‘’Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: India’s Technology Mission – Cabinet gives nod for 10 indigenous nuclear reactors

Approval shows strong belief in the capability of Indian scientists, says Centre

  What is important to know:

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the proposal to construct 10 indigenous pressurised heavy water nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 7,000 MWe.
  • Briefing the media on the Cabinet decisions, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said each of the reactors would have a capacity of 700 MWe. “We already have 6,780 MWe of operational nuclear power plants and about 6,700 MWe of plants under implementation, which will be set up by 2021-22.” The decision comes against the backdrop of recent troubles for India’s international collaborations in nuclear projects.
  • While the U.S. deal, involving Toshiba Westinghouse for six reactors in Andhra Pradesh, is floundering after Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the deal with French company Areva for reactors in Jaitapur remain mired in negotiations over costing.

  No timeline:

  • While the Minister said these 10 plants would create ₹70,000 crore worth of business for domestic manufacturers and generate about 33,400 jobs, he did not provide a timeline for their completion, saying the government would update the details when they are clear.
  • The approval also shows our strong belief in the capability of India’s scientific community to build our technological capacities, an official statement said.

  Rapid advances by India:

  • The design and development of this project is a testament to the rapid advances achieved by India’s nuclear scientific community and industry.
  • It underscores the mastery our nuclear scientists have attained over all aspects of indigenous PHWR technology,” it added. India generated 37,674 million units of nuclear energy in 2016-17, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, at a capacity factor of 80%. The two major projects under construction at the moment are located in Rajasthan and Gujarat, of 1,400 MWe each. Both plants, comprising two units of 700 MWe each, are under review. “The 10 reactors will be part of India’s latest design of 700 MWe PHWR fleet with state-of-the-art technology meeting the highest standards of safety,” it added. The Cabinet also approved a coal linkage policy, called the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India (Shakti) that will award fuel supply agreements to coal plants.

  Source: Indian Express

 

‘’Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: Various Security Forces & Agencies & their Mandate – NTRO now under Intelligence Act

The NTRO was created after the 1999 Kargil conflict as a dedicated technical intelligence agency

  Brief:

  • The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), which reports to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the National Security Advisor (NSA), will now have the same “norms of conduct” as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
  • The Home Ministry issued a notification on May 15 listing NTRO under The Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985, a demand being made by the organisation for over a decade now.

  Determination of Act:

  • The Act prevents employees of a notified agency from forming unions/associations, puts restrictions on the employee’s freedom of speech, bars any communication with the press, or publishing a book or other document without the permission of the head of the intelligence organisation.
  • Both IB and R&AW have on earlier occasions opposed the inclusion of any other organisation in the list of monitoring agencies under the Act. In 2012, the Home Ministry under the UPA government had declined to grant phone surveillance powers to NTRO based on the argument that it was not notified under the Act. The NTRO was created after the 1999 Kargil conflict as a dedicated technical intelligence agency.
  • It has been fighting tooth and nail to get included in the list as it has the right to lawfully intercept and monitor communications externally. Many security agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) among others have been asking the Home Ministry to include them under the Intelligence Organisations Act. “In the schedule to the Intelligence Organisations (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1985, after serial number 3 and the entries relating thereto, the following shall be inserted namely The National Technical Research Organisation,” the notification issued by the Home Ministry said.

  Interception powers:

  • An NTRO official told The Hindu that the amendment had nothing to do with enhanced interception powers but to “bring certain norms of conduct applicable to other intelligence agencies.” The official said the Act does not allow them to intercept phones internally. NTRO hires many people from the private sector and the Act means they will have the same safety net and restrictions available to other spy agencies.

  Source: The Hindu

 

‘’Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: India’s interest & effects of policies (tax) – GST to help cut costs Of transport, logistics

Tax to help formalise the sector: CBEC

   Brief:

  • The Goods and Services Tax, set to start on July 1, will pare the cost of transport and logistics, formalise the sector, and could help bring supply chain management to the forefront, according to officials working on the new tax regime.
  • Separately, the Goods and Services Tax Network, the company tasked with running the IT infrastructure for GST, has already migrated taxpayer information from State and central tax authorities to its database.
  • With the GST Council meeting on Thursday and Friday to finalise the rules pertaining to various aspects of GST, industry leaders and tax experts have raised several issues that the Council must look at.
  • There has been a lot of concern raised regarding the GST rules and whether vendors will be ready by July 1,” Neeraj Prasad, Additional Commissioner, GST Cell, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said on Wednesday. The Centre was conducting outreach efforts and training programmes.

   Supporting SMEs:

  • Just like the GST Network rates vendors on the basis of their compliance, firms must also internally rate vendors, Mr. Prasad said.
  • Extending support to SMEs through various forums is also something we must think about,” he said. “It is also worth considering about how there might be a position at the high table for supply chain under GST,” Mr. Prasad said.
  • The cost of logistics is currently very high in India, making up about 14-15% of GDP whereas it is only 7-8% in mature markets. In GST, the curtailment of layers of movement of goods is inevitable.
  • And GST will no doubt bring down the dominance of the unorganised element in logistics.
  • Due to trade barriers such as the entry tax, local body tax, Octroi and other hurdles, trucks idle for 30-40 per cent of the day, leading to huge man-hour and fuel losses, says the report.
  • The proposed dual GST model (central GST and state GST) proposes to replace around 29 state and federal taxes and tariffs for a single tax at the point of sale. The current combined Centre and state statutory rates for most goods work out to be 26.5 per cent.

   Source: Economic Times