Centre signs pact with 5 States on Renuka dam

The Centre has signed an agreement with Chief Ministers of five States — Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh — to restart construction of the Renuka multipurpose dam project in the Upper Yamuna Basin.

The Renuka dam project has been conceived as a storage project on the Giri river (a tributary of the Yamuna) in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The project envisages making a 148-meter-high dam for supplying water to Delhi and other basins States. It will also generate 40 MW of power.

The Renuka dam project has been conceived as a storage project on the Giri river (a tributary of the Yamuna) in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

The project envisages making a 148-meter-high dam for supplying water to Delhi and other basins States. It will also generate 40 MW of power.

Funding: Around 90% of the cost of irrigation/drinking water component of the project i.e. ₹3,892.83 crore will be provided by the Central government and the remaining ₹432.54 crore by the rest of the basin States.

Significance and impacts:

After the construction of the dam, the flow of the Giri river will increase by about 110%, which will help meet the drinking water needs of Delhi and another basin States.

Water from the Renuka dam will be used by U.P., Haryana and National Capital Territory of Delhi from Hathnikund barrage, by the NCT of Delhi from Wazirabad barrage and by U.P., Haryana, and Rajasthan from the Okhla barrage.

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6 states sign agreement for Renukaji dam multipurpose project

Six states–Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh–on Friday signed an agreement for construction of Renukaji Dam Multi-Purpose Project in the presence of Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Three projects are proposed to be constructed on the Yamuna and two of its tributaries, Tons and Giri, in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh of the Upper Yamuna Basin.

These include Lakhwar project on the Yamuna in Uttarakhand, Kisau on the Tons in Uttarakhand and Himachal, and Renukaji on the Giri in Himachal.

The states had already signed an agreement in respect of sharing of cost and benefits of Lakhwar project in August 2018.

After signing the agreement, Gadkari said an agreement among the states concerned regarding the Kisau project would be reached soon.

Renukaji Dam project has been conceived as a storage project on the Giri river (the tributary of the Yamuna) in Sirmour district of Himachal. It envisages construction if 148 m-high rock-filled dams for the supply of 23 cumec water to Delhi and other basin states.

The project will also generate 40 MW of power during peak flow. It is proposed to be executed by Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL). The live storage of Renukaji project is 0.404 MAF and total submergence area is about 1,508 hectares in the territory of Himachal.

Stored water of Renukaji Dam will be used by the signatory states. The share of water among the states will be Haryana-47.8 percent; Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand-33.65 percent; Himachal-3.15 percent; Rajasthan-9.3 percent and NCT of Delhi: 6.04 percent.

The total cost of the project estimated on Price Level 2015 is Rs 4,596.76 crore out of which the cost of irrigation/drinking water component is Rs 4,325.43 crore and the power component Rs 277.33 crore. The Centre will bear 90 percent of the cost of irrigation/drinking water component, and the balance cost will be borne by the states as per the MoU inked by them in 1994.

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Green Technology in PMGSY

In order to encourage locally available materials and use of green technologies for construction of road under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), guidelines were issued by the Ministry, wherein the State Governments are required to propose minimum 15% of total length of annual proposals under New technologies such as Cement stabilization, Lime stabilization, Cold mix, Waste plastics, Cell filled concrete, Paneled cement concrete pavement, Fly ash etc. Further, Ministry of Rural Development specifications has also been relaxed in respect of grading of materials for Granular Sub Base layer in order to encourage the use of locally available/naturally occurring material/marginal materials.

The State Governments are required to propose minimum 15% of total length of annual proposals under new technologies like Cement stabilization, Lime stabilization, Cold mix, Waste plastics, Cell filled concrete, Paneled cement concrete pavement, Fly ash etc.

Further Relaxation:

The Ministry of Rural Development specifications has also been relaxed in respect of grading of materials for Granular Sub Base layer in order to encourage the use of locally available/naturally occurring material/marginal materials.

Current Scenario:

Andhra Pradesh Government had submitted the proposal for converting 37 roads of 163.49 KM sanctioned under Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas with the conventional method of construction to New Technology.

There is no other proposal of the State on New Technology pending with the Government at present.

The Ministry has so far sanctioned 35,922 KM length of roads using New Technologies and 22,983.96 KM have been completed.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) encourages the use of ‘Green Technologies’ and non-conventional materials like waste plastic, cold mix, geo-textiles, fly-ash, iron and copper slag etc in rural roads.

The objective of PMGSY:

The primary objective of PMGSY is to provide connectivity by way of all-weather roads. The programme also has an Upgradation component with a target to upgrade existing rural roads in order to ensure full farm to market connectivity.

With a view to bringing transparency and responsiveness in governance, plug leakages and to quickly address the citizen grievances; PMGSY has been encouraging the use of information technology, mobile technology and space technology.

Meri Sadak – A mobile application “Meri Sadak” was launched to enable citizens to register complaints regarding the quality and pace of construction of PMGSY roads.

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Transport Subsidy Scheme

In order to facilitate the process of industrialization in hilly, remote and inaccessible areas, transport incentive is provided to the states of North Eastern Region (including Sikkim) under North Eastern Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) – 2017, Jammu & Kashmir under Industrial Development Scheme – 2017 and Lakshadweep and A&N Islands under Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Island Development Scheme – 2018. Under these schemes, all eligible industrial units can avail incentive on transportation of only finished goods through Railways or the Railway Public Sector Undertakings, Inland Waterways or scheduled airline (shipping for Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands also) for a period of five years from the date of commencement of commercial production/operation.

Industrial Units can avail Incentives:

Under the above-mentioned schemes, all eligible industrial units can avail incentive on transportation of only finished goods through Railways or the Railway Public Sector Undertakings, Inland Waterways or scheduled airline (shipping for Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands also) for five years from the date of commencement of commercial production/operation.

Freight Subsidy Scheme (FSS):

  • The FSS (2013) replaced the Transport Subsidy Scheme, 1971.
  • It was in operation in all 8 North Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, J&K, Darjeeling District of West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep islands.
  • The FSS has been discontinued since 22.11.2016. But, the industrial units under these schemes during their currency are eligible for the benefits of the scheme.
  • While the inland transport incentive is available for certain landlocked states, there is no proposal to provide the same to the state of Chhattisgarh.

About Transport Subsidy Scheme –

The government of India had introduced Transport Subsidy Scheme (TSS) on 23.7.1971 to develop industrialization in the remote, hilly and inaccessible areas.

Scheme Objectives:

The objective is to develop industrialization in the remote, hilly and inaccessible areas in 8 North Eastern Region.

Implementing Agency:

DIPP (Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion) is the implementing agency of TSS/FSS.

Monitoring and Review Mechanism:

  • In order to check any misuse, Directorates of Industries in each beneficiary State/UT are required to:
  • Carry out periodical checks to ensure that the raw materials/finished goods for which transport subsidy is given in actually used for the intended purpose,
  • To draw up procedures and arrangements for scrutinizing the claims and for promoting payment of the claims,
  • To lay down a system of pre-registration and to fix and indicate the capacity of the units during registration,
  • To lay down the procedure to ensure regular inflow of information regarding the movement of raw material and finished goods,
  • To lay down that statistics of production and utilization or raw material should be maintained and kept open for inspection.
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Over 1.7 Lakh Bridges Inventorised under IBMS

Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers Shri Mansukh Mandaviya has said that the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has inventoried 1,72,517 bridges/structures under Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS). These structures comprise 1,34,229 culverts, 32,806 minor bridges, 3,647 major and 1,835 extra-long bridges. Earlier there was no proper data available on these structures on the National Highways network.

IBMS crates an inventory of all bridges in the country and rate their structural condition so that timely repair and rehabilitation work can be carried out based on the criticality of the structure.

IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with a database that could exceed 1,50,000 bridge structures. So far 1,15,000 bridges have been inventoried, of which 85,000 are culverts and the rest are bridges.

Why was it necessary?

  • Lack of any database on bridges in the country has led to a situation where there is no clear idea about the exact number and location of bridges. Hence, it has become difficult to maintain bridges in proper working condition. The poor condition of bridges hampers efficient transport and has also led to accidents and loss of lives on several occasions.
  • During inventory creation, each bridge is assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number based on the state, RTO zone and whether it is situated on a National Highway, State Highway or is a district road.
  • Then the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS and based on this, the bridge is assigned a Bridge Location Number.
  • Thereafter, engineering characteristics like the design, materials, type of bridge, its age, loading, traffic lane, length, the width of carriageway etc are collected and are used to assign a Bridge Classification Number to the structure.
  • These are then used to do a structural rating of the structure on a scale of 0 to 9, and each bridge is assigned a Structural Rating Number.
  • In addition to the structural rating, the bridges are also being assigned Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number which will decide the importance of the structure in relation to its contribution to the daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity.
  • Based on this inventory IBMS will analyze data and identify bridges that need attention. Further inspection will be carried out wherever required to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work. The data will help to decide which bridge needs critical attention, or which needs to be rebuilt.
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Narendra Modi inaugurates Bogibeel bridge in Assam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Bogibeel bridge in Assam on the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Bogibeel bridge will connect the south bank of the Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Dibrugarh to Silapathar in Dhemaji bordering Arunachal Pradesh. The 4.9 km-long bridge on the Brahmaputra river boasts of being Asia’s second-longest rail-cum-road bridge.

The significance of the Bridge:

The bridge spanning the River Brahmaputra between Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts of Assam is of immense economic and strategic significance.

This bridge is a marvel of engineering and technology.

This bridge reduces distances between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

This bridge would greatly enhance “ease of living” in the region.

The bridge is 4.94 km long and is India’s longest railroad bridge.

Since Dibrugarh is an important center of healthcare, education, and commerce in the region, and the people living north of the Brahmaputra, can now access this city, more conveniently.

Construction of the Bogibeel Bridge was agreed by the government as part of a 1985 agreement to end years of deadly agitation by Assamese nationalist groups.

The Bogibeel project was a part of the 1985 Assam Accord and was sanctioned in 1997-98.

The Bogibeel Bridge, which will have a serviceable period of around 120 years, is India’s only fully welded bridge for which European welding standards were adhered to for the first time in the country.

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State departments wary of bullet train losses: RTI reply

The Narendra Modi government’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project may turn out to be a loss-making proposition and burden Maharashtra’s already dwindling finances, the latest information obtained by an activist under the Right to Information (RTI) has revealed.

Concerns over the project:

Several objections have been raised by various departments over the economic viability of the Shinkansen train, which could result in losses in the form of wasted Floor Space Index (FSI) and delayed loan repayment in the absence of proper frameworks.

Some part of the FSI at the station proposed at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai could “remain unutilised because of the height restrictions, leading to revenue losses”.

The government is being criticised for clearing a project which has no practical benefit for the State and would add financial stress.

Moreover, the ministerial committee headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has not met to discuss the project since being incorporated in February 2017. The committee was tasked with carrying out an in-depth study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency report and the project’s feasibility.

Both Planning and Finance departments have called for a thorough study of bullet train economics in other countries before a decision is taken on its feasibility in India. Additionally, the departments said the Centre must clarify the formula for sharing the loan burden if the project remains loss-making for a long period of time. Since the State is coping with serious loss in income and further burden of loans, the impact of this project on government finances needs to be considered.

The train, with a capacity of 750 passengers, will travel at speeds between 320 km/hr and 350km/hr and is expected to reduce travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to three-and-a-half hours or less from the present eight. The project is expected to be completed in seven years.

How India benefits from bullet train?

High-speed connectivity – This will facilitate economic growth. Smaller cities along the way can also be connected with high-speed transit facility to these economic Centres through the bullet train network.

The bullet train project is expected to create 4,000 direct job opportunities, along with 20,000 indirect jobs. 20,000 construction workers will also be employed during the set up period of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train.

Urban expansion – New bullet train stations set to come up along the route will attract urban growth. This will again shift the pressure of urbanisation from the existing urban Centres.

Open new avenues – When completed, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project will present as a favorable destination for high-speed train technologies, attracting other parties working in the field.

The geostrategic importance of Bullet trains is:

The bullet train is a symbol of strong trust between India and Japan as it involves the technology transfer at the core of this deal.

The bullet train will create a substantial positive impact on the Indian economy thus building the economic influence of country in Asia and thus all over the world. In the longer duration of time, this technology will reduce the dependence of India on Middle East countries for oil and other fuel products.

Being the clean technology India will set an example for cleaner methods for mass transportation, especially for other developing countries. For Japan too, this deal has geostrategic meaning. Earlier Japan has lost with China in the export of Bullet trains in Thailand and Indonesia. This deal is a diplomatic win for Japan.

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Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission

The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is under implementation across the country. The Mission has progressed since the launch in 2016. Out of the mandated 300 clusters, 295 clusters have been identified and approved across 29 States and 6 Union Territories. SPMRM was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on February 21st, 2016 with an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crore.

This is a unique programme, designed to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.

There is a funding support of up to 30% of the estimated investment for each Rurban cluster, given as Critical Gap Funding (CGF), while 70% of the funds is mobilized by the States through convergence with synergic State and Central programmes and private investment and institutional funding.

The CGF is now shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio of 60:40 for Plain area States and 90:10 for Himalayan and NE States.

Provision of basic amenities

Provision of 24/7 Water Supply to all households,

Solid and Liquid Waste Management facilities at the household and cluster level

Provision of Inter and Intra village roads –

Adequate Street Lights and Public Transport facilities using green technologies

Provision of Economic Amenities –

  • Various thematic areas in the sectors of Agri Services and Processing, Tourism, and Skill development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises
  • As per Census of India Statistics, the rural population in India stands at 833 million, constituting almost 68% of the total population.
  • The rural population has shown a growth of 12% during the 2001-2011 period and there has been an increase in the absolute number of villages during the same period.
  • Large parts of rural areas are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive location and competitive advantages.
  • Hence, making a case for concerted policy directives for such clusters; these clusters once developed can then be classified as ‘Rurban’.
  • The objective of the National Rurban Mission (NRuM) is to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters.
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Dam Safety Bill introduced in Lok Sabha amid objection: All you need to know about bill

The government on  introduced the Dam Safety Bill 2018 in the Lok Sabha, a legislation that aims to provide a robust legal and institutional framework under Central and state governments for the safety of dams, which will help states and Union territories adopt uniform procedures to ensure safety of reservoirs.

The Bill, which provides for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters, was introduced by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal.

Though the subject does not fall under the purview of Parliament, the Centre has decided to introduce this bill mainly because dam safety is an issue of concern in the country. And there are no legal and institutional safeguards in this regard.

Highlights of Dam Safety Bill, 2018:

The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.

The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.

The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.

The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

The Dam Safety Bill, 2018 will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.

It addresses all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals. It lays onus of dam safety on the dam owner and provides for penal provisions for commission and omission of certain acts.

Over the last fifty years, India has invested substantially in dams and related infrastructures, and ranks third after USA and China in the number of large dams. 5254 large dams are in operation in the country currently and another 447 are under construction. In addition to this, there are thousands of medium and small dams.

While dams have played a key role in fostering rapid and sustained agricultural growth and development in India, there has been a long felt need for a uniform law and administrative structure for ensuring dam safety.

The Central Water Commission, through the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), Central Dam Safety Organization (CDSO) and State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSO) has been making constant endeavours in this direction, but these organizations do not have any statutory powers and are only advisory in nature.

This can be a matter of concern, especially since about 75 percent of the large dams in India are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old. A badly maintained, unsafe dam can be a hazard to human life, flora and fauna, public and private assets and the environment.

India has had 36 dam failures in the past.

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Kerala becomes first Indian state to have four international airports

Kerala has become the first state in the country to have four international airports with the inauguration of the Kannur airport

With the commissioning of the airport, the state has become the first in the country to have four international airports, with Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode being the other three.

The airport depicts not only cultural traditions of Malabar and Kannur, but also of Kodagu in neighbouring Karnataka. Virajpet in Kodagu is just only 58-km away from the airport, while district headquarters Madikeri is around 90-km away.

Mural paintings depicting the heritage of Malabar and Indian dance forms, including Theyyam of north Kerala, Kathakali and Yakshagana, the traditional theatre art form of Karnataka, are among the art works that vie for attention at the airport. Speaking at the inaugural function, Prabhu said the commissioning of the greenfield airport was expected to pave way for the state’s overall development and prosperity, especially the northern region.

The Kannur airport, built on a public-private partnership (PPP) model, will become a new benchmark of how airports will be constructed in the country. The airport will help the non-resident Keralites (NRKs), especially in the Gulf region, besides boosting tourism and exports, which will result in several job opportunities,

The minister also wanted the airport to use green power as it would result in economic savings. India already has about 100 airports and, in 10-15 years, another 100 would be added, he said.

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