19, October 2017

1.ACI-ASQ Survey

Source: PIB

The Jaipur and Srinagar Airport are ranked First and Second respectively in the category of 2-5 million passengers in ACI-ASQ Survey.

  • This is for the second consecutive time that Jaipur Airport has been rated the Best Airport in the World in the traffic volume of 2 to 5 million passengers per year. Jaipur was ranked as the Best Airport in the World catering to a traffic volume of 2 to 5 million passengers per year in 2016 also.

ASQ awards:

  • The Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards are the aviation industry’s most prestigious accolades.
  • The awards recognize the airports which have achieved the highest passenger satisfaction ratings in the ASQ Survey – the world’s benchmark measure of airport excellence.
  • It is the only worldwide programme to survey passengers at the airports on their day of travel.
  • Every year, the programme delivers some 600,000 individual surveys in 41 languages in 84 countries. It measures passengers’ views on 34 key performance indicators, including airport access, check-in, security screening, restrooms, stores and restaurants.
  • Each airport uses the exact same survey, creating an industry database that allows airports to compare themselves to other airports around the world.
  • The ASQ programme also has a feature that facilitates sharing of best practices among airport operators.

2.Centre plans new Integrated Check Posts

Source: The Hindu

A Cabinet proposal to set up 13 new Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) is being mooted by the Union Home Ministry to encourage India’s engagement with its neighbours belonging to SAARC region.

Key facts:

  • Among the 13 ICPs, seven will be along the India-Bangladesh border, apart from the three already operational there.
  • The ICPs planned along the Bangladesh border will be at Hili, Changrabandha, Ghojadanga, Mahadipur, Fulbari in West Bengal, Kawripuichhuah in Mizoram and Sutarkandi in Assam.
  • Among the new ICPs, only one will be on the India-Pakistan border while four will be on the India-Nepal border and one on the India-Myanmar border.
  • Some of the other ICPs are at Dawki (Meghalaya), Akaura, (Tripura) Kawarpuchiah (Mizoram), Jobgani (Bihar), Sunauli (UP) and Rupaidiha/Nepalganj (UP).
  • The cost of setting up 13 ICPs will be Rs 3,000 crore. The setting up of new ICPs was first proposed by the UPA government, which set up a separate body, Land Port Authority of India (LPAI), in 2011 for their management.

What constitutes an integrated check post?

  • An ICP not only provides various services under one roof but is also equipped with cargo process building, cargo inspection sheds, warehouse, cold storage, currency exchange counters, Internet hubs, clearing agents, banks, vehicle scanners, isolation bay and parking.

Need for ICPs:

  • The borders need to be secured against interests hostile to the country. Putting in place systems that are able to interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce are among the principal objectives behind setting up the new ICPs. It is therefore necessary to undertake integrated development of infrastructure at the entry points on our land borders.

3.Maharashtra govt rolls out loan waiver

Source: The Hindu

Maharashtra government has rolled out the loan waiver scheme and announced the first list of 8.4 lakh beneficiaries across the state, for whom the government will pay banks Rs 4,000 crore under the scheme.

  • The release of funds under the scheme, announced in June, will be a continuous process and by November 15, the government hopes that 75-80% of the disbursement will be completed.

Concerns:

  • According to the Economic Survey 2016-17, the burden of farm loan waivers could be as much as `2.2-2.7 lakh crore if all states start offering the relief and would stoke short-term deflationary shock in the economy.
  • The survey estimates that loan waivers by all states could reduce aggregate demand by as much as 0.7% of GDP. This is because the states funding the loan waiver would have to prune spending and possibly raise taxes to improve revenue and stick to their fiscal deficit limits, although private demands tends to get a boost from the loan waivers.
  • Even as the central government makes significant efforts toward fiscal consolidation, the higher debt burden of the states could push up general government debt.

Way ahead:

  • It appears that loan waiving can provide a short-term relief to a limited section of farmers; it has a meagre chance of bringing farmers out of the vicious cycle of indebtedness.
  • There is no concrete evidence on reduction in agrarian distress following the first spell of all-India farm loan waiver in 2008. In the longer run, strengthening the repayment capacity of the farmers by improving and stabilising their income is the only way to keep them out of distress.

4.GM cotton grown in 8.5 lakh ha, illegal market is Rs 472 crore

Source: The Hindu

Delhi-based South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) has claimed that the illegal market of the herbicide tolerant (HT) genetically modified cotton is worth about Rs 472 crore.

  • As per the SABC, about 35 lakh packets of illegal HT cotton hybrids were sold this kharif season across Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra, Odisha, Karnataka and MP.
  • Around 8.5 lakh hectares, or 7% of the total cotton growing area in the country, is under the illegal HT cultivation.

GM crop

  • A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
  • For example, a GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination. The resulting plant is said to be “genetically modified” although in reality all crops have been “genetically modified” from their original wild state by domestication, selection, and controlled breeding over long periods of time.
  • While Bt cotton has been cultivated in the country since 2002, Bt brinjal, the first GM food crop okayed by GEAC, never hit the fields as an indefinite moratorium was imposed on its commercial release in early 2010.



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