INTRODUCTION The year 2018-19 was declared by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways as the YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION. This was a year for consolidating the gains that have accrued from major policy decisions taken in the previous four years, a time for monitoring of ongoing projects, tackling road blocks and adding to the already impressive pace of work achieved last year. The Ministry took a decision to complete all ongoing projects that had been awarded upto 2015-16, and placed the highest ever target of constructing at least 12,000 kms of national highways as against 9829 kms achieved during 2017-18, and make special efforts to take this length to 16000 km. Overall, more than about 61,300 km length of road projects, costing more than Rs. 6.48 lakh crore, are in progress at present. The balance ongoing works (which have been awarded, appointed dates declared and works going on at sites) are more than 30,200 kms during the year. In the first nine months of FY 2018-19, 5,759 km has been completed in 18-19 against 4,942 km up to same period in last year.
1.2 In order to achieve this target the Ministry brought in policies, guidelines and practices for expediting pre-construction activities and bringing in more efficiency and transparency in the process. The Bidder Information Management System (BIMS)was developed to streamline the process of pre-qualification of bidders for contracts on EPC Mode. BhoomiRashi portal is being used extensively for expediting the process of notification for land acquisition. The portal BIMS and BhoomiRashi portals have further been linked with Public Financial Management System(PFMS) to facilitate real time payment to beneficiaries.
1.3 On the finance front too, National Highways Authority of India did a successful financial closure of its first project under Toll- Operate –Transfer this year andoffered 586 km of national highways under the second bundle. The first TOT bundle of 9 projects, totaling approximately 681 KM of roads in two states of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, was awarded earlier during the year for Rs. 9,681 Crore, which was 1.5 times the Authority’s estimate. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) also got an unsecured loan of Rs 25,000 crore from State Bank of India for 10 years with 3 years of moratorium on repayments. This is the largest amount of loan to have been sanctioned to NHAI in one stroke by any institution. This is also the largest long term unsecured loan sanctioned by SBI at a time to any entity.
The year has also seen a lot of movement in the transport sector, with focus on reducing carbon footprint while enhancing road safety, efficiency and convenience of road users. An MoU signed with ‘Transport for London’ (TFL) to revamp the public transport system in the country, building mini wayside amenities at toll plazas, establishing a quality – based ranking system for toll plazas, simplification of Driving License application, notifying emission standards for construction equipment vehicles andtractors, issue of guidelines to set up well equipped and competent Driving Training Centres (DTC) at district levels and for granting financial assistance to NGOs for undertaking road safety advocacy, launch of SukhadYatra App and Toll Free Emergency Number, the decision to allow free passage to user in case of malfunctioning of Electronic Toll Collection infrastructure, compensation of Rs. 5,00,000/- to road accidentvictims, notification regarding blending of gasoline with methanol in order to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and import burden and linking of vehicle emission data with State/Central Register ofVehicles are all notable initiatives taken by the Ministry in this direction.
Award / Construction Statistics: A two days long exercise was conducted to review of over 700 ongoing National Highway projects in the country, and over 300 projects were identified to be completed by 2019 achieving the highest ever construction in financial year 2018-19.
Progress of Major Programmes/ Landmark Projects: BharatmalaPariyojana: Phase-I This is the umbrella program for the highways sector unrolled in 2017-18, that aims to optimize the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. 34,800 km of National Highways are to be constructed under the Phase-I of the programme between 2017-18 to 2021-22 in a phased manner at a cost of Rs. 5,35,000 crore. This includes 5,000 kms of the National Corridors, 9000 kms of Economic Corridors, 6000 km of Feeder Corridors and Inter-Corridors, 2000 kms of Border Roads, 2,000 kms of Coastal Roads and Port Connectivity Roads and 800 kms of Green-field Expressways.
Projects for 6,407 km road length have been awarded under the BharatmalaPariyojana(including residual NHDP) till the end of October this year. DPRs are being prepared for projects for the balance length. De- congestion projects have been completed for 13 out of 191 congestion points identified, and are under progress for de-congestion of 80 other points. In addition, DPRs are being prepared for 93 congestion points.Out of the 35 locations identified for Multimodal Logistics Parks, DPRs have been initiated for 7 locations and availability of land parcels is being confirmed with State Governments for the rest of the locations.
In order to ensure safe and smooth flow of traffic, Ministry has envisaged a plan for replacement of Level Crossings on National Highways by ROBs/ RUBs under a scheme known as SetuBharatam. Under this programme, out of 174 ROBs/RUBs which are to be constructed, 91 have been sanctioned with an estimated cost of Rs.7,104.72 crore. Out of 91 sanctioned, 59 ROBs/RUBs have been awarded which are in various stages of progress.
ChardhamMahamargVikasPariyojna The project envisages development of easy access to the four prominent Dhams, namely, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedranath and Badrinath, situated in the state of Uttrakhand. These four Dhams are prominent pilgrimage centres. The project entails development of 889 km of roads with configuration of two-lane with paved shoulders at an estimated cost of about Rs. 12,000 crore. The projects are being taken up on EPC mode and the programme is targeted for completion by March, 2020.
Eastern Peripheral Expressway– Western Peripheral Expressway The two projects of Peripheral Expressways around Delhi, comprising 135 km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), and 135 km Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) connecting NH-1 and NH-2 from Western and Eastern side of Delhi was completed this year and inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister in May 2018 and November 2018 respectively. The EPE was constructed by NHAI and WPE by Haryana Government. The two expressways were envisaged with the twin objectives of decongesting and de-polluting the national capital by diverting the traffic not destined for Delhi.
The EPE stretches from Kundli on NH 1 to Palwal on NH 2, and was constructed at a cost ofRs. 4617.87 crore, in addition to Rs. 5900crorewere spent on acquiring 1700 acres of land. It was completed in a record time of about 500 days against the scheduled target of 910 days. It is a fully access-controlled six-lane expressway with a closed tolling system. The expressway has an iconic toll plaza equipped with electronic toll collection infrastructure, ITS control system of the entire EPE and a digital art gallery, with holographic models of major structures and making of the EPE. Weigh-in-Motion equipment at all 30 entry points, solar power on the entire length, eight solar power plants with a capacity of 4000 KW, rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation and 36 replicas of monuments depicting Indian culture and heritage are major features of this expressway. This project has generated employment opportunities of about 50 lakh man-days.
Delhi-Meerut Expressway Delhi-Meerut Expressway aims to provide a faster and safer connectivity between Delhi and Meerut and beyond this, with Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The alignment of DME starts from Nizammudin Bridge from Delhi and follows existing NH 24 uptoDasna. While one leg of DME will continue from Dasna on NH 24 to Hapur, a Greenfield alignment has been planned from Dasna to Meerut. The Expressway is being constructed in 4 packages. The total length of the project is 82 km, of which the first 27.74 kms will be 14-laned, while the rest will be 6-lane expressway. The project is likely to cost Rs 4975.17 crore.
The 8.36 km long Package -1 of the projects was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister in May this year. It is a 14 lane, access-controlledsection stretching from Nizammudin Bridge to Delhi UP Border, and was completed in a record time of 18 months as against the earlier expected construction period of 30 months, at a cost of about Rs. 841.50 crore. This is the first National Highway in the country with 14 lanes, and has several features that would help reduce pollution. These include a 2.5-metre-wide cycle track on either side of the highway, a vertical garden on the Yamuna Bridge, solar lighting system and watering of plants through drip irrigation only.
Package II from UP Border to Dasna(19.28 km), Package –III - Dasna to Hapur( 22.27) km and Package –IV - Green-field Alignment from Dasna to Meerut –(31.78 km) are under construction and are likely to be completed by March 2019.
Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway The 473 km expressway will link Ahmedabad-Vadodara Expressway to Mumbai-Pune Expressway thus providing Expressway connectivity from Ahmedabad to Pune for a length of about 650 Km.
Delhi – Mumbai Expressway This 1250 km Expressway is being developed along a new alignment between Delhi and Mumbai, which passes through backward and tribal districts of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. A sum of one lakh crore rupees will be spent on this expressway.It will reduce the distance between Delhi and Mumbai from the present 1450km through NH 8 to 1250 km, and the travel time to 12 hours. The sections of proposed highway from Delhi to Dahod in Rajasthan are under tendering, while the section between Vadodara to Ankleshwar in Gujarat have already been awarded. The DPR is under progress for the remaining sections.
Bangalore-Chennai Expressway DPR is under progress for this 260 km Expressway. This is a green-field alignment. There are two existing roads connecting Bangalore-Chennai, one is via Hoskote (Bangalore)-AP then to Chennai & second is via Electronic City (Bangalore) Hosur(Tamil Nadu) and then to Chennai. The alignment of the proposed expressway is passing in between these two stretches.
Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway Greenfield alignment is being explored for this 500 km long proposed Expressway. Nagpur-Hyderabad-Bangalore (NBH) Expressway DPR has been awarded and alignment finalization is under progress for the new green-field 940 km Nagpur – Hyderabad – Bangalore EXP. Kanpur Lucknow (KL) Expressway DPR is in progress for 75 km of Kanpur – Lucknow EXP
Varanasi Airport Road and Ring Road Hon’ble Prime Minister inaugurated the 16.55 km, Rs 759.36 crore Varanasi Ring Road Phase-I and 17.25 km, Rs 812.59 crore Babatput-Varanasi road on NH-56 in November. It has reduced the travel time from Varanasi to the airport, and is proving a big relief to the people of Varanasi and to tourists providing a more convenient access to Sarnath, an important site for Buddhist pilgrimage.
ByetDwarka – Okha Bridge The Ministry has taken up construction of a signature 4-lane Bridge to connect the mainland at Okha to Byet-Dwarka Island off the Gujarat Coast with this SignatureBridge spanning a length of 2.32 kms. The Project has been awarded on 01.01.2018 at a cost of Rs. 689.47 crores. This will be the longest span cable stayed bridge in India with the main span of 500 mtrs. The project is scheduled to be completed in a period of 30 months.
Bridge over Ganga in Phaphamau in Allahabad Approval has been given for a project for construction of 9.9 km long new 6 - lane bridge across river Ganga on NH - 96 at Phaphamau in Allahabad with total capital cost of Rs. 1948.25 crore. The construction period for the project is three years and likely to be completed by December, 2021. The new bridge will resolve the traffic congestion on existing old 2 - lane Phaphamau bridge on NH-96 at Allahabad. The new bridge will also facilitate to the large congregation of people at Holy City Allahabad during Kumbh, Ardh-Kumbh and other yearly ritual baths at SANGAM in Prayag. This will give a boost to pilgrimage tourism and local economy of Holy city of Prayag. This new 6 - lane bridge will also be beneficial for the Lucknow / Faizabad bound traffic coming from Madhya Pradesh via National Highway - 27 and National Highway - 76 through Naini Bridge. In addition, this project of new bridge will generate direct employment during construction for about 9.20 lakh mandays.
Bridge over River Kosi at Phulaut in Bihar Approval was given to a project for construction of 6.930 km long 4-lane bridge at Phulaut in Bihar, along with approval for rehabilitation and up-gradation of existing Birpur- Bihpur section of National Highway-106. The construction of this new Bridge will fill the existing 30 km long gap between Udakishanganj and Bihpur of National Highway Number 106 in Bihar, which will provide through connectivity between Nepal/ North Bihar/ East-West Corridor (passing through NH- 57) and South Bihar/ Jharkhand/ Golden Quadrilateral (passing through NH -2), besides full utilization of National Highway Number-31.
LogisticsParks A network of 35 Multimodal Logistics Parks had been identified for development in the Phase – 1 of BharatmalaPariyojana. The availability of the land parcels for development of Multimodal Logistics Parks has been confirmed at 7 locations and DPRs have been initiated in all the nodes.
Zojila Tunnel This is a project for constructing a 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir. This would be India’s longest road tunnel and the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
Silkyara- Bend - Barkot Tunnel The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the construction, operation and maintenance of the 2- Lane, 4.532 Km long Bi-directional Silkyara Bend - Barkot Tunnel on Dharasu-Yamunotri section along NH -134 in the State of Uttarakhand. The project forms part of the Chardham Plan. The construction period of the project is 4 years at an estimated cost of Rs. 1383.78 crore. Once complete, this stretch will reduce the travel distance from Dharasu to Yamunotri by about 20 Km and travel time byaboutanhour.It will also provide all weather connectivity to Yamunotri, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country. The project will be implemented by National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL).
Highways Projects in the North East Around Rs. 1,90,000 crore worth of projects have been sanctioned for the construction of road projects for over 12,000 km in the North East region. The projects being executed by NHIDCL are to the tune of Rs. 1, 66,026 crore, covering 10,892 km of roads in all the eight NE states. Projects costing Rs. 17,257 crore have been allotted to the respective state PWDs. Further, projects costing Rs. 7,000 crore are entrusted to the NHAI.
Measures to revive Languishing stalled projects The Ministry has focused on completion of on-going projects along with sanction and award of new projects. A total of 73 projects (8,187 km) worth an estimated investment of Rs.1,00,000 crore wereidentified as Languishing Projects. The reasons for delay were identified and policy interventions undertaken to address the same.
Toll-Operate-Transfer Model The Ministry is monetizing its road assets constructed with public funds through Toll-Operate-Transfer (ToT) scheme. The scheme envisages bidding of bundled national highways for a concession period of 30 years. The first bundle comprised 9 projects, totalling 681 km of roads in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. It was awarded in 2018 to Macquarie for Rs. 9,681 Crore, which was 1.5 times the NHAI’s estimate.The second bundle comprises over 586 kms spread over four states – Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar. The offer has 12 toll plazas across four highways.
MoU between NHAI and SBI TheNational Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU)withtheStateBankofIndiatoreceiveRs.25,000croreasa long-term,unsecuredloanfor10years.Thisisthelargestamountofloantohavebeen sanctioned by the SBl in one go. This is also the largest ever fund that NHAI has ever received in one go.
Guidelines for alignment of National Highways The Ministry has issued detailed guidelines for determination of proper alignment of NH projects, advising executing agencies to examine the feasibility of a green- field alignment, especially in the case of economic corridors, instead of widening existing highways. This has been done because widening involves acquisition of land for Right of Way (RoW), shifting of utilities and demolition of built up structure, all of which involves a lot of time and cost. Also, earlier highways were largely planned to be serpentine, linking all possible towns in the vicinity. This road geometry has been found to be sub optimal, especially in case of economic corridors. BharatmalaPariyojanaalso calls for a corridor approach for economic corridors. It has also been found in a few test cases that it is feasible to acquire a RoW of 60 to 70 mtrs for a green field road project at the same cost as involved in the expansion of an existing road, especially when the associated costs and time taken in utility shifting, tree felling, additional compensation for demolition of structures coming in the RoW under expansion are taken into account.
Platform for e-Gazettingand Payment of Compensation for LandAcquisition through PFMS AWebUtilityhasbeendevelopedwherebythelandacquisitionprocedureforthe NH projects, including processing of all LA related gazette notifications, are being done through a common platform called “BhoomiRashi". The Utility has been linked with the e-gazette platform of the MinistryofUrbanDevelopment,GovernmentofIndia,forpublicationofGazette Notifications.TheuseofBhumi Rashi has helped in cutting down the processing time from 2 to 3 months earlier to one to two weeksnow.
BhoomiRashi has also been integrated with the Public Financial Management System(PFMS)platformoftheMinistryofFinancefordepositofcompensationin theaccountsoflandowners/interestedpersonsonarealtimebasis, instead of being parked with CALA.
Bidder Information Management System The Ministry has developed a Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) to streamline the process of pre-qualification of bidders for contracts on EPC mode for all NH works and centrally sponsored works.BIMS acts as a data base for allbasic details of bidders like civil works experience, cash accruals and network, annual turnover etc,. This allows quick pre-qualification assessment of bidders based on evaluation parameters like threshold capacity and bid capacity from already stored data. Technical evaluationcantherefore be carried out faster using this information.
AnnualawardsforexcellenceinNationalHighwayssectorhasbeeninstitutedfrom thisyearonwardsforrecognizingconcessionairesandcontractorswhohavebeen performing exceptionally well. Applications have been invited from all the concessionaires and contractors working in the field of highways construction and tolling. These awards are designed across the fivecategories of construction management, operation and maintenance, best toll plaza, safest highway, innovation in design and construction technology.
Highway Capacity Manual India's first Highway Capacity Manual developed by CSIR-CRRI was launched this year. The manual is designed to be a tool for guiding road engineers and policy makers in the country. It lays down guidelines for the development and management of different types of roads, based on traffic characteristics on such roads having varying lane configurations.
Workshop on issues relating to Land Acquisition, Contract Document etc. The Ministry has organized a workshop on 18.12.2018 in Delhi for Regional Officers of Ministry, NHAI and NHIDCL to discuss the issues relating to land acquisition, contract document (EPC/DPR) and E-Disha (ERP projects), new standards and technical specifications. A Manual of Guidelines on Land Acquisition for National Highways under the National Highways Act, 1956 has also been released for seamless process of Land Acquisition for National Highways.
ROAD SAFETY Reduction in number of road accidents As per the Ministry’s annual report on road accidents based on the data reported by Police authorities throughout India, there has been some marginal reduction in the number of road accidents and fatalities in 2017.
The Ministry has been making concerted efforts to address the problem of road safety through a series of measures that include improving road infrastructure, road safety audits, identification and rectification of black spots on roads and strengthening the automobile safety standards, organizing road safety awareness programmes and strengthening enforcement etc. These efforts have started showing some results.
Rectification of Accident Black Spots The Ministry has so far identified 789 road accident black spots in various States of which 651 ON National Highways and 138 are on State roads. Work for rectification of these black spots is at various stages of completion.
Guidelines for setting up Driver Training Schools in districts The Ministry has been working in association with States, Vehicle manufactures and NGOs for strengthening the driving training. Institute of Driving training and Research (IDTRs), Regional Driving Training Centres (RDTCs) and Driving Training Centre (DTC) have been established which act as model Driving Training Centres with state of art infrastructure. Ministry has also launched a scheme for creating driving training centres in all the districts of the country and support refresher-training programme for heavy commercial vehicles drivers. The Ministry is implementing a scheme for setting up of Model Institute of Drivers Training and Research (IDTR) by States/UTs. So far 24 (nos.) ITDRs have been sanctioned in different States/UTs and bout 16 are complete and functioning.
Guidelines for financing NGOs for road safety advocacy The Ministry has issued guidelines associating Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for promoting awareness about road safety under a scheme titled “Grant of financial assistance for administering Road Safety Advocacy and awards for the outstanding work done in the field of Road Safety". It is envisaged that the NGOs will undertake activities for creating road safety awareness among citizens.
SukhadYatra App and Toll-Free Emergency Number A mobile App and Toll- free Emergency number 1033 for highway users, developed by NHAI, were launched in March this year. The SukhadYatra mobile application provides information on toll gates. The key feature of the app includes a provision for the user to enter road quality-related information or to report any accident or pothole on the highway. It also provides users with real-time data related to waiting time expected at toll plazas and various facilities like points of interest, highway nest/ nest mini, etc. The app can also be used to purchase FASTags.
The toll-free number 1033 will enable users to report an emergency condition, or highway-related feedback, across the highway. The service has also been integrated with ambulance / tow away services along the roads.
Observance of the 29th National Road Safety Week This Ministry observed the 29th National Road Safety Week from 23rdto 30thApril 2018. This year’s focus was on schools and commercial drivers and the theme was “Sadak Suraksha JeevanRaksha”. In the opening ceremony the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways emphasized the Ministry’s priorities in ensuring safety of road users in the country. Awards were given to 10 school children who won the national level essay competition on road safety. The Hon’ble Minister also administered the road safety pledge to all those present on theoccasion. A variety of programmes related to the Road Safety were also organized in several cities across the country to enlighten people on Road Safety, and Driving Rules. Many NGOs participated in the Ministry’s efforts to create awareness about the issue.
GoM on Road Safety The Ministry had constituted a group of State Transport Ministers under the Chairmanship of Shri Yunus Khan, Transport Minister of Rajasthan to work out interstate issues and reach a consensus on adoption of uniform rates of taxation, permits and other issues. A Group of Transport Ministers from 13 states met in Guwahati on 18-19 April this year and adopted a 9-Point Guwahati Declaration aimed at harmonization of taxes and permits, road safety measures, policy changes and measures for strengthening State Road Transport Undertakings. The most important decisions taken by during the meeting included the recommendation for One Nation One Tax for the diverse road tax structure, which would ease travel.
Rs. 5 Lakh Compensation to accident victims: In order to help accident victims in getting reasonable and fast compensation from insurance companies, the Ministry revised the relevant rules of the Motor Vehicles Act according to which every accident victim or his next of kin will be entitled to a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in case of death, and uptoRs 5 lakh, proportionate to the extent of injury in case of grievous hurt and disablement. Accident victims can claim higher compensation through court if they are not satisfied, but with this rule even the poorest of the poor will get a fast and reasonable compensation.
CCTV installation at Toll Plazas: A Central Command and Control Centre is being set up at the NHAI HQ for CCTV surveillance and Monitoring of Vehicular Congestion at 210 Fee Plazas of National Highways that have higher traffic volumes. it is proposed to be connected with Regional Offices and the project execution is on service model for a period of five years.
Films on Road Safety: Three short films for generating public awareness for the need to comply with the rules of the road, eventually contributing to the cause of road safety, were launched by Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport & Highways, on 14th' August, 2018. Film actor Shri Akshay Kumar who featured in these films on pro bono basis, has also been appointed as Road Safety Brand Ambassador by the Hon'ble Minister.
Capacity Building in the area of Road Safety: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has designated the Asian Institute of Transport Development as an apex body for capacity building in the area of road safety. The objective is that this centre would act as a depository of research studies and best practices.Human resource development and exchange of knowledge form an important component of its activities. Up to October 2018, the National Centre for Road Safety has been able to train over 1,400 professionals in road safety and road safety audit by conducting 31 courses pan India.
The Ministry took several initiatives in the transport sector during the year to make road travel more convenient for people. Some of these areas under-
Simplification of Driving License Application To improve ease in licensing, this Ministry has simplified the driving license application form. Four forms i.e. (a) Learner License, (b) Driving License, (c) Renewal of License, and (d) updation of Address - all have been consolidated into one. The new form will enable Aadhar based verification of the applicant’s identity to provide online services for renewal, change of address etc. Another highlight of the new form is that it would capture an applicant’s willingness for organ donation.
Revision of Axle Weight: The permissible safe axle weight of goods vehicles was revised and increased by about 15% to 20 % for different configurations of axles. The decision was taken with a view to help in increasing the carrying capacity of goods transport vehicles and bring down logistics cost. The amendment will increase the carrying capacity of goods vehicles by about 20-25 % and lower logistics costs by about 2%. It will also bring down the incidence of overloading. While automobile technology and road construction quality have improved greatly over the years, the axle loads have remained the same since 1983 when they were last notified. There was a felt need to harmonize the axle load with international standards.
Launch of Ranking System for Toll Plazas NHAI has developed a matrix-based methodology to rank the Fee Plazas on parameters such as electronic tolling, time taken in clearance of FASTag lanes, display panels, staff behaviour, cleanliness, etc. The data for the matrix is to be collected by the Regional Officers who will use the same to rank the Fee Plazas under their jurisdiction. Meanwhile, a countrywide drive was launched by NHAl on more than 300 toll plazas across the country on 10 February, 2018, to address issues that affect highway users. Officers visited toll plazas and addressed issues of user convenience and took feedback from the people.
Revision in Maximum Speed of vehicles The Ministry has revised the maximum speed of various classes of vehicles vide notification dated 6th April 2018. The notification prescribes the speed of various classes of vehicles. Thus a passenger vehicle with not more than 8 seats including driver can have a maximum speed of 120 km/hr on expressways and 70km/hr on municipal roads.
Acceptance of Documents through DigiLocker and mParivahan Platform An advisory has been issued by the Ministry to all the States / UTs to accept the documents in electronic form through DigiLocker platform of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India and the mParivahan mobile app of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. Such electronic records available on DigiLocker or mParivahanare deemed to be legally recognized at par with the original documents as per the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This will also address Grievances / RTI applications of the citizens and facilitate promotion of Digital India campaign.
Notification regarding Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Emergency Button in all public service vehicles With a view to enhancing the safety of women passengers, detailed standards for Installation of Vehicle Location Tracking Device (VLT) and Emergency Button on public service vehicles have been notified on October 25, 2018. The States/ UTs have been mandated to ensure compliance of the rule and check fitment and functional status of the VLT device in the public service vehicles at the time of checking of the vehicles for fitness certification. The Command and Control Centres in the States will be used to provide interface to various stakeholders such as State emergency response centre, the Transport authorities of the state and central governments, device manufacturers and their authorized dealers, testing agencies etc. The Command and control Centre will also be able to provide feed to the VAHAN database or the relevant data base of the state with regard to over speeding and the health status of the device.
Fitness Certificate in respect of Transport Vehicle As per this notification the renewal of the fitness certificate in respect of transport vehicle up to eight years old shall be done for two years and for one year for vehicle older than eight years. No fitness certification shall be required at the time of registration for the new transport vehicle sold as fully built vehicle and such vehicle shall be deemed to be having certificate of fitness for a period of two years from the date of registration.
Use of Dual Fuel The Ministry has issued a notification for Dual fuel usage which covers Emission of smoke and vapour from agriculture tractors, power tillers, construction equipment vehicles and combine harvesters driven by dual fuel diesel with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Bio-Compressed Natural Gas (Bio-CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) engines.
Electric, Ethanol and Methanol Vehicles exempted from Permit Keeping in view the need for promoting electric mobility and alternate fuels, the Ministry, vide notification issued on October 18, 2018, has exempted Battery Operated Vehicles, as well as vehicles driven on Methanol fuel or Ethanol fuel, from the requirement of permit for carrying passengers or goods.
Advisory on Linking of PUC data (emission related data) with the VAHAN database A system has been developed and tested by this Ministry for linking of Pollution Under Control (PUC) data with the VAHAN database. An advisory dated October 1, 2018 has been issued to all the States by the Ministry wherein all the PUC vendors have been directed to comply with the guidelines and facilitate electronic uploading of emissions test data to VAHAN database.
Notification regarding Registration Mark of Battery Operated Vehicles To give a distinct identity to the electric vehicles, it has been decided that the registration mark will be exhibited on a number plate with Green background. A notification to this effect was issued on 7th August, 2018.
M 15 (15%) Methanol blending with Gasoline The Ministry issued a notification regarding the blending of Gasoline with methanol in order to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and also to reduce the import burden on account of crudepetroleum fromwhichgasolineis produced.The Hon’ble Prime Minister had announced an ambitious target of reducing 10% import dependence of oil and gas by 2022 from 2014-15 levels. Methanol can be used as an alternative transportation fuel thereby reducing Import dependence to some extent.
Requirement of PUC Certificate for vehicle insurance/ renewal of insurance The Ministry has requested IRDA and the MDs / Chairpersons of all general insurance companies on to ensure that no third-party insurance policy is issued or renewed without ascertaining the availability of a valid PUC. This has been done following orders of the Supreme Court of India.
Emission Standards for Construction Equipment Vehicles and Tractors The Ministry has notified emission standards for Construction Equipment Vehicles and Tractors. These standards would be implemented w.e.f. 1st October, 2020 (Trem IV) and from 1st April, 2024 [Bharat Stage (CEV/Trem)-V]. This would help in ensuring environment friendly construction / mining activities.
Quadricycles included as Non-Transport Vehicles The Ministry notified the insertion of the item ‘Quadricycle’ as a ‘non-transport’ vehicle under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. A Quadricycle is a vehicle of the size of a 3-wheeler but with 4tyres and fully covered like a car. It has an engine like that of a 3-wheeler. This makes it a cheap and safe mode of transport for last mile connectivity. Quadricycleswere only allowed for transport usage under the Act, but now has been made usable for non-transport also.
The “INAMPRO" project initiated by NHIDCL, a CPSE under this Ministry, has been conferred with a ‘Gold' award under Category- I “Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering" for the National Award in e-Governance by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
6.3 Linkage of PFMS with Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) and BhoomiRashi The two IT initiatives of this Ministry, which are aimed at expediting pre- construction processes relating to bidding and land acquisition respectively, have now been integrated with the Public Financial management System (PFMS). The Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) is aimed at streamlining the process of pre-qualification of bidders for EPC Mode of contracts for National Highway workswithenhanced transparency and objectivity.
The BhoomiRashiportal of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways allows for totally digital and paper-less processing of land acquisition cases, and has resulted in transparent, quick, corruption-free and error-free handling of land acquisition cases. It has alsomade the possible real-time tracking of activities and generation of reports relating to land acquisition.
Revenue records of about 7 lakh villages across the country have been integrated in the portal. This digital change has drastically reduced the time taken for issuance of land acquisition notifications from 3-6 months to 1-2 weeks. Over 2000 notifications have already been issued by the Ministry in the first eight months of this financial year that while during the past two years, about a thousand land acquisition notifications could be issued every year.
The process has also brought transparency in the system. Earlier the approved compensation amount used to be parked with the CALA (Competent Authority for Land Acquisition) but with BhoomiRashi portal this amount directly transferred into the account of the person concerned, through Public Financial Management System which is an integral part of the portal. In addition to this, the process is also environment friendly since there is no physical movement of files – all work is done digitally.
Advisory regarding keeping transport related documents in an electronicform An advisory has been issued by this Ministry wherein the citizen can produce the transport related documents such as registration, insurance, fitness and permit, the driving licence, certificate for pollution under check and any other relevant documents, if required, in physical or electronic form, on demand by any police officer in uniform or any other officer authorized by the State Government in this behalf. This would enable the use of digital platforms for carrying and verification of the documents and is a step towards citizen facilitation and to ensure so that citizen are not harassed/ inconvenienced.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways signed a MoU with Transport for London (TFL) on 10thJanuary, 2018. TFL is an agency that manages the transport system for Greater London, and has demonstrated its capability by creating strong and dependable public transport system in the city of London. It has created a unique system of operating buses in PPP model with over 17 operators under a single brand. The MoUis aimed at using the expertise of TFL to revamp the public transport architecture in the country.
2NDmeeting of India-Nepal Cross Border Transport Facilitation Working Group After a long hiatus, the 2nd meeting of India-Nepal Cross Border Transport Facilitation Working Group was held at Kathmandu on 23rd February, 2018 under the India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement for regulation of vehicular traffic between the two countries. It was agreed to start regular bus services on the new routes of Mahendrangar- Dehradun, Nepalgunj- Haridwar, Nepalgunj-Lucknow, Nepalgunj -Delhi and Kathmandu-Gorakhpur, through designated operators from Nepal and India. It was also agreed to start operation of bus services on Kathmandu -Siliguri and Janakpur- Patna routes. Both sides also noted with mutual interest the possibility of opening of other routes to be considered on the basis of commercial demand and availability of infrastructure by mutual consent.
Bus trial run across Bangladesh, India and Nepal Taking another step towards furthering seamless passenger vehicle movement across Bangladesh, Indiaand Nepal (BIN) under BBIN MVA signed in June 2015.Atrial run of two passenger buses from Dhaka, was conducted in April, 2018, with 43 passengers. The trial run started from Dhaka on 23rd April and reached Kathmandu on 26th April 2018. The participating countries have also agreed to conduct more trial runs for cargo vehicles under the agreement.
First Working Group Meeting of BIMSTEC The first Working Group meeting of BIMSTEC to negotiate the draft text of Motor Vehicles Agreement for the regulation of passenger and cargo vehicular traffic among and between member states was held in April this year. Delegations from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar attended the meeting. The draft text of the agreement was discussed and amended. The member countries will further examine the amended text.
MoU between India and Uganda An MoU was signed between the Central Materials Laboratory (ML), Kampala, Uganda and the Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE) under Ministry of Road Transport &Highways, India, during the visit of the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India to Uganda on 24-25 July, 2018, for establishment of a Regional Materials Testing Laboratory for Highways in Uganda.
65th India-Japan Joint Working Group Meeting in the Roads and Road Transport Sector The 5th India-Japan Joint Working Group Meeting in the Roads and Road Transport Sector was held on 12th November, 2018 in New Delhi as provided under the Framework of Cooperation (FoC) between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), India and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Japan. In the meeting, information regarding the latest technological developments in "Operation and Maintenance of Expressway", "Development of Mountainous Road in North East Regions" and "Countermeasure of Aging Structure" etc. was shared.
MoU of India with Russia The proposal for a MoU on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport & Road Industry sector, between Ministry of road transport & Highways and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, has been approved by the Union Cabinet in its meeting on October 3, 2018.
OTHERS: Wayside Amenities and Highway Nest (Mini) While the procurement process is under way for the development of Wayside Amenities of larger sizes in PPP mode along the National Highways, the NHAI has taken up construction of 314 numbers Highway Nest (mini). These are being developed near Toll Plazas, approximately 200 meters downstream on a 10mX20m paved platform and comprises of facilities like toilets, water, ATR, a small kiosk with Tea / Coffee vending machine and packaged food items for Highway users.
SwachhtaPakhwada and ’Swachhta Hi Sewa’ Campagin (SHS) The SwachhtaPakhwada was organised by the Ministry between September 15, 2018 and October 2, across all National Highways. Several activities related to shramdaan and cleaning of schools in villages adjacent to the National Highways were also organized by the NHAI during the period. Construction of toilets, both for men and women, installation of litter-bins and hoardings at NHAI toll plazas have been taken up by the Ministry under Swachh Bharat Mission. The Ministry was conferred with a special award for its implementation of the Swachhta Action Plan for 2017-18 by the nodal Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Significance of the day: It was on this date in 1967 that Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory. Though referred to as an ‘opinion poll’, the vote was in fact a plebiscite.
Background: Soon after Goa’s liberation from colonial Portuguese rule in 1961, murmurs began of a merger with Maharashtra on grounds of cultural similarity and the argument that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language. With several Indian states having been demarcated on a linguistic basis, the demand split the people of Goa into those who backed Konkani and wanted to remain independent of Maharashtra, and those who were in favour of Marathi and wanted to merge.
In December 1966, Parliament passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Opinion Poll Act), 1966, “to provide for the taking of an opinion poll to ascertain the wishes of the electors of Goa, Daman and Diu with regard to the future status thereof and for matters connected therewith”.
Majority of votes went against the merger. Soon afterward began demands for statehood for Goa; however, it was only on May 30, 1987, that Goa became India’s 25th state. Daman and Diu continue to be Union Territories. Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992 (71st Amendment).
Background: Nagaland, along with other north-eastern States, has witnessed several protests following the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha.
Why the provisions of the Citizenship Bill may not be applicable to Nagaland? Article 371(A) of the Constitution begins with the words “notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of…”. This means that despite what is in the Constitution, no Act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.
Nagaland is also protected by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, whereby an Inner Line Permit is issued to outsiders for safeguarding the citizenship, rights and privileges of the Nagas.
Why Assam and other NE states are opposing this bill? The bill seeks to facilitate granting of Indian citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Assam, illegal migrants are not identified along religious lines and people want such migrants to be deported.
Mizoram fears Buddhist Chakmas from Bangladesh may take advantage of the Act. Meghalaya and Nagaland are apprehensive of migrants of Bengali stock. Groups in Arunachal Pradesh fear the new rules may benefit Chakmas and Tibetans. Manipur wants the Inner-line Permit System to stop outsiders from entering the state.
Concerns raised: The fact that the government has delayed the appointment this long is surely problematic. Besides, a Supreme Court order to nudge the government to make any progress towards establishing the anti-graft institution is a poor commentary on its functioning.
Background: It has taken five years since the Lokpal Act, 2013, received the President’s assent on January 1, 2014, for a Search Committee to even begin its work. It was formed only on September 27, 2018, after Common Cause, an NGO, filed a contempt petition against the government over the delay in constituting the authority despite a Supreme Court verdict in April 2017.
Way ahead: It is true that setting up the Search Committee requires some groundwork, as its composition should be drawn from diverse fields such as anti-corruption policy, public administration, law, banking and insurance; also, half its membership should consist of women, backward class, minority and SC/ST candidates. However, it is the government’s duty to expedite this process and not cite it as a reason for delay.
Related facts: As per Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the appointments to Lokpal is made by high-level selection committee comprising of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party and an eminent jurist chosen by them.
About Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana: The scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana”(PMRPY) was announced in the Budget for 2016-17.
The objective of the scheme is to promote employment generation. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment. The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.
Significance of the scheme: PMRPY has a dual benefit – The employer is incentivised for increasing the employee base in the establishment through payment of EPF contribution of 12% of wage, which otherwise would have been borne by the employer. A large number of workers find jobs in such establishments. A direct benefit of the scheme is that these workers have access to social security benefit through Provident Fund, Pension and Death Linked Insurance.
What’s the issue? The Supreme Court of Pakistan has extended its powers to Gilgit-Baltistan regarding the area’s constitutional status. The order states that changes to the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan will be determined through a referendum which will be held within 14 days. It further read that until then, people living in the area and in Kashmir will be given fundamental human rights.
What has India said? Entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has been, is and shall remain an integral part of India. Pakistan government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. Any action to alter the status of these occupied territories by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever.
Where is Gilgit Baltistan located? Located in the northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north west and Kashmir in the south east. It shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK. It has a regional Assembly and an elected Chief Minister. The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.
Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Recent developments: Pakistan, in 2017, proposed to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth Province, a move that may raise concerns in India as it borders the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Why it wants to declare as fifth province? With a $50 billion investment in the CPEC, China would hardly want the territory through which the route passes to have a dubious status. Pakistan wants to give the impression of freezing its territorial ambitions in J&K in order to concentrate on the CPEC and remove any misgivings that the Chinese may have on the status of GB.
Declaration will also help Pakistan to tap the fresh water resources in the region and to make use of it for agriculture, hydroelectricity generation etc. Such move can also help China to get increased access in region and counter India jointly with Pakistan.
Impediments ahead: Gilgit- Baltistan is part of J&K and any such move would seriously damage Pakistan’s Kashmir case. Two UN resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 clearly established a link between GB and the Kashmir issue. Making the region its fifth province would thus violate the Karachi Agreement — perhaps the only instrument that provides doubtful legal authority to Pakistan’s administration of GB — as well as the UN resolutions that would damage its position on the Kashmir issue.
Any such move would also be violative of the 1963 Pak-China Boundary Agreement that calls for the sovereign authority to reopen negotiations with China “after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India” and of the 1972 Simla Agreement that mentions that “neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation”
Pakistan would also have to overcome the adverse reaction of Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC. While it can manage the reaction of people in “AJK”, its constituency in J&K would be seriously damaged. Hurriyat leaders have already made this known.
Performance analysis of the scheme: Of the total 4.72 lakh beneficiaries identified across the country, only 56,694 have been allotted land. Among the best performing states in terms of land allotment are Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. States like Goa, Kerala and West Bengal have drawn a blank in terms of allotment of land to beneficiaries.
PMAY- G: The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas yojana (IAY) has been restructured into Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana –Gramin (PMAY-G) from 01.04.2016. PMAY-G aims at providing a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless householder and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated house, by 2022.
Cost sharing: The cost of unit assistance in this scheme is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90: 10 for North Eastern and Himalayan States.
The scheme envisages training of Rural Masons with the objective of improving workmanship and quality of construction of houses while at the same time, increasing availability of skilled masons and enhancing employability of such masons. Selection of beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) is based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13 point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification.
Sustainable Catchment Forest Management (SCATFORM) project: The SCATFORM project aims to address issues such as forest cover loss and forest degradation have been mainly caused by shifting cultivation, which increases soil erosion risks on hill slopes especially in upper catchment areas.
Implementation: It would be implemented mainly in upper catchments where forest degradation and soil erosion are severe and livelihood improvement needs are high. The project aims to the improve quality of forest in the catchment area by sustainable forest management, soil and moisture conservation and livelihood development.
The activities undertaken under the project involves promotion of bamboo plantation, agroforestry based livelihood, eco-tourism development, development of value addition for bamboo and other Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) in order to create alternate livelihood opportunities for local communities. Cost sharing: The 80 per cent of the cost is contributed by JICA and the rest would be funded by the state and central governments.
What’s the issue? Data localization is a sensitive issue the world over and more so in India, given that this is a country of 1.3 billion people with over 1 billion mobile users. With technology developing rapidly, more and more devices becoming smarter and the Internet of Things taking over, a genuine concern around leakage of private data has gained ground.
What does Data Localization mean? Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated.
Why data localization is necessary for India? For securing citizen’s data, data privacy, data sovereignty, national security, and economic development of the country. Recommendations by the RBI, the committee of experts led by Justice BN Srikrishna, the draft ecommerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localisation.
The extensive data collection by technology companies, has allowed them to process and monetize Indian users’ data outside the country. Therefore, to curtail the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data, data localization is necessary.
Digital technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) can generate tremendous value out of various data. It can turn disastrous if not contained within certain boundaries. With the advent of cloud computing, Indian users’ data is outside the country’s boundaries, leading to a conflict of jurisdiction in case of any dispute.
Data localization is an opportunity for Indian technology companies to evolve an outlook from services to products. International companies will also be looking at the Indian market, and this will benefit the growth of the local ecosystem. More data centres in India could mean new, power-hungry customers for India’s renewable energy market. That means Data localisation could boost India’s renewable energy.
Policies that imply data localization: The Srikrishna Committee wants to localise data for law enforcement to have easy access to data, to prevent foreign surveillance, to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India, and because undersea cables through which data transfers take place are vulnerable to attacks.
In April, the Reserve Bank of India imposed a hard data localisation mandate on payment systems providers to store payment systems data only in India. Barring limited exceptions, telecom service providers are not allowed to transfer user information and accounting information outside India.
Goals set in the Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018, and the Guidelines for Government Departments for Contractual Terms related to Cloud Storage 2017, draft e-commerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localization.
Concerns / Challenges: Several of the recommendations in including the draft e-commerce policy, falter on a key ground like they gloss over the negative economic impact of data localization. This approach exhibits lack of evidence-based policy making. Having data in India does not mean that domestic companies will be able to access this data. Localization might aid the growth of the data centre and the cloud computing industry in India, but as matter of wider public policy, such an approach is extremely myopic. Mandating localization is less of a solution for data protection and might be less relevant to promote e-commerce.
Given the comparative trade advantages enjoyed by one section of Indian industry in this context, mandating a strict data localization regime could be perceived as a restrictive trade barrier and spur retaliatory measures. There is a possible rise in prices of foreign cloud computing services in case of a data localisation, and its impact on MSMEs as well as start-ups relying on these services.
The possibility of triggering a vicious cycle of data localisation requirements by other countries as a response to India’s possible data localisation will be detrimental for the global data economy. Growth will be restricted if data cannot be aggregated internationally. Infrastructure in India for efficient data collection and management is lacking.
Need of the hour: There is an urgent need to have an integrated, long-term strategy for policy creation for data localisation. Data localisation needs to integrate a wide range of social, political and economic perspectives. Creating an opportunity for local data centres all over the country. Devising an optimal regulatory and legislative framework for data processors and data centres operating in the country.
Adequate infrastructure in terms of energy, real estate, and internet connectivity also needs to be made available for India to become a global hub for data centres. Adequate attention needs to be given to the interests of India’s Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries, which are thriving on cross border data flow.
Context: IIT Hyderabad has announced the launch of a full-fledged bachelor’s programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. IIT Hyderabad has become the first institute in the country to launch full-fledged Bachelor’s programme in AI technology. IIT Hyderabad will be the third institute to globally to offer the B.Tech course in AI.
Places in News- Mount Shindake: Context: A volcano- Mt Shindake has erupted on Kuchinoerabu Island of Japan. Kuchinoerabu Island belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The entire island lies within the borders of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park.
Context: Palestine has taken over the chairmanship of G77 from Egypt. How is chairmanship of G77 decided? The chairmanship of the G77 is based on the system of geographical rotation. 2019 was Asia’s turn and the Asian group had unanimously endorsed Palestine. Egypt was representing the African Group of countries.
The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of 134 developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.
G77 was formed on 15 June 1964 by the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Since China participates in the G77 but does not consider itself to be a member, all official statements are issued in the name of The Group of 77 and China.
Context: National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) has been inaugurated in Mumbai. The museum depicts the journey of over a century of Indian cinema in a story telling mode with the help of visuals, graphics, artifacts, interactive exhibits and multimedia expositions.
Context: The restoration of the Chowmahalla Palace to its age-old grandeur has been completed.
Key facts: Chowmahalla Palace is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state. It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state. The palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung.
Context: Wildlife activists have called for enforcement of recovery plan for the country’s most critically endangered bird- Great Indian Bustard. Once the contender for becoming India’s national bird, the Great Indian Bustard is now facing extinction.
Key facts: Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas
Protected areas: Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan. Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh. Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh.
What is it? It is an event which aims to expand the outreach of National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of SHG members to the other government schemes. This is organized by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Why in News? Bridge over Diffo river on Roing-Koron-Paya road has been inaugurated in Arunachal Pradesh. The construction of the Bridge was undertaken by the Project Udayak of the Border Roads Organisation.
Key facts: It would provide uninterrupted access between Dibang valley and Lohit valley region of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. It would provide an all-weather Road to the troops deployed on the China Border.
Project Udayank of the Border Roads Organisation was raised on June 1990 at Doomdooma Assam. The name of the project Udayank is synonymous to the land of rising sun which fits appropriately to the area it operates. It consists of two border road taskforces undertaking construction activities in the north-eastern region.
Context: The British Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal proposed by the Prime Minister Theresa May.
What and why did parliament reject? The House of Commons has comprehensively rejected the 585-page draft withdrawal treaty that Mrs May agreed with the EU in November as well as on a non-binding political declaration that seeks to lay out the option for talks on longer term ties. The most contentious provision is a so-called backstop provision that would come into effect at the end of the transition period if no other solution was found to prevent a hard border in the island of Ireland. This would keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s single market for goods — and so retain much of the EU’s authority over the province — while including the whole of the UK in a customs union with the bloc.
To minimise any divergence with Northern Ireland, the British government has announced that if the backstop came into force, the rest of the UK would “track” Brussels’ rulebook for goods regulation, keeping pace with new EU legislation.
Many Brexiters denounce the backstop as a “trap” that would keep the UK yoked to EU rules. While Mrs May argues that neither London nor Brussels wants the measure to enter into force, some see it as a default scenario, since it could take until the mid-2020s to negotiate, ratify and implement any trade deal that could obviate the need for a backstop.
What’s next? The UK has now three options to choose from since UK is bound to leave EU by March. The options are: Reach to EU to further modify the agreement. Exit without any deal. This would be a doomsday scenario which would trigger a massive recession in Britain and markedly slow the European Union’s economic growth. Hold another referendum on Brexit deal in Britain.
What does Brexit mean? It is a word that is used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in the same way as a possible Greek exit from the euro was dubbed Grexit in the past.
Why is Britain leaving the European Union? A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.
When is the UK due to leave the EU? For the UK to leave the EU it had to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives the two sides two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, 2017, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm UK time on Friday, 29 March 2019. A European court has ruled that the UK can decide to stop the process. Alternatively it can be extended if all 28 EU members agree.
What caused Brexit to happen? So far, there seem to be three theories for what drove so many people to vote Brexit: Immigrants: Faced with rising immigration locals worried about their jobs and the erosion of the English way of life wanted their government to clamp down on immigration. This was a revolt against unrestricted immigration from poorer Eastern European states, Syrian refugees residing in the EU and millions of Turks about to join the EU.
Elites: Faced with decades of economic malaise, stagnant real wages and economic destitution in former industrial heartlands ever since the rise of “Thaterchism” and the embrace of Neoliberal policies by Tony Blair’s New Labour the non-Londoners have decided to revolt against the elite. This isn’t just about being against the EU as it stands, and its free market and free movement of peoples.
Bureaucracy: Faced with Brussel’s asphyxiating amount of red tape the English people decide to “take back control” of their country’s bureaucracy. The three theories are obviously intertwined at times and contradictory at others, that’s why it matters who is going to be negotiating the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU.