Polity & Governance
- Remission power lies with State: SC
- New Regional Institute of Education at Nellore
- PM Modi lays foundation stone of Chardham highway project in Dehradun
- Gadkari inaugurates Sagarmala Development Company’s office
Environment & Ecology
- China passes law to levy environment tax to fight pollution
Key Facts for Prelims
- Special stamp on freedom fighter “Shri Gaya Prasad Katiyar”
- Atal-Amrit Abhiyan
- FC-31 Gyrfalcon
Polity & Governance
Remission power lies with State: SC
The Supreme Court, in its recent judgment, noted that the power to grant remission is exclusively that of the State government and not the judiciary.
- The Supreme Court refrained itself from allowing any reprieve to four convicts who have served 25 years of their life sentence for the murder of an elderly couple in Kolkata in 1991.
The judgment is in sync with the Tamil Nadu government’s review petition on the question of who has the actual authority — the Centre or the State — in granting remission for life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.[Ref: The Hindu]
New Regional Institute of Education at Nellore
Ministry of Human Resource Development is opening a new Regional Institute of Education at Nellore (Andhra Pradesh).
The new institution at Nellore will:
- Offer teacher education programmes like B.Sc/BA B.Ed, M.Ed, Ph.D etc.
- Undertake research and development of Resource Materials on school and teacher education
- Help capacity building of Teachers and Teacher Educators,
- Strengthen implementation of Government of India Schemes like SSA, RMSA, ICT in schools, and
- Strengthen linkages among State Education Agencies besides addressing educational needs of the States.
- The opening of the RIE fulfills the long-standing demand of the region.
- It will give an impetus to the strengthening of School Education and Teacher Education in the region and benefit not only Andhra Pradesh but also the adjoining States of Telegana, Tamil Nadu, Pudduchery etc.
- Presently NCERT, an apex body of Government of India on School Education, has five RIEs in the country at Ajmer, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Mysore and Shillong.
PM Modi lays foundation stone of Chardham highway project in Dehradun
PM Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone for the Chardham highway development project, also known as Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun.
- The project is expected to be completed by 2018.
About the project:
- The Chardham highway development project is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the four main Himalayan pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand, called Char Dham.
- The project’s main objective is to develop around 900 km of national highways.
- These highways will be built in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
- The project will make travel to the Char Dham (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) safer and more convenient.
- The project involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes.
- Apart from widening, the road transport and highways ministry plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.
- It will have proper slope stabilisation to ensure protection against landslides.
Significance of the project:
- The project will benefit people visiting holy shrines in Uttarakhand.
- It will generate additional employment for the local population and will change the economy of the State as it will give strong boost to connectivity and tourism.
- The roads leading to Gangotri and Badrinath are also equally important from a strategic point of view as these roads are used for supply and deployment to the defence establishments along the Indo-China border areas in Uttarakhand.
- The highway network along Char Dham got severely devastated following the cloudburst in 2013. Present government decided to upgrade the national highways network in the upper Himalayan region.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Gadkari inaugurates Sagarmala Development Company’s office
Union Minister for Road Transport and Shipping has inaugurated the Sagarmala Development Company’s office at New Delhi.
- The SDC has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013.
- The Cabinet in July had approved the formation of the SDC under the administrative control of the Ministry of Shipping.
About the SDC:
- The main objective of the company is to identify port-led development projects under the Sagarmala Programme.
- It will provide equity support for project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up by the Ports, State, Central Ministries and funding window.
- The company would act as the nodal agency for coordination and monitoring of all the currently identified projects under Sagarmala as well as other projects emerging from the master plans or other sources.
- It would undertake the preparation of the detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified as part of the National Perspective Plan (NPP) and provide a framework for ensuring the integrated development of Indian maritime sector.
- It would also manage the funding of coastal community development projects identified under Sagarmala.
- This will include projects related to value addition in fisheries, aquaculture, cold chain development, skill development, livelihood generation, local tourism and recreational facilities which would be beneficial to the livelihoods of the coastal communities.
- SDC would raise funds as debt/equity (as long term capital), as per the project requirements, by leveraging resources provided by the Government of India and from multilateral and bilateral funding agencies, the statement said, adding it would also aim to increase the scope of private sector participation in project development.
Environment & Ecology
China passes law to levy environment tax to fight pollution
China has passed a new law, Environment Tax Law to levy environment tax on polluters, specially on heavy industries.
- The law was adopted by the legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
- The new law only targets enterprises and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment.
- Under the new law, companies will pay taxes ranging from 350 yuan ($60) to 11,200 yuan ($1870) per month for noise, according to their decibel level.
- It also set rates of 1.2 yuan on stipulated quantities of air pollutants, 1.4 yuan on water pollutants and a range of five to 1,000 yuan for each tonne of solid waste, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
- However, carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to global warming, is not included in the levying list.
- Under the new law provincial-level governments can raise the rates for air and water pollution by up to ten times after approval by the people’s congresses.
- Lower rates may also be applicable if emission is less than national standards.
- Punishment for evasion or fraud are not specified, but offenders will be held liable in line with the law on administration of taxation and the environmental law.
- Since 1979, China has collected a “pollutant discharge fee”.
- In 2015, it collected 17.3 billion yuan (about $2.5 billion) from some 280,000 businesses.
- However, some local governments exploit loopholes and exempt enterprises which are otherwise big contributors to fiscal revenue.
- For years, regulators have suggested replacing the fee system with a law.
Implications of the new law:
- The new law will reduce interference from government.
- It will also improve tax payers’ environmental awareness, forcing companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production.
- China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due to its heavy reliance on coal to provide electricity to its population of 1.37 billion.
Key Facts for Prelims
Special stamp on freedom fighter “Shri Gaya Prasad Katiyar”
Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications has brought out a Special Cover on freedom fighter “Shri Gaya Prasad Katiyar”.
- It has also released a set of eight Commemorative Postage Stamps on “Personalities Series: Bihar” & a stamp on “Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library”.
About Shri Gaya Prasad Katiyar:
- He was one of the most dedicated soldiers of India’s freedom struggle.
- He was born at Jagadishpur (UP). He joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association in 1925 and got connected with Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
- Later he participated on Lahore Conspiracy Case and was arrested from Saharanpur in 1929. He joined the hunger strike at Lahore Jail with his co prisoners. Later he was transported to Cellular jail in Andaman and again he participated on hunger strike there.
- He was repatriated in 1937 but again arrested and transported to cellular jail from where he was released in 1946.
- Assam government has launched ‘Atal-Amrit Abhiyan’ health insurance scheme which will provide coverage against several critical illnesses.
- It was launched to mark the 92nd birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- the scheme will offer coverage against 437 illnesses in six disease groups, namely, cardiovascular, cancer, kidney, neo-natal, neurological conditions and burns.
- Both Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families, with annual income below Rs 5 lakh, are eligible for the scheme.
- It is China’s fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.
- Recently, it made its maiden flight.
- The new FC-31 Gyrfalcon has new better stealth capabilities, advanced electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity than the previous version J-31 stealth fighter which debuted in October 2012.
- By introducing this fighter jet, China is trying to end the Western nation’s monopoly on advanced warplanes.