2nd January – Prelims Booster

Finance Ministry unveils plans for Rs 102 lakh crore infra projects

Union Finance Ministry has outlined plans to invest more than Rs 102 lakh crore in infrastructure projects by 2024-25, with the Centre, the States and the private sector sharing the capital expenditure in a 39:39:22 formula.

Details –

  • This will be a significant increase over the last six years, when the Centre and the States together spent Rs 51 lakh crore on infrastructure.
  • A task force of senior bureaucrats, chaired by Economic Affairs Secretary Atanu Chakraborty had identified Rs 102 lakh crore worth of projects in 18 states as part of a National Infrastructure Pipeline.
  • Another 3 lakh crore worth of projects are likely to be added soon as the idea is to not exclude any state.
  • The plan calls for a ₹13.6 lakh crore investment in 2019-20, a big task considering that the 2018-19 investment in infrastructure by the Centre, the States and the private sector was only ₹10 lakh crore, a slight drop from the previous year’s investment of ₹10.2 lakh crore.

Division of infrastructure investments –

  • Almost a quarter of the capital expenditure is going to the energy sector, with ₹24.5 lakh crore expected to be invested in power, renewable energy, atomic energy and petroleum and natural gas. This is also the sector where the private sector has expressed the most interest.
  • The other major focus areas are roads (19%) and railways (13%), urban (16%) and rural (8%) infrastructure, and irrigation (8%).
  • Social infrastructure, including health and education, will get 3% of the capital expenditure, with digital communication and industrial expenditure each getting the same amount as well.
  • Agriculture and food processing infrastructure will get one per cent of the planned capital expenditure.

Micro-plastics study by Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu government is set to undertake a study to assess the pollution caused by micro-plastics in coastal areas, estuaries and lakes.

Details –

  • The results of the proposed study would help collect baseline data on the status of micro-plastics in these areas. Based on the findings, appropriate remedial and management actions would also be considered by the government.
  • The study will be undertaken by the Environment Management Agency of Tamil Nadu through the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute in Thoothukudi for three years, between 2019-20 and 2021-22, at a cost of ₹81.20 lakh.

What are micro-plastics?

  • Microplastics are tiny particles which are present in many sources, including carry bags and pet bottles.
  • These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the water bodies, posing a potential threat to aquatic life.
  • Microbeads, a kind of microplastic, are used as exfoliates in some cleansers and toothpastes. Even though banned in US and Canada, microbeads are still used in India.
  • Microplastics can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to lymph nodes and other bodily organs. Microplastics have also been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals.

Centre unlikely to fund Cauvery project

The Tamil Nadu State government’s plan to secure full financial assistance from the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti for its flagship project, Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery, may not fructify.

About Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery project –

  • The ambitious Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery aims to restore Cauvery and its tributaries on the lines of the Ganga Restoration and Rejuvenation.
  • The agenda is to have a multi-departmental approach for bio-diversity conservation, afforestation, cleaning of river surface, setting up sewerage treatment plant (STP), river front development and rejuvenation of the river and its main tributaries – Bhavani, Amaravathi and Noyyal.
  • The project might cost about 7,000 crore to 10,000 crore. The river Cauvery is the lifeline of the Tamil Nadu and considered one of the sacred rivers of south India. It is also known as the Ganges of South.

Forest Fires

About 21.40% of forest cover in India is prone to fires, with forests in the northeastern region and central India being the most vulnerable, the 2019 report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) has said.

Details –

  • The analysis showed that extremely fire prone areas account for 3.89% of total forest cover, very highly fire prone areas account for 6.01% and highly fire prone areas for 11.50%. Together, the three categories come to 21.40 % of forest cover.
  • Mizoram, a small State, recorded the highest number of fire alerts (2,795). The seven States of the north-eastern region accounted for 10,210 fire alerts, which make up about one-third of alerts in the country.
  • Central Indian States also recorded a high number of forest fire alerts, with Madhya Pradesh accounting for 2,723 alerts; Maharashtra 2,516; Odisha 2,213 and Chattisgarh 1,008 alerts between November 2018 to June 2019.
  • In cases of natural reasons, the scientist pointed to thunderstorms as the most likely cause.

How Forest Fire points are identified?

The forest fire points (FFP) are identified using a moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) by overlaying the points coverage over the grid coverage of 5km x 5km.

Swachh Survekshan 2020

Indore and Jamshedpur have topped the cleanliness charts for two consecutive quarters among cities with over 10 lakh population and with 1 lakh to 10 lakh population respectively.

Kolkata remained at the bottom of the ranking of 49 major cities across both quarters as West Bengal did not participate in the nationwide exercise.

Details –

  • Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has announced the results of the first and second quarters of the Swachh Survekshan 2020.
  • Indore, which was at number one in the past three sanitation surveys, remained the top slot in the first two quarters of 2019.
  • Bhopal, which came in second in the first quarter, was replaced by Rajkot in Gujarat in the second quarter.
  • Surat was at number three in the first quarter, but Navi Mumbai made it to the third spot in the second quarter rankings.
  • New Delhi fell from second position in the first quarter to sixth position in the second quarter and was replaced by Chandrapur in Maharashtra at second place.

Community resources

The Government has no right to transfer “invaluable” community resources like village water ponds to a few powerful people and industrialists for commercialisation of property, when many areas of the country perennially face water crisis and access to drinking water is woefully inadequate, the Supreme Court has held.

Details –

  • The Supreme Court has held that the “Protection of such village commons is essential to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of our Constitution. These common areas are the lifeline of village communities, and often sustain various chores and provide resources necessary for life.
  • The court said the State cannot divest villagers of their existing source of water even if it promises to provide them an alternative site where the water body can be replicated.

National Animal Disease Control Programme for FMD and Brucellosis

The Government has launched a new scheme National Animal Disease Control Programme for FMD and Brucellosis with a financial outlay of Rs. 13,343.00 crore for five years (2019-20 to 2023-24).

Details –

  • It aims to vaccinate 100% cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population for FMD and 100% bovine female calves of 4-8 months of age for brucellosis to prevent loss of Rs. 50,000 crore to the Government exchequer and also to increase the economic output of farmers.
  • The mission mode approach for eradication of these diseases is the biggest step any country of the world has ever taken either for human or animal vaccination programme to control any disease.
  • This programme combined with providing unique Pashu Aadhar to 535 million animals (Cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, and pig).

Taiwan passes ‘anti-infiltration bill’ to combat Chinese influence

Taiwan has passed a controversial bill which aims at countering China’s influence on the self-ruled island.

Details –

  • The anti-infiltration bill bans “hostile” foreign forces from activities such as campaigning, lobbying, making political donations, disrupting social order or spreading disinformation related to elections.
  • Violators face a maximum five-year prison term and a fine of up to around $3,32,000.
  • China still sees self-ruling, democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day reunify it — by force if necessary.

Daily MCQs

1. Which of the following statement(s) is/are true about the Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery River project? 1. It aims to rejuvenate and restore Cauvery river on the lies of Namami Gange. 2. The Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has given in-principle approval to fund the Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery project. 3. River Cauvery is also known as the Ganges of the South.

Correct! Wrong!

The ambitious Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery aims to restore Cauvery and its tributaries on the lines of the Ganga Restoration and Rejuvenation (Namami Gange). The project might cost about 7,000 crore to 10,000 crore. It is also known as the Ganges of South. However, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti has not yet given any approval to provide financial assistance to Tamil Nadu State Government for the project. The river Cauvery is the lifeline of the Tamil Nadu and considered one of the sacred rivers of south India. Note - Some people call River Godavari as ‘Dakshin Ganga’ due to the size of the river, but Cauvery is called ‘Ganges of the South’ due to the religious importance of the river.

2. Which of the following statement(s) is/are true about microplastics? 1. Microplastics are tiny particles which are present in many sources, including carry bags and pet bottles. 2. Microplastics have also been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses. 3. Microbeads, a kind of microplastic has been recently banned in India after studying the ban in US and Canada.

Correct! Wrong!

Microplastics are tiny particles which are present in many sources, including carry bags and pet bottles. These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the water bodies, posing a potential threat to aquatic life. Microbeads, a kind of microplastic, are used as exfoliates in some cleansers and toothpastes. Even though banned in US and Canada, microbeads are still used in India. Microplastics can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to lymph nodes and other bodily organs. Microplastics have also been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals.

3. Which of the following is/are the tributaries of the Cauvery river? 1. Bhavani 2. Amaravathi 3. Noyyal

Correct! Wrong!

The ambitious Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery aims to restore Cauvery and its tributaries on the lines of the Ganga Restoration and Rejuvenation. The agenda is to have a multi-departmental approach for bio-diversity conservation, afforestation, cleaning of river surface, setting up sewerage treatment plant (STP), river front development and rejuvenation of the river and its main tributaries - Bhavani, Amaravathi and Noyyal.

4. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are used to detect -

Correct! Wrong!

The forest fire points (FFP) are identified using a moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) by overlaying the points coverage over the grid coverage of 5km x 5km.

5. Which of the following countries have recently passed an anti-infiltration bill to counter Chinese influence?

Correct! Wrong!

Republic of China, also known as Taiwan has passed a controversial bill which aims at countering China’s influence on the self-ruled island. The anti-infiltration bill bans “hostile” foreign forces from activities such as campaigning, lobbying, making political donations, disrupting social order or spreading disinformation related to elections.

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