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Prelims Booster

14th August – Prelims Booster

Transparent Taxation – Honouring the Honest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently launched a platform for “Transparent Taxation – Honouring the Honest”.

What is it?

  • The platform is made to honour India’s taxpayers who have been sincere with taxes.
  • It is aimed at bringing transparency in income tax systems and empowering taxpayers.
  • The main features of the platform are faceless assessment, faceless appeal and taxpayer charter. The faceless assessment and taxpayer charter will come into place immediately from the launch, while the faceless appeal is going to be applicable from 25th September 2020.
    • Faceless Assessment – It aims to eliminate the interface between the taxpayer and the income tax department. There will be no need for the taxpayer to visit the income tax office or the officer. The selection of a taxpayer is possible through systems using analytics and Artificial Intelligence.
    • Faceless Appeal: Under the system, appeals will be randomly allotted to any officer in the country. The identity of the officer deciding the appeal will remain unknown.
    • Taxpayer Charter: This outlines the rights and responsibilities of both tax officers and taxpayers.

Sarthak

An Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for the Indian Coast Guard was launched and re-christened as Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Sarthak’.

Details –

  • OPV Sarthak is the 4th in the series of five OPVs. It has been designed & built indigenously by M/s Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL). The ship has about 70% indigenous content, thus providing the necessary fillip to the Indian shipbuilding industry and a giant leap towards achieving ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • The Ship is fitted with state-of-the-art Navigation and Communication equipment, sensor and machinery. The 105 Metre ship displaces approximately 2350 tons and is propelled by two 9100 KW diesel engines designed to attain a maximum speed of 26 knots, with an endurance of 6000 Nautical Miles.
  • The ship is designed to embark and carry a twin-engine helicopter, four high speed boats and one inflatable boat for swift boarding and Search & Rescue operations.
  • The ship is also capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.
  • The ship will be deployed extensively for EEZ surveillance, Coastal Security and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter of duties, to safeguard the maritime interests of the Nation.

Delhi’s Electric Vehicle Policy, 2020

Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy has been notified recently. It has been notified for a period of three years, following which it can be renewed in the present form or after suitable amendments. It has set an ambitious target of ensuring that by 2024, EVs account for 25% of all new vehicle registrations in the national capital.

Policy roadmap –

  • The policy is incentive-driven, which the government believes will encourage people to buy new EVs, scrap cars running on petrol and diesel.
  • It has provisions for low-interest loans for battery-run commercial vehicles like buses and trucks.
  • The policy lays a particular emphasis in the category of two-wheelers, autos, and goods carriers and will, for the first time, allow ride-hailing services such as Ola and Uber and last mile delivery platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy to operate battery-driven bikes.
  • “All two-wheelers engaged in last-mile deliveries (e.g., food delivery, e-commerce logistics etc.) will be expected to transition 50% of their fleet to electric by March 2023, and 100% of their fleet by March 2025,” the policy states.
  • Currently, two-thirds of new vehicle registrations in Delhi comprise two-wheelers. From 2020, the government has also committed to ensure that 50 per cent of its new public bus purchases are pure electric buses.

Incentives –

  • In case of bikes, a purchase incentive of Rs. 5,000 per kWh of battery capacity shall be provided per vehicle to the registered owner, subject to maximum incentive of Rs 30,000 per bike.
  • Up to Rs 5000 will be granted for scrapping old petrol and diesel-run bikes and purchase EVs.
  • Those buying e-autos will get Rs 30,000 subsidy and Rs 7500 additional subsidy for scrapping old CNG-run autos. There will be no cap on the number of e-autos unlike CNG-run ones which cannot exceed 1 lakh in the city.
  • Purchase of e-rickshaws will also come with a Rs 30,000 inventive. Similar incentives will be granted to the purchase of the first 10,000 battery-driven goods carriers.
  • In case of four-wheelers, the first 1000 purchases of e-cars stand to get subsidies of up to Rs 1.5 lakh per vehicle. And lastly, the road tax and registration fees shall be waived for all EVs, says the policy.

Charing infrastructure –

  • The policy recommends changes in building bye-laws so that all new homes and workplaces are ‘EV ready’ with 20% of all vehicle holding capacity/parking equipped with charging points.
  • The purchase of charging points will also be incentivised to the tune of Rs 6,000 per charging point for the first 30,000 such points. The existing building owners and RWAs will be “encouraged” to follow suit through similar incentives as well.
  • The policy lists as its key objective the creation of public charging facilities within three km travel from anywhere in Delhi by inviting companies to set up charging and battery swapping stations at “bare minimum lease rentals” and full reimbursement for purchases of swappable batteries by them.

Funding –

  • The policy refers to the ‘feebate concept’, which refers to the concept under which inefficient polluting vehicles incur a surcharge, while efficient ones receive a rebate. Accordingly, it seeks to create an EV fund made up of pollution cess on, additional road tax on petrol and diesel vehicles, “especially luxury cars”, congestion fee on rides taken using cab aggregators (except those running on batteries).
  • Currently, a Rs 25 paise per litre cess is levied on sale of diesel in the city, which makes up the air ambience fund. Every month, 50 per cent of the amount collected in that fund will be transferred to the EV fund.
  • And if the government still falls short of money, the Supreme Court’s assistance will be sought in using the Environment Compensation Charge fund, made up of tax imposed on commercial vehicles entering Delhi.

Organic matter in soil

Soil Scientists Dr Rattan Lal (winner of prestigious World Food Prize) said that in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh soils are degraded and depleted because ‘organic matter’ is quite below (0.5-0.2 per cent). Dr Lal had opined that organic matter should be around 2-3 per cent.

What is organic matter?

  • Organic matter is the very foundation of good soil health. It consists of plants, animal material which gets converted into humus after decomposing.
  • According to the agriculture department, it improves soil quality and fertility. Organic matter can even improve the fertility of sandy soils. It supplies nutrients, increases water-holding capacity, prevents soil erosion. Supplication of organic matter into the soil decreases with frequent tilling of the land.

Organic Matter in Punjab’s soil –

  • In Punjab, 54.7 per cent land has medium organic carbon in the soil between .40 and .75 per cent, while 31.4 per cent of the land witnesses low OM below .40 per cent and only 13.9 per cent land witnesses high .75 per cent and above organic matter, which means on an average our soil had witnessed .51 per cent organic matter in this decade from 2011 to 2020.
  • With the collective efforts of Punjab government, experts and farmers, it can be increased up to .50-1 per cent in a decade’s time, even though the increase was between .3 and .11 per cent in the past five decades.

What farmers can do?

  • By tilling the land again and again, organic matter gets disturbed and decreases. Experts advised farmers to opt for two crops a year and grow green manure as a third crop, which is ploughed into the field only to improve soil fertility.
  • The best time to grow it is after wheat harvesting in April, and then ploughing it in the fields before paddy sowing in June.
  • Putting cow dung in the fields, incorporating paddy and wheat stubble in soil, growing pulses like summer moong are methods to enhance it.

Benefits –

When Punjab has already witnessed high productivity in several crops, enhancing this further with existing land holdings is possible when soil is enriched. For instance, paddy productivity in Punjab varies between 4.9 tonnes to 7.4 tonnes per hectare and wheat production is between 3.8 tonnes to 5.7 tonnes per hectare. If organic matter in the soil is enhanced to the desired level, the fertility of the soil of low production areas can be enhanced manifold to bring it at par with soil giving the highest production in the state.

Daily MCQs

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