CURRENT AFFAIRS – August 2017

Current Affairs Assam August 2017

Current Affairs Assam August 2017


August 1


ONGC waiting for 12 years for Tripura gas exploration nod

State-owned ONGC has, for the last 12 years, not been able to proceed with its gas exploration work in a vital reserve in Tripura due to lack of environmental clearance, causing a huge revenue loss.

The “Maharatna” Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has, since 1962, established around 41 billion cubic metre (BCM) of recoverable gas reserves in Tripura’s eleven gas fields, including the Tichna field in southern Tripura adjoining Bangladesh. According to the official, exploration activities in the Tichna area started in 1962 and exploratory drilling started in 1987 before the commercial discovery of gas in 2000.

The Tichna Bison National Park and Wild Life Sanctuary, 111 km south of Agartala, is famous for the gaur or Indian bison and other animals, including leopards and barking deer and the endangered spectacle monkey. It is situated over a 194.71 sq km area .

The company had earlier commissioned its first commercial gas-based power project in India, located in southern Tripura and run by ONGC Tripura Power Co (OTPC), formed by ONGC, the Tripura government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), with 726 MW capacity. The ONGC has also planned a Rs 5,000 crore (more than $775 million) fertiliser plant in northern Tripura in association with the state government and Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd., a Rajasthan-based company.


Modi announces Rs 2,000-cr flood package for NE

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a package of Rs 2,000 crore for immediate flood relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities of the damaged infrastructure in the northeastern region. This excludes Rs 250 crore announced for immediate flood relief operations in Assam, which comes in addition to a package of Rs 345 crore released in June this year.

The high-power committee will study the course of the Brahmaputra river along with its multi-state and multi-nation ramifications.

“A package of Rs. 2000 crore for flood relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction measures for affected states of the Northeast was announced,” tweeted the Prime Minister.“The package will have a significant component devoted to infrastructure & improving water holding capacity of the Brahmaputra,”. “We are exploring all possible means to enable proper management of the water resources of the Northeast. This will help us immensely,” Modi said.

State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma after coming out of the meeting said that the break-up of the Rs 2,000-crore package announced for the region will be detailed later. The Rs 2,000-crore relief package announced for the entire region, Rs 1,200 crore has been earmarked for infrastructure sector for Assam alone. The funds will be utilized for repair, maintenance and strengthening of roads, bridges and other damaged infrastructure.

The review meeting was also attended by DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh.


Assam seeks Rs 200 cr from Central govt

The State Agriculture Department has sought Rs 200 crore from the Centre in view of the large-scale damage to the agriculture sector in the devastating flood, said Agriculture Minister Atul Bora. As per an assessment by the department concerned, the agriculture sector in Assam has suffered a loss of more than Rs 193.19 crore due to the flood, with approximately 2.89 lakh hectare of agricultural land in 26 districts being affected.

Flood-induced siltation has caused the maximum damage in North Lakhimpur where 3,565 hectares of farmland has been covered by silt rendering it useless for now. In Dhemaji, 2,000 hectares of agricultural land has been affected by siltation followed by 614 hectares in Biswanath, 79 hectares in Golaghat, 32 hectares in Majuli and three hectares in Darrang district.

“In many districts, the agriculture officers have started supplying new seedlings to the farmers. Moreover, a good number of community nurseries are also supplying the seeds. Unless another flood of this enormity occurs, we hope we will make up for the damages well within the season,” Bora said, adding the paddy production is unlikely to go down this year and the department is targeting a production of 68 lakh MT paddy this year.

The minister further stated that an agricultural policy of the State would be announced soon. The draft of the policy has been prepared by the Assam Agricultural University in consultation with the Agriculture Department, NABARD and ICAR.


August 2


Parties urge PM to recognise flood as national problem

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to recognise flood and erosion in Assam as national problems. In a joint memorandum handed over to the Prime Minister, the ruling parties were unanimous in demanding a Central Water Commission office in Guwahati, which should be empowered to clear all schemes without referring them to its headquarters in New Delhi.

The joint memorandum also demanded that the Central government should take an initiative to bring about international (Bhutan) and inter-State (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram) cooperation on afforestation and soil conservation in the upper catchment of various rivers.

“The 5,000 km of existing embankments may be strengthened and converted into road-cum-embankment,” the memorandum stated, adding, “Dredging Corporation of India be instructed to start scientific dredging in Brahmaputra and its important tributaries on a priority basis and to establish a unit in Assam.” They also sought Modi’s intervention in providing special assistance for developing proper drainage systems in urban areas, especially in Guwahati, for mitigating artificial floods.

Demanding revamp of the Brahmaputra Board, the memorandum further said the flood management programme of the Ministry of Water Resources may be continued with sufficient budget provision.


Centre hints at starting Udaan scheme in NE

The Centre today hinted at the possibility of introducing the Udaan scheme in the North East on the lines of Jammu & Kashmir.

During a Question Hour discussion in the Lok SabhaUnion Minister of State for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy, replying to a query from Tura MP Conrad Sangma, said: “In the case of Jammu & Kashmir, we have the Udaan scheme where the corporates have actually made a lot of efforts to execute the scheme. It is going on slowly, but it is a very good scheme. I think this can be explored for the North-East in particular where there is a lot of disturbance. Please give me some more time to think about it. I will try to devise a scheme and seek appropriate funds and appropriate approval from the Government,” Rudy said.

Earlier, Tezpur MP RP Sharma pointed out that there are about 40 lakh unemployed youth in the North-EastAssam has about 26 lakh unemployed youth, he added. He sought to know from the minister whether the NSDC would consult the NE MPs in finding out trades suitable to the region.

Fact File: Udaan scheme

  • Udaan is a Special Industry Initiative for Jammu & Kashmir in the nature of a partnership between the corporates of India and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It is implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation.
  • The programme aims to provide skills training and enhance the employability of unemployed youth of J&K.
  • The Scheme covers graduates, post graduates and three year engineering diploma holders. It has two objectives:
    • To provide an exposure to the unemployed graduates to the best of Corporate India
    • To provide Corporate India, an exposure to the rich talent pool available in the State.
  • Implementation Agency is NSDC
  • The Scheme aims to cover 40,000 youth of J&K over a period of five years and Rs. 750 crore has been earmarked for implementation of the scheme over a period of five years to cover other incidental expenses such as travel cost, boarding and lodging, stipend and travel and medical insurance cost for the trainees and administration cost.

Rs 100 cr for floodlights, roads along border

The Centre has made a budgetary allocation of Rs 50 crore each for floodlight and road works along the Indo-Bangladesh border for the financial year 2017-18. Till now, expenditures to the tune of Rs 7.97 crore for roads and Rs 6.06 crore for floodlights have been incurred by construction agencies along the Indo-Bangladesh border, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in reply to a question by Congress MP Ranee Narah.

There are a total of 1,181 border outposts along the Indo-Bangladesh border. About a 3,000-km stretch along the border has been covered by physical barriers. The rest of the border is covered by day and night patrolling with usage of force multipliers like high-tech surveillance equipment, the minister said.

Fact File: Indo – Bangladesh Border

  • Bangladesh and India share a 4,096 km (2,545 mi)-long international border, the fifth-longest land border in the world, including 262 km (163 mi) in Assam, 856 km (532 mi) in Tripura, 180 km (110 mi) in Mizoram, 443 km (275 mi) in Meghalaya, and 2,217 km (1,378 mi) in Bengal.
  • The Bangladeshi divisions of Mymensingh, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet and Chittagong are situated along the border.
  • The Land Boundary Agreement to simplify the border was ratified by both India and Bangladesh on 7 May 2015.

Assam has enough funds: State Accountant General of Assam

The Assam government may have been clamouring for additional funds to provide flood relief, but it had Rs 2,790 crore in its coffers as on April 1, the State Accountant General (AG) of Assam has reported.

The Government of India released the first instalment of the Central share of SDRF amounting to Rs 228.15 crore for the year 2017-18 to the State government on June 28, 2017. In addition, as reported by the Assam AG, an amount of Rs 2,790.65 crore is available in the SDRF account as on April 1 for management of relief necessitated by notified natural disasters in the affected areas, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a package of Rs 2,000 crore for immediate flood relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities of the damaged infrastructure in the north-eastern region. The amount excludes Rs 250 crore announced for immediate flood relief operations in Assam, which comes in addition to a package of Rs 345 crore released in June this year. The Central government has been extending full support to the Government of Assam by providing timely logistical and financial support to supplement the efforts of the State government to meet the situation effectively in the wake of natural disasters during 2017. The logistical support provided includes IAF helicopters, Army columns and National Disaster Response Force teams along with necessary machinery and equipment.

The state governments are primarily responsible for undertaking relief measures at the ground level in the wake of natural disasters. The Government of India supplements the efforts of the state governments by providing logistical and financial support.


Santosh Mohan Dev passes away

Former Union minister and Congress heavyweight Santosh Mohan Dev passed away in Silchar due to cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure. Dev is survived by his wife and former Silchar legislator, Bithika Dev, and four daughters including Susmita Dev, the sitting Silchar MP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Assam CM and many prominent personalities, leaders and office-bearers paid their tribute.

Fact File: Santosh Mohan Dev

  • Born on 1 April 1934, Silchar, Assam Province, British India
  • A veteran Indian political leader and a key member of the Indian National Congress.
  • Dev was first elected to the Parliament in 1980, the first of his seven terms in office as the Member Of Parliament.
  • He has represented Silchar, Assam five times and he was elected from Tripura twice. Mr Dev has the rare distinction of being elected from two different states.
  • He was Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises from 2005- 2009

August 3


Donate land for a government job: Meghalaya CM

The Meghalaya Cabinet has approved a proposal to provide government jobs to people who donate land for various developmental projects, Chief Minister Mukula Sangma has announced. “We have approved a policy to ensure that ‘generous people’ who provide land to the government would be reciprocated with government jobs in Grade-III and Grade-IV posts,” he told.

In the case of individual land owners, Sangma said a member of their family would be absorbed in the government while in the case of community land, traditional institutions will select and recommend the names of people who deserve to be appointed.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal of the State Personnel Department to increase the reservation in connection with the appointment of persons with disabilities in various government departments. It also approved the 2 per cent job reservation for sports persons who had represented the state and brought laurels by participating in various sporting events organised at regional and national levels.

Meanwhile, a proposed legislation “Meghalaya Protection of Interests of Depositors Financial Establishment Bill, 2017” was also approved which would protect the interests of depositors in the State. “Besides banks, we have a number of non-banking financial institutions in the State where people are also depositing their money in such institutions,” he said.


Northeast India receives uneven rains

The mountainous Northeast India has so far experienced uneven monsoon rains even as Assam and other northeastern States witnessed flood fury. According to an IMD report, last year also, seven northeastern States, except Sikkim, witnessed deficient rainfall during the monsoon (June-September month).

In the Northeast, though the normal monsoon period is June to September.

According to the IMD report, Assam and Meghalaya sub-division recorded 849.8 mm rainfall in June and July against the average of 1,068.3 mm. Arunachal Pradesh sub-division witnessed 824.8 mm rainfall during this period against an average of 1,047.1 mm. The Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura sub-division recorded 938.2 mm of rainfall against an average of 840.3 mm.

Rain producing systems, including deep depressions, were very much active in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura sub-division resulting in good rainfall. The frequency of movement of monsoon factors are also favourable in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura sub-division.

An expert of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said deficient rains would not affect crops in the Northeast region as there was good pre-monsoon rainfall recorded in most parts of the region. However, floods have damaged huge crops and vegetables in most parts of Assam.

Fact File: Rainfall in North-East India

  • The southwest monsoon is responsible for bringing 90% of the annual rainfall to the region.
  • April to late October are the months where most of the rainfall in Northeast India occurs with June and July being the rainiest months.
  • Southern areas are the first to receive the monsoon (May or June) with the Brahmaputra valley and the mountainous north receiving later (later May or June).
  • In the hilly parts of Mizoram, the closer proximity to the Bay of Bengalcauses it to experience early monsoons with June being the wettest season.
  • The region’s lowland and montane moist-to-wet tropical evergreen forests are considered to be the northernmost limit of true tropical rainforests in the world.
  • Cherrapunji holds the all-time record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year, however: it received 9,300 millimetres (370 in; 30.5 ft) in July 1861 and 26,461 millimetres (1,041.8 in; 86.814 ft) between 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861.

 


Government launches e-RaKAM portal

 Indian government launched a portal, e-Rashtriya Kisan Agri Mandi(e-RaKAM), to provide a platform to sell agricultural produce. The portal is a joint initiative by state-run-auctioneer MSTC and Central Warehousing Corporation arm CRWC.

E-RaKAM is a first-of-its-kind initiative that leverages technology to connect farmers of the smallest villages to the big markets through internet and e-RaKAM centres.

e-RaKAM centres to be developed throughout the country to facilitate farmers for online sale of their produces.

Farmers would be paid through e-Payment directly into their bank accounts.


Dhirendra Swarup appointed as new  chairman of BSE

BSE Ltd announced the appointment of Dhirendra Swarup as the chairman of their board of directors.

  • Swarup was public interest director of BSE, was also chairman of the Cash and Debt Management Committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from 2000 to 2003.
  • A former Chairman of pension funds Regulatory and Development Authority
  • He has been a career civil servant retiring as Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Finance.
  • He has also served as government nominee Director on the Board of SEBI for 3 years
  • He was also Member-Convener, Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission – FSLRC (2011-2013). He is one of the main authors of the Fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) Act.

August 4


Supreme Court forms panel on Bangla border fencing

In a significant development, the Supreme Court has constituted a three-member committee with former Home Secretary GK Pillai as chairman to oversee the border fencing works on the Indo-Bangladesh border.The other members of the committee are DK Pathak, former Director General, Border Security Force and Prof Abdul Mannan, a retired professor of Gauhati University.

“We would expect the committee to be constituted by a formal notification to be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs within seven days from today,” the court order said.“We request the committee to commence its work immediately thereafter. The first report of the committee may be submitted to the court within three months from today,” it said, adding the terms and conditions of the appointment of the committee members will be settled by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the concerned persons.

The appointment of a new committee was necessitated after former Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta expressed his reluctance to continue as chairman of the committee to oversee fencing works along the Indo-Bangladesh border.In the July 13 hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar informed the court that Gupta heading the committee constituted for strengthening border protection and addressing the vulnerability in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border had cited personal reasons for his inability to be a part of the committee for border fencing along the Indo-Bangla border.


Vice President of India election

Ruling NDA’s candidate M Venkaiah Naidu is tipped to be India’s next vice president as members of Parliament gear up to cast their ballot tomorrow.The name of the next vice president of India will be known on 05 August 2017 after members of Parliament cast their ballot in Parliament House.

The ruling NDA, which has a majority in the Lok Sabha, will find it easy to place its candidate as the next vice president. The opposition has fielded Gopal Krishna Gandhi against Naidu. The BJD and the JD(U) which had supported NDA nominee Ramnath Kovind for the post of president, have decided to back opposition nominee Gandhi. The counting of votes will commence after polling and the results will be declared by 7.00 pm, Election Commission officials said quoting precedents.No whip can be issued by political parties as the election is through a secret ballot.The term of the present incumbent Hamid Ansari, who has held the post for two consecutive terms, is coming to an end on August 10.

Fact File: Vice President Election

  • The electoral college which elects the vice president, who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, consists of elected and nominated members of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.
  • The total strength of the two Houses is 790, but there are two vacancies in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha.
  • In the 545-member Lok Sabha, the BJP has 281 members. The NDA led by BJP, has 338 members.
  • In the 243-member Rajya Sabha, the BJP as of now has 56 members, while the Congress with 59 is the single largest party. With its recent wins in the recent assembly polls, the BJP is set to emerge as the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha too next year and the NDA’s tally would be close to 100. It would, however, still be short of a majority in the upper house.
  • The one who bags 50 per cent plus one voteof the total valid votes cast will win the poll.

At least 15 railway projects on in NE: MoS for Railway

The Railways has taken up at least 15 major projects of new lines in the northeastern states, including in Assam, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said in Rajya Sabha.The Indian Railways has laid great emphasis on improvement and development of railway infrastructure in Assam and the northeastern states, said the minister in reply to a question by Santius Kujur.

The projects include Bogibeel bridge with linking lines between Dibrugarh and the North Bank (73 km). The anticipated cost of the bridge project is Rs 4,996 crore and expenditure incurred up to March this year was Rs 4,102 crore. The total outlay for the project this fiscal is Rs 300 crore.

Gohain said final location survey for new lines included in the budget has been taken up by the Northeast Frontier Railway. Asked about the estimated time-line to complete the railway lines for commencement of operations, Gohain said the Railways has huge throw-forward of ongoing projects with limited resources.He said completion of projects also depends on land acquisition and forestry clearance, law and order, NOC in road, canal and electrical crossings from different Central and state government authorities.


Kaliabor plans unique digital initiative

In a first-of-its-kind endeavour in the State, the Kaliabor sub-divisional administration is set to launch the Smart Kaliabor Project for facilitating digital empowerment of the masses and ensure transparent and hassle-free service delivery.

The objectives of the project include increasing digital literacy, making government services and information easily available online, and bringing efficiency and transparency in governance using IT tools. SKP (Smart Kaliabor Project) will help disseminate information of various government schemes and programmes and enhance their awareness levels.

They can also point out lapses or drawbacks in implementation and bridge the gap between government officials and public, creating a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.The implementation of Digital India Initiative and Digital Assam Initiatives would be shared with the young generations to get acquainted and to avail benefits by the rural folks.


USISPF set up to deepen Indo-US ties

A new representative body, named, US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is being set up to further improve business relations between the India and US.

This aims to promote bilateral trade and work on creating “meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens”.

USISPF’s board of directors will include Chairman John Chambers (Executive Chairman, Cisco), Vice-Chairs Punit Renjen (Global CEO, Deloitte LLP) and Edward Monser (President, Emerson Electric), and board members Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo), and Ajay Banga (President and CEO, MasterCard).


NavIC  – India’s own GPS (Global Positioning System)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has deployed an indigenous regional positioning system named as “Navigation with Indian Constellation” (NavIC).

It consists of seven satellites in a constellation to provide Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services in Indian mainland and surrounding region up to 1500 Km.

A budget of Rs.1420 Crore has been approved by the Government for the realisation of the system including 7 in-orbit satellites, 2 satellites as ground spare and associated ground segment.

There are plans to expand NavIC system by increasing constellation size from 7 to 11