- Kulsi multi-purpose dam, declared a National Project, is being constructed along the Assam-Meghalaya border. The dam is proposed on the Kulsi, a river where the endangered Gangetic river dolphins from the Brahmaputra breed, near Ukiam, a village about 75 km west of Guwahati. The Kulsi multipurpose project envisages construction of a 62-metre-high concrete dam across the Kulsi river to harness its potential for irrigation and power generation. The river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, originates from the northern slopes of the Khasi hills in Meghalaya. After flowing for 100km in the hills of Meghalaya, the river enters the plains of Assam at Ukiam village, the proposed dam site. From there it flows farther north, where it breaks into three streams. After crossing National Highway 17, all the streams take a westerly course, flow into Jaljali river before meeting the Brahmaputra in Kamrup district of Assam. The catchment area of the Kulsi basin up to the proposed dam site is 1,694.4 square km, which lies in the states of Meghalaya and Assam. https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/ukiam-villagers-oppose-kulsi-dam/cid/1704739
- Small hydro projects are the domain of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), while the Ministry of Power oversees large hydro projects. Large hydroelectric projects rely on creating a barrier to river water flowing downstream, which is then channelized into a large reservoir for storage. This can be distinguished from smaller “run of the river” hydro projects, where water passes through a turbine and is released downstream without being stored, which is why they are regarded as a renewable source of energy.
- The decennial census exercise will be undertaken in 2021 and, for the first time, move from paper to digital format.
- National Population Register helps in tracking criminal activities, and better planning and execution of government schemes. The NPR links biometric and demographic details of any ordinary resident, thus making it a comprehensive database of residents. The NPR exercise is different from the census and is not linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC). For the purpose of the NPR, an ordinary resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
- India has committed to the creation of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 under the Paris Climate Agreement.
- ‘Vahan’ is the national vehicle registry, which intends to collate all the information available with road transport authorities for easy access by both citizens and regulators. Vahan allows access to all details related to vehicles such as registration number, chassis/engine number, body/fuel type, colour, manufacturer and model and provides various online services (registration of vehicles, transfer of ownership etc.) to citizens. Driving Licence and related data are automated through a separate application called ‘Sarathi’. Vahan has been designed to capture all the information mandated by the Central Motor Vehicle Act 1988 as well as State Motor Vehicle Rules. It has been customised to suit the varied requirements of all States and Union Territories. This way, the system ensures access to such information from anywhere. Besides, centralisation of data through the creation of the State and National Registries under Vahan also helps address the needs of RTOs, police and motor insurers. The Police Department will also have access to the registry. The information available online can help in resolving crimes such as theft of vehicles and usage of fake registration numbers. Traffic-check points can cross-check the validity of the documents such as licences presented by motorists through hand-held devices. Enforcement activities such as issue of challan and settlement of penalty amount can also be carried out through Vahan. Banks, which may have given out loans for vehicle purchases, will also have access to the National/State Registry to track the status of vehicles under lien. Other services such as registration of vehicles, transfer of ownership, change of address, issue and renewal of permits and fitness certificates are also available on this portal. The need for ‘No objection certificate’ for transfers will be eliminated since all RTOs will have access to the centralised data. Both the ‘Vahan’ and ‘Saarthi’ portals would be helpful for a number of purposes including inter-state transfer of vehicles or obtaining a driver’s license. Read about the ‘Vahan Portal’ in detail (important for prelims and mains): https://pointias443387146.wordpress.com/vahan-portal/
- In line with digitisation drive of the government, driving licence and related data are automated through an application called ‘Sarathi’. Sarathi and Vahan are the two flagship applications of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. These applications are brought under Mission Mode Project by National e-Governance Programme. Sarathi & Vahan are designed, developed, implemented and supported by National Informatics Centre. These applications are implemented across 1000+ RTOs of the country. The Driving Licence data is consolidated at State and National level through periodic replication process.
- Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi announced a global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 held in New York City, USA, on September 23, 2019. ₹480 crore has been allocated for technical assistance and projects. The CDRI will be a partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks, financing mechanisms, private sector, and knowledge institutions which will promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks, thereby ensuring sustainable development. CDRI thus aims to enable the achievement of objectives of expanding universal access to basic services and enabling prosperity as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals, while also working at the intersection of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Climate Agreement. Established as a platform for generating and exchanging knowledge, CDRI will conduct country-specific and global activities. CDRI will provide member countries technical support and capacity development, research and knowledge management, and advocacy and partnerships to facilitate and encourage investment in disaster resilient infrastructure systems.
- Government approved 100% foreign direct investment under the automatic route in mining, processing and sale. In an earlier decision government had allowed commercial coal mining by private operators, ending Coal India’s monopoly. The FDI has been allowed for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure subject to provisions of Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 as amended from time to time. Associated processing infrastructure would include washery and facilities for crushing and coal handling. Before this decision, 100% FDI under the automatic route was allowed for coal and lignite mining for captive consumption by power projects as well as iron and steel and cement units. FDI was also permitted for setting up processing plants like washeries subject to the condition that the company shall not do coal mining or sell the washed or sized coal in the open market. They could, under the then existing rules, supply the processed coal to those who were supplying raw coal to them. The Coal Mines Special Provision Act 2015 provides for opening up commercial coal mining to private and public entities.
- India has held the Siachen glacier’s (18000-21000 ft.) heights since India occupied them in 1984 under ‘Operation Meghdoot’.
- The government has reconstituted the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC-PM) for a period of two years. The EAC-PM consists of both full-time and part-time members. The EAC-PM was revived in September 2017 with a term of two years. Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister is a non-constitutional, non-permanent and independent body constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister. The Terms of Reference of EAC-PM include analyzing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon, addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister. These could be either suo-motu or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else. They also include attending to any other task as may be desired by the Prime Minister from time to time.
- The government has launched a new unified ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry that is aimed at providing clean drinking water as well as fight India’s water woes. The new ministry has been formed by merging the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The new ministry will encompass issues ranging from providing clean drinking water, international and inter-states water disputes, to the Namami Gange project aimed at cleaning Ganga and its tributaries, and sub tributaries. Namami Gange was launched under the Ministry of Water Resources as the biggest ever initiative of over Rs 20,000 crore to clean Ganga river by 2020, during the first tenure of the Narendra Modi government. Jal Shakti Ministry will also work with states to ensure that every rural house gets water by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. Nal se Jal scheme that aims to provide piped water supply for every household. The scheme comes under the ambit of the Jal Shakti Ministry.
- Kashmir’s famed saffron has been granted the Geographic Indication (GI) tag, which is likely to boost its market and ensure quality control.
- Silicosis is an occupational disease, more prevalent among miners who are exposed to dust containing crystallised silica. Over time, it could build up in lungs, cause bloody coughing and breathlessness.
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