14, January 2017

 

1.Ken-Betwa River linking project receives environment, forest & tribal clearances
Source: the Hindu

The ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project has received formal environment, forest and tribal clearances.

  • The project aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation is working out the funding pattern with NITI Aayog.
  • The Ministry is pursuing NITI Ayog to change its funding pattern of Centre state share from 60:40 to 90:10 for the project as it is a special project.

Key Facts

  • It is India’s first river interlinking project that will connect Ken river in Madhya Pradesh with the Betwa in Uttar Pradesh. ken-Betwa link
  • The project was envisaged first in 1980 to transfer surplus river water to dry and arid areas of Bundelkhand region.
  • It will help irrigate an area of 6.35 lakh hectares annually in Bundelkhand region.
  • Of this, 3.69 lakh hectares will be covered in Madhya Pradesh’s Tikamgarh, Chattarpur and Panna districts.
  • The remaining 2.65 lakh hectares of area falls in Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, Mahoba and Banda districts.
  • The project is estimated to provide 49 million cubic metres (mcm) of drinking water to a population of 13.42 lakh in Bundelkhand region in the two states.
  • Besides, it will also generate 78 mega watt (MW) of power.

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2.CBDT inks Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement
Source: PIB

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into a Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreement (BAPA) on the with Indian subsidiary of a Japanese trading company.

  • Earlier, CBDT also had modified an existing Bilateral APA with another Indian subsidiary of a Japanese company to include rollback provisions.
  • Thus, total three BAPAs have been signed by CBDT with Indian subsidiaries of Japanese companies all including rollbacks.
  • With this total number of BAPAs entered into by CBDT is now eight.

What is Advance Pricing Agreement (APA)?

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income Tax (IT) Act, 1961 in 2012 and the provisions related to rollback were introduced in 2014.

It strengthens Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.

It endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.

About BAPA:

Under BAPA, certainty in tax treatment is provided for the next 5 years while rollback provides dispute redressal for a maximum of four past years preceding APA years.

A  BAPA may be preferred by multinational companies since finalisation of the same involves reaching an understanding between the tax administrations of the two countries and for the transfer pricing adjustment done in the hands of the Indian entity, corresponding adjustment is available in the hands of related foreign entity, thereby relieving economic double taxation.

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3.NGT orders inspection of biomedical waste plants
Source: The Hindu

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered inspection of plants which treat waste in the hospitals of the National Capital Delhi and ensure proper segregation, collection and disposal of such waste.

  • The waste plants will be inspected by joint inspection team of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
  • The NGT also directed the team to submit report about manner in which bio-medical waste was being handled by hospitals and situation prevailing in medical institutions adversely affecting human health and environment.
  • Earlier the tribunal had asked hospitals and clinics to ensure proper collection, segregation and disposal of bio-medical waste.

What is Bio-medical waste?

Bio-medical waste is any solid or liquid waste including its container and any intermediate product generated during the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals or research activities.

Biomedical waste poses hazard due to two principal reasons – toxicity and infectivity.

Bio Medical waste consists of human anatomical waste like organs, tissues and body parts, waste sharps like hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpels and broken glass, discarded medicines and cytotoxic drugs, liquid waste from any of infected areas etc.

In 2016, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had issued new Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 for proper discarding of the bio-medical waste.

In India, total bio-medical waste generated is 484 tonnes per day (TPD) from 1,68,869 healthcare facilities (HCF), out of which 447 TPD is treated.

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4.India, US ink MoU for collaboration in third world countries
Source: The Hindu

India and the United States has signed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to collaborate in the fields of developmental activities and aid in third world countries.

The MoU was signed between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Union Ministry of External Affairs’ Development Partnership Administration (DPA).

  • As per the MoU, Both countries will collaborate on exchange of information and experience in sectors or issues pertaining to project development or implementation in partner countries.
  • They will provide advisory or technical assistance to third countries regarding sector policy reform, project and sector management, project implementation and economic growth promotion strategies in relevant sectors.
  • Officials of both countries will conduct site visits to cross-border or other relevant projects and capacity building of partner countries.
  • The MoU was signed by both countries based of their share a vision of reducing poverty globally through sustainable economic growth.
  • Based on this vision, they intend to cooperate with goal of advancing their mutual interests to strengthen regional integration and connectivity, particularly in areas of energy, trade, and investment.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC): It is a US agency for providing eligible countries with grants to fund country-led solutions for reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth.

Development Partnership Administration (DPA): Under the MEA, look after implementation of India’s development cooperation programmes with partner countries.

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5.Unemployment in India to increase marginally in 2017-18: ILO
Source : The Hindu

According to recently released World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017, the number of unemployed people in India is expected to rise by 1 lakh in 2017 and another 2 lakh in 2018.

The report was released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with projections based on econometric modelling carried out in November 2016.

The report has clubbed India in the category of emerging nations.

 Highlights of the report :

  • Number of jobless in India will increase from 17.7 million in 2016 to 18 million by 2018 even though the country’s unemployment rate is expected to go down from 3.5% to 3.4% in 2017.
  • India performed slightly well in terms of job creation in 2016, as majority of the 13.4 million new employment were created.
  • Globally, the number of jobless people will increase by 3.4 million in 2017. The global unemployment rate is expected to rise modestly from 5.7 to 5.8% in 2017 as pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.
  • The increase in unemployment levels and rates in 2017 will be driven by deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries.
  • Vulnerable forms of employment, which include own account workers and contributing family workers are expected to stay above 42% of total employment.
  • About 1.4 billion people are likely to be engaged in such employment in 2017, with the number rising by 11 million per year.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia will be the most affected.
  • In developing countries, the number of workers earning less than $3.10 per day is even expected to increase by more than 5 million over the next two years.
  • Global uncertainty and the lack of decent jobs are, among some of the other factors, underpinning social unrest and migration in many parts of the world.

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6.Expert Group on SECC submits report to Rural Development Ministry
The Expert Group set up to prepare Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) has submitted its report to the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

  • The expert group was headed by former Finance Secretary Sumit Bose.
  • The objective of the expert group was to study criteria for allocation of resources to States and identification and prioritization of beneficiaries under various programmes using SECC data.
  • The MoRD will use the SECC data for identification of beneficiaries and generating priority list of beneficiaries under its programmes.
  • Based on it appropriate guidelines were issued for making inter-state allocation to cover households under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission.

Key Observation :

The use of SECC data and its TIN Number will enable the government to improve the efficacy of its interventions and it will also result in improved outcome.

However there is need for regular updation and verification of SECC data in order to eliminate the need to mount standalone SECC in long run, which can put additional burden on public resources.

The SECC has the potential to function as Social Registry Information System (SRIS) from being only census-like socio-economic database. SRIS will have several advantages in implementation of social sector schemes.

The use of SECC data will lead to better budgetary planning and allocation of resources for various programmes.
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