Wednesday, 30 March 2016 03:36


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30-MARCH- 2016


Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the implementation of rural housing scheme of thePradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G). This will help achieve the goal of Housing for All by 2022.

The total expenditure that will be incurred on implementing the project in a span of 3 years from 2016-17 to 2018-19 stands at 81975 crore rupees.

Details of implementing the Scheme

•    Providing financial assistance for construction of 1 crore pucca houses to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses in rural areas from 2016-17 to 2018-19

•    The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except Delhi and Chandigarh.

•    The cost of houses would be shared between Centre and States in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.

•    Enhancing the unit assistance to 120000 rupees in plain areas and to 130000 rupees in hilly states/difficult areas /IAP districts

•    Using Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 data for identification of beneficiaries.

•    Setting up of National Technical Support Agency at national level to provide technical support in achieving the target set under the project.

•    The beneficiary is entitled to 90 days of unskilled labour from MGNREGA. This will be ensured through a server linkage between PMAY and MGNREGA.

•    Funds will be transferred electronically directly to the account of the beneficiary.

•    The beneficiary would be facilitated to avail loan of up to 70000 rupees for construction of the house which is optional.

•    The unit size will be enhanced from the existing 20 square meter to up to 25 square meter including a dedicated area for hygienic cooking.


The President Pranab Mukherjee’s in May 2014 while addressing the Joint Session of Parliament announced that "By the time the nation completes 75 years of its Independence (by 2022), every family will have a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24x7 electricity supply and access". This was reflected in the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presentation of Budget 2015-16 wherein he announced to achieve 'Housing for All' by 2022.

Subsequently, the Government approved the urban component on 25 June 2015 which is under implementation.


Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the 1500 million US dollar project of World Bank to support Swachh Bharat Mission - Gramin (SBM-G).

The approval seeks to provide for the mechanism of incentivisation of States under the SBM-G through World Bank credit.   The incentivisation of the States on the basis of their performance under the SBM-G was approved by the Union Cabinet on 24 September 2014.

Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs)

Under the project, the performance of the States will be gauged through certain performance indicators, called the Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs). Following are three DLIs.

•    Reduction in the prevalence of open defecation: The funds under this result area shall be released to the States on the basis of reduction in prevalence of open defecation amongst rural households in the State, compared to the previous year.

•    Sustaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in Villages: The funds under this result area, shall be released on the basis of estimated population residing in ODF villages.

•    Increase in percentage of rural population served by improved Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM): The funds under this will be based on the population served with acceptable level of SLWM services.

Further, the States will pass on more than 95 percent of the Performance Incentive Grant Funds to the appropriate districts, Blocks, Gram Panchayats, etc levels. The end-use of the incentive grants will be limited to activities pertaining to the sanitation sector.

What the Project will do?

•    It will accelerate efforts to achieve sustained outcomes in sanitation by 2019.

•    The incentive framework will reorient efforts of States towards the SBM-G 'outcomes'

•    It will also put in place a robust and credible independent verification system for annual measurement of improvement in rural sanitation.

•    It will support the SBM-G programme in achievement of its objectives of attaining open defecation- free and clean environment.

•    It will ensure a better quality of life for the rural population.


The proposed Project is not a new scheme. It is part of the existing SBM-G, wherein Performance- based Incentive Grant Scheme is proposed to be launched through World Bank support credit funds.

The project comes in the background of acceleration of efforts under Swachh Bharat Mission - Gramin which has a goal to accelerate efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage, improve cleanliness and eliminate open defecation in rural India by 2019.


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) established the Gadanki Ionospheric Radar Interferometer (GIRI) near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

It was set up at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL) which is an autonomous research institute of the Department of Space.

Features of GIRI System

• It is a 30 MHz radar system that will be engaged in meteor and space weather research in a comprehensive way.

• It consists of a rectangular antenna array of 160 two-element Yagi-antenna, arranged in a 20x8 matrix, 20 transmitter units, 6 digital receivers including data processing systems, a radar controller, and a host computer.

• Its primary objective is to carry out unattended observations towardsstudying the forcing from the sun like variation in solar flux, solar flare and magnetic storm on the ionospheric irregularities.

• It also seeks to study unattended observations from the underneath atmosphere (e.g., waves generated by weather phenomena) on the ionospheric irregularities.

• It will provide important information on the angular location of plasma irregularities during the onset phase and its relationship to background ionospheric state parameters and sunset terminator.

• Investigations made using this facility are expected to improve the skill in Equatorial Plasma Bubble (EPB) forecasting which is detrimental for satellite based navigation/communication applications.

About National Atmospheric Research Laboratory

• It is an autonomous society supported by Department of Space and is located at Gadanki near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

• It is one of the specialized atmospheric research in the country to conduct basic atmospheric research, indigenous technology development for atmospheric probing and weather and climate modeling.

• It regularly operates state-of-the-art MST radar, Rayleigh / Mie Lidar, Boundary Layer Lidar, Sodium Lidar, Lower Atmospheric Wind Profiler, Sodar and Dual frequency GPS receiver.

• Its facilities are available for national and international scientists to conduct atmospheric research.

• The proposed up-gradation of the upcoming active array MST radar into Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) will provide a unique opportunity for scientists from both home and abroad to conduct frontline atmospheric and ionospheric research.

• With the ISR upgrade, NARL will become the first comprehensive low latitude observatory in the world.


US Navy tug USS Conestoga was in news as its wreck was discovered near one of the Farallones Islands about 30 miles (50 km) west of San Francisco. It was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Navy of United States.

The World War I era tug was missing since 1921 and the discovery of the wreck solved a 95 year-old mystery of its disappearance.

The wreck of the U.S. Navy tugboat USS Conestoga is seen on sonar in at a depth of 185 feet in the waters of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California.

The wood deck and other upper features have collapsed into the hull due to corrosion and age.

Marine growth covers the exterior. No human remains have been found.

About USS Conestoga

Conestoga was an US Navy tug, bound for American Samoa via Hawaii had departed from San Francisco Bay on 25 March 1921 and vanished with 56 men.

The Navy declared Conestoga and its crew lost in June 1921. It was the last Navy ship to be lost without a trace in peacetime.

Unraveling the mystery began in 2009, when NOAA found an uncharted likely shipwreck in 189 feet (57.6 meters) of water about three miles (five km) off Southeast Farallon Island, in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

The agency began an investigation in September 2014 and the ship was identified in October 2015.

Investigators believe that the Conestoga sank as it tried to reach a protected cove on Southeast Farallon Island.


The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post facto approval for a MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to mobilise long term investment into the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 11 February 2016 to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects in India.

Features of the MoU

• It seeks to mobilize funds to develop commercially viable projects including greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects.

• It will facilitate establishment of a transparent and high-level framework and collaboration platform for smooth flow of investments for this purpose.

• It will augment investments from UAE’s investment institutions in appropriate infrastructure projects and institutions in India including NIIF.

• A joint working group comprising of the concerned representatives of both parties will be set up to terms, principles and criteria jointly.


The MoU is a part of India’s efforts to mobiles funds for infrastructure development from the UAE.

Earlier, in August 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit both the countries agreed to set up the UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund with the aim of reaching a target of 75 billion US dollars.

The fund will support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

About National Investment and Infrastructure Fund

• The fund was approved by the Union Cabinet in July 2015 to fund new and rejuvenate stressed projects so that stalled investment cycle is revived in the country.

• It was established as a Category II Alternate Investment Funds (AIF) as per the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

• It has an initial corpus of 20000 crore rupees which can be leveraged by infrastructure companies including Indian Rail Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Housing Bank (NHB).


The Reserve Bank of India issued revised Framework for Revival and Rehabilitation of Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs). This revised Framework will supersede RBI’s earlier Guidelines on Rehabilitation of Sick Micro and Small Enterprises issued on 1 November 2012.

The Framework has to be put in place by the banks not later than 30 June 2016.

Key Guidelines

• It shall be applicable to MSMEs having loan limits up to 25 crore rupees including accounts under consortium or multiple banking arrangement (MBA).

• It classifies three categories in Special Mention Account (SMA) to identify incipient stress in the accounts of MSMEs in case of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs):

a) SMA-0: Principal or interest payment not overdue for more than 30 days but account showing signs of incipient stress

b) SMA-1: Principal or interest payment overdue between 31-60 days

c) SMA-2: Principal or interest payment overdue between 61-90 days

• On the basis of the above early warning signals, the branch maintaining the account should consider forwarding the stressed accounts with aggregate loan limits above 10 lakh rupees to the Committee for Stressed MSMEs within five working days for a suitable corrective action plan (CAP).

• As regards accounts with aggregate loan limits up to 10 lakh rupees identified as SMA-2, the account should be mandatorily examined for CAP by the branch itself under the authority of the branch manager /designated official as decided by the bank.

• In order to enable faster resolution of stress in an MSME account, every bank shall form Committees for Stressed MSMEs

• The chairperson of the Committee shall be the regional or zonal head of the convener bank

• Officer-in-charge of the MSME credit department of the convener bank at the regional or zonal level shall be member and convener of the Committee.

• One independent external expert with expertise in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises related matters to be nominated by bank.

• One representative from the concerned State Government shall be endeavoured to be nominated to the Committee.

• The option under CAP may include Rectification, Restructuring and Recovery among others.

• If the Committee decides on options of either ‘Rectification’ or ‘Restructuring’, but the account fails to perform as per the agreed terms under these options, the Committee shall initiate recovery

• Restructuring cases shall be taken up by the Committee only in respect of assets reported as Standard, Special Mention Account or Sub-Standard by one or more lenders of the Committee. Wilful defaulters shall not be eligible for restructuring.

Although, the Ministry of MSME on 29 May 2015 had notified a ‘Framework for Revival and Rehabilitation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises but the present Framework seeks make it compatible with the existing regulatory guidelines on ‘Income Recognition, Asset Classification and provisioning pertaining to Advances’ issued to banks by RBI.


The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016.

The new set of rules will supersede the E-Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 and will pave the way for more transparent and environment friendly management of e-waste across the country.

Highlights of the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016

• Manufacturer, dealer, refurbisher and Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) have been introduced as additional stakeholders in the rules.

• The applicability of the rules has been extended to components, consumables, spares and parts of electromechanical.

• Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury containing lamp were brought under the purview of rules for the first time.

• Collection mechanism based approach has been adopted to include collection centre, collection point, take back system etc for collection of e-waste by Producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

• Option has been given for setting up of PRO, e-waste exchange, e- retailer, Deposit Refund Scheme as additional channel for implementation of EPR by Producers to ensure efficient channelization of e-waste.

• Provision for Pan India EPR Authroization by CPCB has been introduced replacing the State wise EPR authorization.

• Deposit Refund Scheme was introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment.

• The amount will be returned to the consumer along with interest when the end-of life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.

• The e-waste exchange as an option has been provided in the rules as an independent market instrument offering assistance or independent electronic systems offering services for sale and purchase of e-waste.

• The manufacturer is also now responsible to collect e-waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and channelise it for recycling or disposal and seek authorization from SPCB.

• For the first time, the roles of the State Government was introduced in the Rules in order to ensure safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in the dismantling and recycling operations.

• State Government will prepare an integrated plan for effective implementation of these provisions and submit annual report to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

• The transportation of e-waste shall be carried out as per the manifest system whereby the transporter shall be required to carry a document (three copies) prepared by the sender, giving the details.

• Liability for damages caused to the environment or third party due to improper management of e-waste including provision for levying financial penalty for violation of provisions of the Rules introduced.

• Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) were given the duty to collect and channelized the orphan products to authorized dismantler or recycler.


  • President’s Rule was imposed on Uttarakhand, a day before the Harish Rawat government was to face a test of strength in the Assembly, which has been placed under suspended animation.
  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told journalists that the Cabinet took the decision.
  • However, the Congress questioned the move, with its spokesperson Manish Tewari citing the Bommai case judgment of 1994, which states that the legitimacy of a government has to be established in the Assembly.
  • Mr. Jaitley had gone to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday night to communicate the Cabinet’s decision and address questions that he might have had.
  • Governor K.K. Paul’s report on the constitutional breakdown was discussed in the aftermath of the sting video that showed CM Rawat allegedly involved in horse-trading. Mr. Mukherjee signed the proclamation on Sunday morning.


  • India will hand over the DNA samples of the four terrorists killed in the Pathankot airbase to Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, which arrived to probe the attack.
  • The team is expected to track down the families of the terrorists in Pakistan and match the samples.
  • The five-member team, including an ISI official, landed at the Palam technical area in a special aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force in the morning. It has a seven-day visa to visit Delhi and Pathankot.
  • The proof of role of J-e-M can withstand any international judicial scrutiny. Since Pakistan has not sent any letter rogatory [a judicial request to gather evidence] so far, India has said that the onus of making the evidence count in a court of law in their country is on them.


  • U.S. researchers have found that blowing tiny bubbles through sea water could help protect coral reefs and oyster farms from oceans, which have increasingly turned acidic through human activities.
  • The idea is that tiny bubbles will help cleanse the world’s oceans of carbon dioxide (CO2) by drawing the gas out of the seawater and transferring it to the atmosphere. This may provide a relatively inexpensive solution to one of the biggest threats facing coral reefs today.
  • Ocean acidification harms a variety of marine organisms, but especially those that use calcium carbonate to assemble their skeletons and shells, such as coral, mussels, and oysters.
  • The study was published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.


  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is keen on deploying sensors and drones in farms, to start with, for assessing the quality of soil as well as crop losses after floods.
  • The devices would help speed up the analysis. At present, unless large areas get affected farmers do not get compensation.
  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute, a premier ICAR institution in Delhi, in association with a few other agencies, including ISRO and IIT-Delhi, is working in this area.


  • A buoyant Bernie Sanders said he has the momentum as he attempts to claw back Hillary Clinton’s handsome lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, after scoring a trio of big wins.
  • The Vermont Senator breathed fresh life into his campaign for the White House with a clean sweep in caucuses on Saturday in the western U.S. States of Alaska, Hawaii and Washington.
  • In the wider context of their battle for the Democratic presidential ticket, Mr. Sanders’s Saturday success barely dents Ms. Clinton’s formidable lead — she now has 1,733 delegates, including super-delegates who are unelected by voters, to Mr. Sanders’s 1,039, according to a CNN count.
  • To win the Democratic nomination at the July convention in Philadelphia, 2,383 delegates are needed.
  • It means that the delegate math still dramatically favours Ms. Clinton, a former first lady and Secretary of State, in large part because Democrats allocate delegates proportionally by State, making it all but impossible for Mr. Sanders to overtake Ms. Clinton.


  • Britain and its Western allies must be prepared to send ground troops to defeat Islamic State forces or risk a terror attack in Europe of “such size and horror” that draconian security measures would have to be introduced, Tony Blair has said.
  • In a lengthy article on the Brussels bombings , the former Prime Minister said local forces could be used against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
  • But he said Western ground forces would eventually be needed to defeat the IS as it sought to create a caliphate.
  • The allied countries which are carrying out airstrikes against IS targets, including the U.K. and U.S., have so far not deployed ground forces beyond unannounced special forces to guide the bombers and troops that train Iraqi forces in combating the IS.


  • Department of Telecom is looking to commence the auction for spectrum, including in 700 Mhz band, around mid-July, which may fetch the government a whopping Rs.5.36 lakh crore.
  • The DoT is expecting Cabinet approval on spectrum price by mid-May and issue notice for auction in June. Taking into account various processes, spectrum auction should begin around July 15.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has suggested a plan for spectrum sale, expected to be held in July, with a potential to fetch Rs.5.36 lakh crore.
  • It will be the biggest-ever auction in terms of value and is more than double the gross revenue of telecom services industry.
  • Trai had recommended a record high base price of Rs.11,485 crore per Mhz for the 700 Mhz band. If all available radiowaves under this get sold at the Trai-suggested price, it alone will yield a whopping Rs.4 lakh crore.
  • According to the Trai paper, the cost of delivering mobile services in 700 Mhz band is approximately 70 per cent lower than 2100 Mhz frequency, which is widely used for 3G services.
  • Spectrum is priced on the basis of its efficiency to carry mobile signals and ecosystem of device and equipment available for its usage.
  • The government expects a revenue of Rs.98,995 crore from communication services in 2016-17, which includes proceeds from spectrum auction and other fees levied by the DoT.


  • A laggard in embracing the 'fintech', or financial technology, revolution, Japan is set to ease investment restrictions that could free up the flow of capital in an economy sitting on an estimated $9 trillion in individuals' cash deposits.
  • Strict regulation, easy access to credit due to rock-bottom interest rates, and weak demand for innovative financial services from a risk-averse population that still prefers cash to credit cards, have strangled fintech's advance in Japan.


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Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2016 03:10