National Steering Committee on Climate Change Approves Four Projects:-
National Steering Committee on Climate Change (NSCCC) approved four projects from Tamil Nadu, Kerala ,Punjab and Madhya Pradesh
- Management and Rehabilitation of Coastal Habitats and Biodiversity for Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Livelihood in Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu
- The project will help in developing the much needed “Comprehensive Plan or Scheme for Coral and Sea Grass Restoration
- Promotion of Integrated Farming System of Kaipad and Pokkali in Coastal Wetlands of Kerala
- Its broad objectives – providing the main infrastructure facility of strong outer ‘bunds’ with sufficient height; use of tall varieties of salt tolerant paddy; integrating fishery to enhance paddy cultivation and maximize the inland fish production through sustainable aquaculture.
- It will also improve the quality of life for local farmers through higher disposable incomes. It will improve access to fresh water, as peripheral ‘bunds’ will prevent seepage of sea water to fresh water sources, capacity building of farmers and will reduce displacement of labourers from nearby areas and provide employment to women. It will also check carbon emission, as wetlands have good potential to act as carbon sink
- Building Resilience through Integrated Farming Systems for Enhancing Livelihood Security by MP
- Technological adaptation for gainful utilisation of paddy straw (presently burnt on-site) as fuel to replace fossil fuels by Punjab
Kaipad system of rice cultivation is an organic farming system in which rice cultivation and aquaculture go together in coastal brackish water marshes
Kaipad rice is a Geographical Indicator.
A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
Wetlands are highly variable and dynamic: they are water bodies but also include land. They are freshwater, brackish or saline, inland or coastal, seasonal or permanent, natural or man-made. Wetlands include mangroves, (peat) swamps and marshes, rivers, lakes, floodplains and flooded forests, rice-fields, and even coral reefs.
Wetlands are one of the world’s most important environmental assets, containing a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species compared to other areas of the world. Throughout history they have been integral to human survival and development.
Wetlands are vulnerable to over-exploitation due to their abundance of fish, fuel and water. When they are viewed as unproductive or marginal lands, wetlands are targeted for drainage and conversion. In many different ways, wetlands are on the “front-line” as development pressures increase.
A wetland is “an ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes, which, in turn, forces the biota, particularly rooted plants, to adapt to flooding.”There are four main kinds of wetlands – marsh, swamp, bog and fen (bogs and fens being types of mires). Some experts also recognize wet meadows and aquatic ecosystems as additional wetland types.The largest wetlands in the world include the swamp forests of the Amazon and the peatlands of Siberia.
Coastal wetlands, such as tropical mangroves and temperate salt marshes are known to be sinks of carbon, therefore mitigating climate change, however they are also emitters of nitrous oxide (N2O),which is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 300 times that of carbon dioxide and the dominant ozone depleting substance emitted in the 21st century.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, or Ramsar Convention, is an international treaty designed to address global concerns regarding wetland loss and degradation. The primary purposes of the treaty are to list wetlands of international importance and to promote their wise use, with the ultimate goal of preserving the world’s wetlands
Achievements of Department of Space during the year 2015
1. MARS Orbiter Mission:-
India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft has successfully completed its mission objective as planned and has completed one year around Mars orbit on September 24, 2015
By successfully placing Mars Orbiter Spacecraft around Mars, ISRO has become the fourth space agency to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars orbit and India became the first country in the world to do so in its first attempt. The mission has benefited the country by-
(i) Upgrading the technological capabilities in spacecraft design including onboard autonomy, miniaturization, optimization of onboard resources
(ii) providing excellent opportunities in planetary research for the scientific community
(iii) generating interest in youth of the country towards science and technology
Mars Orbiter Mission has been awarded “Space Pioneer Award” for science and engineering category for the year 2015 by the US based National Space Society. The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development has been awarded to ISRO in recognition of its path-breaking (2014 prelims question)
2.Successful launch of GSLV with Indigenous Cryogenic Stage:-
Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D6), equipped with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), successfully launched GSAT-6, the country’s advanced communication satellite, into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
3.Development of Next Generation Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III:-
The first experimental flight of heavy lift next generation launch vehicle, GSLV-Mk III, was successfully conducted on December 18, 2014 from Sriharikota
GSLV Mk III is designed to launch 3.5 to 4 Ton class communication satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
4.Navigational Satellite System:-
Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is designed as a constellation of seven satellites to provide satellite based navigational services in the country.
The IRNSS System will benefit the country by providing positioning services over Indian Land Mass and a region extending to the about 1500 Kms around India. The convergence of communication, earth observation and navigation satellite technologies will prove to be a boon in coming years for location based services and informed decision making.
GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation), which is primarily being used in aviation sector for precise position information services, has been certified by DGCA for Navigation Performance level of Approach with Vertical Guidance (APV-1) over India. With this, India becomes the Third country in the world, after USA and European Union, to offer Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) based precision approach services to civil aviation sector.
5.Augmenting the Satellite Communications infrastructure
6.India’s first multi-wavelength Observatory in Space:-
ASTROSAT satellite, India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite was successfully launched by PSLV-C30 on September 28, 2015. ASTROSAT enables simultaneous Ultraviolet to X-Ray observations to study Stars and Galaxies. It will also provide opportunity to task observations for the scientific community.
7.Commercial Launch of PSLV:-
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has launched 17 foreign satellites from seven countries (Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, UK, and USA) during 2015
8.Initiatives on Satellite for SAARC Region:-
ISRO, with active support from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), hosted a Conference on “Satellite for the SAARC region and Space Technology Applications”. The conference deliberated on configuration and ground Infrastructure requirements for the proposed ‘Satellite for the SAARC region’ as well as other space technology applications. Representatives from all SAARC member countries have participated.
9.Disaster Management Support:-
The Indian Remote Sensing, Meteorological and Communication satellites have immensely helped in the management of recent events of disasters witnessed by the country viz. J&K Floods, HudHud Cyclone and J&K Landslides. These satellites have provided near real time support in terms of early warning, assessment of damages, emergency communication
- Identifying the water bodies in tribal dominated districts, which could be developed to culture fisheries
- Monitoring and evaluation of developmental activities in the watersheds
- Space Based Information Support for Decentralized Planning
- Bhuvan Panchayat Portal provides functionalities required to carry out the decentralized planning process at grass-root level. Citizens in general and three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) (Gram Panchayat, Block Panchayat and District Panchayat) in particular are the users of the Portal. It helps PRIs in tracking the progress of work undertaken by citizens under various schemes.
- Conservation of heritage sites
A geosynchronous orbit is a high Earth orbit that allows satellites to match Earth’s rotation. Located at 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above Earth’s equator, this position is a valuable spot for monitoring weather, communications and surveillance
A geosynchronous orbit is an orbit around the Earth, where the object orbits once per day. A common kind of geosynchronous orbit is called a geostationary orbit, where the object orbits above the same part of the Earth at all times.
This is an extremely useful type of orbit and is used for anything where a satellite needs to send or receive signals from the same part of the Earth all the time. It’s used for cell phone satellites, television satellites, weather satellites, as well as some military satellites.
A sun-synchronous orbit/polar orbits is an orbit around the Earth, where the movement of the satellite always looks the same when viewed from the Sun. A satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit still orbits the Earth, but does so in such a way that over the course of the day, its distance to the Sun will change in a consistent pattern no matter the time of year.
Polar-orbiting satellites provide a more global view of Earth, circling at near-polar inclination (the angle between the equatorial plane and the satellite orbital plane — a true polar orbit has an inclination of 90 degrees). Orbiting at an altitude of 700 to 800 km, these satellites cover best the parts of the world most difficult to cover in situ (on site).Used for weather and Spy satellites
Cryogenics and its applications:-
- Cryogenics is the study of how to attain low temperatures and how materials behave when these low temperatures are attained.What cryogenics is not: It is not the study of freezing and reviving people. This is known as Cryonics, a confusingly similar term.
- Cryogenics deals with low temperatures, from about 100 Kelvin to absolute zero.
- Cryogenic Liquids Commonly used gases, in their liquid form, are nitrogen and helium. These are the common cryogenic liquids.Liquid Helium and Nitrogen are usually stored in vacuum insulated flasks called Dewars. Liquid oxygen (LOX) is even more widely used but as an oxidizer, not a fuel.
- It has various other industry usage such as food preservation , blood banking etc.
Dr. V.Kelkar Committee report on PPP Model on Infrastructure:-
Highlights of the report:-
PPPs in infrastructure represent a valuable instrument to speed up infrastructure development in India. This speeding up is urgently required for India to grow rapidly and generate a demographic dividend for itself and also to tap into the large pool of pension and institutional funds from aging populations in the developed countries.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure refer to the provision of a public asset and service by a private partner who has been conceded the right (the “Concession”) for the purpose, for a specified period of time, on the basis of market determined revenue streams, that allow for commercial return on investment.
The Government may take early action to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which does not distinguish between genuine errors in decision-making and acts Measures may be taken immediately to make only malafide action by public servants punishable, and not errors, and to guard against witch hunt against government officers and bureaucrats for decisions taken with bonafide intention. The government may speed up amendment of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Vigilance and Conduct rules applicable to government officers
Experience has also underlined the need to further strengthen the three key pillars of PPP frameworks namely Governance, Institutions and Capacity, to build on the established foundation for the next wave of implementation.
The Committee recommends setting up these independent regulators with a unified mandate that encompasses activities in different infrastructure sub sectors to ensure harmonized performance by the regulators
The dominant, primary concern of the Committee was the optimal allocation of risks across PPP stakeholders. Inefficient and inequitable allocation of risk in PPPs can be a major factor in PPP failures, ultimately hurting the citizens of India. The Committee notes that the adoption of the Model Concession Agreement (MCA) has meant that project specific risks are rarely addressed by project implementation authorities in this “One-size-fits- all” approach. A rational allocation of risks can only be undertaken in sector and project-specific contexts.
For the next generation of PPP Contracts, the Committee suggests the following broad guidelines while allocating and managing risks: 1) an entity should bear the risk that is in its normal course of its business; 2) an assessment needs to be carried out regarding the relative ease and efficiency of managing the risk by the entity concerned; 3) the cost effectiveness of managing the risk needs to be evaluated; 4) any overriding considerations/stipulations of a particular entity need to be factored in prior to implementing the risk management structure
Typically infrastructure PPP projects span over 20-30 years and a developer often loses bargaining power related to tariffs and other matters in case there are abrupt changes in the economic or policy environment which are beyond his control. The Committee feels strongly that the private sector must be protected against what have been called “Obsolescing Bargain”-the loss of bargaining power over time by private player in PPPs
Revisiting PPPs: Achievements and Challenges
- Contracts need to focus more on service delivery instead of fiscal benefits
- Better identification and allocation of risks between stakeholders
- Prudent utilization of viability gap funds where user charges cannot guarantee a robust revenue stream .
- Improved fiscal reporting practices and careful monitoring of performance . Given the urgency of India’s demographic transition, and the experience India has already gathered in managing PPPs, the government must move the PPP model to the next level of maturity and sophistication.
Why it is Urgent for India to get Infrastructure PPPs.
- The Committee feels strongly that maturing the PPP model in India is an urgent priority also to take advantage of this historical conjunction of India’s infrastructure needs and the availability of long-term funding
- PPPs have the potential to deliver infrastructure projects both faster and better. Building on India’s 15 years of experience with PPPs, there is need to iron out the difficulties in the performance of PPP at every stage of the contract.
Re-balancing of risk Sharing :
Full disclosure of long-term costs, risks and potential benefits;
Comparison with the financial position for government at the time of signing the Concession Agreement;
Comparison with the financial position for government at the time prior to renegotiation.
Resolving Legacy Issues
Only a statutorily established credible empowered multi-disciplinary expert institutional mechanism can deal with the complex issues involved .
- An Infrastructure PPP Project Review Committee (“IPRC”) may be constituted to evaluate and send its recommendations in a time-bound manner upon a reference being made of “Actionable Stress” in any Infrastructure Project developed in PPP mode beyond a notified threshold value.
An Infrastructure PPP Adjudication Tribunal (“IPAT”) chaired by a Judicial Member (former Judge SC/Chief Justice HC) with a Technical and/or a Financial member, where benches will be constituted by the Chairperson as per needs of the matter in question
In case procurement of land or clearance is pending from government authorities for more than prescribed number of days, the outstanding work should be descoped (under the provisions of Change in Law of Concession Agreement), and allow rest of activities for completed work. Balance work could be completed on a cash-contract basis, provided land and required clearances are in place.
Cancel projects that have not achieved a prescribed percentage of progress on the ground. Rebid them once issues have been resolved or complete them through public funds and if viable, bid out for Operations and Maintenance.
Generic, Including Legacy Projects
Sector specific institutional frameworks may be developed to address issues for PPP infrastructure projects . An entity should bear the risk that is in its normal course of its business (for instance, acquisition of land is a normal course of business for public entities).Overriding considerations/ stipulations of each entity to be factored in prior to implementation of risk management structure.
Learnings from the Highways sector to be utilized for other sectors to customize and adopt such frameworks .
Umbrella guidelines may be developed for stressed projects that provide an overall framework for development and functioning of the sector specific frameworks paragraph.
DEA to finalize a national PPP Policy document.
Unsolicited Proposals (“Swiss Challenge”) to be discouraged to avoid information asymmetries and lack of transparency.
Strengthening Policy, Governance and Institutional Capacity
Amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to distinguish between genuine errors in decision-making and acts of corruption
Set up an institution for invigorating private investments in infrastructure, providing guidance for a national PPP policy and developments in PPP, developing a mechanism to capture and collate data for decision making, undertaking capacity building activities. The 3P-I institute for PPPs announced in 2014 may be set-up without delay.
An institutionalized mechanism like the National Facilitation Committee (NFC) to ensure time bound resolution of issues including getting timely clearances/approvals during implementation of projects for smooth running of such projects.
Ministry of Finance to coordinate with other implementing ministries may develop a policy to promote secondary market for operational assets.
Essential to set up independent Regulators in sectors going in for PPP.
Discourage government participation in SPVs(Special Purpose Vehicle) that implement PPP projects unless strategically essential.
Scaling- Up Finance
Banks to build up their own risk assessment/appraisal capabilities .
RBI may provide guidelines to lenders on encashment of bank guarantees
Monetisation of viable projects that have stable revenue flows .
Equity in completed, successful infrastructure projects may be divested by offering to long-term investors.
Ministry of Finance to allow banks and financial institutions to issue Zero Coupon Bonds which will also help to achieve soft landing for user charges in infrastructure sector.
Revitalising Contractual Processes
a) Need for review of the MCAS : Model Concession Agreement
b) Sample suggestions for generic changes, including for resolution of disputes, and sector-specific changes
Reinvigorating the Sectors:
Independent sector regulators essential
Build upon maturing landscape in Roads and Ports PPP and move into the next phase: Roads: avoiding delays, institutionalized dispute resolution, improved project development activity, monetization of operational assets, efficiency and transparency by electronic tolling, etc
Ports: review of role and need of Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP), review of MCA, quicker clearances, rationalized leases and stamp duties
Airport: PPPs to be encouraged where viable in Greenfield and brownfield projects, have policy that addresses potential demand for airport services in the country, notify a unified regulatory structure, clarity in delineation of Till policy,
Encourage use of PPPs in sectors like Railways, Urban, etc. Railways to have an independent tariff regulator, tap potentially useful PPP opportunities including brownfield assets.
Fast Forward PPPs
Set up an institute of excellence in PPP to inter alia guide the sector, provide policy input, timely advice and undertake sustainable capacity building .
Ensure integrated development of infrastructure with roadmaps for delivery of projects.
India’s demographic deadlines are staring at us. There are only two or three decades left to complete the transition from a country that has just attained middle-income status to that of a high-income and developed economy. Besides the basic problems for provision of adequate infrastructure, the middle-income trap is also to be averted. Without adequate infrastructure, this will simply not be possible. India is currently in a global win-win situation with a large young population that will need good jobs and a huge pool of global savings that can be tapped for building out our infrastructure. PPPs are an important policy instrument that will enable India to compress time in this journey towards economic growth and development. A successful and growing stream of PPPs in infrastructure will go a long way in accelerating the country’s development process.
Indian Economic Association:-
Background :-98th annual conference of the Indian Economic Association (IEA) recently inaugurated at Delhi.
Indian Economic Association is a registered body of Indian Economic Professionals, established way back in 1917, with the objective of providing a Forum for debate and discussion of theoretical and policy oriented Issues of Economic Science. The IEA organizes annual conferences, special seminars and lectures by eminent persons of the profession.
The IEA is a member of the International Economic Association.
- Benefit of LPG subsidy will not be available if the consumer or his/her spouse had taxable income of more than Rs Ten lakh in previous financial year
- Khoya Paya:-Web portal Khoya-Paya launched for reporting and searching missing children. The web portal ‘Khoya-Paya’ will have information of missing and sighted children.
- Film on Good Touch Bad Touch – KOMAL:-A National Award winning animation film KOMAL has been produced to educate young children on sexual misconduct. The school organizations have been directed to have this film shown to all children in all schools. This is indeed a good initiative as the children are usually unaware of sexual harassment and most of the time could not identify it.
- 33% Reservation of Women in Police – So far 7 states and all Union Territories have joined this initiative and have started recruiting additional women police officers. Most of the other States have agreed to start working on this