and the powerful quake on 14 August has killed hundreds and injured thousands. Analysis
WHAT MAKES HAITI PRONE TO EARTHQUAKES?
- The Earth’s crust is made up of tectonic plates that move.
- And Haiti sits near the intersection of two of them — the North American plate and the Caribbean plate.
- Multiple fault lines between those plates cut through or near the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.
- Hispaniola sits in a place where plates transition from smashing together to sliding past one another
- The magnitude 7.2 earthquake likely occurred along the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone, which cuts across Haiti’s southwestern Tiburon Peninsula.
- It’s the same fault zone along which the devastating 2010 earthquake occurred.
- And it’s likely the source of three other big earthquakes in Haiti between 1751 and 1860, two of which destroyed Port-au-Prince.
WHY CAN EARTHQUAKES IN HAITI BE SO DEVASTATING?
- It’s a combination of factors that include a seismically active area, a high population density of 11 million people and buildings that are often designed to withstand hurricanes — not earthquakes.
- Typical concrete and cinder block buildings can survive strong winds but are vulnerable to damage or collapse when the ground shakes. Poor building practices can also play a role.
- The 2010 quake hit closer to densely populated Port-au-Prince and caused widespread destruction.
- Haiti’s government put the death toll at more than 300,000, while a report commissioned by the US government placed it between 46,000 and 85,000.
- Before the quake, Haiti was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake as well as Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Its president was assassinated in July, sending the country into political chaos.
Reference: Indian express
7. AGENCIES PREPARE FOR SHARP RISE IN DRUG TRAFFICKING
THE CONTEXT: The anti-drug law enforcement agencies are suspecting a steep surge in cross- border
trafficking of heroin and crystal methamphetamine with the rapid Taliban takeover in
- Drugs have been a major source of revenue for the Taliban.
- With the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, the Taliban will rely heavily on drug money to maintain control over their cadres.
- According to the latest World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan reported a 37% increase in the extent of land used for illicit cultivation of opium poppy during 2020 compared with the previous year.
- Heroin is manufactured from opium. Country accounted for 85% of global opium production last year.
- Afghanistan is also turning out to be a major source for methamphetamine.
- In Iran, the proportion of Afghan-origin methamphetamine seizure increased from less than 10% in 2015 to over 90% in 2019.
- The drug is prepared using ephedrine extracted from Ephedra plants.
Reference: The Hindu
8. COVID COVID-19: MORE THAN 28,000 CHILDREN DIED OF CANCER IN SUB SAHARAN AFRICA IN 2020
THE CONTEXT: More than 28,000 children died from cancer in sub-Saharan Africa amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
• COVID-19 affected treatment of children with cancer as they need to travel a lot every month for up to two-three years
• Travel restrictions meant that many failed to reach hospital on time
• A significant backlog in screening and treatment for COVID-19 likely led to delayed diagnoses and treatment and a significant increase in the number of avoidable cancer deaths, according to Cancer Control 2020 Survey.
• There was limited infrastructure, scarce cancer care centres and only a few established satellite cancer treatment centres in Ethiopia.
• In Kenya, cancer facilities were open only for a few hours every day. It disrupted care for patients who needed to travel to urban areas for treatment.
• In Nigeria, the pandemic made a significant impact on cancer care: Access to care was disrupted, cost for treatment and care rose and cancer screening activities were suspended
• Cancer survival rate among children in Africa is around 20 per cent; it is over 80 per cent in high-income countries.
• A review of cancer clinical trials in Africa found that only 20 of 54 African countries surveyed hosted clinical trials for children with cancer.
• A majority of such trials were carried out only in four African countries: Egypt, South Africa, Algeria and Kenya.
• In 2018, the WHO announced Global Initiative for Childhood Cancers, which aims to achieve a survival rate of 60 per cent among children with cancer. It aims to reduce suffering from cancer for all children by 2030.
Reference: Down to earth
Q 1. Which of the following country is not part of ‘Golden Crescent’ group of countries associated with illegal drugs production trade?
Q.2 Project BOLD recently seen in the news is ?
a) A policing initiative for strengthening women security in the national capital
b) An environmental protection initiative by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
c) An Indian Army initiative to train college students in self defence
a) d) None of the above.
ANSWER FOR AUGUST 15&16, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS (REFER RELEVANT ARTICLE)
Explanation: Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary is actually a Bird Sanctuary located near the Jhajjar district in Haryana. Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary and Wadhvana Wetland are located in Gujrat. Sultanpur National park is in Haryana.
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