25, November 2016

1.Construction of Nuclear Power Plants

Source: PIB

  • There are 21 nuclear power plants which are operational in the country with a total capacity of 5780 MW.
  • In addition, the second unit of Kudankulam KKNPP-2 (1000 MW) is connected to the southern grid and is presently generating infirm power.
  • The unit is expected to start commercial operation by end of this year.
  • There are four nuclear power reactors under construction, each of 700 MW, which are progressively expected to be completed by 2019.

The Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a public sector company under Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is constructing one 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. PFBR is under advanced stage of commissioning.

Prototype Fast Breeder Reactors:

During fission, a small amount of mass is converted into energy, which can be used to power a generator to create electricity

  • Under appropriate operating conditions, the neutrons given off by fission reactions can “breed” more fuel from otherwise non-fissionable isotopes.
  • The most common breeding reaction is that of plutonium-239 from non-fissionable uranium-238.
  • The term “fast breeder” refers to the types of configurations which can actually produce more fissionable fuel than they use, such as the LMFBR.
  • This scenario is possible because the non-fissionable uranium-238 is 140 times more abundant than the fissionable U-235 and can be efficiently converted into Pu-239 by the neutrons from a fission chain reaction.

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Overall country:

The U.S. constructed two experimental breeder reactors, neither of which produced power commercially. The Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station in Michigan was the first American fast breeder reactor but operated only from 1963 until 1972 before engineering problems led to a failed license renewal and subsequent decommissioning.

  • Construction of the only other commercial fast breeder reactor in the U.S., the Clinch River plant in Tennessee, was halted in 1983 when Congress cut funding.
  • Elsewhere in the world, only India, Russia, Japan and China currently have operational fast breeder reactor programs; the U.K., France and Germany have effectively shut down theirs.

  1. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBBI) of India 2016

Source: PIB

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India:

The Preamble of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code describes the basic functions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code as …

  1. To consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximization of the value of assets of such persons,
  2. To promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and
  3. To establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Powers and functions of the board:

  1. Section 196. (1) The Board shall, subject to the general direction of the Central Government.
  2. The Board may make model bye-laws to be to adopted by insolvency professional agencies.
  3. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, while exercising the powers under this Code, the Board shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Adjudicatory authorities

  • The adjudicating authority for corporate insolvency and liquidation is the NCLT. Appeals from NCLT orders lie to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal and thereafter to the Supreme Court of India.
  • For individuals and other persons, the adjudicating authority is the DRT, appeals lie to the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal and thereafter to the Supreme Court.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code – Ministry of Finance

What is it?

  • Bankruptcy is a legal status usually imposed by a Court, on a firm or individual unable to meet debt obligations.
  • India’s new Bankruptcy Bill attempts to create a formal insolvency resolution process (IRP) for businesses, either by coming up with a viable survival mechanism or by ensuring their speedy liquidation.
  • When the IRP is on, creditors’ claims are frozen for 180 days, during which they will hear proposals for revival and decide on their future course of action. Within those 180 days, 75 per cent of the creditors must agree to a revival plan. If this minimum threshold is not met, the firm automatically goes into liquidation.

Why is it important?

India is a capital starved country and therefore it is essential that capital isn’t frittered away on weak and unviable businesses. Quick resolution of bankruptcy can ensure this.

  • Today, bankruptcy proceedings in India are governed by multiple laws — the Companies Act, SARFAESI Act, Sick Industrial Companies Act, and so on. The entire process of winding up is also very long-winded, with courts, debt recovery tribunals and the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction all having a say in the process.
  • The new Code streamlines and consolidates all these laws to make the process simpler. Industry anticipates that the change will provide an easy exit option for insolvent and sick firms.

Conclusion

India currently ranks 136 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s index on the ease of resolving insolvencies. India’s weak insolvency regime, its significant inefficiencies and systematic abuse are some of the reasons for the distressed state of credit markets in India today.

The Code promises to bring about far-reaching reforms with a thrust on creditor driven insolvency resolution. It aims at early identification of financial failure and maximising the asset value of insolvent firms. The Code also has provisions to address cross border insolvency through bilateral agreements and reciprocal arrangements with other countries.

3.Two New Schemes of Bio-Tech Kisan and Cattle Genomics- Ministry of Science & Technology

Source: PIB

Bio-Tech Kisan:

The Biotech-Krishi Innovation Science Application Network (Biotech-KISAN) aims to understand the problems of water, soil, seed and market faced by the farmers and provide simple solutions to them.

Objective

  • Linking available science and technology to the farm by first understanding the problem of the local farmer and provide solutions to those problems.
  • The working together, in close conjunction, of scientists and farmers is the only way to improve the working conditions of small and marginal farmers.
  • This programme aims to work with small and marginal farmers especially the woman farmer for better agriculture productivity through scientific intervention and evolving best farming practices in the Indian context.

The Cattle Genomics Scheme:

  • Livestock contributes significantly to the livelihood of rural poor in our country and has enormous potential to reduce poverty.
  • There is a predicted increase in demand for animal food products in India by 2020.
  • Genetic improvement of livestock through traditional selection for increasing livestock productivity has major limitations.
  • To overcome these, genomic selection has played a crucial role in livestock industry globally.

The Government of India has, therefore, decided to work on genome sequencing of indigenous cattle breeds and development of high density SNP chips representing SNPs from all registered cattle breeds of India by involving various stake holders.

The Biotech-KISAN will be implemented in the 15 agro-climatic zones which will cover all the states.  The work on cattle genomics will be carried out initially in selected research institutions.

  1. Government slaps safeguard duty on certain steel imports

Source: Indian Express

Government has slapped safeguard duty on import of certain steel products to protect domestic manufacturers from cheap in-bound shipments.

The safeguard duty has been imposed on import of hot rolled flat sheets and plates (excluding hot rolled flat products in coil form) of alloy or non-alloy steel.

Keyfacts:

  • The effective duty rate would be calculated after deducting the value of the goods and the anti-dumping duty payable when the import price is below USD 504 per tonne, Revenue Department notification.
  • The duty arrived at would be 10% in the first year and will gradually reduce to 8% by 2018 and 6% by 2019.

Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products.

  • India previously slapped anti-dumping duty on certain cold-rolled flat steel products from four nations, including China and South Korea.
  • India has initiated maximum anti-dumping cases against “below-cost” imports from China.

Safeguard duty conclusion:

The Director General (Safeguard), in his final findings on August 2, 2016, “had come to the conclusion that increased imports of subject goods into India has caused and threatened to cause serious injury to the domestic producers of subject goods, thereby necessitating the imposition of safeguard duty on imports of the subject goods into India.”

  • The safeguard duty is tariff barrier imposed by government on the commodities to ensure that imports in excessive quantities do not harm the domestic industry.
  • It is temporary measure undertaken by government in defence of the domestic industry which is harmed or has potential threat getting hared due to sudden cheap surge in imports.

  1. Representation in DMFS under Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana: – Ministry of Mines

Source: PIB

Salient features of the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) are as follows

  • To implement various development and welfare projects/programs in mining affected areas that complement the existing ongoing schemes/projects of State and Central Government.
  • To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts, during and after mining, on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts.
  • To ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining areas.
  • High priority areas like drinking water supply, health care, sanitation, education, skill development, women and child care, welfare of aged and disabled people, skill development and environment conservation will get at least 60%  share of the funds collected under DMF.
  • 40% of the DMFs funds will be utilized for the following areas: (i) physical infrastructure; (ii) irrigation; (iii) energy and watershed development; and (iv) any other measures for enhancing environmental quality in mining district.
  • PMKKKY,  provides for Special provisions for Scheduled areas which reads as under

The process to be adopted for utilization of DMF and PMKKKY funds in the scheduled areas shall be guided by the provisions contained in Article 244 read with Schedule V and Schedule VI to the Constitution relating to administration of the Scheduled Areas and Tribal Areas and the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

composition:

  • As per sub-section (3) of section 9B of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the composition and functions of the DMF and rules in this regard is to be prescribed by the State Governments.
  • Preparation of annual action plan and utilization of fund under DMF for the development of the areas affected by mining related operations is under the DMF trust established by State Government.
  • Details regarding schemes/projects implemented by State Governments under DMF including the information on rural people affected in mining area are not maintained centrally.

To bring in transparency in collection and utilization of funds accrued under DMF, the Central Government at the time of directing State Governments on 16.09.2015 for incorporating the PMKKKY into the rules framed by State Governments.



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