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Daily Category  (Infrastructure)

3rd generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) NAG

Context:

Final user trial of 3rd generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) NAG was carried out successfully from the Pokhran range in Thar desert (Rajasthan).

  • The missile was launched from NAG Missile Carrier NAMICA. The missile hit the target accurately defeating the armor. 

ATGM NAG:

  • It has been developed by DRDO to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions.
  • The missile has “Fire & Forget” “Top Attack” capabilities with passive homing guidance to defeat all MBTs equipped with composite and reactive armor.
  • The NAG missile carrier NAMICA is a BMP II-based system with amphibious capability.

Significance:

  • With this final user trial, Nag will enter the production phase.
  • The missile will be produced by Defence Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), whereas Ordnance Factory, Medak, will produce the NAMICA.
  • This means that the Indian Army will no longer have to import this weapon from either Israel or the USA for the range of four kilometers.
  • It was due to the unavailability of a credible anti-tank weapon, that India had to buy around 200 pieces of Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel as emergency purchases after the aggression by the People's Liberation Army (China) in Ladakh.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Program:

  • The program was conceived by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
  • In 1983 the program was approved by the Government and in 2012 it was completed.
  • Objective: To enable India to attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.

Missiles:

  • Following 5 missiles have been developed under this program:
    • Prithvi: Short-range surface to surface ballistic missile.
    • Agni: Ballistic missiles with different ranges
    • Trishul: Short-range low-level surface to air missile.
    • Nag: 3rd generation anti-tank missile.
    • Akash: Medium range surface to air missile.

Source: PIB

Kaleshwaram Project

Context:

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Telangana government to stop all work, except the drinking water component of the Kaleshwaram Project. 

  • As per NGT, environmental clearance (EC) granted to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project was ex post facto (i.e. granted after completion of substantial work) and illegal.

Background:

  • In 2018 the petition filed mentioned that while the Kaleshwaram Project was a lift irrigation system, the state government wrongly claimed, until the grant of environmental clearance (EC), that the project was not for lift irrigation, but only for drinking water supply.
  • In 2017 before granting environmental clearance substantial work of the project had already been undertaken. Thus, the EC was ex post facto, in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had published the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 to replace the existing EIA Notification 2006 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Concerns:

  • Functioning without requisite: Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project was functioning without requisite prior environmental clearance under EIA Notification, 2006, until 2017, when the EC was granted.
  • Forest clearance: Project contractor L&T was alleged to have cleared large areas of forest land for the construction of quarters for its employees, without requisite forest clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
    • The NGT directed that until the Telangana government obtains final forest clearance, it should stop all work except the drinking water component.
  • Accountability: NGT observed that the accountability of the responsible person needs to be fixed and remedial measures have to be taken.
    • For that purpose, it has directed the MoEFCC to constitute a seven-member expert committee.
    • The expert committee could assess the extent of damage caused by going ahead with the project without EC from 2008 to 2017 and also identify the necessary restoration measures.
    • The expert committee must be constituted within a month and needs to complete its exercise within six months.

Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project:

  • The Kaleshwaram Multipurpose Lift Irrigation Project is the world’s largest irrigation and drinking water system.
  • The project is on the Godavari River in Kaleshwaram, Bhupalpally, Telangana.
  • The project starts at the confluence point of Pranahita River and Godavari River.

Source: Indian Express

Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility

Context:

The CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute developed the Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility.

Features of Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility:

  • Bio-methanation Plant: CSIR-CMERI have started an innovative technology of producing the Biogas from grass and weeds and Vermi-composting of Slurry of the plant process. 
    • The Bio-Digestion process adopted has a minimum pollution factor. 
    • The MSW facility has special disinfection capabilities to help Break the COVID Chain through UV-C Lights and Hot-Air Convection methods. 
    • The Smokeless Stove has also been developed to utilize these briquettes. 
    • Such stoves have the benefits of Reduction in the import of LPG and reduction in pollution.
  • Targeting a Zero landfill:  The latest technology being used by Institute is the Pyrolysis process wherein the conversion of plastics into gas and fuel is done. 
    • Heavy oil, gas being used in pyrolysis helps in obtaining self-sustainability.  
    • Through Plasma Gasification Process also eco-friendly disposal of solid wastes is processed without the formation and reformation of toxic dioxins and furans.
    • Solid Waste Disposal using Plasma Arc converts wastes into a plasma state for proper disposal. 
  • Wealth out of waste: The residues generated having good carbon content are used in agriculture as fertilizer and non-usable are utilized to make bricks for construction purposes. 
    • Solar energy technology, which can also feed the surplus Energy Supply onto a Mini-Grid.
    • It can result in a drastic reduction of expenditure related to Transportation Logistics and can help reductions in CO2 emissions, by reducing fossil fuel usage. 

Significance:

  • The processing facility has not only helped to achieve the Decentralised Decimation of Solid Wastes but has also helped create value-added end-products from waste.
  • The changing ecological scenarios require special attention to address the issue of ‘Sustainable Processing of Municipal Solid Waste’.
  • This CSIR-CMERI MSW Technology envisions a Zero-Landfill and a Zero Waste City in addition to developing Job-Creation opportunities. 

Pyrolysis:

  • The word pyrolysis is coined from the Greek words "pyro" which means fire and "lysis" which means separating.
  • It is a process of chemically decomposing organic materials at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen.
  • The process occurs at temperatures above 430 °C and under pressure.
  • It simultaneously involves the change of physical phase and chemical composition and is an irreversible process.

Source: PIB

Har Ghar Jal State

Context:

Goa has become the first 'Har Ghar Jal' State in the country. The state successfully provides 100% Functional Household Tap Connections in the rural areas covering 2.30 lakh rural households.

  • Now, all rural homes in the State have a tap water supply. 

Details:

  • The state has utilized the benefits of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) which aims to improve the quality of life and bring 'ease-of-living' to rural communities.
  • The two districts of Goa I .e.North Goa and South Goa are fully saturated with assured piped water supply through tap connections.
  • To strengthen the water testing facilities, the State is in process of getting 14 water quality testing laboratories NABL accredited.  
  • Jal Jeevan Mission mandates training 5 persons in the very village especially women to be trained in using Field Test Kits, so that water can be tested in the villages.

Goa's Annual Action Plan:

  • Objective: To provide 100% Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTCs) in rural areas by 2021.
  • Accordingly, fund allocation from the Union to Goa in 2020-21 has been increased to Rs. 12.40 Crore for the plan.
  • The convergence of Schemes: The State explored through the convergence of various programs like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), 15th Finance Commission for rural local bodies, etc. for the strengthening of drinking water sources, water supply, greywater (any domestic wastewater excluding sewage) treatment & re-use and operation & maintenance.

Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • It envisages the supply of 55 liters of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections by 2024.
    • It aims to integrate demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • Funding Pattern: 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
  • The total allocation to the scheme is over ?3 lakh crore.
  • Creation of local infrastructure for source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, like rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and management of household wastewater for reuse, would be undertaken in convergence with other government programmes/schemes.
  • The key components of the mission: A community approach to water, Education, and Communication, a Jan Andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.

Source: PIB

Zojila Tunnel

Context:

The Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways has decided to initiate the first blasting for Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir.

Zojila Tunnel:

  • The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh (Ladakh plateau) on NH-1.
  • It will bring about an all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of Jammu & Kashmir (now UTs of J&K and Ladakh).
  • It involves the construction of a 14.15 Km long tunnel at an altitude of about 3000 m under Zojila pass on NH-1 connecting Srinagar and Leh through Dras & Kargil.
  • The project was first conceived in 2005 and its Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the year 2013 on BOT (Annuity) mode.
  • The Project was eventually given to NHIDCL in July 2016 for implementation on EPC mode.

Significance:

  • The tunnel shall bring about all-round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions which remains cut-off from the rest of the country during winters due to heavy snowfall for about six months.
  • The tunnel in Zojila is the only viable alternative at present for a full year connectivity road.
  • It will also be of great importance to the Defence of the country, in view of the fact that massive military activities along our borders in Ladakh, Gilgit, and Baltistan regions are taking place.
  • Zojila Tunnel project shall bring to fruition, 30 years of overwhelming public demand of Kargil, Drass, and Ladakh region.
  • The Project will make the travel on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches.
  • The project would enhance the safety of the travelers crossing Zojila Pass and would reduce the Travel time from more than 3 hours to 15 minutes.

Zojila Pass:

  • It is a high mountain pass in the Himalayas in the Indian union territory of Ladakh.
  • The pass connects the Kashmir Valley to its west with the Drass and Suru valleys to its northeast and the Indus valley further east.
  • The National Highway-1 between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range traverses the pass.

Source: Hindustan Times

Bharatmala Pariyojana

Context:

A total of 322 projects in a length of 12,413 Km have been awarded under BharatmalaPariyojana till August 2020. Further, 2921 Km has been constructed under the Project till the same date.

Key points:

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken up detailed review of NHs network.
  • It has given overall investment approval for the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I Scheme for development of about 34,800 km at an estimated outlay of Rs 5,35,000 Crore.
  • Of the 34,500 km of highways approved under Bharatmala Pariyojana, 10,000 km pertain to residual highway stretches under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP).

Bharatmala Pariyojana

  • It is a centrally-sponsored and funded the Road and Highways project.
  • It is an umbrella program for the highways sector under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways that focuses on optimizing the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure.
  • The total investment for 83,677 km committed new highways is estimated at ?5.35 lakh crore making it the single largest outlay for a government road construction scheme.
  • It focuses on optimizing the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through effective interventions like development of economic corridors, inter-corridors and feeder routes, national corridor efficiency improvement, border and international connectivity roads, coastal and port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways.
  • The ambitious umbrella programme has subsumed all existing Highway Projects including the flagship National Highways Development Project (NHDP), launched in 1998.

Phases of Project:

  • Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, implementation of 34,800 km of national highways in 5 years (from 2017 to 2022) has been approved at an estimated outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 crore.
  • National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has mandated the development of about 27,500 km of national highways under Phase-I.
  • However, as per ICRA Limited, Phase-I is likely to be delayed by four years due to the prevailing uncertainty due to Covid-19 and consequent impact on valuations.
  • ICRA Limited is an Indian independent and professional investment information and credit rating agency.
  • Phase-II envisages around 48,000 km of road network across India by 2024.
  • Bharatmala Projects envisages building 3300 kms of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and 2000 km of International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Source: PIB

Shaurya Missile

Context:

A successful trial of the nuclear-capable Shaurya missile was conducted by India.

About Shaurya Missile:

  • It is a land-based parallel of the submarine-launched K-15 missile.
  • Shaurya is a land variant of short-range SLBM K-15 Sagarika, which has a range of at least 750 kilometers.
  • Shaurya, like many of the modern missiles, is a canister-based system, which means that it is stored and operated from specially designed compartments.
    • In the canister, the inside environment is controlled thus along with making its transport and storage easier, the shelf life of weapons also improves significantly.
  • These ballistic weapons belong to the K missile family — codenamed after late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam — which is launched from the Arihant class of nuclear submarines.

The K Family of missiles:

  • The K family of missiles are primarily Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) developed by DRDO and named after Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • The development of these naval platforms launched missiles began as a step towards completing India’s nuclear triad — the capability of launching nuclear weapons from the land, sea, and air-based assets.
  • Because these missiles are to be launched from submarines, they are lighter, smaller, and stealthier than their land-based counterparts, the Agni series of missiles which are medium and intercontinental range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
  • While K family are primarily submarine-fired missiles to be fired from India’s Arihant class nuclear-powered platforms, the land and air variants of some of its members have also been developed by the DRDO.
  • India has also developed and successfully tested multiple times the K-4 missiles from the family which has a range of 3500 km.
  • It is reported that more members of the K-family — reportedly to have been codenamed K-5 and K-6 with ranges of 5000 and 6000 km are also under development. 

Importance of SLBMs:

  • The capability of being able to launch nuclear weapons submarine platforms has great strategic importance in the context of achieving a nuclear triad, especially in the light of the ‘no first use’ policy of India.
  • The sea-based underwater nuclear-capable assets significantly increase the second strike capability of a country and thus boosts its nuclear deterrence.
  • These submarines can not only survive the first strike by the adversary but also can launch a strike in retaliation thus achieving Credible Nuclear Deterrence.
  • The development of these capabilities is important in light of India’s relations with the two neighbors China and Pakistan.
  • With China having deployed many of its submarines, including some which are nuclear powered and nuclear-capable, this capacity building is crucial for India’s nuclear deterrence.

The recent tests:

  • Recently, DRDO conducted two successful tests of the K-4 missile from submerged platforms off the coast of Andhra Pradesh in a span of six days.
  • These tests were a key step towards ultimately deploying K-4 on INS Arihant, which already has K-15 onboard. In the Saturday’s test, Shaurya was examined for several advanced parameters compared to its earlier tests, according to sources.

Source: Indian Express

Atal Tunnel

Context:

Prime Minister has inaugurated the Atal Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang.

  • The tunnel has been named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was scheduled to be completed by May 2020 but was delayed by a few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details:

  • The tunnel connects Solang Valley near Manali to Sissu in Lahaul and Spiti district.
  • The Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world (9.02-km), built at an altitude of 3,000 meters. 
  • The tunnel cuts through a mountain west of the Rohtang La and will now shorten the distance between the two points by around 46 km. What was a nearly 4 hour will now take around 15 minutes.
  • The double-laned tunnel can handle around 3,000 cars and 1,500 trucks per day, with a maximum speed of 80 km per hour.

Features:

  • The unique features of this tunnel begin a fair distance away from it on the approach roads to the north and south portals. Bridges in rivers on the approach to the tunnel from both the portals have also been completed and are now being painted.
    • Snow galleries have also been built at the approach road to the tunnel from Manali side, and this will ensure all-weather connectivity.
  • Other features include an emergency escape tunnel under the main tunnel. This would provide an emergency exit in case of any untoward incident which may render the main tunnel unusable.
  • The tunnel also provides a telephone every 150 meters, a fire hydrant every 60 meters, an emergency exit every 500 meters, a turning cavern every 2.2 km, air quality monitoring every one km, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras every 250 meters.

Significance:

  • Atal tunnel will give new strength to India’s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity. 
  • Such border connectivity projects will also aid the security forces in ensuring regular supplies to them and also in their patrolling.
  • The tunnel holds a strategic advantage as well. While it will be a boon to the residents of the Lahaul and Spiti Valley who remain cut off from the rest of the country in winters for nearly six months due to heavy snowfall, the tunnel will provide almost all-weather connectivity to the troops stationed in Ladakh.

Rohtang Pass:

  • Rohtang Pass (elevation 3,978 m) is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
  • It is present on the Pir Panjal Range of Himalayas.
  • Other passes of Himachal Pradesh are Bara Lacha La, Debsa Pass, Rohtang Pass, Shipki La.

Source: Indian Express

Durgam Cheruvu Lake

Context:

Recently, Telangana Minister of State for Home has inaugurated the new ‘Cable-Stayed Bridge’ constructed across Durgam Cheruvu Lake.

Details:

  • The bridge touted as one of its kind in the country has been constructed as part of the Telangana government’s flagship Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP).
  • It is set to ease traffic flow towards the city, reducing commute time between Jubilee Hills and Madhapur.
  • The cable-stayed portion of the bridge is 426 metres long, including the approaches on both ends, and 25.8 metres wide, with a total of 52 stay cables. The approach viaduct and solid ramps are 309.8 metres long with 1.8 metres footpaths on both sides.

Durgam Cheruvu Lake:

  • It is a freshwater lake located in Rangareddy district, Telangana.
  • It is also known as Raidurgam Cheruvu.
  • It served as the drinking water source for the residents of Golkonda fort under the rule of the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
  • The lake is also known as the 'secret lake', as it was naturally hidden between rocks, with Jubilee Hills on one side and Madhapur on the other.

The Qutb Shahi dynasty

  • This dynasty ruled the Golconda Sultanate in south India from 1518 AD to 1687 AD. 
  • The Qutb Shahis were descendant of Qara Yusuf from Qara Qoyunlu a Turkoman Muslim tribe. 
  • After the collapse of Bahmani Sultanate, the "Qutb Shahi" dynasty was established in 1518 AD by Quli Qutb Mulk who assumed the title of "Sultan".
  • In 1636, Shah Jahan forced the Qutb Shahis to recognize Mughal suzerainty, the dynasty came to an end in 1687 during seventh Sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb seized Golconda fort and occupied the kingdom.
  • The kingdom extended from the parts of modern-day states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • The Qutb Shahis were great patrons of Persianate Shia culture, it also adopted the regional culture of the Deccan (Telugu culture, language and the newly developed Deccani dialect of Urdu).
  • The Qutb Shahis were secular.

Source: All India Radio

Plastic Park Scheme

Context:

Union Ministry for Chemicals & Fertilizers has come up with a scheme of Setting up Plastic Parks with a state-of-the-art infrastructure through a cluster development approach.

  • A Plastic Park is an industrial zone devoted to plastic enterprises and its allied industries.

Objectives:

  • Increase the competitiveness, polymer absorption capacity and value addition in the domestic downstream plastic processing industry through adaptation of modern, research and development led measurers.
  • In the petrochemical supply chain, the plastics industry can be classified into two categories.
    • First, the manufacturing of polymers, which is called ‘upstream’.
    • The second one is the conversion of processable polymers into useful end products, which are classified as ‘downstream’.

Details:

  • The Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals has approved setting up of 10 Plastic Parks in the country.
    • Out of 10 parks, 6 parks have been given final approval in the States of Assam, Madhya Pradesh (two parks), Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Jharkhand.
    • These 6 Plastic Parks are under various stages of implementation.
  • For the setting up of the remaining 4 Plastic Parks, the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for setting up Plastic Parks in the States of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh are under evaluation, and proposal for setting up of two new Plastic Parks are under process.

Funding:

  • Under the scheme, Central Government provides grant funding up to 50% of the project cost, subject to a ceiling of Rs. 40 crore per project.
  • The remaining project cost is to be funded by the State Government, beneficiary industries, and by a loan from financial institutions.

Implementation:

  • A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) shall complete the setting up of the Plastic Park in a period of three years from the date of final approval.

Details of the 6 Plastic Parks:

  • Madhya Pradesh: Plastic Park at Tamot has completed physical infrastructure and the purchase of equipment for common facility centers is in progress. One unit is functional in Plastic Park.
  • Madhya Pradesh: Plastic Park at Bilaua is at the implementation stage and work of development of physical infrastructure is in progress.
  • Odisha: Plastic Park at Paradeep is at the implementation stage and work of development of physical infrastructure is almost completed.
  • Jharkhand: Plastic Park at Deoghar is at the implementation stage and work of development of physical infrastructure is in progress.
  • Tamil Nadu: The work at Plastic Park at Thiruvallur has started recently and landfilling on the site is in progress.
  • Assam: Plastic Park at Tinsukia is at the implementation stage and work of development of physical infrastructure is in progress.

Source: The Hindu

The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Bill 2020

Context:

The Parliament has passed a Bill to declare five newly established Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) as institutions of national importance.

  • The five new IIITs set up under the Public-Private Partnership mode are in Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala, and Raichur.
  • Currently, these institutes are registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas.

Background:

  • IIITs are envisaged to promote higher education and research in the field of Information Technology.
  • Under the Scheme of Setting up of 20 new IIITs in  PPP mode as approved by the Union Cabinet in 2010, 15 IIITs are already covered by the IIIT (PPP) Act, 2017, while the remaining 5 IIITs are to be included under the Schedule of the Act.
  • The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act of 2014 and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public-Private Partnership) Act, 2017 are the unique initiative to impart knowledge in the field of Information Technology to provide solutions to the challenges faced by the country.
  • In IIITs, the government contributes 50 %, and the rest 35 % and 15 % are from the respective state governments and the industry. While in the case of the Northeast, 50 % sum of the industry participation is taken care of by the central government.

Details:

  • The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has already been passed by Lok Sabha.
    • Recently, the Bill was introduced in the Upper House by Human Resource Development Minister.
  • Currently, there are 25 IIITs in the country out of which five are purely run by the central government and 15 operate under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Significance: 

  • Bringing the five new institutes under IIITs Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will make them Institutes of National Importance and they will have the legal right to issue a diploma, degree, Ph.D., etc.
  • These 5 IIITs along with 15 other IIITs will now be able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (BTech) or Master of Technology (MTech) or Ph.D. degree.
  • It will also enable the institutes to attract enough students required to develop a strong research base in the field of information technology.

Institute of National Importance:

  • It is a status that may be conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of Parliament an institution which "serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country.
  • Institutes of National Importance receive special recognition and funding from the Government of India.

Source: Indian Express

Destination North East-2020

Context:

The Union Minister of State unveiled the Logo and song for the festival “Destination North East-2020” (The Emerging Delightful Destinations).

About the Festival:

  • It is a Four-Day Event which holds a special presentation of art and craft, textiles, ethnic products, tourism promotion, etc. of the northeastern states.
  • Digital North East Vision 2022 emphasizes leveraging digital technologies to transform the lives of people of the northeast and enhance the ease of living.

Participants:

  • Ministry of Development of North-East Region responsible for the matters relating to the planning, execution, and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the NE Region.
  • North Eastern Council (NEC) is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the NE Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. It was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament.
  • NERCORMP: North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCORMP) is a livelihood and rural development project aimed to transform the lives of the poor and marginalized tribal families in NE India.
    • It is a joint developmental initiative of the NEC, Ministry of DoNER, and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Initiatives for the development of North East:

  • In 2001, the Ministry of Development of the North East Region (MDoNER) was established. The ministry functions as the nodal Department of the Central Government to deal with the socio-economic development of the eight states of NER.
    • It acts as a facilitator between Central Ministries/ Departments and the State Governments of NERs.
  • Regional Connectivity Scheme has been launched to provide connectivity to unserved and underserved airports within the country and to promote regional connectivity by making the airfare affordable through Viability Gap Funding (VGF).
    • The North East has been kept as a priority area under this scheme.
  • Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism, projects worth Rs.1400.03 crore has been sanctioned for the North East Region in the last five years.
  • Mission Purvodaya: It is aimed at driving the accelerated development of Eastern India through the establishment of an integrated steel hub.
  • It is expected that out of the 300 MT capacity by 2030-31, over 200 MT can come from this region alone, driven by Industry 4.0.

Source: PIB

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)

Context:

Recently, the Union Minister of Rural Development provided information in Rajya Sabha on the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY):

  • It was launched in 2000.
  • Objective: To provide rural connectivity, by way of a single all-weather road.
  • Eligibility: Unconnected habitations of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in the North-Eastern States, Himalayan States, Deserts, and Tribal Areas as per 2001 census) in the core network for uplifting the socio-economic condition of the rural population.
  • No physical targets in terms of Kilometers or financial targets or allocations were fixed for states. 
  • As a measure of special dispensation, the Union Government bears 90% of the project cost in respect of projects sanctioned under the scheme in North-Eastern and the Himalayan States, whereas for other states the Union Government bears 60% of the cost.

PMGSY-II:

  • It was launched in 2013 for the up-gradation of 50,000 Kms of the existing rural road network to improve its overall efficiency.
  • While the ongoing PMGSY - I continued, under PMGSY phase II, the roads already built for village connectivity was to be upgraded to enhance rural infrastructure.
  • The cost was shared between the center and the states/UTs.

PMGSY-III:

  • It was launched in 2019 for consolidation of 1,25,000 Km Through Routes and Major Rural Links connecting habitations, inter-alia, to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs), Higher Secondary Schools, and Hospitals.
    • GrAMs are retail agricultural markets in close proximity to the farm gate, that promote and service a more efficient transaction of the farmers’ produce.
  • For every two versions of PMGSY, state-wise physical targets have been allocated and requisite central share of funds are provided to states based on the value of projects sanctioned to states to construct the allocated length.

Source: PIB

The Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework

Context:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF) 2.0, along with the ‘Streets for People Challenge’ under the Smart Cities Mission.

  • Objective: To provide a clear roadmap for cities towards combating Climate Change while planning and implementing their actions, including investments.

The need for the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework:

  • In the last decade, an increasing frequency of cyclones, floods, heatwaves, water scarcity, and drought-like conditions have had adverse impacts on many cities.
  • Such extreme events and risks cause loss of life as well as impact economic growth.
  • In this context, the CSCAF initiative intends to inculcate a climate-sensitive approach to urban planning and development in India.

Details:

  • This assessment framework was developed after a review of existing frameworks and assessment approaches adopted throughout the world followed by a series of extensive consultative processes with more than 26 organizations.
  • Implementation: The Climate Centre for Cities under the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is supporting MoHUA in the implementation of CSCAF.
  • The framework has 28 indicators across five categories namely:
    • Energy and Green Buildings,
    • Urban Planning, Green Cover & Biodiversity,
    • Mobility and Air Quality,
    • Water Management and
    • Waste Management.
  • Currently, cities face many challenges in providing safe, affordable, and equitable modes of transport that enable social distancing.
  • Limited public transport options, narrow, crowded sidewalks particularly in the market places and deterioration of mental health, are key issues that must be addressed on priority. The pedestrianization of streets for walking and creating public spaces is a crucial step towards mitigating these issues.
  • Cities around the world, such as Bogota, Berlin, and Milan have responded by transforming streets for walking and cycling, to ensure safe mobility during COVID-19.

The Streets for People Challenge:

  • Objective: To inspire cities to create walking-friendly and vibrant streets through quick, innovative, and low-cost measures.

Details:

  • All cities participating in the challenge shall be encouraged to use the ‘test-learn-scale’ approach to initiate both, flagship and neighborhood walking interventions.
  • It is the response to the need for making cities more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
  • The Challenge builds on the advisory issued by MoHUA for the holistic planning for pedestrian-friendly market spaces.
  • It will support cities to develop a unified vision of streets for people in consultation with stakeholders and citizens.
  • Adopting a participatory approach, cities will be guided to launch their own design competitions to gather innovative ideas from professionals for quick, innovative, and low-cost tactical solutions.

Source: PIB

Sonamura-Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route

Context:

Tripura has opened its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh from Sonamura in the Sepahijala district.

  • The route connecting Sonamura (India) and Daudkandi (Bangladesh) was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.

Tripura’s foreign trade:

  • Tripura’s cross-border trade commenced in 1995. Currently, Tripura exports goods and materials worth only Rs 30 crore to Bangladesh annually but imports good worth Rs 645 crore.
  • This huge trade deficit is due to abnormally high import duty in Bangladesh and the absence of many commodities abundant in the state in the list of goods allowed for export as well as port restrictions. 

The benefit of the Route:

Connectivity:

  • The route will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
  • It provides inland waterways connectivity between the two countries, particularly with the North Eastern Region of India, and also enhances bilateral trade.

Protocol on Transit and Trade:

  • Both countries have a long-standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways which was first signed in 1972.
  • It was last renewed in for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

Making Gomati navigable:

  • River Gomati is the largest and longest river of Tripura. It is also considered a sacred river and devotees converge along its banks at Tirthmukh every Makar Sankranti.
  • Gomati is also a regulated river. Due to the high altitude of in its upper catchment and the Dumber dam built-in 1974 as part of the Gumti hydro-electric power project, the river erodes a lot of sand and rocky particles in its upper segment.
  • The flow slows down a lot after it reaches the plains and at Maharani barrage in Gomati district, a large volume of the water is extracted for irrigation and is held back for the beautification of the Dumbur dam as a tourist spot.
  • A river needs at least 4-5 feet depth for goods carriers to navigate on a regular basis. Gomati riverbed remains navigable for less than four months a year, that too only during monsoon days.
  • For the rest of the year, scanty rainfall in the hills results in low volume while accumulating sediments raise the average riverbed, rendering Gomati even shallower. In comparison, the inland waterway route with Bangladesh at Karimganj in Assam operates small ships to large boats for nearly six months a year.

Source: Indian Express

Five Star Villages Scheme

Context:

The Department of Posts has launched a scheme called Five Star Villages.

Objective: To ensure universal coverage of flagship postal schemes in rural areas of the country.

About the Scheme:

  • The scheme seeks to bridge the gaps in public awareness and reach of postal products and services, especially in interior villages.
  • Under the scheme, all postal products and services will be made available and marketed and publicized at the village level
  • Branch offices will function as a one-stop-shop to cater to all post-office-related needs of villagers.
  • The schemes covered under the Five Star scheme include:
    • Savings Bank accounts, Recurrent Deposit Accounts, NSC / KVP certificates,
    • Sukanya Samridhi Accounts/ PPF Accounts,
    • Funded Post Office Savings Account linked India Post Payments Bank Accounts,
    • Postal Life Insurance Policy/Rural Postal Life Insurance Policy and
    • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana Account / Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana Account.
  • If a village attains universal coverage for four schemes from the above list, then that village gets four-star status;
  • If a village completes three schemes, then that village gets three-star status and so on.

Coverage:

  • The scheme is being launched on a pilot basis in Maharashtra; based on the experience here, it will be implemented nation-wide.