IASToppers-Current-Affairs-Analysis-23rd-Dec-2015
Current Affairs Analysis

23rd December 2015 Current Affairs Analysis

By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 23, 2015

Contents

 

Polity & Governance

  • Lok Sabha passes the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015

Social Issues

  • FSSAI sets up 9 panels to strengthen food regulatory mechanism

Economy

  • Govt issues strict norms for thermal plants

International Relations

  • Cabinet approves revised cost of Salma dam in Afghanistan
  • Government to Expand Visa-Free Diplomatic Travel to more Countries

Polity & Governance

Lok Sabha passes the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015

 

Lok Sabha has passed the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015 that seeks to enhance pay eligibility limit of an employee for bonus to Rs. 21,000 per month, from Rs. 10,000, to make more workers eligible for the benefit.

Key Features of the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965.
  • The Act provides for the annual payment of bonus to employees of certain establishments (including factories and establishments employing 20 or more persons).
  • Under the Act, bonus is calculated on the basis of the employee’s salary and the profits of the establishment.
  • The Act mandates payment of bonus to employees’ whose salary or wage is up to Rs 10,000 per month. The Bill seeks to increase this eligibility limit to Rs 21,000 per month.

Calculation of bonus:

  • The Act provides that the bonus payable to an employee will be in proportion to his or her salary or wage.
  • However, if an employee’s salary is more than Rs 3,500 per month, for the purposes of calculation of bonus, the salary will be assumed to be Rs 3,500 per month.
  • The Bill seeks to raise this calculation ceiling to Rs 7,000 per month or the minimum wage notified for the employment under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (whichever is higher).

[Courtesy: Business Standard, PRSIndia]

Social Issues

FSSAI sets up 9 panels to strengthen food regulatory mechanism

 

FSSAI has set up nine new panels for expediting work relating to strengthen the food regulatory mechanism in the country, the government said on Tuesday.

  • The FSSAI has also notified 12 referral laboratories and 82 National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories-accredited private laboratories.
  • In addition, there are 72 State and Public food laboratories to test food samples.

About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an agency of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
  • The FSSAI is led by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government.
  • The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
  • The agency also has 8 regional offices, 4 referral laboratories and 72 local laboratories located throughout India.

Functions of FSSAI:

  • Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses.
  • Laying down procedure and guidelines for accreditation of laboratories and notification of the accredited laboratories.
  • To provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition.
  • Collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various, contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert system.
  • Creating an information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
  • Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.
  • Contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
  • Promote general awareness about food safety and food standards.

[Courtesy: Business Standard, Wikipedia, FSSAI.gov.in]

Economy

Govt issues strict norms for thermal plants

 

Moving towards stricter emission norms to minimise pollution, the Union environment ministry has notified revised norms of emission standards for coal-based thermal power plants in the country and made it mandatory for the existing plants to meet those parameters within two years.

Experts opine that most of India’s thermal powers generating units are among the “most inefficient” in the world in terms of compliance of pollution norms, use of resources and overall operational efficiency.

Key Points:

  • The new standards are aimed at reducing emission of PM10 (particulate matter), Sulphur Dioxide, and Oxide of Nitrogen, which will in turn help in bringing about an improvement in the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) in and around thermal power plants.
  • In case of PM10, the new plants will have to restrict the emission to 30 mg per cubic meter as compared to 100 mg per cubic meter in older plants.
  • Similarly, in case of SO2 and NOx, the new plants will have to restrict the emission at 100 mg per cubic meter as compared to 600 mg per cubic meter of the older plants, irrespective of the installed capacity of the power generating unit.
  • Under the revised norms, the new power plants (to be commissioned from January 1, 2017 onwards) will have to achieve “zero waste water discharge” standard through putting up adequate captive infrastructure.
  • All the upcoming power plants will be given environmental clearance only after getting such commitments under the new norms.
  • These standards are based on the recommendation of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after the extensive consultations with stakeholders.
  • Besides tightening the emission norms, the ministry through the notification – issued on December 7 – also fixed water consumption parameters for all the existing and new plants, making it mandatory to use water more efficiently.

The emission standards have, now, been made stringent for recent plants, compared to earlier ones and most stringent for those plants to be set up in future.

Implications:

  • The notification shows that the newer power plants will eventually be much cleaner as the revised norms will help keep strict tabs on emission of all pollutants.
  • The technology employed for the control of the proposed limit of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) will also help in control of mercury emission (at about 70-90%) as a co-benefit.
  • Limiting the use of water in thermal power plant will lead to water conservation as thermal power plant is a water-intensive industry. This will also lead to a reduction in energy requirement for drawl of water.

[Courtesy: PIB, Times of India]

International Relations

Cabinet approves revised cost of Salma dam in Afghanistan

 

The Union Cabinet has approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan at the Revised Cost Estimates (RCE) of Rs.1775.69 crore.

  • The project is scheduled to be completed by June, 2016.
  • WAPCOS, a central Public Sector Unit under the Ministry of Water Resources, is executing the project.

Background:

  • Situated on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Herat province, Salma Dam project involves construction of a 107.5 meter high earth and rock – fill dam and a 42 MW power House with three units of 14 MW each.
  • It also has a provision for releasing water for irrigation of 75,000 hectares of land.

Benefits from this project:

  • The completion of this project will address the energy requirements and irrigation needs of western Afghanistan.
  • The availability of power and water through the project upon its successful completion will lead to the overall economic development of the western region of Afghanistan and generate goodwill for India in Afghanistan.

Why revision of cost:

The foreign exchange rate variation between Indian rupee and US dollar, increase in consultancy charges due to extended period of project completion, escalation, training of Afghan personnel etc. have necessitated revision in the project cost.

Government to Expand Visa-Free Diplomatic Travel to more Countries

 

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the Model Agreement on exemption from visa requirements for the holders of diplomatic and official passports.

Details:

  • This would facilitate visa-free entry, transit and stay up to 90 days (or less) in any period of 180 days (or more) in the territory of India or signatory country for holders of diplomatic and official passports of either country.
  • This is part of India’s ongoing efforts to expand the envelope of visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and official passports to other countries of the world.

Agreements with other nations:

  • Visa free Agreements have been signed with 69
  • There are still more than 130 countries with which India is yet to enter into or sign similar Agreements.

[Courtesy: PIB]

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