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GS Paper III – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

By air or road, Tezu is now a vantage point

What’s Happening-

  • Firming up India’s strategic space, the mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh are set to acquire all-weather connectivity.
  • The new bridges across the Lohit river and the new commercial airport in Tezu will smoothen transport to several high-altitude districts near the India-China border.

Key Points discussed were:

District Administration:

  • Necessary approvals and permissions have been issued by the district administration for commercial air services to begin. One calibration flight has been conducted. However, some more calibration flights are required.
  • Recently, the funnel approach has also been cleared [of tall trees] by District Administration.

Why now more emphasis on connectivity?

  • The improvements in connectivity is significant in view of the statements by Beijing’s officials asserting China’s territorial claims over Arunachal Pradesh.
  • “The disputed territory in the eastern sector of the China-India boundary, including Tawang, is inalienable from China’s Tibet in terms of cultural background and administrative jurisdiction,” said Dai Bingguo, former Special Representative of China to the border talks with India.
  • However, infrastructure development in the State is noticeable. 
  • Apart from the airport, the two mega-bridges over the Lohit river will reduce hurdles in moving men and material to the eastern sector of the India-China border.

Longest bridge

  • The bridges at the Dhola-Sadiya ghat and at Digaru ghat were built by the Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd (NECL).
  • The bridge at Sadiya, at 9.15 km, will be the longest bridge in India once it is formally inaugurated. However, the people at Tezu say it is the smaller bridge of 2.1 km built at the Digaru ghat that has reduced the distance between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, bringing the State closer to the rest of India.
  • In the absence of the bridges, the drive from Guwahati will be interrupted by the Lohit, which could be crossed only by boat. Earlier Locals used elephants to cross the river and so many people drowned in it.
  • Tezu is the nearest town to Walong, where a legendary battle between Indian and Chinese soldiers took place between 16 October to 16 November 1962. 

Strategic preparedness:

  • The new bridges will also provide the necessary support for the strategic preparedness for the forces in the mountains, which will be critical for India where the new Mountain Strike Corps is likely to focus.
  • The planned high altitude airfields in the Himalayan range would also be helped by the

GS Paper III Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Five associate banks, BMB merge with SBI 

What’s Happening-
The government has set the date for the record merger of the State Bank of India with its five associate banks on April 1, 2017.

Key Points discussed were:

What’s the big deal?

  • No Indian bank features among the top 50 banks globally.
  • With the huge financing needs that the country faces, infrastructure in particular, size is important.
  • With the merger, the SBI could break into the list of top 50 banks of the world, in terms of asset size.
  • The merged entity will have one-fourth of the deposit and loan market, as the SBI’s market share will increase from 17% to 22.5-23%.
  • The business mix of the five associate banks is around Rs. 10 lakh crore, which is almost equal to the size of the second largest bank of the country, Punjab National Bank. So, the distance between the SBI and the second largest bank, PNB, will increase further and the latter will be one-fourth of the SBI.
  • The merged entity would have close to 24,000 branches and an employee strength of 2,71,765.

What will happen to shares?

  • From April 1, all shares of these associate banks will cease to exist as individual entities and will be transferred to the SBI.
  • The merger will also mean that all SBI associate bank customers will become SBI customers and all associate bank employees will become SBI employees.

Background-
The five associate banks are the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), the State Bank of Mysore (SBM), the State Bank of Travancore (SBT), the State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH) and the State Bank of Patiala (SBP).
Initially, SBI had seven associate banks — two of them, the State Bank of Indore and the State Bank of Saurashtra, were merged earlier.
What does it mean for banking?
The merger of associate banks with the SBI kicks-starts the long pending consolidation exercise among public sector banks, but the bigger question is whether a similar move will be successful between other state-run banks.

GS Paper II– India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Punjab, J&K to resume work on dam across Ravi

What’s Happening-
Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir have agreed to resume work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam across the Ravi, which had been stalled by the latter since 2014.

Key Points discussed were:

Water, power sharing:

  • Jammu and Kashmir had asked Punjab to guarantee that a fresh agreement was signed in which the Centre would also be involved.
  • Punjab had terminated water-sharing agreements with several States in 2004 and J&K said it was uncertain about Punjab’s commitment to share power, water and economic benefits that would flow from the project.
  • There have been several meetings between both States and the Centre to chalk out a solution.

Indus Water Treaty

  • India was likely to attend a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to be held in Lahore later this month.
  • The government was considering reviewing the Indus Water Treaty in the wake of the Uri attacks, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that “blood and water couldn’t flow together”.
  • However, agreement is still to be ratified by the State governments for it to come into effect.
  • The dam was to have been built by July, though officials said there was no timeline for completion agreed upon after the fresh agreement was signed.

Background-
The proposed 55.5-metre-high dam in Gurdaspur district will potentially irrigate 5,000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in J&K, besides generating 206 MW of power.
The Irrigation Department of the Punjab government started building the dam in January 2013, but the Jammu and Kashmir government stopped the construction, saying there was no agreement for sharing of waters and power from the project.
Conclusion:
Though there are still pending disputes between the States, the Water Resources Ministry statement said these would be solved by arbitration and that the project would continue to be implemented by the Government of Punjab and jointly monitored by the Central Water Commission and the Chief Engineers of the two States.