December 2019

Daily Current Affairs (19-12-19)

POLITY & GOVERNANCE

ATAL MISSION FOR REJUVENATION AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION (AMRUT)

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Governance [Paper-I]: Public Policy and Governance

News

Central government has decided to extend the mission period of its flagship initiative Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) by two more years.

About AMRUT

  • AMRUT scheme was launched on June 25, 2015 by PM Modi.
  • It was launched with the aim of providing basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks as to improve the quality of life for all especially the poor and the disadvantaged.
  • The government’s flagship initiative promises 139 lakh water connections by March 2020, 145 lakh sewer connections, storm water drainage projects, parks and green spaces and LED streetlights with a total outlay of Rs 77,640 crore (including central assistance of Rs 35,990).
  • The Mission covers 500 cities that include all cities and towns with a population of over one lakh with notified Municipalities.
  • Total outlay for AMRUT is 50,000 crores for five years from FY 2015-16 to FY 2019-20 and the Mission is being operated as Central Sponsored Scheme. The Scheme is now exteneded by two more years.
  • Under AMRUT, Ministry of Urban Development bears 50% of project costs for cities with a population of below 10 lakhs each and one third of project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakhs each.
  • Central assistance is of the order of 90% for North-East and hilly States and 100% in case of Union Territories.

Focus

The focus of the Mission is on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of better services to the citizens.

Purpose

The purpose of “AMRUT” mission is to

  • ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection
  • increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces e.g. parks
  • reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport e.g. walking and cycling.

Project Components

The major project components are Water Supply system, Sewerage, Septage, Storm Water Drainage, Urban Transport, Green Space and Parks, Reforms management and support, Capacity building etc. in that order of priority.

Why the Mission was extended?

  • According to Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, over the last five years, only 2,316 projects worth Rs 7,195 crore – 9.2% of the total outlay – have been completed.
  • Contracts for a big chunk of 2,962 projects have been awarded and work is in progress.
  • About 46% of water connection and 28.3% of sewer connection targets have been achieved between June 2015 and December 2019.
  • Under this mission, government has undertaken very big projects in water and sewerage, which take several years to complete.
  • Thus, the states need more time to achieve the targets and the Ministry has decided to extend the mission by two more years till March 2022.
[Source: Economic Times, mohua.gov.in]

 

ECONOMY

 GST COUNCIL

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy [Paper-II]: GST: Concept and Implications

News

The 38th meeting of the GST Council met under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman.

Decisions of the Council

  • The Council has fixed a uniform tax rate of 28 percent on both state-run and private lottery.
  • It also decided to rationalise the GST rate on woven and non-woven bags to 18 per cent.
  • It also decided to exempt upfront amount payable for long term lease of industrial and financial infrastructure plots by an entity having 20 per cent or more ownership of Central or State Government.
  • It also recommended for the constitution of Grievance Redressal Committees (GRC) at Zonal/State level with both CGST and SGST officers and including representatives of trade and industry and other GST stakeholders (GST practitioners and GSTN etc.).

About GST Council

  • It is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
  • GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.
  • It was created in September 2016 under Article 279-A of the Constitution of India.
  • GST rates to be levied on different products are decided by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.

Decision Making

  • The Constitution (101st Amendment) Act, 2016 provides that every decision of the GST Council shall be taken at its meeting by a majority of not less than 3/4th of the weighted votes of the Members present and voting.
  • The vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of 1/3rd of the votes cast and the votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of 2/3rd of the total votes cast in that meeting.
  • One half of the total number of members of the GST Council shall constitute the quorum at its meeting.

[Source: All India Radio, gstcouncil.gov.in]

 

ECONOMY

‘SILVER LINE’ PROJECT

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Economy [Paper-II]: Economy of Kerala, Insfrastructure and resources, Major Developmental Projects

News

Ministry of Railways granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project, a proposal of the Kerala government.

What is Silver Line Project?

  • The project involves laying the third and fourth railway lines from Kasaragod in the north to Kochuveli (Thiruvananthapuram) in the south for the movement of semi high-speed trains.
  • The project aims to cut the travel time between the two corners from 12 hours to less than four hours.
  • The 532-km corridor is projected to be built at a cost of Rs 56,443 crore.
  • Trains would complete the journey at four hours instead of 12, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
  • The corridor will be built away from the existing line between Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur. But in the Thrissur-Kasaragod section, it will run parallel to the existing tracks.
  • The semi high-speed trains will traverse through 11 of the state’s 14 districts, Alappuzha, Wayanad and Idukki being the exceptions.
  • There are also plans to connect the corridor with the international airports at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
  • The project is scheduled to be commissioned by 2024.

Implementation

  • Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail) will be the nodal agency for the project.
  • K-Rail is a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis.

Need for the Project

  • According to data shared by experts, less than 10% of the roads in Kerala handle nearly 80% of the traffic.
  • This also gives rise to accidents and casualties; in 2018, Kerala recorded 4,259 deaths and 31,687 grievous injuries.
  • The current railway network is congested with a large number of trains, level crossings and sharp curves. The fastest train, plying between Thiruvananthapuram and Kasaragod, takes nearly 12 hours to cover 532 km.
  • The Silver Line project aims to connect major districts and towns with semi high-speed trains that will run on their own tracks.
[Source: Indian Express]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

GeM SAMVAAD
  • Government e-commerce portal GeM has launched a national outreach programme, GeM Samvaad, to bring on-board more local sellers.
  • The outreach programme will take place with stakeholders across the country and with local sellers to facilitate on-boarding of local sellers on the marketplace.
  • The outreach programme will take place from December 19, 2019 to February 17, 2020 and will cover all the States and UTs of the country.
  • Government e Marketplace (GeM) is the national public procurement portal offering end to end solutions for all procurement needs of Central and State Government Departments, PSUs, autonomous institutions and local bodies.
FIRST SEZ IN TRIPURA
  • Ministry of Commerce and Industry has notified the setting up of the first ever Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tripura.
  • SEZ is being set-up at Sabroom, South Tripura District.
  • It will be a Sector Specific Economic Zone for Agro-Based Food Processing. The developer of the SEZ will be Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) Ltd.
  • The SEZ is estimated to generate 12,000 skilled jobs. Rubber based industries, textile and Apparel Industries, bamboo and Agri-food Processing Industries will be set-up in the SEZ.
  • Setting up of the SEZ in Sabroom will open up new avenues to attract private investment considering the proximity of the Chittagong Port and construction of the bridge across Feni River in South Tripura which is underway.
CSIR AND CNRS SIGNED MOU TO PROMOTE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), India and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France to establish a framework for cooperation between the two towards promotion and support of scientific and technological research.
  • The broad research areas of mutual interest include biotechnology including plant and marine biotechnology, health research, environment and climate change studies, engineering science and technology, material science and technology, energy science and technology and water research.
  • This cooperation could include sharing good practices, promoting technology transfer and enhancing industry-academia cooperation.
SAHITYA AKADEMI AWARDS 2019
  • Sahitya Akademi announced its annual Award- 2019 in 23 languages.
  • In Hindi, Nand Kishore has been awarded for his Poetry ‘Chheelate Hue Apne Ko’ and in English Dr Shashi Tharoor has been awarded for his Non-Fiction ‘An Era of Darkness’.
  • In Tamil, Cho Dharman has been awarded for his Novel ‘Sool’ and in Gujarati, Ratilal Borisagar has awarded for his Essays ‘Mojama Revu Re’.
  • In Sanskrit, Penna Madhusudan will get the award for his Poetry ‘Prajnachakshusham’ and in Urdu, Shafey Kidwai will be awarded for his Biography ‘Sawaneh-E-Sir Syed: Ek Bazdeed’.
  • Poet V Madhusoodanan Nair was selected for the Award in Malayalam category for his collection of poetry titled ‘Achan Piranna Veedu’.
  • Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, is the central institution for literary dialogue, publication and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in 24 Indian languages, including English.
CROWN ACT
  • In July 2019, California became the first state in the US to make discrimination over natural hair illegal.
  • New York followed suit and now New Jersey has become the latest US state to pass such legislation, called Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.
  • CROWN aims to protect people of colour from being discriminated against for their natural hair, especially at the workplace.
  • The legislation takes into account discrimination because of traits that are historically associated with a particular race, “based on hair texture and style”.
  • One of the reasons for such legislation is to separate “professionalism” from features and mannerisms, thereby getting rid of workplace grooming or dress code policies that would deter black people from applying.
TANSEN SAMAROH
  • In Madhya Pradesh, popular classical music festival ‘Tansen Samaroh’ began with traditional style in Gwalior with the recitations of Harikatha and Milad.
  • The five-day festival is celebrated every year in the memory of one of the most eminent singers of Indian history, Mian Tansen’. It is the 95th year of the festival.
  • Tansen Samaroh, the oldest and esteemed classical music festival in India is organised by Ustad Alauddin Khan Kala Evam Sangeet Academy, under the Madhya Pradesh culture department.
  • Noted vocalist Pandit Vidyadhar Vyas was presented the National Tansen Award for 2019.
  • Instituted by the Madhya Pradesh government, Tansen award carries a cash prize of Rs two lakh and is given to outstanding exponents of Hindustani classical music.

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