20, May 2017

1.Indian Navy to hold exercises with Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia

Source: Indian Express

The Indian Navy will hold bilateral exercises with Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia after completing a maritime exercise with Singapore. The Navy is currently taking part in the annual Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise 2017 (SIMBEX-17) with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).

  • lndian Naval Ships (INS) Shivalik, Sahyadri, Jyoti and Kamorta and one P8-I Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare Aircraft are participating in SIMBEX-17.
  • INS Jyoti and Shivalik completed their naval exercise with the Royal Malaysian Navy yesterday and will join INS Sahyadri and Kamorta for the second phase of SIMBEX-17.

The Indian navy has once again reaffirmed the strategic partnership between India and Singapore, and reiterated its commitment to maritime security, stability and peace in this region.

2.RCEP trade ministers to meet on May 21-22 in Vietnam

Source: Indian Express

Trade ministers of 16 countries, including India and China, will meet on May 21 and 22 in Vietnam to discuss progress in the ongoing negotiations of proposed mega trade deal RCEP.

  • So far, negotiators of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have held 18 rounds of negotiations.
  • This will be a crucial meeting in Hanoi. Ministers would deliberate on the single-tier system of duty relaxations, besides issues related to services and investments.

Significance of this move:

  • Under the single-tier system, the RCEP member countries are trying to finalise the maximum number of goods on which duties will either be eliminated or reduced drastically. Chief negotiators and senior officials of all the countries recently held discussions in the Philippines on this regard.
  • RCEP is a mega trade deal that aims to cover goods, services, investments, economic and technical co-operation, competition and intellectual property rights.

Present scenario:

  • As the domestic industry has apprehensions over a deluge in imports from countries such as China after the duty cut under the agreement, India may take certain deviations for such countries.
  • India already has implemented a free trade agreement with the ASEAN, Japan and South Korea. On the other hand, the country is negotiating similar pacts with Australia and New Zealand. The talks for the pact started in Phnom Penh in November 2012. The 16 countries account for over a quarter of the world’s economy, estimated to be more than $75 trillion


16-member bloc RCEP comprises

  • The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners — India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

3.Chitale Committee recommends several measures for Desiltation of Ganga

Source: PIB

Chitale committee on Desiltation of Ganga submitted its report to the government recently.

The committee was constituted in July 2016 by the Ministry of Water Resources River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to prepare guidelines for desiltation of river Ganga from Bhimgauda (Uttarakhand) to Farakka (West Bengal).

Recommendations are:

  • Study reach wise sediment transport processes.
  • Establish annual sediment budgets to guide de-silting activities.
  • Prepare annual reports (Sand registry) describing the previous de-silting/ dredging activity and a technical institute may be entrusted to conduct the sediment budget.
  • Morphological and flood routing studies should be carried out to examine and confirm the necessity of the de-silting of the reach under consideration.
  • It is necessary to provide the river sufficient areas of flood plain and lakes along the river to moderate the flood level.
  • The de-silting of lakes, etc., should be in such a manner that the sediment continuity is maintained and should not lead to head cut that creates safety issues for the river crossings, water intakes or river training works locally, downstream or upstream.
  • The area freed from the development in the form of oxbow lakes should be used for flood moderation rather than reclaiming it for other purposes.
  • Embankments, spurs and river training measures provided to protect the banks should not encroach upon the flood plains and delink the lakes, flood plains and other riverine environment from the river.
  • De-silting of the confluence points, especially with huge silt carrying tributaries, such as Ghagra, Sone, etc., may be necessary to make confluence hydraulically efficient.
  • The proposed de-silting of any river reach need to be justified bringing out clearly the flooding caused due to siltation along with technical comparisons of the alternative flood mitigation measures with “do nothing” or “proposed de-silting/ dredging” being other options.
  • Agricultural practices along the river flood plains should be such that it does not disturb the passage of flood by increasing the resistance to flow causing aggradations.
  • Any bridges across River Ganga which are causing large afflux (more than 1% of normal depth) should be modified to reduce the afflux, which in turn will also reduce the sediment deposition and erosion of banks on the upstream.

According to the report

  • The committee in its report says erosion, sediment transport and siltation are very complex phenomena.
  • It is impossible to apply a “one-size-fits-all‟ approach to sediment management and control, because the issues involved are frequently very regionally-specific.
  • Local factors such as topography, river control structures, soil and water conservation measures, tree cover, and riparian land-use or land disturbance (for example agriculture, mining, etc.) can have a large impact on sediment loads in rivers.
  • River control structures (such as reservoirs), soil conservation measures and sediment control programmes can cause downstream sediment loads to decrease, while factors such as land disturbance (clearing of vegetation, for example) or agricultural practices can cause increased sediment loads.
  • At the same time, indiscriminate de-siltation works may result into more harm to ecology and environment flow. Thus, there is a need to evolve Guidelines, better broad principles, which should be kept in mind while planning and implementing de-silting works.

The committee says though de-siltation works can improve hydraulic performance of the river and this itself can justify undertaking de-siltation, these have no direct role in improving environment flow in the river. On the other hand, indiscriminate de-silting or sand mining would cause adverse impacts on river e-flow.

4.Study on Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism for Solar Power Generation Projects

Source: PIB

ISA Programme aimed at mobilising “Affordable finance at scale

  • India and along with countries like Argentina, Burkina-Faso, Chad, France, Ivory Coast, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Yemen has jointly commissioned a study to define and structure a Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM) for solar power generation projects in solar rich countries.
  • This is a major step in the implementation of the Paris Declaration of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) adopted on November 30, 2015, and of the ISA programme aimed at mobilising affordable finance at scale.

Key facts:

  • The commissioning of the study is aimed at dramatic reduction in the cost of finance for renewable energy and the overall price of electricity.
  • All the countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics are also invited to join the task force and support this initiative in order to attract investments into solar sector.
  • Need The Council on Energy, Environment and Water calculates the cost of capital to form a substantial amount in the total costs of renewable energy.
  • In India it accounts for 70% of the total cost of solar Power.
  • In this regard, the CRMM is expected to offer a simple and affordable tool that will develop a secure environment for private institutional investment in solar assets.

Task force:

  • The study was entrusted by the Interim Secretariat to a task force chaired by Terrawatt Initiative (TWI), the World Bank Group, the Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and also the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
  • Public and private stakeholders and partners will be consulted to contribute to the initiative and to ensure collective buy-in and validation.
  • Participating countries may each appoint a qualified representative who will liaise with the task force and convey information regarding countries’ specific expectations, experience and needs.
  • They call all other countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics to join them and support this initiative to attract investments into the solar sector.


  • COP-21 summit, the International Solar Alliance was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande as a union of countries with abundant sunlight.
  • Under this alliance, 121 countries that fall within the tropics {i.e. between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn} have been invited to make collaborative efforts to harness solar energy to generate the electricity.

Most of these countries fall within Asia, Africa and South America.

There are three objectives behind the International Solar Alliance:

  • First is to force down prices by driving demand;
  • Second is to bring standardization in solar technologies and
  • Third is to foster research and development.

5.GST rates could have aided green goods

Source: The Hindu

A rate of 18% has been set for commercial LPG, which is used as a low-emission auto fuel

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council’s treatment of goods such as commercial LPG, hybrid cars, and renewable energy components has missed an opportunity to back environmentally friendly goods, according to an industry official and an economist.
  • The GST Council on Thursday finalised the rates and cess for most of the goods under the purview of the tax.


  • The GST Council has finalised the rates and cess for most of the goods under the purview of the tax. Among these, it set a rate of 18% for commercial LPG, and 5% for all renewable energy devices and spare parts, although the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had requested exemption for these items. Experts term this as a missed opportunity regarding auto LPG.
  • Domestic LPG is taxed at 5%. This would also encourage theft, since people already transfer LPG from domestic cylinders to commercial containers to avoid the higher tax.


Liquefied petroleum gas or liquid petroleum gas (LPG or LP gas), also referred to as simply propane or butane, are flammable mixtures of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles.

  • LPG, also known as propane and autogas, is a by-product of crude oil extraction and the refining process.
  • Many people who consider LPG as an alternative to petrol do so because they believe that the combustion of propane results in lower CO2 emissions.
  • LPG burns cleaner than petrol and therefore emissions of particulates is very low.
  • Moreover, LPG is non-toxic, non-corrosive and free of tetra-ethyl lead and additives. It also has a high octane rating.

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