News: Government of India, West Bengal Government, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and World Bank have signed a loan agreement for a project titled ‘West Bengal Major Irrigation and Flood Management Project’.
- Aim: To improve irrigation service delivery, strengthen flood risk management and improve climate change resilience in the Damodar Valley Command Area(DVCA).
- Significance: The project is intended to benefit about 2.7 million farmers from five districts of West Bengal.
- It is a river flowing across the Indian states of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- Origin:It rises in the Palamu hills of the Chota Nagpur plateau in the state of Jharkhand.
- Main Tributaries: Barakar, Konar, Bokaro, Haharo, Jamunia, Ghari, Guaia, Khadia and Bhera.
- The river was earlier known as the River of Sorrows as it used to flood many areas of Districts of West Bengal.
News: Due to labour shortage, Punjab farmers are turning towards direct seeding of rice (DSR) moving away from the traditional practice — of sowing nursery and then transplanting it.
Direct Seeding of Rice:
- DSR refers to the process of establishing a rice crop from seeds sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from nursery.
- In transplanting, farmers prepare nurseries where paddy seeds are first sown and raised into young plants.These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field with standing water.
- In DSR, as flooding of fields is not done during sowing, chemical herbicides are used to kill weeds.
- In transplanting, standing water acts as herbicide and prevents growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in the submerged stage.
- Advantage of DSR:
- Water savings
- less numbers of labourers required,
- saves labour cost and
- reduce methane emissions
- Disadvantage of DSR:
- Seeds are exposed to birds, rats, and snails.
- High weeds infestation
- Non-availability of herbicides.
- High requirement of seeds when compared to transplanting.
News: Union finance minister has unveiled the fifth and last tranche as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (Self-reliant India campaign).
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):
- Government to allocate an additional Rs 40,000 crore for MNREGA.This will help generate nearly 300 crore person days in total and will also help provide more work including for returning migrant workers.
- Health – Rural and Urban: The public expenditure on health will be increased further.To prepare India for future pandemics:
- Government will be setting up infectious disease hospital blocks in all districts.
- Integrated public health labs will also be set up in the districts.
- National Institutional Platform for health will be established by ICMR
- National Digital Health Blueprint will also be implemented.
- Education-Technology Driven Online Education Systems:
- PM eVIDYA – A programme for multi-mode access to digital/online education will be launched.
- Manodarpan: An initiative for psychosocial support of students, teachers and families for mental health and emotional wellbeing will be launched.
- New National Curriculum and Pedagogical framework for school, early childhood and teachers will also be launched.
- National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission for ensuring that every child attains learning levels and outcomes in Grade 5 by 2025 will also be launched by December 2020.
- Minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings raised to Rs. 1 crore from Rs.1 lakh which largely insulates MSMEs.
- Fresh initiation of insolvency proceedings suspended up to one year depending upon the pandemic situation.
- Special Insolvency resolution framework for MSMEs under Section 240A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code to be notified soon.
- Decriminalization of Companies Act:
- Government to move an Ordinance for the decriminalisation of Companies Act violations involving minor technical and procedural defaults such as shortcomings in CSR reporting, inadequacies in board report, filing defaults, delay in holding AGM.
- Public Sector Enterprises:
- A list of strategic sectors requiring presence of PSEs in public interest will be notified.
- In these strategic sectors, at least one enterprise will remain in the public sector but private sector will also be allowed.
- However,in other sectors, the Public Sector Enterprises will be privatised.
News: Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) has issued an ‘orange alert’ over heavy to very heavy rainfall that is likely to take place in coastal districts due to Cyclonic storm Amphan.
About Colour- Coded Weather Warning:
- The IMD issues colour-coded warnings to alert the public ahead of severe or hazardous weather conditions that can cause disruption or damage.
Different Colour Codes:
- Green(No warning): No advisory is issued in such cases.
- Yellow(Be updated): It indicates severely bad weather panning across several days.It also suggests that the weather could change for the worse causing disruption in day-to-day activities.
- Orange/ Amber(Be prepared): It is issued as a warning of extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption.It is also a sign for people to prepare for evacuation and protect themselves from bad weather.
- Red(Take action): It is issued when the extremely bad weather conditions are certainly going to disrupt life.In this case, people must take all measures to protect their families and follow the instructions of local authorities and disaster-response teams.
- IMD:It was established in 1875 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
News: Uttar Pradesh Government has released Gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) in the Ghaghara river for the conservation and protection in natural habitat.
- Gharial: It is a species of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts which resembles a pot(ghara in Hindi).
- Habitat: They prefer to live in riverine habitats with deep, clear, fast-moving water and steep, sandy banks.
- Distribution: It was once found across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.However,currently it survives in several severely fragmented populations in India and Nepal.
- In India, Gharials are present in Son River, Girwa River, the Ganges, Mahanadi River and the Chambal River.
- Protected areas: National Chambal Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
- IUCN Red list: Critically Endangered
- Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
- CITES: Appendix I
- Threat: Construction of Dam, barrages, and water abstraction, entanglement in fishing nets, River bed cultivation and sand mining.
- Initiatives: Indian government launched Project Crocodile with UNDP and FAO in 1975.It included an intensive captive rearing and breeding programme intended to revive dwindling gharial population.
News: The Central Government has increased the borrowing limit of states from 3% of gross state domestic product (GSDP) to 5%.
- States have so far borrowed only 14% of the 3% of GSDP limit which is authorised to them while 86% of the limit remains unutilized.However,the limit of states has now been increased from 3% of gross state domestic product (GSDP) to 5%.
- But part of this borrowing will be linked to specific reforms in four areas:
- Universalisation of ‘One Nation One Ration card’
- Ease of Doing Business
- Power distribution and
- Urban Local Body revenues.
- A specific scheme will also be notified by Department of Expenditure on the following pattern:
- Unconditional increase of 0.50%
- 1% in 4 tranches of 0.25%, with each tranche linked to clearly specified, measurable and feasible reform actions
- Further 0.50% if milestones are achieved in at least three out of four reform areas.
Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act(FRBM Act):
- It was enacted in 2003 to introduce transparency in India’s fiscal management systems by reducing fiscal deficit.
- The act mandated the reduction of the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP but it has been subsequently amended and the present target is 3.1% by March 2023.
- The states have also enacted their own respective fiscal Responsibility Legislation which sets 3% of Gross State Domestic Product(GSDP) cap on their annual budget deficits.
News: India has welcomed the power-sharing deal announced by Afghanistan between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah which ended political discord caused by last year’s disputed presidential election.
Key Provisions of the Deal:
- Ashraf Ghani will stay as the president of Afghanistan while Abdullah will appoint half of the cabinet and will also head the High Council of National Reconciliation(HCNR).
- The HCNR has been mandated to lead future peace talks including with the Taliban.
- Quadrilateral Coordination Group(QCG):
- It is a four-nation group launched in 2016 consisting of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and USA.
- It aims to initiate reconciliation process between civilian government in Afghanistan and Taliban to preserve peace, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.
- Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process:
- It is a regional initiative of Afghanistan and the Republic of Turkey launched in 2011 to promote regional security, economic and political cooperation centered on Afghanistan through dialogue and confidence building measures(CBMs).
- It comprises 15 participating countries, 17 supporting countries and 12 supporting regional and international organizations.India is also one of the participating country.