Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016
Background :- Rajya Sabha recently passed the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016.Real estate contributes 9% to the national GDP and the Bill’s passage was seen as crucial to ensuring better regulatory oversight and orderly growth in the industry.
Objective of the Bill :-
To protect home buyers from real estate developers who fail to deliver on time, and regulating India’s real estate sector.
Details of the bill:
- Timely completion and delivery of flats to the customer
- Consumers are entitled to a full refund with interest, if there has been a long delay in the delivery of a flat.
- Robust mechanism for the publication of accurate project details and disclosures. T
- Developers need to share final project plans as part of their disclosure terms, with no room for iterations.
- 10% project cost penalty and upto 3 years in jail.
- Developers need to deposit 70% of the collections from buyers in separate accounts towards the cost of construction including that of land as against a minimum of 50% suggested by the Select Committee.
- Norms for registration of projects has been brought down to plot area of 500 sq.mts or 8 apartments as against 4,000 sq.mts proposed in the draft Bill in 2013 and 1,000 sq.mts or 12 apartments suggested by the Standing Committee.
- All clearances are completed before the launch of a projec to avoid delay.
- Developers are bound to provide after sales service for properties found to have structural defects, at no extra cost to the consumer.
- Liability of developers for structural defects has been increased from 2 to 5 years and they can’t change plans without the consent of two thirds of allottees.
- Commercial real estate also brought under the ambit of the bill.
- Both consumers and developers will now have to pay same interest rate for any delays on their part.
- Specific and reduced time frames have been prescribed for disposal of complaints by the Appellate Tribunals and Regulatory Authorities.
- Arranging Insurance of Land title that can benefit both the consumers and developers if land titles are later found to be defective.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
Objective :To provide Free LPG connections to Women from BPL Households.
Oddly enough , the scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme.
Details of the Scheme:-
- Under the scheme, Rs 8000 crore has been earmarked for providing 5 crore LPG connections to BPL households. This Scheme would be implemented over three years.
- The Scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households.
- The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
Significance of this scheme:
Various surveys have indicated that the poor in the country have limited access to cooking gas (LPG). The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households. The LPG penetration in rural areas has been dismal and due to this reason many household in rural region are exposed to indoor pollution and the statistics of the resultant health issues are compelling.Hence it is necessary to provide LPG as an alternative.Health issue is as much a concern of the individual as of the government( public health spending may rise if this issue is not tackled at the initiation stage )
- WHO estimates that about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths were due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
- Hence, providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country. This measure will empower women and protect their health. It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking. It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.
Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)
Background :- The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP). It will enhance domestic oil and gas production, bring substantial investment in the sector and generate sizable employment. The policy also targets the enhancement of transparency and reduction of administrative discretion.
Four main facets of this policy are:
- Uniform license for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbon.
- An open acreage policy.
- Easy to administer revenue sharing model.
- Marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced.
Details of the Policy:
- There will be a uniform licensing system which will cover all hydrocarbons, i.e. oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single license and policy framework.
- Contracts will be based on “biddable revenue sharing”. Bidders will be required to quote revenue share in their bids and this will be a key parameter for selecting the winning bid.
- Open Acreage Licensing Policy to be implemented where a bidder can apply to the Government seeking exploration of any block not already covered by exploration. The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it is suitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances. This will enable a faster coverage of the available geographical area.
- Concessional royalty regime will be implemented for deep water and ultra-deep water areas. These areas shall not have any royalty for the first seven years, and thereafter shall have a concessional royalty of 5% (in deep water areas) and 2% (in ultra-deep water areas). In shallow water areas, the royalty rates shall be reduced from 10% to 7.5%.
- The contractor will have freedom for pricing and marketing of gas produced in the domestic market on arms length basis. To safeguard the Government revenue, the Government’s share of profit will be calculated based on the higher of prevailing international crude price or actual price.
- The new policy regime marks a generational shift and modernization of the oil and gas exploration policy. It is expected to stimulate new exploration activity for oil, gas and other hydrocarbons and eventually reduce import dependence.
- Marketing and pricing freedom will further simplify the process. This will remove the discretion at the hands of the Government, reduce disputes, avoid opportunities for corruption, reduce administrative delays and thus stimulate growth.
- The decision is expected to improve the viability of some of the discoveries already made in such areas and also would lead to monetization of future discoveries as well.
- The extension of these contracts is expected to bring extra investments in the fields and would generate both direct (related to field operations) and indirect employment (related to service industry associated with these fields).
NITI Aayog launches ‘Women Transforming India’ campaign
Celebrating women doers, leaders and change makers from across the country, NITI Aayog-Government of India’s premier think-tank – has launched the ‘Women Transforming India‘ initiative on International Women’s Day, in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov.
- With this, NITI Aayog seeks to engage directly with women leaders from across urban and rural areas of India.
- Through the initiative, NITI Aayog is seeking for entries in the form of written essays/stories. These stories should reflect new ground broken by women in empowering themselves/others, or of challenging stereotypes.
- Winning entries will receive a certificate of appreciation from NITI Aayog and the UN in India. Winners may also have a chance to interact directly with policy makers in the Government of India, to enable affect positive policy action.
- This initiative is also a step forward in furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have Gender as a stand-alone goal. NITI Aayog has been entrusted with the responsibility to plan, monitor and coordinate SDG efforts across Central Ministries and State governments.
PSLV-C32 successfully launches India’s Sixth Navigation Satellite IRNSS-1F:-
IRNSS-1F is the sixth of the seven satellites constituting the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID and IE, the first five satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV . All the five satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.
IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1,500 km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) – provided to all users – and Restricted Services (RS), provided to authorised users.
A number of ground stations responsible for the generation and transmission of navigation parameters, satellite ranging and monitoring, etc., have been established in eighteen locations across the country.
IRNSS-1G, the remaining satellite of this constellation, is scheduled to be launched by PSLV in April 2016, thereby completing the IRNSS constellation.
ISRO Developing Station in Vietnam
As part of Space Cooperation between India and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at the behest of Government of India, is working towards the establishment of a Satellite Tracking & Data Reception Station and Data Processing Facility in Vietnam for ASEAN Member countries. This facility is intended to acquire and process Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data pertaining to ASEAN region and disseminate to ASEAN Member countries.
Under this initiative, all ASEAN member countries will be allowed to access processed remote sensing data pertaining to their country.
Ground facility is designed in such a way that it will not allow Indian data to be accessed and processed by the system.
SMS Alert about Weather Conditions being provided to Farmers:-
The Gramin Krishi Mausam Seva (GKMS) of Earth System Science Organization (ESSO)-India Meteorological Department (IMD) is rendered on twice weekly basis in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), institutions of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), IITs etc.
• maximum temperature, minimum temperature
• wind speed, wind direction
• relative humidity and clouds
• weekly cumulative rainfall forecast
The GKMS of ESSO-IMD has been successful in providing the crop specific advisories to the farmers through different print/visual/Radio/ IT based media including short message service (SMS) and Interactive Voice Response Service (IVRS) facilitating for appropriate field level actions. Weather forecast based agro-meteorological advisories are disseminated through Kisan portal launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and also under public private partner.
Restructuring of Curriculum in Higher Education
India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 62% of its population in the working age group (15-59 years), and more than 54% of its total population below 25 years of age. A skill gap study conducted by National Skill Development Corporation over 2010-2014, indicates that there is an additional net incremental requirement of 109.73 million skilled manpower by 2022 in twenty-four key sectors.
As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2014-15(Provisional), the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher Education is 23.6% which in absolute figures is 33.3 million. The GER target is 25.2% at the end of Twelfth Five Year Plan in 2017 and 30% by 2020.
During the 12th Plan period, though the thrust is on consolidation of higher education, several new Central Universities, Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Polytechnics and other Institutions of Higher learning have been established. A new scheme ‘Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)’ has been launched which aims to assist States to open new institutions, consolidate old ones and take appropriate steps to achieve the aims of equity, access and excellence.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) is providing General Development Assistance (GDA) to Universities and Colleges declared fit to receive grants under section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956. This assistance is provided to these institutions for their overall development covering aspects like enhancing access, ensuring equity, etc.
Since ‘Education’ is a Concurrent subject, State Governments are also taking various initiatives to increase access to higher education in the States. Besides, Private Universities/Institutions are also catering to the educational aspirations of the youth.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated several steps to include innovation and improvement in course- curricula, introduction of paradigm shift in learning and teaching pedagogy, examination and education system. With a view to allow the flexibility in education system, so that students depending upon their interests and aims can choose interdisciplinary, intra-disciplinary and skill-based courses, choice based credit system (CBCS), is adopted.
The choice based credit system not only offers opportunities and avenues to learn core subjects but also explore additional avenues of learning beyond the core subjects for holistic development. The UGC has prepared mainline and specialised model syllabi for undergraduate programmes and made it available to the universities to facilitate the implementation of CBCS.
Three themes under Higher Education are relevant to policy initiative for restructuring of the curriculum. The theme “Integrating skill development in higher education” on integrating skills within the higher education; theme “Linking higher education to society” regarding re-establishing and strengthening of higher education’s close linkages with the society and the theme “New Knowledge” relating to higher education institutions identifying the new domains of knowledge in the global scenario.
The Government of India has constituted a Committee for Evolution of the New Education Policy which headed by T.S.R. Subramanian The Committee is expected to examine the outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received and formulate a draft National Education Policy as well as a Framework for Action (FFA).
Ganga Gram Yojana :-
Under the “Namami Gange” Programme, the government plans to develop the villages located along the main stem of river Ganga which have historic, cultural, and religious and/or tourist importance. Works related to Ganga Grams will encompass comprehensive rural sanitation, development of water bodies and river ghats, construction/ modernization of crematoria etc. The main objectives of developing Ganga Gram (Model Village) is:-
• Make the village open defecation free
• Abate direct discharge of untreated liquid wastewater from such villages into river Ganga
• Facilitate adequate infrastructure for crematoria
• Develop proper solid waste disposal facilities in order to avoid any pollution to river Ganga
• Promote better sanitation practices in the villages through IEC activities.
Based on the recommendations of the concerned local authorities, 206 villages having historic, cultural, tourist and/or religious importance have been selected in the first phase. This includes all 78 villages in Sahebganj district, Jharkhand and 128 villages from Uttarakhand, UP, West Bengal and Bihar (Uttarakhand-4, West Bengal-58, Uttar Pradesh-53, and Bihar-13).
Government of Jharkhand, in association with UNDP, has prepared a comprehensive plan for 78 villages in Sahebganj district, which is under active consideration of NMCG. Preliminary base line survey has been completed in 38 other villages and a comprehensive sanitation plan is under preparation. After the initial development of “Ganga Gram”, this model would be replicated in other villages located along the main stream of river Ganga.
Ex-Iron Fist 2016:– The Indian Air Force of today has evolved into a capable force to reckon with. From the days of flying vintage aircraft like the Tiger Moth and the Harvard, the Indian Air Force has transformed itself into a modern fighting force. While upgrading its inventory in terms of aerial platforms, sensors and weapon systems, the IAF has also simultaneously improved upon the capabilities of the ‘human behind the machine’ whilst rightfully upholding its mission statement, “People First, Mission Always”.
- Indian Naval Ship (INS) Tabar, a stealth frigate of the Indian Navy entered Port Louis, Mauritius and shall remain there till 13 March 2016. The primary aim of the visit is to participate in the Mauritius National Day celebrations and to strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between the two nations. On the occasion of the National day (12 Mar), the ship would be fielding a marching contingent in addition to fly-past by Chetak helicopter and performance by the Indian Naval Band.