08, March 2017

1.Will India finally be home to a carbon neutral town?

Source: Indian Express

With India taking the renewable route and investing heavily in solar energy, this could be the opportunity to show the world that the country is serious about cleaning its toxic air.

Will India, home to several polluted cities and towns, see the birth of its first carbon neutral town?

  • To know that, it is important to understand what ‘carbon neutrality’ means.
  • It is basically a state where the net quantity of carbon dioxide or for that matter, of other carbon compounds released into the atmosphere is turned to zero.
  • When steps are taken to effectively balance the carbon emissions in the atmosphere in a particular region, it is seen as a move towards becoming carbon neutral.
  • A carbon neutral town will therefore effectively have no carbon footprint and will cease to have any industry or infrastructure project that will likely cause the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • In the face of global warming, more and more countries today are adopting methods and practices to gain carbon credits and assist villages and towns in becoming carbon neutral.

Meenangadi, a small town in Wayanad district of Kerala

Adopting green and sustainable practices to ensure zero carbon emissions

  1. Planting trees,
  2. Promoting organic farming and
  3. Using LPG in crematoriums.

The fear among the locals regarding pesticide and insecticide use on crops has pushed them faster towards organic farming reported.

The panchayat is also trying to assess how much carbon the village emits and aims to ban plastic and setting up an aerobic composting unit. The campaign began last year on June 5, World Environment Day.

Report:

  • If Meenangadi is able to meet its targets by 2020, it will be a boost for India, where several big cities and towns fail the pollution test.
  • A World Health Organisation report from 2016 showed half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India with Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh taking the second spot and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh in third spot. Delhi is in the 11th spot. Raipur, Patna and Kanpur are some of the other cities in the top 20.
  • Another troubling fact came to light this year when it was determined that the most number of deaths due to air pollution could again be reported from India.
  • The remote northeast where pollution levels are low because it could be a model for other villages and towns

Conclusion:

With India taking the renewable route and investing heavily in solar energy, this could be the opportunity to show the world that the country is serious about cleaning its toxic air.

2.11th Indo – Nepal Joint Exercise

Source: PIB

Indo – Nepal Joint Military Exercise Surya Kiran – XI commenced today at Pithoragarh.

  • In this 14 days exercise, Nepal Army is being represented by the officers and troops of the elite DURGA BAKSH Battalion while the EKTA SHAKTI Battalion of The Punjab Regiment is participating on behalf of the Indian Army.
  • This is eleventh such battalion level exercise between the two countries aimed at training of troops in counter insurgency operations in mountainous terrain. It formally incorporates issues related to humanitarian assistance and disaster management (HADR) and will help enhance defence co-operation and military relations between the two countries.

3.The prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskars, 2016 to be given away by the President

Source: PIB

To acknowledge Women’s achievements, the Government of India confers Nari Shakti Puraskars on eminent women and institutions in recognition of their service towards the cause of women empowerment.

The awards recognize the efforts made by women & institutions in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalized women.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development announces these national level awards for eminent women, organisations and institutions.

4.National Conference on Jal Kranti Abhiyan

Source: PIB

Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation as part of Jal Kranti Abhiyan.

  • Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation launched Jal Kranti Abhiyan on June 05, 2015 to consolidate water conservation and management in the country through a holistic and integrated approach involving all stakeholders making it a mass movement.
  • One of the main objectives of the Jal Kranti Abhiyan is “strengthening grass root involvement of all stakeholders including Panchayati Raj institutions and local bodies for Participatory Irrigation Management.

What are the objectives of Jal Kranti Abhiyan?

  • Strengthening grass root involvement of all stakeholders including Panchayati Raj Institutions and local bodies in the water security and development schemes (e.g. Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM);
  • Encouraging the adoption/utilization of traditional knowledge in water resources conservation and its management;
  • To utilize sector level expertise from different levels in government, NGO’s, citizens etc; and
  • Enhancing livelihood security through water security in rural areas.

What is Jal Gram Yojana?

  • Jal Gram Yojana is one of the most important activity of the Jal Kranti Abhiyan under which two villages in every district (preferably being a part of dark block or facing acute water scarcity) are being selected as Jal Grams.
  • An integrated water security plan for water conservation, water management and allied activities are being prepared to ensure optimum and sustainable utilization of water.

What is monitoring mechanism of Jal Kranti Abhiyan?

  • At the National level, there is a national level committee under the chairmanship of Special Secretary (WR, RD & GR) who is looking after the overall implementation of Jal Kranti Abhiyan at the national level. Similarly, at the State level, there is a State Level Monitoring Committees under the chairmanship of Principal Committee of the respective States who are responsible for the implementation of the Abhiyan at the State level.

5.Petroleum Minister leads high level delegation to USA to promote India’s new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) at CERA Week 2017

Source: PIB

India’s new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)

HELP to open up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor – friendly fiscal and administrative regime.

  • The aim was to encourage active global participation in upcoming investment opportunities in India which has one of the world’s fast growing oil and gas industry.
  • The transformative and proactive policy reforms undertaken by the Government like Make in India, Digital India, Ease of Doing Business, Skill India, and Startup India.

Objectives of HELP

  • To enhance the production of domestic oil and gas.
  • To bring in substantial investment in to exploration and production (E&P) sector.
  • Generate huge employment opportunities.
  • Enhance transparency and
  • Reduce administrative discretion

Keyfacts:

The Minister emphasized that the Government has introduced several progressive reforms in the Indian Upstream sector, driven by the Prime Minister’s goal of reducing import dependency on oil and gas by 10% by 2022.

At present, India is the third largest oil consumer in the world thus, placing an enormous focus on its energy security.

  • The most important reform is the Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP) that opens up India’ entire sedimentary basin for investment from domestic and foreign players under a simplified, transparent and investor -friendly fiscal and administrative regime.
  • The new policy aims to provide Investors a ready access to huge amount of seismic data available in National Data Repository (NDR), flexibility to carve out exploration acreages through an open acreage licensing process and increased operational autonomy through a new revenue sharing model.
  • The National Data Repository (NDR) manifested through an open acreage licensing (OAL) process will be a key facilitator by providing seamless access to India’s entire E&P data process through a digital medium to all investors with the objective of harnessing the potential of India’s large basinal area.

The key features of HELP are:

  • Single, uniform license for extraction and exploration for all types of hydrocarbon prospects
  • Open acreage licensing (OAL) which will permit investors to carve out interested blocks and submit Expression of Interest (EoI), which will be subsequently given through bi-annual bid rounds
  • Simple and easy to administer Revenue Sharing Model
  • Full marketing freedom and free pricing for crude oil and natural gas
  • Exploration allowed during entire contract period
  • Zero royalty rates for deep water & ultra-deep water blocks for first 7 years
  • Equal weightage to work program and fiscal share
  • No oil cess
  • Custom duty exemption

So far, India’s oil and gas sector has generated an investment of 40 billion USD from companies like BP, Hardy Exploration, Niko Resources, Reliance, Cairn, ENI, Joshi Technologies etc. with around 236 oil and gas discoveries, some of which have come on production and account for 30% of the country’s crude oil production and 25% of the country’s gas production.

6.Annual training conference of NIDM

Source: PIB

 The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) is the nodal national institute for training research, documentation and development of national level information relating to disasters.

  • NIDM also conducts international courses for officials of African countries, SAARC Countries, Asian nations at the behest of Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs.
  • The current paradigm of Disaster Management focuses towards a sustainable and safe development process through mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into different sectors and at different levels.

7.Panama papers case: SC asks Centre to file six reports of probe panel

Source: Business Standard

The probe into alleged tax violations by Indians named in the global expose has become the largest offshore inquiry initiated in the country. So far, 415 Indians are under scrutiny as part of the Panama Papers probe.

The Supreme Court asked the Centre to place before it in a sealed cover all the six reports of the Multi-Agency Group (MAG) constituted by the government to probe the Panama papers case.

  • The Centre had constituted a multi agency group consisting of officers of the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate the Panama case.
  • The apex court had last year sought a response from the petitioner on the plea of market regulator SEBI that it has been dragged as a party in a PIL seeking a court-monitored CBI probe against Indians whose names have figured in the Panama papers for allegedly holding bank accounts in foreign countries.

What are the Panama Papers?

  • The files show how Mossack Fonseca clients were able to launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.
  • In one case, the company offered an American millionaire fake ownership records to hide money from the authorities. This is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money laundering and tax evasion.
  • Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

What do The Panama Papers reveal?

  • Individuals who have set up offshore entities through the Panama law firm.
  • Some of the Indians floated offshore entities at a time when laws did not allow them to do so
  • some have taken a technically convenient view that companies acquired is not the same as companies incorporated
  • some have bunched their annual quota of remittances to subscribe to shares in an offshore entity acquired at an earlier date.
  • Still, some others have received income earned abroad and deposited it in the entity to avoid tax.
  • Some have opened a bank account to keep payoffs in government contracts, or held “proceeds of crime” or property bought with money made illegally in Trusts/ Foundations.

8.NPS Trust

The National Pension System Trust (NPS Trust) was established by PFRDA on 27th February, 2008 with the execution of the NPS Trust Deed.

  • The NPS Trust has been set up and constituted for taking care of the assets and funds under the National Pension System (NPS) in the interest of the beneficiaries (subscribers).
  • Individual NPS subscribers shall be the beneficiaries of the NPS Trust.
  • The NPS funds are managed by the Board of Trustees to realize and fulfill the objectives of the NPS Trust in the exclusive interest of the Subscribers.



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