Current Affairs March 2017 - National


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News 1 - MEITY to promote digital transactions in place of NITI Aayog

MEITY

The Union Government has shifted the responsibility of promoting digital transactions in the country to the Union Ministry of IT and Electronics (MEITY) from NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.

This decision has been taken in view of the core competence of MEITY to promote digital means for various transactions. The IT Ministry is responsible for encouraging the growth of IT-Enabled Services Industries. NITI Aayog is focussed on monitoring and suggesting ways to improve various government schemes.

News 2 - Government pumped Rs. 1050 crores for sewage treatment in Patna for "Clean Ganga"

Clean Ganga

To develop adequate sewage treatment infrastructure in Patna and keep the Ganga clean, the Union Government has awarded projects worth 1050 crore rupees under the Namami Gange program.

The amount will be spent for setting up two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), renovation of one existing STP, construction of two pumping stations and laying of new underground sewage network of about 400 kilometres. The progress of the construction will be monitored by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

News 3 - Centre to constitute a task force to give suggestions for the use of biodegradable plastic in packaging

Biodegradable

The union Government is planning to constitute a task force to give suggestions for the use of biodegradable plastic in packaging. The task force will also give suggestions on how to bring down the cost of biodegradable material in plastics.

The task force will be headed by Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Secretary Anuj Kumar Bishnoi. Biodegradable plastics get decomposed by the action of living organisms’ bacteria.

News 4 - Government inked a Financing Agreement with the World Bank for US$ 63 Million for the Tejaswini Project

The World Bank

The Union Government has signed a Financing Agreement with World Bank for IDA credit of $63 million for the “Tejaswini Socio-Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Project”.

This project seeks to empower the adolescent girls with basic life skills and thereafter provide further opportunities to acquire market driven skill training or completion of secondary education, depending on the inclination of the beneficiary. The project will be delivered in 17 Districts of Jharkhand. About 680,000 adolescent girls and young women in the project Districts are expected to benefit from the program. The closing date for the project is 30th June, 2021.

News 5 - Government notified Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017

Bank Notes

The Union Government has notified the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017. The law makes the holding of more than 10 scrapped notes (old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes) punishable attracting fine of Rs10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.

In terms of this ordinance, with effect from December 31, 2016, the Specified Bank Notes shall cease to be the liabilities of the Reserve Bank of India and shall cease to have the guarantee of the Central Government.

News 6 - NMCG inked MoU with Rotary India for the Success of Namami Gange

Namami Gange

National Mission for Clean Ganga under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation signed an MoU with Rotary India to make Namami Gange programme a mass movement with the involvement of more and more voluntary organisations.

Rotary India will support clean Ganga mission through their ‘WASH in Schools’ program in various schools. The MoU shall remain in force for two years. The MoU will pave the way for integrating the theme of Ganga Rejuvenation with Rotary's program of WASH.

News 7 - NGT bans camping activities within 100 meters of Ganga in Uttarakhand

NGT

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered a bank on camping activities within 100 metres of the River Ganga. The NGT order came after it lifted the ban on camping activities on the beaches of river Ganga in Uttarakhand conditionally imposed earlier.

The NGT has allowed camping on as many as 25 sites out of a total of 33 beach sites. The remaining sites fall in the 100 metre range. The ban was imposed from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

News 8 - Government launched nationwide Swachh Shakti Saptah

Swachh Shakti Saptah

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched Swachh Shakti Saptah, a week-long program of activities across the country to highlight the role of women in Swachh Bharat Mission and to recognize their leadership. Over 1000 Women Swachhta Champions from grassroots in Haryana attended the event. Deputy Commissioners of 11 ODF districts of Haryana were honoured on the occasion.

Swachh Shakti Saptah culminated with a mega-event in Gujarat named Swachh Shakti 2017 where Indian Prime Minister addressed 6000 women sarpanches and honoured them for their contribution to Swachh Bharat.

News 9 - Government has added over 4000 medical PG seats for 2017-18

Medical PG

The Government of India approved over 4,000 PG medical seats in various medical colleges and hospitals for the academic session 2017-18, taking the total toll to 35,117, to strengthen tertiary care and improve the medical education in the country.

To increase the PG seats in clinical subjects, the Government had decided to amend the teacher student ratio in clinical subjects in government medical colleges. Announcement made in budget of adding 5000 PG medical seats, will also be achieved.

News 10 - WCD proposed to set up Women’s Entrepreneurship Council

Women’s Entrepreneurship Council

The Ministry of Women and Child Development to present proposal in Cabinet for setting up of a Women’s Entrepreneurship Council, to solve problems faced by business women. The Council, modelled on the lines of chambers of commerce, will seek to resolve issues through policy changes.

An App named – ‘Shouting’ will be launched to curb harassment to women, that would allow the victim to reach out to 10 people near a woman to keep the perpetrators at bay before the arrival of the police.

News 11 - 100 districts in India declared Open Defecation Free

Open Defecation Free

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation announced that the number of ODF (Open Defecation Free) districts in the country has crossed 100. Over 1.7 lakh villages have become ODF.

The mission launched by PM Narendra Modi, with its urban and rural component handled by the respective ministries, aims to make the country ODF by 2019. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh became the first states to declare their urban areas as Open Defecation Free (ODF).

News 12 - Government approved Rs. 756 crores scheme to treat cataract patients

Government

The Union Government has approved a scheme of Rs. 756 crores for the treatment of 786 lakh cataract patients in the next 5 years. The Government aims to free India from cataract by 2022.

Under this scheme, the beneficiary would receive Rs. 2,000 as financial assistance for each operation, including the cost of lenses. The Government will also develop a mobile application to bring the government, private doctors, clinics and NGOs together for monitoring.

News 13 - GST Council approved the CGST Bill and IGST Bill

CGST and IGST Bill

The Goods and Services Tax GST) Council has approved the draft CGST Bill and the draft IGST Bill as vetted by the Union Law Ministry.

Some of the main features of the two Bills are:

  • A State-wise single registration for a taxpayer for filing returns, paying taxes and to fulfil other compliance requirements.

  • A taxpayer should file one single return state-wise to report all his supplies, whether made within or outside the State or exported out of the country and pay the applicable taxes on them.

News 14 - Centre launched a survey on Gangetic dolphins

Gangetic Dolphins

The Union Government has launched a survey in the river Ganga to determine the population of aquatic life, including that of the endangered Gangetic dolphin. It is a first ever across-the-river survey.

The survey is being conducted through Wildlife Institute of India (WII), under the Namami Gange programme. The data fetched through the survey will enable the Centre to take suitable measures to improve the quality of the river water.

News 15 - WCCB convened Operation Thunderbird & Operation Save Kurma to Combat Wildlife Crime

WCCB

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) under the Ministry of Environment and Forests coordinated nationwide ‘Operation Thunder Bird’ and ‘Operation Save Kurma’ in India to combat illegal trade of wildlife animals.

Operation Thunderbird is the code-name for INTERPOL’s multi-national and multi-species enforcement operation. A total of 2, 524 Live species of scheduled animals, 19.2 kg of elephant ivory, 1 tiger skin, 9 carcasses of wild animals, 1 organ pipe coral, 1 jar snake venom, 8 leopard skins and 1 Indian Mujtac skin was seized. ‘Operation Save Kurma’ is a turtle specific operation where over 15,000 live turtles were seized.

News 16 - India to supply additional 60 MW power to Bangladesh

MW Power

Tripura will supply an additional 60 MW of electricity to Bangladesh over and above the 100 MW of power the state is supplying to it. India is already supplying 500 MW of power from West Bengal to Bangladesh.

A 47 kilometre double circuit transmission line was erected, linking the power grid at Surjyamaninagar in western Tripura to the Comilla power grid in eastern Bangladesh, to facilitate the power supply.

News 17 - To support women founded start-ups, Facebook launches 'SheLeadsTech'

SheLeadsTech

Facebook has launched a new initiative 'SheLeadsTech' for women entrepreneurs in India to encourage more women founders, who wish to have their own start up or business.

As a part of this program, Facebook will nurture and mentor start-ups founded or co-founded by women. Once an application for the programme is made online and gets approved, Facebook will provide them access to FBStartup, which will help in gaining technical support, free credits to tools and training on Facebook Developer Tools, etc.

News 18 - CCEA approved revised Cost Estimate-I of 400 Mega Watt Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project in Uttarakhand

CCEA

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA approved the Revised Cost Estimate-I of 400 Mega Watt Koteshwar Hydro Electric Project in Uttarakhand at an estimated completion cost of over 2,717 crore rupees. The project is being implemented by Tehri Hydro Development Corporation India Limited.

In addition to the additional generating capacity of 400 Mega Watt of peaking power it will regulate releases from Tehri Reservoir for irrigation and drinking water supply. The Project has already been commissioned fully in March, 2012.

News 19 - Cabinet Approves MoU between India and the UAE in Energy Efficiency Services

India and UAE

The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Productivity Council, an autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Al Etihad Energy Services UAE, to provide various services in the field of energy management and conservation.

Under the MoU, the NPC will provide the following services:

  • Energy Assessment Services
  • Training & Certification of Energy Auditors
  • Demand Side Management.

News 20 - Cabinet approves an MoU between India and the UN-Women

India and the UN-Women

Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Nations Entity of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

The proposal seeks to provide technical support to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in strengthening capacities of governance institutions including Panchayati Raj Institutions(PRIs) to better leverage opportunities created for gender equality through legislation, policies and programmes. Activities under this MoU will be implemented at the district and sub-district level in six States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

News 21 - Cabinet approves signing of Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between ISPRL and ADNOC of UAE

ISPRL and ADNOC

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of the Definitive Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd (ISPRL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE. As per the Agreement, the ADNOC will fill up 0.81 MMT or 5,860,000 million barrels of crude oil at ISPRL storage facility at Mangalore, Karnataka.

Out of the crude stored, some part will be used for commercial purpose of ADNOC, while a major part will be purely for strategic purposes. The signing of the Agreement will augment India's energy security.

News 22 - Cabinet approves the resolution of Food Cash Credit to Punjab for food procurement operations

Food Procurement Operations

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for settlement of Legacy Food Cash Credit Accounts (up to crop season 2014-15) of Punjab Government for food procurement operations.

Early settlement of legacy issues will help the banks in disbursement of food credit in the larger interest of numerous farmers of the State and uninterrupted continuity in food procurement operations to ensure food security for the nation. Settlement of outstanding Cash Credit Limits (CCL) account by availing term loan by the Punjab Government would entail savings in terms of interest payment.

News 23 - Cabinet approved an (MoU) on Renewable Energy between India and Portugal

India and Portugal

The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Renewable Energy between India and Portugal.

The MoU will help in strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The MoU envisages constitution of a Joint Working Group which can co-opt other members from Scientific Institutions, Research Centres, Universities, or any other entity, as and when considered essential.

News 24 - Cabinet approved an MoU between India and Portugal on cooperation in the field of IT&E

IT and E

The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Portugal on cooperation in the field of IT&E. The MoU was signed on January 6, 2017 in New Delhi.

The MoU will help in developing a long term and sustainable cooperation based on equality and mutual interest in the areas of IT&E in line with each country's laws and regulations.

News 25 - Cabinet approved the development of 50 unserved and under-served Air Strips

Air Strips

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the proposal for revival of 50 unserved/under-served airports/airstrips of the State Governments, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Civil enclaves in three financial years starting from 2017-18.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 4500 crore. 15 airports/airstrips each would be revived during 2017-18 and 201819 each while 20 airports/airstrips would be revived during 2019-20. As an outcome of the approval, small cities/towns shall be connected on commencement of operation of flights to under-served/un-served airports.

News 26 - The IBBI recognises two Insolvency Professional Entities (IPEs)

IPEs

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) has recently recognized two Insolvency Professional Entities (IPEs) - IRR Insolvency Professionals Private Limited; and AAA Insolvency Professionals LLP.

An IPE is jointly and severally liable for all acts or omissions of its partners or directors as IPs committed during such partnership or directorship.

A limited liability partnership, a registered partnership firm or a company may be recognized by the IBBI as an IPE if most the partners of the limited liability partnership or registered partnership firm are registered as insolvency professionals (IPs); or most the whole-time directors of the company are registered as insolvency professionals.

News 27 - PM Modi dedicated a Petrochemical complex of ONGC to the nation

ONGC Nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated ONGC Petro additions Ltd (OPaL) plant to the Nation at a function in Bharuch, Gujarat.

The OPaL is a joint venture company promoted by ONGC, GAIL and GSPC. It is set up with an investment of Rs. 30,000 Crore and the production capacity is 14 Lakh Tonnes of polymers and 5 Lakh tonnes of chemicals per annum. It is expected to generate further investment of Rs. 40,000 crore and employment to 20,000 people in downstream.

News 28 - PM Modi released a special postage stamp on 100 years of Yogoda Satsang Math

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a postage stamp to commemorate 100 years of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India at a function in New Delhi. Yogoda Satsang Society of India was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1917.

Paramahansa Yogananda is considered as one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times. He introduced millions of westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a Yogi.

News 29 - India to modernise 400 railway stations with the help of private enterprises

Railway Stations

India is in the process of modernizing at least 400 of its railway station with the help of private enterprise over the next few years and will focus on safety and use of clean energy to develop the railway network in India.

The Government is planning to spend around 142 billion US Dollar over the next 5 years in modernization and improving the safety of the Indian Rails.

The first private sector-driven redevelopment plan at Habibganj (near Bhopal) is expected to be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi shortly, paving the way for seeking participation for the other 22 projects, most of them British-era facilities.

News 30 - Trade Mark Rules 2017 come into effect

Trade Mark

The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have come into effect from 7th March which will replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002 and streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications.

In the revamped rules number of Trade Mark forms have been reduced from 74 to eight. The fee for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing to promote e-filing of trade mark applications. The fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced to 4,500 rupees for e-filing of trade mark applications.

News 31 - CBDT signed a Bilateral APA with the subsidiary of a Japanese Company

CBDT

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered a bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (APA) with rollback provision with a Japanese subsidiary. The total number of APAs entered by the CBDT has reached 141 with this signing.

With this signing, the total number of bilateral APAs with Japanese subsidiaries has reached five, all with rollback provisions. All these five bilateral APAs are with Japanese trading companies (Sogo Soshas). The bilateral signing of APAs in this sector provides tax certainty up to nine years in each of these cases.

News 32 - Union Cabinet Approved Accession to Global Customs Convention

Global Customs Convention

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for India’s accession to the Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention) and necessary procedures for ratification. It will help in faster movement of export goods.

The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets, 1975, is an international transit system under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to facilitate the movement of goods within and amongst the parties to the convention. At present, there are 70 members to the convention.

News 33 - Women Empowerment schemes of Narendra Modi government

Women Empowerment Schemes

Following are the list of Women Empowerment Schemes launched by the Modi Government.

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme

  • One Stop Centre Scheme

  • Women Helpline Scheme

  • UJJAWALA: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Resue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

  • Working Women Hostel

  • Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers

  • Ministry approves new projects under Ujjawala Scheme and continues existing projects

  • SWADHAR Greh (A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)

  • Revision under IGMSY in Accordance with National Food Security Act, 2013 in XIIth Plan

  • Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)

  • NARI SHAKTI PURASKAR

  • Awardees of Stree Shakti Puruskar, 2014 & Awardees of Nari Shakti Puruskar

  • Awardees of Rajya Mahila Samman & Zila Mahila Samman

  • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) - A Conditional Maternity Benefit Scheme

  • Mahila police Volunteers

  • Mahila E-Haat

News 34 - Government launched web portal for obtaining CRZ clearances

Web Portal

The Union Government launched the web portal for obtaining Coastal Regulation Zone clearances. The objective of the web portal includes – enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability in the process of CRZ clearances.

The Portal is a web-based system for obtaining clearances required from the Ministry under the “Coastal Regulation Zone” (CRZ) by the Project proponents. The Portal is a very user-friendly initiative, which enables submission of applications for CRZ clearance in a single-window interface and facilitates quick flow of information related to CRZ clearances.

News 35 - Government announces a new licensing policy for hydrocarbon exploration

Hydrocarbon Exploration

The Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has announced new Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) for oil and gas exploration. The policy offers single license to explore conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources, as the country seeks to propel investment in the energy sector.

It has been named as “Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy” or HELP. It also gives the freedom to the investors in pricing and marketing for crude oil and natural gas.

News 36 - Parliament passed Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Maternity Benefit

The Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 with Lok Sabha. The bill seeks to enhance paid maternity leave for women engaged in organised sector from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children.

It will be applicable to mines, factories and all establishments employing 10 or more people. Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya announced that the amendment has job, wages and social security aspects as its integral parts. Violation of the provisions of the amendment bill would attract 3 to 6 months of imprisonment and a penalty of up to Rs 5000.

News 37 - India and Belgium inked protocol amending India-Belgium DTAA

India-Belgium DTAA

India and Belgium signed a Protocol amending the existing agreement and protocol between the two countries for avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information.

The Protocol was signed by Sushil Chandra, Chairman Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on behalf of India and Mr. Jan Luykx, Ambassador of Belgium to India, on behalf of Belgium.

News 38 - Rajya Sabha passed the Enemy Property Bill

Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian.

  • The Bill declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. This applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968.

  • The Bill prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.

News 39 - International Yoga Fest ends in New Delhi

International Yoga Fest

The International Yoga Fest concluded on an enthusiastic note in New Delhi. The fest was a curtain raiser for this year’s International Day of Yoga celebrations.

The three day event was organised by Ministry of AYUSH, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (MDNIY) in association with Indian Yoga Association (IYA) and New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to sensitize the masses regarding celebration of International Day of Yoga held every year.

News 40 - Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated country's largest waste-to-power plant

Waste-to-Power Plant

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated 24 Mega Watt, the country's largest, waste-to-power plant at Narela Bawana in New Delhi. The plant was launched by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

The plant would dispose of 1,300 Metric Tonne waste daily and produce compost and energy. The project will use 2,000 metric tonnes of waste every day to generate 24 megawatt of energy. The project is built at a cost of Rs 650 crore and spread across around 100 acres.

News 41 - Centre to launch a pilot project on ornamental fisheries

Ornamental Fisheries

The Union government will launch a pilot scheme for the development of ornamental fisheries with a total outlay of Rs. 61.89 crore. The project will focus mainly on creating an enabling environment for a sustainable and holistic development of Ornamental Fisheries for the socio-economic development of the people involved in this activity as well as for exports.

A total of 8 potential States have been identified, viz., Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It shall be implemented by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) through the Fisheries Departments of States/UTs.

News 42 - Government issued draft security rules on e-wallet payments

E-Wallet

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has released set of draft guidelines for Information Technology (Security of Prepaid Payment Instruments) Rules 2017 for Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) companies. The draft was released for public suggestions until March 20.

The draft rules underline security parameters that digital wallet companies, such as Paytm, FreeCharge and Mobikwik, must follow. They also stipulate standards for data protection and customer grievance redressal.

News 43 - President inaugurate the 12th CII-Exim bank conclave on India Africa Project Partnership

India Africa Project

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 12th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership (March 9, 2017) in New Delhi.

The two-day Conclave was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the EXIM Bank of India with the support of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. Over 450 international delegates from over 37 African countries participated in the conclave.

News 44 - Mission Fingerling with an expenditure of Rs. 52000 lakhs to achieve Blue Revolution

Blue Revolution

The Government of India has envisaged a program named ‘’Blue Revolution’’ to unlock the country’s latent potential and possibilities in the fisheries sector through an integrated approach.

This program with a total expenditure of about Rs. 52000 lakh will facilitate the establishment of hatcheries and Fingerling rearing pond to ensure the fish production of 426 crores fish fingerling, 25.50 crores Post Larvae of shrimp and crab in the country.

News 45 - Lok Sabha Passes the Admiralty Bill, 2016

Lok Sabha

The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha. The Bill aims to establish a legal framework to consolidate the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues. It also aims to replace archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.

The Bill confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India and this jurisdiction extends up to territorial waters.

News 46 - Railways and UNEP signed Letters of Intent (LOI) on Environment Initiatives

Railways and UNEP

The Ministry of Railways signed a LETTER OF INTENT (LOI) with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to formalise the cooperation in environmental conservation.

The focussed areas identified for joint activities would be to:

  • Collaborate in Formulating Specific Roadmap for achieving 20% reduction in Water consumption at Railway establishments.

  • Collaborate in the development of a Draft action plan for establishing waste management centres at major stations on Indian Railways.

  • Collaborate in the development of a Draft action plan for Indian Railways on sustainable public procurement for green technology.

News 47 - India launched the second stage of HCFCs phase out plan

HCFCs

India has launched the second stage of its plan to phase out Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2030 as required under the Montreal Protocol. India has already successfully implemented HPMP stage-I.

Under HPMP-II, India has secured $44.1 million for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol for phasing out 8,190 metric tonnes or 769.49 ODP (Ozone Depleting Potential) tonne of HCFC consumption between 2017 to 2023 to meet the compliance targets under Montreal Protocol for 2020.

News 48 - Inter-state River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 introduced in Lok Sabha

River Water Disputes

Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti introduced Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha.

The Bill proposes a Single Standing Tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of existing multiple tribunals, which shall consist of one Chairperson, one Vice-Chairperson and not more than six other Members. The total period for adjudication of dispute has been fixed at maximum of four and half years. The decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding with no requirement of publication in the official Gazette.

News 49 - Union Government established Banana Research Centre at Vaishali in Bihar

Banana Research Centre

The Union Agriculture and Farmer's Welfare Minister Shri Radha Mohan Singh laid the foundation stone of the Banana Research Centre at Gorole, Vaishali in Bihar.

The centre will work in the areas of finding reasons of less production in banana, enhancement in acreage for cultivation, suitable utilization of the various parts of the plants, different products, marketing and value addition. India holds number one position in the world in banana production. Maharashtra is the largest producer.

News 50 - CCEA approved proposal for opening of 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas

Kendriya Vidyalayas

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has approved the proposal for opening of 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) under Civil and Defence Sector in the country. The project will cost Rs 1160 crore. The new KVs will be opened from class 1st to 5th for which 650 regular teaching and non- teaching posts will be created.

The new KVs will address the educational needs of eligible students with high quality standards and will play a role of pace-setting educational institutions in the districts concerned.

News 51 - Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme

Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) focused on addressing the needs of the exporters.

The Central Government funding will be in the form of grant-in-aid, normally not more than the equity being put in by the implementing agency or 50% of the total equity in the project. (In case of projects located in North Eastern States and Himalayan States including J&K, this grant can be up to 80% of the total equity). The grant in aid shall, normally, be subject to a ceiling of Rs 20 Cr for each infrastructure project.

News 52 - Cabinet apprised of MoUs for cooperation in Youth and Sports Matters with Indonesia and the Kyrgyz Republic

Youth and Sports

The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between India and Indonesia for cooperation in youth and sports matters. While with the Kyrgyz Republic, the MOU is for cooperation in the field of youth development.

The MoUs envisage organizing Youth Exchange Programmes with Indonesia and The Kyrgyz Republic, and cooperation in other youth and sports related matters. Youth exchange and other programs will help in developing international perspective among the youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise.

News 53 - Cabinet approves of an MoU between India and Bangladesh on Aids to Navigation (AtoNs)

India and Bangladesh

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Aids to Navigation (AtoNs) between the Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping, Government of India and the Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh.

The MoU envisages cooperation between Bangladesh and India:

  • To extend advice on lighthouses and beacons;

  • To extend advice on Vessel Traffic Service and chain of Automatic Identification System (AIS);

  • To impart training as per International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) training module.

News 54 - MoU between LBSNAA, Mussoorie and NIPAM of Namibia for capacity building

LBSNAA, Mussoorie and NIPAM

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie and Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), Namibia in the field of capacity building of public officials of Namibia and other training activities for the benefit of both the institutes.

The MOU will help the Academy to disseminate some of its experience in running a training institution for higher civil services in the country to NIPAM.

News 55 - Special assistance measure for Andhra Pradesh by way EAPs

EAPs

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Special assistance measure for Andhra Pradesh by way of special dispensation in funding of Externally Aided Projects (EAPs) and funding of irrigation component of Polavaram project.

The Central Government, after the enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014, has provided central assistance of Rs. 10,461.04 crores to the state of Andhra Pradesh which includes Rs.4403 crore released during 2014-15, Rs.2000 crore released during 2015-16 and Rs. 4058.04 in released in 2016-17.

News 56 - Cabinet approves revised MoU between India and Bangladesh for establishing Border Haats

Border Haats

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Mode of Operation (MoO) between India and Bangladesh for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.

Currently four Border Haats are operational, two each in Meghalaya and Tripura. The Revised MoU and Mode of Operation will provide a legal framework for establishment and operationalization of additional Border Haats. The Border Haats aim at promoting the well-being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of two countries, by promoting traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets.

News 57 - Cabinet approved sale of 24% equity holding in Lubrizol India Private Limited

Lubrizol India Private Limited

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its in-principle approval to permit Indian Oil Corporation Limited (Indian Oil) to sell its 24% equity in one of its Joint Venture Companies, M/s. Lubrizol India Private Limited (LIPL) to Lubrizol Corporation, USA (LC), the other Joint Venture Partner.

The sale will enable IOC to have long term association with its joint venture partner and thus LIPL to have access to the latest global additive technologies developed by Lubrizol Corporation, USA.

News 58 - Cabinet approved Policy for Early Monetization of Coal Bed Methane Gas Marketing

Coal Bed Methane Gas Marketing

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for marketing and pricing freedom to the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Contractors to sell the CBM at Arm's Length Price in the domestic market.

While discovering the market price for Arms-Length Sales, the Contractor must ensure a fully transparent and competitive process for sale of CBM with the objective that the best possible price is realized for the gas without any restrictive commercial practices.

News 59 - Fund Allocated under Nai Manzil scheme

Nai Manzil Scheme

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has targeted to cover 70 thousand minority school drop outs under the Nai Manzil scheme during 2016-17 with a budget allocation of Rs. 120 crore.

The Nai Manzil scheme is an educational and livelihood initiative supported by the World Bank, which can be availed of by the school drop-outs belonging to six notified minority communities namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains including Muslim students studying in madrasas. The scheme has been rolled from the current financial year i.e. during 2016-17 only.

News 60 - Cabinet approved National Health Policy 2017

National Health Policy

The Union cabinet approved the National Health Policy 2017. NHP 2017 provides the much-needed policy framework for achieving universal health coverage and delivering quality health care services to all at an affordable cost.

It seeks to strengthen the health surveillance system and establish registries for diseases of public health importance, by 2020. It also seeks to align other policies for medical devices and equipment with public health goals.

News 61 - Rs. 31733 crore collected as Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess up to Dec 31, 2016

Workers’ Welfare Cess

A sum of Rs. 31,733 crores have been collected as Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess by the States and Union Territories up to 31st December 2016 at the rate of one per cent of the cost of construction. Out of the collected amount, a total of 6872.51 crore rupees has been spent.

The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act provides for levy and collection of cess at a rate not exceeding two per cent but not less than one per cent of the cost of construction as the Central Government may notify. The cess is collected by the state governments and utilized for the welfare of the building and other construction workers.

News 62 - Indian Railways enters an agreement with an Australian Research Centre

Indian Railways

Indian Railways has entered an agreement with a Railway research centre in Australia to support future research and technology development related to critical infrastructure in India.

The agreement was signed between representatives from Monash University Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) and Indian Ministry of Railways corporation DFCCIL (Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited). They will provide guidance on the establishment of a new applied research and development institute in India known as SRESTHA (Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology & Holistic Advancement).

News 63 - World Bank approves funding for India's ambitious National Hydrology Project

National Hydrology Project

The World Bank Board approved the US$175 million loan to India for the National Hydrology Project which will strengthen the capacity of institutions to assess the water situation in their regions and reduce their vulnerability to recurring flood and droughts, saving hundreds of lives and livelihoods.

The entire project, worth over Rs. 3679 crores, will be implemented by 2023-24. The World Bank will provide financial assistance for nearly 50% of its total cost.

News 64 - Social Security Agreement between India and Brazil

India and Brazil

India and Brazil have signed a social security agreement. As per the agreed text, detached workers of the two countries are exempted from making social security contributions in either countries so long as they were making such contributions in their respective countries. The SSA between India and Brazil once in force by early 2018 will also be the first such agreement between the BRICS countries.

India has signed and operationalized Social Security Agreements (SSAs) with 18 countries - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and South Korea.

News 65 - India joins WHO call to end TB by 2030 in South East Asian

South East Asian

India joined WHO and signed a 'call for action' against tuberculosis and pledged to scale up measures to end the disease by 2030. The global targets seek to reduce TB mortality by 90 per cent and incidence by 80 per cent by 2030.

Around 2.8 million new TB cases are reported in India annually and nearly half a million die due to the disease. The South East Asian Region bear half of the global tuberculosis burden. In 2015, TB caused nearly 8,00,000 deaths in the region, while an estimated 4.74 million new cases were reported.

News 66 - First fully India-made train flagged off from the Dadar station

Dadar Station

The first made-in-India rake, Medha, was flagged off from Dadar to Borivali, at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.

The 12-coach train has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai. The rake can run at a speed of 110 kmph. It has a capacity of 6,050 passengers and the number of seats is 1,168.

There is a GPS-based information system to indicate the stations.

News 67 - Solar Energy Scheme for Small Power Loom Units

Solar Energy Scheme

The Union Government has approved a new scheme to provide financial assistance/capital subsidy to small power loom units, for installation of Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) plant, to alleviate the problem of power cut/ shortage faced by decentralized power loom units in the country. The Scheme will come into force with effect from 01.04.2017.

Under this Solar Energy Scheme, the plants have two options:

  • On-Grid Solar Power Plant where power cut/shortage is negligible and power tariff is high

  • Off-Grid Solar Power Plant in areas where there is power shortage & on-grid power is not continuously available.

News 68 - ICAR, ICRISAT signed collaborative agreement for crop improvement

ICAR, ICRISAT

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) signed an agreement of collaboration in the areas of climate smart crops, smart food and digitalization of breeding database.

The 3-year work plan from 2016-18 facilitates the transfer of agricultural technologies between the two institutes. The partnership includes funding to research grain legumes and dryland cereals and support for the Smart Food initiative to deliver sustainable and nutritionally rich products to consumers.

News 69 - IIT-Madras signed MoU with Tanstia-FNF Service

Tanstia-FNF Service

IIT-Madras has signed a MoU with small scale industry body Tanstia-FNF Service Centre for technology transfer of water treatment analysis kits designed to treat drinking water mainly in rural areas.

The research at IIT-Madras for developing the filter and the kit was funded by International Development Research Centre, Canada. The water filter technology removes turbidity, organic matter, colour, odour, and most bacteriological contamination can be removed.

News 70 - Rajya Sabha passed the HIV, AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 by a Voice Vote

Prevention and Control

The Rajya Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 by voice vote. The bill provides for the prevention and control of the spread of HIV Syndrome and for the protection of human rights of persons affected by the Virus.

The bill gives legislative backing to the people living with HIV and prohibits the feeling of hatred.

News 71 - Government collected Rs. 3,91,529 crores as advance tax till 16th of March 2017

Advance Tax

The Government has collected Rs. 3,91,529 crores as advance tax till 16th of March during the current fiscal compared to Rs. 3,52,899 crore in the corresponding period last year.

The advance tax received post demonetization has increased. In the previous financial year, an amount of Rs. 7420 crore was collected from direct taxes after refunds.

In the current financial year, Rs. 7,65,525 crore have been collected as net direct taxes up to 16th of this month.

News 72 - Around 1,18,000 affordable houses for urban poor approved under the PMAY

PMAY

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation approved construction of nearly 1,18,000 affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor in six States under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana, PMAY (Urban). It will cost 5773 crore rupees for which central assistance of 1816 crore has been approved.

The six states include Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. So far more than 17,60,000 affordable houses being constructed under the PMAY (Urban) with a total investment of 96,000 crore rupees for which central assistance of nearly 27,700 crore rupees has been approved.

News 73 - India and Ethiopia agreed to strengthen cooperation in communication

India and Ethiopia

India and Ethiopia have agreed to strengthen the cooperation in critical areas related to communication and outreach. The cooperation will be worked out through a policy and institutional framework in the various domains.

India would provide full support to Ethiopia for capacity building in critical subjects related to communication and journalism through the platform of Indian Institute of Mass Communication. The two countries also discussed the possibility of Student Exchange programmes between educational institutions of both the countries.

News 74 - Cabinet approved amendment to 'The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009'

RTE

The Union Cabinet has approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

This will ensure that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019. This would also ensure that all Teachers would attain minimum qualifications as considered necessary to maintain the standard of teaching quality.

News 75 - Lok Sabha passed Finance Bill, 2017

Finance Bill

The Lok Sabha has passed the Finance Bill, 2017. In the bill the Government has capped cash transactions at Rs 2 lakh instead of Rs. 3 lakh. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had moved 40 amendments to the bill.

Income tax payers would also have to declare their Aadhaar number in all tax returns filed from 1st of July. They would also have to link the Aadhaar number with the PAN before the July deadline.

News 76 - Suresh Prabhu released a New Water Management Policy in the Indian Railways

Suresh Prabhu

The Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu released New Water Management Policy in Indian Railways at New Delhi. Under the new water policy, water audits, restoration of water bodies and recycling of water will be ensured. Environment Directorate has also been set up in the Railway Board.

The Railways also launched VIKALP scheme in which the passengers will be provided confirmed reservation in alternate trains without giving extra fare or any refund provided for the difference of fare.

News 77 - Government sets a target to triple the Nuclear Power Generation by 2024

Nuclear Power Generation

The Government has set a target to triple nuclear power generation by 2024. The nuclear power generation capacity in the country is expected to reach nearly 15,000 Mega Watt by 2024 as the government has sped up setting up new plants. India's nuclear power generation capacity was 4,780 MW in 2014.

The government has allowed the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to go for setting up of joint venture nuclear plants along with Public Sector Undertakings.

News 78 - CCEA approved MSP for Copra to Rs. 6500 per quintal for 2017 season

Copra

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs-CCEA, has approved MSP for fair average quality of Milling Copra to 6500 rupees per quintal for 2017 season from 5950 rupees per quintal. MSP for FAQ of Ball Copra has been increased to 6785 rupees per quintal from 6240 rupees per quintal. The higher price will step up investment in coconut cultivation and thereby production and productivity in the country.

The CCEA also approved fresh estimates of project Deepening and Widening of Mumbai Harbour Channel and Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Channel Phase-II. The estimated cost would be 2029 crore rupees.

News 79 - Cabinet approves Amendment in the Customs and Excise Act

Customs and Excise Act

The Union Cabinet has approved the following proposals −

  • Amendment to the Customs Act, 1962;

  • Amendments to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975;

  • Amendment to the Central Excise Act, 1944;

  • Repeal of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985; and

  • Amendment or repeal of the provisions relating to Acts under which cesses are levied.

News 80 - Cabinet approved a proposal to establish a Fund of Fund for Start ups (FFS)

FFS

The Union Cabinet has approved the following proposals regarding the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June, last year with a corpus of Rs. 1,000 crores.

The Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups. The operating expenses for carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc. would be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50% of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. This will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year; i.e. April 1 and October 1.

News 81 - Cabinet approves a proposal for Amendments to the NABARD Act, 198.

The Union Cabinet has approved the following proposals −

  • Amendments to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981 which include provisions that enable Central Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs. 5,000 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore and to increase it beyond Rs. 30,000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed necessary from time to time.

  • Transfer of 0.4 per cent. equity of RBI in NABARD amounting to Rs. 20 crores to the Government of India.

News 82 - Cabinet approves an MoU between India and the USA on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security

India and USA

The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-ln) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the US Homeland Security Department on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security.

The MoU intends to promote closer co-operation and exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations and based on equality, reCciprocity and mutual benefit.

News 83 - India’s overall Trade Deficit

The value of India’s overall trade deficit for the last three years and the current year is as follows −

(in US$ Billions)

Years Exports Imports Trade Balance % Growth
2013-14 466.22 528.97 -62.74 --
2014-15 468.45 529.61 -61.17 -2.52
2015-16 416.60 465.64 -49.04 -19.82
2015-16 (Apr-Jan) 348.44 396.90 -48.46 --
2016-17 (Apr-Jan)* 355.22 389.29 -34.07 -29.68

News 84 - Inclusion of Cities in World Heritage List

World Heritage List

Five Indian cities have been included in the Tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, namely, Historic City of Ahmadabad, Delhi – A Heritage City, Jaipur City, Rajasthan, Ekamra Kshetra – The Temple City, Bhubaneswar and The Victorian & Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai.

All the required information for Tentative list proposals has already been submitted to UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

News 85 - Credit Linked Interest Subsidy scheme for tax paying Middle Classes made effective from January 1, 2017

Subsidy Scheme

The Middle-Income Groups (MIG) with annual incomes of above Rs. 6.00 lakhs and up to Rs. 18.00 lakhs per year are eligible for interest subsidy on housing loans under the new CLSS (MIG). Those who have been sanctioned housing loans and whose applications are under consideration since January first this year are also eligible for interest subsidy.

The Prime Minister has announced interest subsidy of 4% on housing loans of up to Rs. 9.00 lakhs of those with an income of Rs. 12.00 lakh per year and of 3% on housing loans of up to Rs. 12.00 lakh of those earning Rs. 18.00 lakh per year.

News 86 - Deepening and Widening of Mumbai Harbour Channel and JN Port Channel (Phase-II)

Mumbai Harbour and JN Port Channel

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved fresh estimates of the project Deepening and Widening of Mumbai Harbour Channel and JN Port Channel (Phase-II). The cost of the project will be Rs.2029 crore excluding the Service Tax. The entire project cost will be funded through internal resources of JN Port Trust (JNPT) with market borrowing, if necessary.

The project includes the existing channel to be widened from presently 370 m to 450 m for straight reach, channel to be extended from existing 33.5 Kms to 35.5 Kms.

News 87 - India and ADB Sign $350 Million Loan for upgrading roads in Madhya Prades.

ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $350 million loan for improving about 1,500 kilometers of major district roads in Madhya Pradesh in line with the State’s Road Development Plan. Madhya Pradesh will provide counterpart support of $150 million.

The Project will involve upgrading roads with concrete pavements, strengthening culverts and bridges, and maintaining the improved road assets for a period of five years after construction, on a performance based payment format.

News 88 - Centre approved assistance of about Rs. 5021 crore to states affected by natural disasters

Natural Disasters

The Union Government approved assistance of about Rs. 5021 crores to ten states affected by flood, drought and other natural disasters. Around Rs. 4979 crores were approved from the National Disaster Response Fund and over Rs. 40 crores from the National Rural Drinking Water Program.

These states are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

News 89 - Centralised Digital Online Platform VAHAN and SARATHI to Curb Corruption

Corruption

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has introduced online based citizen centric application VAHAN 4.0 and SARATHI 4.0 under digitization to ease out the processes and curb corruption. 85 Road Transport offices under VAHAN4.0 and 235 Road Transport offices under SARATHI 4.0 have been brought to the centralised platform.

The Implementation of provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs) comes under the purview of State Governments.

News 90 - Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana

PMAGY

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) aims for integrated development of selected villages having more than 50% Scheduled Caste (SC) population.

The scheme was launched in 2009-10 on a pilot basis, for the integrated development of 1000 villages in 5 States viz. Himachal Pradesh (Northern Region), Bihar (Eastern Region), Rajasthan (Western Region), Tamil Nadu (Southern Region) and Assam (North-Eastern Region) and further extended in 2015 to another 1500 villages in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana.

News 91 - Cabinet cleared 4 supporting GST legislations

GST Legislations

The Cabinet cleared four supporting Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislations - the Compensation Law, the Central-GST (C-GST), Integrated-GST (I-GST) and Union Territory-GST (UT-GST). They will be introduced as Money Bills.

Once approved by Parliament, the states would start taking their State-GST (S-GST) bill for discussion and passage in the respective state assemblies. Passage of all the legislations would pave the way for introduction of GST from 1st July this year.

News 92 - Lok Sabha passed Appropriation Bill, 2017

Appropriation Bill

The Lok Sabha has passed the Appropriation Bill, 2017 authorising certain payments and appropriation from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India for 2017-18. The House also passed the Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2016-17.

The Government has provided 10 lakh crore rupees for farm credit and 3.46 lakh crore rupees for creating infrastructure in rural areas. Under MGNREGA, the government has earmarked over 48,000 crore rupees which is more than the last year budget.

News 93 - Centre reduced interest cost of states participating in UDAY by Rs. 11,989 crores

UDAY

The Union Government has reduced the interest cost of states participating in the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) by 11,989 crore rupees for the first nine months of this year, as compared to the previous financial year. The inbuilt control mechanism of the scheme ensures that there is no debt piling up.

UDAY provides for debt financing by banks and financial institutions to DISCOMs only for working capital. Financing of DISCOMs will be done through bonds issued by State Governments or by the DISCOMs backed by the states.

News 94 - India's first sign language dictionary to come up soon

Language Dictionary

The government is all set to come up with the country's first-of-its-kind dictionary which aims to bring uniformity in sign languages used by hearing and speech impaired people. It is being developed by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC).

Indian Sign Language, ISL dictionary, has so far compiled 6,032 Hindi and English words and their corresponding graphic representation of the signs which are used in daily life. The dictionary is being developed in both print and video format to help bridge the communication gap.

News 95 - NBCC to execute social housing project in Mauritius

NBCC

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between India and Mauritius to execute a US $20 million (Rs. 130 crores) social housing project in Mauritius.

As per the MoU, NBCC will undertake construction of 700 duplex type houses in 18 months in Dagotiere and Mare Tabac. NBCC will also execute construction of new Supreme Court Building at a cost of US $ 33 million (Rs. 220 crores) in Port Louis in 24 months. Government of India has sanctioned a grant of US $ 353 million for execution of five projects in Mauritius including Metro Express Project, new ENT Hospital and supply of digital tablets to primary school children.

News 96 - India Notifies Amended Tax Treaty with Singapore

Tax Treaty

India notified the Third Protocol amending the existing India-Singapore double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA). Under the treaty, capital gains tax will be levied at source of investments with effect from April 1. It would curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation and streamline the flow of investments.

The provisions of the Third Protocol signed in December 2016 thus became law in India. Besides Singapore, India amended bilateral tax treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus in 2016.

News 97 - CCEA approved winding up of CHBL and ICBL

CHBL and ICBL

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved winding up of CREDA HPCL Biofuel Ltd (CHBL) and Indian Oil - Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) Biofuels Limited (ICBL).

Joint Ventures between CHBL and ICBL were formed for carrying out energy crop (Jatropha) plantation and production of bio-diesel in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Due to various constraints like very poor seed yield, limited availability of wasteland, high plantation maintenance cost etc., the project became unviable and Jatropha plantation activities were discontinued.

News 98 - Indian Railways to install Wi-Fi kiosks at 500 remote stations for e services

Wi-Fi Kiosks

Indian Railways is planning to set up Wi-Fi hotspot kiosks at about 500 stations. The service has been named as "Railwire Saathi". It will help people access an array of online services, including various government schemes.

The scheme will be executed across the country by RailTel, the telecom arm of railways and is expected to be operational by May. The scheme also aims to provide employment opportunities. It is a Wi-Fi entrepreneurship model where unemployed youths, preferably women, can be trained and supported to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot.

News 99 - Parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016

Mental Healthcare Bill

Parliament passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 after the Lok Sabha approved it. The bill seeks to provide for mental healthcare and services for persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfil the rights of such persons during delivery of healthcare services.

The bill also states that a person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code. The bill also provides for a penalty and imprisonment in case of violation of its provisions.

News 100 - I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu launched online Film Certification System of CBFC

Venkaiah Naidu

Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu launched the online film certification system of CBFC, e-cinepramaan, in New Delhi. Consultation has already begun on Benegal Committee and Mudgal Committee reports on Central Board of Film Certification, CBFC.

The complete automation of the film certification process will make the entire process transparent and efficient with an objective to eliminate the need for human interface to the extent possible.

News 101 - JNPT became first Major Port to install Radiological Detection Equipment (RDE) at Road and Rail Gates

JNPT

The Marine Department of JNPT had initiated installation and commissioning of Radiological Detection Equipment at all the exit gates including the Rail Gates. The work was awarded to M/s Electronic Corporation of India (ECIL) in 2012 at a total cost of Rs. 23.324 crores.

Twenty-Eight Vehicle Monitor Systems have been installed at the Road, Rail, Exit Gates. Out of these 11 are at North Gate Complex, 3 at the South Gate Complex, 7 at Central Gate Complex and 7 at Railway Gates, in addition to the above one Limb monitor, each has been installed at South Gate and NSICT Gate.

News 102 - Government and World Bank Sign US $100 million Agreement for Better Healthcare in Uttarakhand

Government and World Bank

The Government of India, the Government of Uttarakhand and the World Bank signed a credit agreement for the US$100 million Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project to improve access to and quality of health care services in all 13 districts of Uttarakhand.

Out of the total project size of USD 125 million, USD 25 million will be the counterpart contribution of the State Government. The closing date of Uttarakhand Health Systems Development Project is 30th September, 2023.

News 103 - ESIC launched Mobile Clinic Services in AP and Telangana

ESIC

The Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) launched Mobile Clinic Services for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana when Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya flagged off 'Jan Suraksha Vans/Ambulances'. The annual expenditure for these will be around Rs. 30 crores.

These are the first States in the country where the facility would be made available initially and later expanded to other parts of the country.

News 104 - Value of Output of Milk at Current Prices Rs. 5,00,405 Crores in 2014-15

Milk

As per National Account Statistics Report, 2016, the value of output of milk at current prices was Rs. 5,00,405 crores in 2014-15, while at constant prices (2011-12) it was 3,89,846 crores. As compared to last year, the growth in value of output of milk is about 7.4 percent at constant prices.

A Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund would be set up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs. 8,000 crores over 3 years. Initially, the Fund will start with a corpus of Rs. 2,000 crores.

News 105 - AAI, DRDO and Government of Jharkhand Signed a Tripartite MoU for Development of Deoghar Airport

AAI, DRDO and Government

Airports Authority of India, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Government of Jharkhand signed a tripartite MoU for development of Deoghar Airport in Deoghar district of Jharkhand. The existing Deoghar Airport will be developed for operations of A-320 and C-130 Aircraft.

The D.R.D.O, Govt. of Jharkhand and AAI will provide Rs. 200 Crores, Rs. 50 Crores respectively to develop, operationalize and maintain the airport. The time frame given to develop and operationalize the Deoghar Airport is two years.

News 106 - All four GST Bills passed in Lok Sabha

GST Bills

The Lok Sabha passed all four Goods and Services Tax Bills - Central GST, Integrated GST, UT GST and GST Compensation.

The Central GST deals with taxation related to Centre, integrated GST deals in taxation of inter-state movement of goods and services while the Union Territory GST Bill covers taxation in Union Territories. The compensation law has been prepared to give a legislative backing to the Centre's promise to compensate the states for five years for any revenue loss arising out of GST implementation.

News 107 - SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1, 2017

SC Bans Sale

The Supreme Court banned sale and registration of vehicles, which are not BS-IV compliant, in India from April 1, 2017 when the new emission norms come into force.

The court also prohibited registration of vehicles, which do not meet Bharat Stage-IV emission standards, from April 1 except on a proof that such a vehicle was sold on or before March 31. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had earlier informed the apex court that companies were holding stock of around 8.24 lakh vehicles, which are not BS-IV compliant, including 96,000 commercial vehicles, over six lakh twowheelers and around 40,000 three-wheelers.

News 108 - India became net exporter of Electricity for the first time

Electricity

For the first time, India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to net exporter of electricity. As per Central Electricity Authority, which is the designated authority of the government for cross border trade of electricity, India has exported around 5,798 million units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar during the current financial year.

Export to Nepal has increased 2.5 times and export to Bangladesh has risen 2.8 times in the last three years.

News 109 - CBEC renamed as CBIC under GST regime

CBEC

The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is being renamed as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC), after getting legislative approval, ahead of the transition to the Goods and Services Tax from 1 July.

The CBIC would supervise the work of all its field formations and directorates and assist the government in policy making in relation to GST, continuing central excise levy and customs functions. CBIC will have 21 zones, 101 GST tax payer services commissionerates comprising 15-sub commissionerates, 768 divisions, 3969 ranges, 49 audit commissionerates and 50 appeals commissionerates.

News 110 - Government signed deal for Hydrocarbon project in Neduvasal, Tamil Nadu

Hydrocarbon Project

The Central Government has signed a contract with GEM Laboratories for the Discovered Small Fields (DSF) Bid 2016 for extracting Hydrocarbons at Neduvasal, in Tamil Nadu.

The cumulative peak production from the 31 fields is expected to be around 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and two million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas.

The estimated total revenue would be approximately Rs. 46,400 crores.

News 111 - NASA, ISRO jointly working on project NISAR

NASA-ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are jointly working on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to codevelop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar satellite.

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a dual frequency (L & S Band) Radar Imaging Satellite. The cost of the project comprises of (i) cost of ISRO’s work share, which is estimated to be Rs. 788.00 Crores and (ii) cost of JPL’s work share, which is expected to be around USD 808 million.

News 112 - Seven airports to get rid of hand baggage tags from April 1

Seven Airports

Passengers do not have to go through stamping and tagging of the hand baggage at seven major airports with effect from April 1. These include Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Cochin and Ahmedabad.

CISF Director General O P Singh said that it has put in place the required security systems that would help in ushering in this passengerfriendly move.

This move would enhance "passenger experience and provide hassle free security environment to them".

News 113 - Government announced regional aviation routes, airlines under UDAN scheme

Regional Aviation Routes

Government has announced regional aviation routes and airlines after the first round of bidding under Regional Connectivity SchemeUDAN, Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik.

All flights in first round will become active within 4-6 months. Five airlines - Air India subsidiary Airline Allied Services, SpiceJet, Air Deccan, Air Odisha and Turbo Megha will operate on 128 routes. Over 45 unserved and under-served airports will be connected under the scheme. They would be operating 19 to 78 seater aircraft. The airports that would be connected under UDAN include Bhatinda, Puducherry and Shimla.



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