Polity & Governance
- Civil Aviation Ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme “UDAN” Launched
- Western Zonal Council Meeting held in Mumbai
- India Signs Guarantee Agreement with the World Bank
- Loan to National Water Development Agency (NWDA)
- Central assistance for 99 prioritized irrigation projects under AIBP
Environment & Ecology
- Smooth-coated otter sighted in Krishna mangrove
Science & Technology
- BCCI approves use of DRS in India-England Test series
Key Facts for Prelims
- Fast Patrol Vessels ‘Aryaman’ and ‘Atulya’
- UP tops the list of rights cases lodged by NHRC
Polity & Governance
Civil Aviation Ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme “UDAN” Launched
The Union Government has launched the regional air connectivity scheme ‘UDAN’ which seeks to get more people to fly in the smaller towns.
- The scheme will be rolled out by January, 2017 and will be in operation for a period of 10 years.
What is UDAN Scheme?
The UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) scheme seeks to provide connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
This first-of-its-kind scheme will ensure affordability, connectivity, growth and development.
Key features of the scheme:
- The UDAN scheme will be applicable on flights which cover between 200 km and 800 km with no lower limit set for hilly, remote, islands and regions which are security sensitive.
- Under the UDAN scheme, the flights are bound to connect at least one RCS airport (underserved and unserved airports).
- The RCS caps fares and also offers a ceiling for the VGF available for each route. Which means the airlines cannot charge beyond the caps specified from passengers.
- For the shortest route under the scheme fare has been capped at Rs 1,420. For longest route, fare has been capped Rs Rs 3,500.
- The Centre has also decided to provide concessions such as 2% excise on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax at 1/10th.
- State government are bound to provide free security and fire service, utilities at concessional rates and reduce VAT on ATF to 1%.
- There will be no landing charges, parking charges and Terminal Navigation Landing Charges will be imposed for RCS flights.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Western Zonal Council Meeting held in Mumbai
The 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council was recently held at Mumbai under the chairmanship of Shri Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister.
- The Western Zonal Council consists of the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
- The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers and Ministers of these States and Administrators of Union Territories as well as senior officers of Central and State Governments.
- The Council reviewed issues which relate to coastal security, internal security, issuance of bio-metric identity cards to fishermen & issue of card readers, formulation of plans for countering terrorism, modernization of police force etc.
- Other important issues discussed were Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Urban) Mission, surplus lands of Central Government for ‘Housing for All: 2022’ and providing shelters to the urban homeless.
- Issues relating to checking pollution in Daman Ganga and Kolak river due to discharge of untreated effluents from Vapi industrial area were also deliberated in detail.
About the Zonal Councils:
Zonal Councils are advisory councils and are made up of the states of India have been grouped into six zones to foster cooperation among them. They are:
- Northern Zonal Council
- North-Central Zonal Council
- North-Eastern Zonal Council
- Eastern Zonal Council
- Western Zonal Council
- Southern Zonal Council
- Five Zonal Councils were set up vide Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
- The North Eastern States’ special problems are addressed by another statutory body – The North Eastern Council, created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
- The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport etc.
- They are regional fora of cooperative endeavour for States linked with each other economically, politically and culturally.
- Being compact high level bodies, specially meant for looking after the interests of respective Zones, they are capable of focusing attention on specific issues taking into account regional factors, while keeping the national perspective in view.
India Signs Guarantee Agreement with the World Bank
The Union Government has signed $650 million loan agreement with the World Bank for construction of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC)-III project.
- The agreement was signed between International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IRBD), part of World Bank Group to lend $650 million, third tranche for construction EDFC to Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL).
About Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor-III project:
- The objective of the EDFC-III Project is to augment rail transport capacity, improve service quality and enhance freight carriage throughput on the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor.
- It also aims to develop institutional capacity of DFCCIL to build, maintain and operate the entire DFC network.
- The first two phases of the EDFC are already being implemented by the DFCCIL with the help of financial assistance provided by the World Bank.
- The IRDB had provided loans worth $975 million and $1,100 million for the Dadri-Khurja-Kanpur and Kanpur-Mughal Sarai stretches respectively of the Eastern Rail Corridor.
Significance of this project:
- The project will directly benefit the power and heavy manufacturing industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway network for transportation of their material inputs and also for the distribution of bulk processed and semi-processed commodities and consumer goods.
- Railway passengers will also be benefitted through decongestion of the existing passenger lines.
Loan to National Water Development Agency (NWDA)
NABARD has sanctioned loan worth Rs. 19,702 crore to National Water Development Agency (NWDA) for 50 irrigation projects from 11 States under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF).
- It is part of the government’s vision to double the farmers’ income by 2022.
- This loan is part of the Central share of assistance to State Governments.
- It will ensure front loading of resources so that the identified incomplete irrigation projects under Pradhan Mandtri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) are executed in time.
- This would help complete not only the irrigation projects but also the Command Area Development works which are central to ensure full utilisation of irrigation potential so created.
- Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) was set up by NABARD.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex development and specialized bank established in July 1982 by an act by the parliament of India.
- It is one of the premier agencies providing developmental credit in rural areas.
- NABARD is India’s specialised bank for Agriculture and Rural Development in India.
- Its main focus is to uplift rural India by increasing the credit flow for elevation of agriculture & rural non-farm sector.
- It was established based on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the chairmanship of Shri B. shivaraman.
- It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).
- The Bank has been accredited with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.
- NABARD is active in developing financial inclusion policy and is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.
- It also looks after the development of the cottage industry, small industry and village industry, and other rural industries.
Central assistance for 99 prioritized irrigation projects under AIBP
The government has released the first installment of Rs. 1500 crore to the states as central assistance for 99 prioritized irrigation projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program (AIBP).
- This amount has been released for 50 projects in the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and Telangana.
- Total funds required for completion of all the 99 identified projects have been estimated at Rs.77595 crore. These projects will cover almost all drought prone districts of 18 States of country and will also go a long way to contain the incident of suicide by farmers.
About Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Program:
Central Government launched the AIBP in the year 1996-97 to provide Central Assistance to major/medium irrigation projects in the country.
- The objective of the scheme is to accelerate implementation of such projects which were beyond resource capability of the States or were in advanced stage of completion.
- Priority was given to those projects which were started in Pre-Fifth and Fifth Plan period and also to those which were benefiting Tribal and Drought Prone Areas.
- From the year 1999-2000 onwards, Central Loan Assistance under AIBP was also extended to minor surface irrigation projects (SMI) of special category States.
- Later, during 2015-16, PMKSY was conceived amalgamating ongoing three major ongoing irrigation programmes of the Centre –
- The Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme of Ministry of Water Resources
- Integrated Watershed management programme of Ministry of Rural Development and Land Resources, and
- The farm water management component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture of the Department of Agriculture.
Environment & Ecology
Smooth-coated otter sighted in Krishna mangrove
Smooth-coated otter was sighted for the first time in the mangrove forest near the Krishna wildlife sanctuary in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.
- The presence of the otter is a key indicator for rise of the mangrove cover in the Krishna wildlife sanctuary.
About the Smooth-Coated Otter:
The smooth-coated otter is a species of otter, the only extant representative of the genus Lutrogale.
- Besides India, the otters are found in in Java, Sumatra and Borneo. It also inhabits rivers in north and south-western China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan.
- As its name indicates, the fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otters.
- In 2014, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reviewed its status. Finding its population in fast decline, IUCN listed it in the ‘Red List’, as “vulnerable”.
- Smooth-coated otters are used for commercial fishing in southern Bangladesh. These otters are bred in captivity, trained, and used to chase fish into fishing nets.
About Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary:
- Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary and estuary located in Andhra Pradesh.
- The sanctuary is a part of the mangrove wetland in Andhra Pradesh and are located in the coastal plain of Krishna delta.
- It is one of the rarest eco-regions of the world owing to the fact that it harbours vast tracts of pristine mangrove forests.
- It is believed among conservationists as one of the last remaining tracts of thick primary mangrove forests of South India, which is rapidly disappearing due to absence of protective measures.
Science & Technology
BCCI approves use of DRS in India-England Test series
BCCI has agreed to use the Decision Review System in upcoming five-match Test series against England which begins November 9.
- The board has decided to use the DRS on “trial basis to evaluate the improvements made to the system over a period of time”.
Why DRS has been objected?
- Since their first experience with the system in its nascent stages, India were the biggest opponents of the DRS.
- Earlier, BCCI as well as many members of the current Indian cricket team including Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had objected used of DRS as is not 100% accurate.
Has India ever used DRS?
- India have used the DRS in multi-national tournaments including World Cups.
- India last used the DRS in a bilateral series back in 2008 against Sri Lanka and have never implemented it after that in a bilateral series.
What changes will be made in DRS?
- One of India’s biggest concerns with the DRS, the predicted path of the ball after it hits the pad in the case of lbw decisions, will be addressed by the use of ultra-motion cameras.
- The manual intervention in determining the point of impact will be minimised by the introduction of Ultra Edge, which according to a BCCI release had been approved by Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]. It will also eliminate the possibility of another touch after the first impact affecting the predicted path or point of impact.
- A data retrieval system also has been included as a further safeguard.
What is Decision Review System (DRS)?
The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS or DRS) is a technology-based system used in the sport of cricket.
- The system was first introduced in Test cricket, for the sole purpose of reviewing controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires as to whether or not a batsman had been dismissed.
- The system was first tested in an India v Sri Lanka match in 2008.
- It was officially launched by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2009 during the first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan.
- The ICC initially made the UDRS mandatory in all international matches, but later made its use optional, so that the system would only be used if both teams agree.
How does the Decision Review System (DRS) work?
The DRS comprises a combination of several off-field technologies. Using these off-field technologies, the third umpire informs the on-field umpire whether to overturn or uphold their original decision. The process of checking a DRS it starts with
- Checking of No-ball
- Inside Edge
- Pitch of Ball
- Location of Ball while hitting the pads
- Ball hitting the stumps First two things are checked manually by 3rd Umpire.
The rule to give out you require these three things:
- Ball should pitch In-Line of stumps or Outside off
- Impact of ball while hitting the pads should be In-Line of stumps
- Ball should be hitting stumps.
What do the off-field technologies of Decision Review System include?
Off-field technologies of DRS include:
- Footage from TV cameras placed around the ground;
- Hot Spot, an infrared camera system that highlights parts of the bat and body that have been hit by the ball;
- Hawkeye, a ball-tracking system usually used to check leg before wicket decisions; and
- Realtime Snickometre, a waveform of the sound captured by a stump microphone.
Key Facts for Prelims
Fast Patrol Vessels ‘Aryaman’ and ‘Atulya’
- The Indian Coast Guard Ships (ICGSs) ‘Aryaman’ and ‘Atulya’ were commissioned into Indian Coast Guard in Kochi, Kerala.
- They are equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, advanced communication and navigational equipment.
- These FPVs are ideal platform for undertaking multifarious close-coast missions such as surveillance, interdiction and search and rescue.
- The special features of the ships include an Integrated Bridge Management System (IBMS) and Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS).
UP tops the list of rights cases lodged by NHRC
- Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of cases of human rights violation lodged by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the past year, with 44% of the total number of cases registered with the NHRC pertaining to the State.
- UP is followed by Odisha, Haryana, Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan.
- P. also had the most number of deaths in judicial custody — 401 out of a total of 1,757.
- It is also the State with the highest number of deaths in police custody — 27 of the total 192 cases.
- It had the highest number of cases of child labour and bonded labour (11 and 122 respectively) as well.