Green Ministry Launches Pilot Project For Beach Clean-Up

To enhance standards of cleanliness on beaches, the environment ministry has launched a pilot project for its clean-up and development.In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Mahesh Sharma said that under the project, each state or union territory (UT) had been asked to nominate a beach which would be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme.

“With the prime objective of enhancing standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches, the ministry has launched a pilot project for beach clean-up and development, also striving for the Blue Flag certification for such identified beaches,” Sharma said.

The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach meets its stringent standards.”All the coastal states have nominated the pilot beaches in their receptive territories, including Goa,” the minister said.”Formal nominations are, however, awaited from the coastal UTs Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar,” he said.

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The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017, initiated by the women & child development ministry, is currently with a group of ministers (GoM) that will take a final view on the matter. The Bill has proposed severe punishment for those engaging in the heinous crime.

Highlights of the Bill:

Forms of trafficking: The Bill identifies various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour, sexual exploitation, pornography, removal of organs and begging. Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill also speaks of offences such as intimidation, inducement, a promise of payment of money, deception or coercion. It mentions trafficking after administering any drug or alcohol or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.

Punishment: Whoever commits the offence of an aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh. For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.

Anti-trafficking bureau: The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms.

Functions of the Bureau: Functions include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and prevention. The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation with authorities in foreign countries for boosting operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases and driving in mutual legal assistance.

State level measures: The bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.

Relief and rehabilitation: The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose. The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of Home; External Affairs; Labour and Employment; Social Justice and Empowerment; Panchayati Raj; and Health and Family Welfare.

Background:

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year. NCRB said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%). Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males.

The purpose of trafficking included forced labour; sexual exploitation for prostitution; other forms of sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced marriage; child pornography; begging; drug peddling; and removal of organs.

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WHO to classify ‘gaming disorder’ as mental health condition

With more and more youngsters getting hooked on video games, both online and offline, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to classify gaming disorder as a mental health condition next year.

In the beta draft of its forthcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases, WHO has included gaming disorder in its list of mental health conditions. Mental health experts and psychiatrists said this is the need of the hour as nearly 7% of the population studied for gaming and internet addiction exhibited symptoms of depression and anxiety, and somatisation, including behavioural changes and sleep disturbances.

What is gaming disorder?

The WHO defines the disorder as a “persistent or recurrent” behaviour pattern of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” The disorder is characterized by “impaired control” with increasing priority given to gaming and “escalation,” despite “negative consequences.”

About International Classification of Diseases:

What is it? ICD is the “basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.” The WHO’s ICD lists both mental and physical disorders.

What is it for? This comprehensive list is intended to make it easier for scientists to share and compare health information between hospitals, regions and countries. It also enables healthcare workers to compare data in the same location over different time periods. Additionally, public health experts use the ICD to track the number of deaths and diseases.

 

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SFIO developing early warning system on frauds

To detect financial frauds, the SFIO is in the process of developing an early warning system (EWS), and a consulting agency has been engaged to prepare the conceptual framework, the government said.

About SFIO:

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a fraud-investigating agency. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the coordinating agency with the Income Tax and CBI.

Composition: It is a multi-disciplinary organization having experts from the financial sector, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation. These experts have been taken from various organizations like banks, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Comptroller and Auditor General and concerned organizations and departments of the Government.

Background: The Government approved setting up of this organization on 9 January 2003 on the basis of the recommendations made by the Naresh Chandra Committee which was set up by the Government on 21 August 2002 on corporate governance.

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$40 Million World Bank loan for UP tourism

An agreement for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) credit of USD 40 Million for ‘U.P. Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project’ was inked on Thursday between the Government of India and the World Bank.

The IBRD will grant the loan which has a 5-year grace period, and maturity term of 19 years.
The Implementing Entity Agreement was signed by the Director-General and Principal Secretary, Tourism on behalf of Government of Uttar Pradesh, and the Acting Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank.

The programme size is approximately USD 57.14 million, of which USD 40 million will be financed by the Bank, and the remaining amount will be funded out of State Budget.
The Uttar Pradesh Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project will support the state government’s priority of re-structuring tourism in a way that optimizes the state assets in an inclusive and sustainable manner directly benefiting poor residents and local entrepreneurs, such as rickshaw drivers, local artisans and street vendors.

It will help enhance their linkages with the tourism value chain while improving living conditions for some of the state’s poorest residents through better infrastructure and services and the objective is to increase tourism-related benefits for local communities in targeted destinations.
The project is expected to have far-reaching social, economic and environmental benefits by targeting local communities and entrepreneurs near some of the main tourist and pilgrimage attractions in Uttar Pradesh, namely, Agra as well as Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Govardhan in the Braj region. (ANI)

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India’s Advanced Air Defense Interceptor

India has successfully test fired its indigenously designed and built Advanced Air Defense (AAD)/ Ashvin Advanced Defense interceptor missile on Abdul Kalam Island, home to the Indian military’s principal missile test facility, the Integrated Test Range, off the coast of Odisha in the Bay of Bengal on December 28, according to local media reports.

This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out in 2017. Other tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11. The last successful AAD interception test took place in May 2016.

According to sources within the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) research and development wing which oversaw the December 28 test, the AAD interceptor destroyed an incoming Prithvi ballistic missile within 30 kilometres of the earth atmosphere.

The single stage solid rocket-propelled AAD/Ashin interceptor missile is part of India’s planned two-layered ballistic missile defence (BMD) system and is designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles in the endo-atmosphere at altitudes of 20-40 kilometres. AAD missiles are terminal phase interceptors capable of intercepting missiles after they re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.

Both PAD and PDV are designed for a mid-course interception. The AAD missile interceptor features an inertial navigation system with mid-course radar updates and active radar homing in the terminal phase. It can reach top speeds of up to Mach 4.5.

India’s homegrown BMD system can purportedly intercept medium-range ballistic missiles travelling at speeds of Mach 3 to 8. Israel, Russia, and the United States are the only three countries to have successfully developed and built an indigenous ballistic missile defence system.

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Regional Project to Tackle Stubble Burning

In another significant step to combat climate change, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved a regional project on ‘Climate Resilience Building among Farmers through Crop Residue Management’ under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC). The project was approved at the meeting of the National Steering Committee on Climate Change, under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri C.K Mishra. The first phase of the project has been approved at a cost of approximately Rs. 100 Crore for the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The project will leverage approximately three times the approved amount with contribution from the States as well as farmers.

The project not only aims to mitigate climate change impacts and enhance adaptive capacity but will also counter the adverse environmental impacts that arise from burning. The project will be implemented following a phased approach. Initially, awareness generation and capacity building activities will be undertaken to encourage farmers to adopt alternative practices which would also help diversify livelihood options and enhance farmer’s income. A slew of technological interventions will be undertaken for timely management of crop residue in addition to effective utilization of existing pieces of machinery. Implementable and sustainable entrepreneurship models will be created in rural areas through upscaling successful initiatives and innovative ideas. “Based upon the performance in the first phase, the scope could be enhanced and more activities can be supported subsequently”, said Secretary, MoEFCC, Shri. C.K Mishra. Projects from Nagaland, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh were also approved at the meeting. Despite limited budgetary provision, NAFCC has so far approved 27 innovative projects, covering vulnerable sectors like agriculture, animal husbandry, water, forestry among others, since its launch in 2015.

The problem of crop residue burning has been intensifying over the years, with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh being the major burning hotspots. Increased mechanization, declining number of livestock, a long period required for composting and no economically viable alternate use of residues are some of the reasons for residues being burnt in the field. This not only has implications for global warming but also has an adverse impact on air quality, soil health and human health.

About the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC):

The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) was established in August 2015 to meet the cost of adaptation to climate change for the State and Union Territories of India that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

The projects under NAFCC prioritizes the needs that build climate resilience in the areas identified under the SAPCC (State Action Plan on Climate Change) and the relevant Missions under NAPCC (National Action Plan on Climate Change).

Considering the existing arrangement with NABARD as National Implementing Entity (NIE) for Adaptation Fund (AF) under Kyoto Protocol and its presence across the country, NABARD has been designated as National Implementing Entity (NIE) for implementation of adaptation projects under NAFCC by Govt. of India.
Under this arrangement, NABARD would perform roles in facilitating identification of project ideas/concepts from State Action Plan for Climate Change (SAPCC), project formulation, appraisal, sanction, disbursement of fund, monitoring & evaluation and capacity building of stakeholders including State Governments.

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Parliament nod for NCT Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2017

The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri, on December 22, 2017. The Bill seeks to amend the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second Act, 2011.

The 2011 Act provides for the following: (i) relocating slum dwellers and Jhuggi-Jhompri clusters in accordance with the provisions of the Delhi Shelter Improvement Board Act, 2010 and the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021; (ii) regulating street vendors in accordance with the policy for street vendors outlined in the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021; (iii) regularising unauthorised colonies, village abadi areas (and their extensions); (iv) creating a policy for farm houses constructed beyond permissible limits, and (v) creating a policy or plan for all other areas of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in keeping with the Master Plan for Delhi, 2021.

The Act sought to achieve this by December 31, 2017. The Bill seeks to extend this deadline up to December 31, 2020.

The Bill deletes the provisions and references related to the regulation and protection of street vendors. Note that subsequent to the passage of the 2011 Act, the central government passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 in February 2014.

The Act provides that no action will be taken by any local authority until December 31, 2017 with respect to: (i) encroachment or unauthorised development as of January 1, 2006, (ii) unauthorised colonies, village Abadi areas that existed on March 31, 2002 and where construction took place up until February 8, 2007, and (iii) other areas as of February 8, 2007. The Bill extends this deadline to December 31, 2020.

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The Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill, 2017

The Parliament has passed the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill, 2017.
The Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill, 2017 was introduced on July 18, 2017, by the Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan in Lok Sabha.

An institution of national importance: The Bill establishes the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy, Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It declares the Institute as an institution of national importance. The Institute aims to provide high-quality education and research focussing on the themes of petroleum, hydrocarbons and energy.

Authorities of the Institute: The key authorities of the Institute are as follows: (i) the General Council; (ii) the Board of Governors; (iii) the Senate; and (iv) any other authorities declared by the statutes.

Composition and powers of the Board of Governors: The Board of Governors will comprise 13 members including (i) the President (to be appointed by the central government); (ii) the Director of the Institute; (iii) two persons from the Board of Directors of companies that contribute to the Institute’s endowment fund (to be nominated by the central government); (iv) five eminent experts in the field of petroleum technology and energy; and (v) two professors of the Institute.

Powers of the Board of Governors include: (i) instituting courses of study and laying down standards of proficiency and other academic distinctions; (ii) considering proposals for taking loans for the Institute; (iii) creating academic, administrative, technical and other posts; and (iv) fixing fees and other charges.

Composition and powers of the General Council: The Council will comprise up to 20 members including the: (i) Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (Chairman); (ii) Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation Limited; (iii) Secretary, Oil Industry Development Board; and (iv) Principal Advisor (Energy), NITI Aayog.

The powers of the Council include (i) reviewing the broad policies and programmes of the Institute; (ii) advising the Board with respect to new technologies in the domain of energy and hydrocarbon development; and (iii) suggesting improvements in the fiscal management of the Institute.

The Senate: The Senate is the principal academic body responsible for the maintenance of standards of instruction, education and examination in the Institute.

Appointment of the Director: The Director of the Institute will be appointed by the central government. The Director will be the principal academic and executive officer of the Institute.

Funding: The Institute will be required to maintain a fund which will be credited with the funds that it receives from the central government, fees and money received from any other sources (grants and gifts). The accounts of the Institute shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor- General of India.

Settlement of disputes: Any dispute arising out of a contract between the Institute and any of its employees will be referred to an internally constituted Tribunal of Arbitration. The Tribunal will consist of: (i) one member appointed by the Institute; (ii) one member nominated by the employee; and (iii) an umpire appointed by the Visitor (President of India). The decision of the Tribunal of Arbitration will be considered final.

In case of any dispute between the Institute and the central government, the decision of the central government will be considered final.

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India’s first pod taxi on the way

The much-awaited India’s first pod taxi project- also known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)- has moved a step closer to reality after a high-level panel recommended inviting fresh bids for the same conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body.

The committee set up for technical and safety standards of PRT has recommended issuance of a fresh EOI (expression of interest) incorporating (automated people movers) APM standards and specifications, along with other general safety parameters with Niti Aayog recommendations.

Proposed safety standards:

The automated people mover (APM) standards in the US as recommended by the committee for the maiden PRT in India have been prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and these constitute the minimum requirements for an acceptable level of safety and performance for the PRT. The APM standards include minimum requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the various sub-systems of an APM system and are in general relevant for a PRT. These include vehicle arrival audio and video visual warning system, platform sloping, evacuation of misaligned vehicles, surveillance/CCTV, audio communication, emergency call points and fire protection, among other advanced systems.

About the project:

This pilot project will cover a stretch of 13 kilometres from the Gurugram-Delhi border to Badshapur Mod on Sohna Road with a total of 16 stations. For this, a budget of Rs 850 crore has been estimated. The feasibility report for the same has been submitted by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Every pod of Metrino taxi can accommodate up to five passengers.

What is Personal rapid transit (PRT) network?

Sized for individual or small group travel, personal rapid transit (PRT) is a transport mode combining small automated vehicles, known as pods, operating on a network of specially built guideways. The network consists of a number of stations or stops for passengers to get on and get off. The average speed of the pods is 60 kilometres per hour.

A brief history of Personal rapid transit (PRT) network:

The modern PRT concept began around 1953 when Donn Fichter, a city transportation planner, began research on PRT and alternative transportation methods

In 1967, Aramis project, an experimental personal rapid transit system was started by aerospace giant Matra in Paris. The project was, however, cancelled when it failed its qualification trials in November 1987

Between 1970 and 1978, Japan operated a project called “Computer-controlled Vehicle System” (CVS). In a full-scale test facility, 84 vehicles operated at speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour on a 4.8 kilometres guideway.

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