Polity & Governance
- Railways offers Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for train travel
- NGT grants nod to Vizhinjam International Seaport
- Central government approves Sabarimala spiritual circuit
Environment & Ecology
- IUCN World Conservation Congress begins
- US, China ratify Paris climate agreement ahead of G20 summit
- CIL& ICFRE Signs MoU for Environment Related Issues in Coal Mining Projects
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Egypt sign agreement on maritime transport
Science & Technology
- Throughput communication soon for India
Key Facts for Prelims
- Siruvani dam
- World Coconut Day
- Sports for AII
- International Conference on LPG cooking gas
Polity & Governance
Railways offers Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for train travel
The railways has launched a scheme allowing a person to get an insurance cover of upto Rs 10 lakh on booking a train ticket online by paying less than one rupee.
- Soon after the launch of this facility, more than 4 lakh passengers have opted for the scheme.
Key features of the scheme:
- The new facility is reserved for passengers of Indian Railways who book e-ticket, excluding suburban trains, through its official website, irrespective of the class of the ticket.
- A person booking a train ticket through the IRCTC website will be able to opt for travel insurance cover for a premium of 92 paise only.
- The cover will not be applicable for children upto 5 years of age and foreign citizens.
- It will be for passengers holding tickets such as confirmed, RAC and wait-listed.
- The scheme offers travellers/nominees/legal heirs a compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or total disability, Rs 7.5 lakh for partial disability, upto Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains from the place of a train accident or where an untoward incident, including terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, shootout or arson, occurs.
- However, no refund of the premium will be given in case of cancellation of the ticket.
- The scheme is being implemented by IRCTC in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Royal Sundaram General Insurance and Shriram General Insurance selected through a bidding process. A total of 19 companies had participated in the bidding process and 17 were found eligible.
- The scheme is also applicable for Vikalp trains, short termination and diverted route. In case of short termination, if the passenger opts for alternate mode of transportation arranged by Railway upto the destination station, then this part of the journey of the passenger shall also be covered under the policy taken.
- Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced an optional travel insurance scheme in his budget speech.
NGT grants nod to Vizhinjam International Seaport
The National Green Tribunal has given its go-ahead to the construction of the multi-crore Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL), being developed by Kerala government in collaboration with Adani Group.
Arguments put forth by NGT:
- NGT says that building of such port is crucial for the economic development for the State as well as the country, lack of port infrastructure is seriously hampering India’s international trade, competitiveness and India’s economic growth.
About the project:
The Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is an ambitious project designed primarily to cater container transhipment besides multi-purpose and break bulk cargo.
- It’s an ambitious project of the Kerala government and the Adani group commenced the construction on December 5 last year. The port is scheduled to be completed on December 4, 2019.
- The port is about 16 km from Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram and just 10 nautical miles from the International Shipping Lane.
- With both strategic and commercial importance, the under-construction Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport is estimated over Rs 7,000 crore.
Advantages of Vizhinjam are:
- National security is also served in emergency because of proximity to international shipping routes.
- The Indian Navy and Coast Guard can make use of it.
- Cruise terminal of large cruise vessel at Vizhinjam will also boost tourism
- Availability of 20m contour within one nautical mile from the coast.
- Minimal littoral drift along the coast, hardly any maintenance dredging required.
- Links to national/regional road, rail network.
- Flexibility in design and expansion being a Greenfield project.
Central government approves Sabarimala spiritual circuit
The Union Ministry of Tourism has approved the Sabarimala spiritual circuit.
- The thrust areas in the Rs. 99.98-crore Sabarimala-Erumeli- Pampa-Sannidhanam Spiritual Circuit include enhanced facilities for Ayyappa devotees, setting up of solid waste management and sewage treatment systems, and CCTV surveillance are.
- The administrative and financial nod for the circuit have been sanctioned under the Union Tourism Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
- Kerala has also received Rs. 19.99 crore as the first tranche to commence work for the fully funded Central project.
- The circuit has to be executed by Kerala Tourism in 36 months of commencement of work and the State has to provide land free of charge.
- Land owned by private individuals and trusts should not be part of the scheme.
- Barrier-free access for the disabled is mandatory.
- The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
Environment & Ecology
IUCN World Conservation Congress begins
The 25th World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has begun in Hawaii.
- The theme for this year’s IUCN Congress is ‘Planet at the crossroads’.
- Since IUCN’s foundation in 1948, member countries have gathered 24 times in all corners of the world.
- The last Congress was held in Jeju, Korea in 2012.
- This is the first time the US is hosting the event. The US is also celebrating 100 years of National Park Service.
Aim of the congress:
- The Congress aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development.
- The IUCN Congress is expected to set the course for using nature based solutions to help move millions out of poverty, creating a more sustainable economy and restoring a healthier relationship with our planet.
Main issues to be discussed:
- The main issues to be discussed at the Congress are wildlife trafficking, ocean conservation, nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and private investment in conservation.
- Over 9,000 delegates from 190 countries, including heads of state, high-level government officials, scientists, indigenous people and business leaders will share, debate and act on the latest issues in conservation and sustainable development and define a global path for nature conservation for the future.
US, China ratify Paris climate agreement ahead of G20 summit
Ahead of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, the United States and China have ratified the 2015 Paris agreement to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.
- China and the United States, the world’s two biggest emitters account for 38% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China alone accounting for 20% of emissions.
- Both countries have set a 2030 deadline for emissions to stop rising.
- According to the World Resources Institute, so far, 23 countries have ratified or otherwise joined the agreement, representing just 1% of global emissions.
- The Paris agreement, sealed last December after two weeks of intense negotiations, needs to be ratified by 55 countries, representing 55% of global emissions, in order to come into effect.
Key features of the Paris Agreement:
- The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries.
- The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
- The agreement’s long-term goal is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. It has an aspirational goal of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). Temperatures have already risen by almost 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) since the industrial revolution.
- Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to set national targets for reducing or reining in their greenhouse gas emissions.
- Those targets aren’t legally binding, but countries must report on their progress and update their targets every five years. The first cycle begins in 2020.
- Only developed countries are expected to slash their emissions in absolute terms. Developing nations are “encouraged” to do so as their capabilities evolve over time.
- The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
CIL& ICFRE Signs MoU for Environment Related Issues in Coal Mining Projects
Coal India Limited (CIL) and Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) signed an MoU for effectively monitoring of environment related issues in the coal mining projects.
- The MoU will also help in improving the rehabilitation and reclamation of the mined out areas.
- The MoU would help CIL in proper compliance and monitoring of the conditions that are laid down by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) while according environment and forest clearances.
- The MoU covers assessment and monitoring of
- Plantation and eco restoration activities, preparation of wild life management plans,
- Preparation of environmental impact assessment
- Environmental management plans and
- Capacity building for the executives of CIL on environment and forestry issues etc.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Egypt sign agreement on maritime transport
India and Egypt have signed an agreement on Maritime Transport.
- It was announced at the end of delegation-level talks between visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Besides, the two leaders agreed that a special and enlarged “India by the Nile Festival” would be held in 2017 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.
- They also called for the proposal to have the inaugural “Egypt by the Ganga Festival” in 2017.
Significance of the agreement:
- The agreement would help the two nations to step-up co-operation on the seas not only in terms of maritime commerce but also in transit of naval vessels.
- Earlier in October 2015, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing of an agreement between India and Egypt on Maritime Transport.
Science & Technology
Throughput communication soon for India
India is on the cusp of a satellite-driven digital or broadband revolution, similar to DTH or direct-to-home broadcasting of the 2000s, with a plan to deploy five high-throughput communication spacecraft starting this year.
- ISRO will also test new technologies with its HTSs, such as the new flexible ‘bus’ or satellite assembly platform, electric propulsion, Ka band, lithium ion batteries, among others.
What is HTS?
High-throughput satellite (HTS) is a classification for communications satellites that provide at least twice, though usually by a factor of 20 or more, the total throughput of a classic FSS satellite for the same amount of allocated orbital spectrum thus significantly reducing cost-per-bit.
- HTS reuses satellite ‘beams’ several times over smaller areas.
Significance of the HTSs:
- These HTSs have been game-changers in the West, providing Internet connectivity many times faster, smoother, easier and probably cheaper than now.
- HTSs provide at least twice the total throughput of a classic FSS satellite for the same amount of allocated orbital spectrum thus significantly reducing cost-per-bit.
- HTS are primarily deployed to provide broadband Internet access service (point-to-point) to regions unserved or underserved by terrestrial technologies where they can deliver services comparable to terrestrial services in terms of pricing and bandwidth.
- It will drive a next generation technology revolution. Individuals, planners in government, businesses like banks, ATMs, reservation systems, cellular and private networks and users in remote areas are expected to benefit from improved connectivity.
Key Facts for Prelims
A special resolution moved by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, opposing Kerala’s Attappady Valley irrigation project on the Siruvani River, was unanimously passed by the Tamil Nadu State Assembly.
The resolution urged the Centre not to accept the recommendations of the committee formed by the Environment Ministry, allowing Kerala to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project.
Siruvani is an inter-State river and a sub-tributary of the Cauvery.
World Coconut Day
Recently the World Coconut Day has been observed.
September 2 has been declared World Coconut Day by the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) headquartered at Jakarta, Indonesia.
The APCC’s foundation day also falls on September 2.
The APCC is an inter-governmental organisation of 18- member countries mandated to promote, coordinate, and harmonise coconut developmental activities of the Asian Pacific region.
All major coconut-growing countries, including India, are members of the APCC.
It is important to note that India is a leading country in coconut production and productivity in the world.
Sports for AII
It is a special programme aimed at immediate engagement of youth in J&K in sporting activities.
It is being implemented through J&K State Sports Council which provides for village level competitions and development of popular sports, such as, football etc.
An amount of Rs.5.00 crore has already been provided to J&K State Sports Council for organizing these village level sporting activities.
Recently, a special package of Rs 200 crore has been announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
International Conference on LPG cooking gas
First International Conference on LPG cooking gas was recently held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The conference was organized by Research & Development Initiative along with leading Public Sector oil companies – Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation.
The conference focused on the need for an LPG enabled household. Problems arising due to absence of cooking gas, the usage of traditional bio mass cooking fuels and their impact on both health and environment were also discussed.
The conference also had a session on the hugely successful “Give it Up’ scheme, largest Direct Bank Transfer Scheme PAHAL and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.