Polity & Governance
- Centre forms ‘Disha’ for timely implementation of Central Schemes
Environment & Ecology
- Rajya Sabha passes Compensatory and Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016
- Surplus river basins face drop in rainfall: IIT study
- Three new varieties of butterflies discovered in Uttarakhand
- CAG of India signs 11 UN Audit reports
- India, China deny LAC violation
Persons in News
- Mahasweta Devi passes away
- Tabla maestro Pandit Lacchu Maharaj dies in Varanasi
Polity & Governance
Centre forms ‘Disha’ for timely implementation of Central Schemes
The Centre announced the formation of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC) which supercedes the District Vigilance & Monitoring Committee currently mandated by Ministry of Rural Development and the new committee will be known as “Disha”.
- These Committees would monitor the implementation of 28 schemes and programmes of Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to promote synergy and convergence for greater impact.
- The main purpose of this committee is to coordinate with Central and State and local Panchayat Governments, for successful and timely implementation of the schemes.
- Efforts will be made to ensure the participation of people’s representative at all levels in it and successful implementation of flagship programme of central government.
Composition of “Disha”:
- The Chairperson of the committee will be the senior most Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) elected from the district, nominated by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- The other Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the district will be designated as Co-Chairpersons.
- One MP (Rajya Sabha) representing the State and exercising option to be associated with the district level Committee of that district (on first come basis) will be designated as Co-Chairperson.
- All Members of the State Legislative Assembly elected from the district,
- All Mayors / the Chairpersons of Municipalities, chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat, five elected heads of Gram Panchayat including two women, one representative each of SC, ST and Women to be nominated by the Chairperson will be among other members of the committee.
- The Member Secretary of disha should be the District Collector / District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner except in cases where specific exemption has been given by the Union Government.
Terms of references of the committee:
- Ensure that all programmes are implemented in accordance with the Guidelines.
- Look into complaints/alleged irregularities received in respect of the implementation of the programmes.
- Closely review the flow of funds including the funds allocated, funds released by both Centre and the State, utilization and unspent balances under each Scheme.
Environment & Ecology
Rajya Sabha passes Compensatory and Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016
Rajya Sabha passed The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016.
- The Bill had earlier been passed by Lok Sabha in May 2016.
Highlights of the Bill
The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
- These Funds will receive payments for:
- Compensatory afforestation,
- Net Present Value of forest (NPV), and
- Other project specific payments.
- The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
- These Funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
- The Bill also establishes the National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the National and State Funds.
The Bill establishes the Funds for compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. However, there are several factors (other than administration of funds) which affect compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.
Lack of planning and implementation:
- The state forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.
- With the share of funds transferred to states increasing from 10% to 90%, effective utilisation of these funds will depend on the capacity of state forest departments.
Difficulty in procuring land:
- Procuring land for compensatory afforestation is difficult as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc.
- This is compounded by unclear land titles, and difficulties in complying with procedures for land use.
Decline in quality of forest cover:
- A High Level Committee on Environment Laws observed that quality of forest cover has declined between 1951 and 2014, with poor quality of compensatory afforestation plantations being one of the reasons behind the decline.
What is CAMPA?
- In 2002, the Supreme Court of India observed that collected funds for afforestation were underutilized by the states and it ordered for centrally pooling of funds under Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
- The court had set up the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (National CAMPA) to manage the Fund.
- In 2009, states also had set up State CAMPAs that receive 10% of funds form National CAMPA to use for afforestation and forest conservation.
Objectives of CAMPA
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses.
Its mandate includes:
- Lay down broad guidelines for State CAMPA.
- Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by State CAMPA.
- Make recommendations to State CAMPA based on a review of their plans and programmes.
- Provide a mechanism to State CAMPA to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.
What is NPV?
- NPV was defined by the Supreme Court in its landmark decision of 2005 to be “the present value of net cash flow from a project, discounted by the cost of capital.”
- In common parlance, it is the sum arrived at by deducting the cost of investment from the present value of all future earnings.
- NPV is a monetised value of forest land to be paid by the user agency to compensate for the loss of tangible and intangible benefits flowing from such lands.
Surplus river basins face drop in rainfall: IIT study
A study carried out by a team of researchers from IIT Madras and IIT Bombay has found a decrease in spatial variability of mean monsoon rainfall over major river basins in India.
- There is a statistically significant decrease in the monsoon rainfall over major water surplus river basins.
- There is no statistically significant increase in monsoon rainfall over major water deficit river basins.
- Major surplus basins such as Mahanadi, Godavari, Brahmani and West Flow River-I are witnessing significant decrease in rainfall.
- Other surplus basins also exhibited decrease in rainfall but they are not statistically significant.
- The decrease in water yield in recent periods in major surplus basins has been more than 10% in the case of Mahanadi and West Flow River-I.
- In the case of other surplus basins, the decrease has been within 10%.
- Ganga, which is a major water deficit basin, has seen significant increase in rainfall, while Yamuna, Krishna and Cauvery river basins exhibit a decrease.
- There has been an increase in extreme rainfall events in India but this does not play a significant role in water availability as the surplus water gets wasted.
Challenges to interlinking:
- The study has found that the amount of summer monsoon rainfall over Indian river basins does not support the paradigm “wet gets wetter and dry gets drier”.
- The changes in rainfall pattern over major river basins in India raises concerns regarding the suitability and viability of interlinking major river water basins.
- The water demand in a surplus basin first needs to be assessed and then met under decreasing water availability scenarios before transferring water to deficit basins.
- Hence, planning for inter-basin water transfer [in order to supply water from surplus to deficit river basins] necessitates an immediate reassessment with a systematic approach.
Three new varieties of butterflies discovered in Uttarakhand
In a recent discovery in Uttarakhand, the three new varieties of butterflies were discovered.
- Out of the three new varieties, two were discovered and photographed in Nainital whereas the third was found in Haldwani.
- With the discovery in Uttarakhand recently, the total number of varieties of butterflies found in the hill state is 453.
- Out of the 1,300 varieties of butterflies found in India, Uttarakhand was home to 450 until recently when three more names were added to the list.
CAG of India signs 11 UN Audit reports
Comptroller & Auditor General of India Shashi Kant Sharma, along with auditor generals of other countries, signed 11 United Nations (UN) Audit reports.
- The reports were signed at the 70th regular session of the United Nations’ Board of Auditors.
- These reports will be presented to the General Assembly of the UN and other governing bodies.
- The reports cover important UN bodies like UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, UN-WOMEN, UNOPS and UN Headquarters, among others.
India, China deny LAC violation
China denied that its troops had crossed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Uttarakhand.
- India also rejected that the Chinese forces had carried out an “incursion” into the Indian sided of the LAC in the Barahoti sector.
Line of Actual Control (LAC):
- The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a demarcation line that separates Indian-held lands from Chinese-controlled territory.
- The demarcation existed as the informal cease-fire line between India and China after the 1962 conflict until 1993, when its existence was officially accepted as the ‘Line of Actual Control’ in a bilateral agreement.
- The term “LAC” gained legal recognition in Sino-Indian agreements signed in 1993 and 1996.
- The 1996 agreement states, “No activities of either side shall overstep the line of actual control.”
- The entire Sino-Indian border (including the western LAC, the small undisputed section in the centre, and the MacMahon Line in the east) is 4,056 km long.
- The Sino-Indian border traverses five Indian states: Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Persons in News
Mahasweta Devi passes away
Eminent litterateur and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away in Kolkata.
About Mahasweta Devi:
- Mahasweta Devi enriched Bengali literature through her prolific writing and unique style.
- She actively engaged in social work and spent years researching and campaigning for the welfare of the tribals of Bengal.
- She was honoured with a large number of awards during her lifetime including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Shri, Jnanpith Award and Padma Vibhushan.
Tabla maestro Pandit Lacchu Maharaj dies in Varanasi
Tabla maestro Pandit Lacchu Maharaj passed away in Varanasi.
About Pandit Lacchu Maharaj:
- Lakshmi Narayan Singh, professionally known as Lachhu Maharaj, was an Indian tabla player of Benaras gharana.
- Lachhu Maharaj was nominated for Indian civilian award, Padma Shri, but refused it on the grounds that the biggest honour for an artist was the appreciation of audience.