GS Paper II- Governance.

Centre Estimates Investment Requirement For Highways At Rs 7 Lakh Crore Over 5 Years.

Background

  • The Centre will invest about ₹7 lakh crore in developing national highways in the next five years, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement.
  • The Ministry said on 25th July, 2017 that it had estimated a fund requirement of about ₹6.92 lakh crore for the development of National Highways in the country during the next five years. It added that funds would be sourced through gross budgetary support, central road fund and toll remittances, among others.

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Key Points Of The Development-

  • India is set to face a massive infrastructure push as the Ministry of Road Tansport and Highways has estimated a fund requirement of about Rs 6.92 lakh to build highways over the next five years.
  • Minister of State for Road Transport and highways and Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply to the Parliament that the ministry needs a fund requirement of about Rs. 6.92 lakh crore for the development of national highways.
  • The Centre has set a target to increase the length of the network of highways to 2 lakh km, up from current 1.15 lakh km.
  • The minister said that the funds would be routed through many public channels, which include Gross Budgetary Support of the Ministry, the Central Road Fund, Toll remittance, Monetization of National Highways through Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) model, external borrowings by National Highway Authority of India and private investment.
  • Infrastructure projects, including roads and highways, account for eight percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating direct and indirect employment for 40 million people.
  • During the first quarter of the year 2017, 2,269 km of new highways network was added in the country at a speed of 25 km a day.
  • Road construction is considered a major employment generator. Sources said around 40,000 km of highways will be expanded till 2022, which includes about 24,800 km covered under Bharatmala programme. According to government estimates, construction of 10,000 km of highways annually has the potential of generating four crore man-days and this can be a weapon to blunt the opposition’s allegation that the government has failed to create employment opportunities.
  • The prime minister’s office has asked the highways ministry to accelerate monetisation of completed projects.

Sources- Moneycontrol, The Hindu.

 

GS Paper III- Disaster Management.

Centre Releases Advance Grant-In-Aid Of Rs.51.30 Crore To Arunachal Pradesh For Rescue And Relief Operations On Account Of Flash Floods.

Background

  • The Centre has released two instalments of grant-in-aid in advance to the Arunachal Pradesh Pradesh towards its share in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
  • The Union finance ministry on 14th July, 2017, announced that Rs 51.3 crore was released as grant-in-aid on the basis of recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission for rescue and relief operations in the state on account of flash floods. Union power minister Piyush Goyal, too, earmarked Rs 10 crore as initial assistance.

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Highlights Of The Development-

  • Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and chief minister Pema Khandu carried out an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in Pasighat, Mebo, Dambuk, Mahadevpur and Diyun.
  • They were accompanied by Niti (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog joint secretary Vikram Singh Gaur, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) inspector-general Ravi Joseph and disaster management director (home) Gopi Chandra Chawania.
  • The team surveyed the damage along the Likabali-Aalo highway. However, the survey had to be cut short owing to inclement weather and they flew to Pasighat, where they took stock of the situation along the Pasighat-Dambuk highway. They subsequently surveyed Namsai, Mahadevpur and Diyun.
  • Rijiju and the central team, accompanied by former chief minister Nabam Tuki and disaster management secretary Jokey Angu, also visited the landslide-hit Laptap village in Papum Pare district. Rijiju spoke with the locals and family members of the victims and extended his condolences. He assured them that the government would provide all possible help and handed over Rs 10 lakh to the victims’ family.
  • Rijiju said M/s Shusee Infra and Mining Pvt Ltd, which has been carrying out road construction in the area, was instructed to complete it within a month. The company had agreed to compensate the affected persons.
  • Khandu thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his prompt response. He said he is personally monitoring the flood situation and instructions have also been issued to deputy commissioners to take stock of the situation. He said the restoration work would take time as rainfall is unlikely to abate soon.
  • Rijiju also visited the flood-affected areas in the capital, including the Barapani bridge, where deputy commissioner Prince Dhawan briefed him about the precautionary measures undertaken for its safety. The bridge was on the verge of collapse owing to erosion.
  • Highway executive engineer Nani Tath said specialists have been asked to study the bridge. He said one-way traffic is the temporary solution to avoid further damage of the National Highway 415.
  • Rijiju asked the deputy commissioner to submit a consolidated report on the damage caused to infrastructure in and around the capital.

Sources- The Telegraph.

GS Paper IV- Integrity.

Madras HC Makes Vande Mataram Mandatory In Schools, Govt And Private Offices.

Background

  • Singing of Vande Mataram in schools, government offices, private entities and industries in Tamil Nadu has been made compulsory by the Madras high court. While schools must sing it at least once a week either on Monday or Friday, the national song must be crooned in offices once a month, said Justice M V Muralidharan on Tuesday, 25th July, 2017.
  • Justice M V Muralidharan said that private and government schools in the state should ensure that their students sing the national song at least twice in a week, preferably on Monday and Friday. Noting that the song can also be played in other government and private establishments at least once in a month, the judge said that if people feel it is difficult to sing the song in Bengali or in Sanskrit, steps can be taken to translate the song in Tamil.

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Key Points Of This Development-

  • The court said that the director of public information will upload a translated version of the National Song in Tamil and English that will be made available in the Government websites and on social media.
  • It also marked the order to the Chief Secretary of the State who will issue instructions to the concerned authorities.
  • However, the court added that a person shall not be forced it sing it provided he or she has valid reasons.
  • This order comes after K. Veeramani, the petitioner, moved the High Court and said he failed to clear the written test for the post of BT Assistant as he answered that Vande Mataram was written in Bengali. He further claimed that the song was originally written in Bengali but the Teachers recruitment Board made a mistake in the answer key and he failed to clear the exam because of that.
  • The Government told the court that the song was written in Sanskrit and later translated in Bengali. The Judge then directed the Advocate General to come back with the correct answer to clear the confusion. On July 13, 2017, AG clarified that the national song was Sanskrit but written in Bengali language.
  • The court on 25th July, 2017, ordered the government to include Veeramani in the list of candidates selected.
  • Meanwhile, a petition is also pending in the Supreme Court demanding that singing Vande Mataram be made mandatory in schools, Parliament, state assemblies, public offices and courts. On April 17, 2017, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to the Centre on the petition filed by Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwani Upadhyay. The matter is scheduled to come up for hearing on August 23, 2017.

Sources- The Times of India, News 18.