Prelims Booster

1st July – Prelims Booster


Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana

Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has launched the first edition of the Fisheries and Aquaculture newsletter “MATSYA SAMPADA” published by the Department of Fisheries.

Details –

  • A scheme to bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India under two components namely, Central Sector Scheme (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) at a total estimated investment of Rs. 20,050 crore.
  • The Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.
  • The PMMSY will be implemented as an umbrella scheme with two separate Components namely (a) Central Sector Scheme (CS) and (b) Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) Component is further segregated into Non-beneficiary oriented and Beneficiary orientated subcomponents/activities under the following three broad heads – 

  • Enhancement of Production and Productivity
  • Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Management         
  • Fisheries Management and Regulatory Framework

Funding pattern –

Central Sector Scheme (CS) –

  • The entire project/unit cost will be borne by the Central government (i.e. 100% central funding). 
  • Wherever direct beneficiary oriented i.e. individual/group activities are undertaken by the entities of central government including National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), the central assistance will be up to 40% of the unit/project cost for General category and 60% for SC/ST/Women category.

Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) – 

For the Non-beneficiary orientated sub-components/activities under CSS component to be implemented by the States/UTs, the entire project/unit cost will be shared between Centre and State as detailed below –

  • North Eastern & Himalayan States – 90% Central share and 10% State share.
  • Other States – 60% Central share and 40% State share.
  • Union Territories (with legislature and without legislature) – 100% Central share.

Benefits –

  • Address the critical gaps in the fisheries sector and realise its potential.
  • Augmenting fish production and productivity at a sustained average annual growth rate of about 9% to achieve a target of 22 million metric tons by 2024-25 through sustainable and responsible fishing practices.
  • Improving availability of certified quality fish seed and feed, traceability in fish and including effective aquatic health management.
  • Creation of critical infrastructure including modernisation and strengthening of value chain.
  • Creation of direct gainful employment opportunities to about 15 lakh fishers, fish farmers, fish workers, fish vendors and other rural/urban populations in fishing and allied activities and about thrice this number as indirect employment opportunities including enhancement of their incomes.
  • Boost to investments in fisheries sector and increase of competitiveness of fish and fisheries products.
  • Doubling of fishers, fish farmers and fish workers incomes by 2024.
  • Social, physical and economic security for fishers and fish workers.

India-Bhutan – First joint hydel project

India and Bhutan took a major step forward for the construction of the 600 MW Kholongchhu project, their first hydropower joint venture project in Bhutan’s less developed eastern region of Trashiyangtse.

Details –

  • It will be a joint venture between Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a Himachal Pradesh PSU, and the Bhutanese Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC).
  • The Kholongchhu project is one of four additional projects agreed to in 2008, as a part of India’s commitment to help Bhutan create a total 10,000 MW of installed capacity by 2020.
  • The inter-governmental agreement for the Kholongchhu project was signed after prolonged negotiations on the structure of the joint venture, in April 2014, and the foundation stone was laid when Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Thimphu a few months later.
  • According to the agreement finalised, the construction for the Kholongchhu Hydro Electric Power (HEP) project will begin soon, and be completed in the second half of 2025.
  • It is the first time an India-Bhutan hydropower project will be constructed as a 50:50 joint venture, not as a government-to-government agreement.

Background –

  • So far, Government of India has constructed three Hydroelectric Projects (HEPs) in Bhutan totalling 1416 MW, which are operational and exporting surplus power to India. About three-fourth of the power generated is exported and rest is used for domestic consumption.
  • India has agreed to assist Bhutan in developing a minimum of 10,000 MW of hydropower and import the surplus electricity from this to India by the year 2020. Currently, there are three Inter- Governmental (IG) model HEPs (Punatsangchhu-I, Punatsangchhu-II and Mangdechhu) under implementation.
  • Issues
    • Delays in constructing and commissioning hydropower projects in Bhutan by Indian companies have led to the country’s burgeoning national debt.
    • India’s power-surplus status and the advent of other renewable energies like wind and solar power will make it more difficult for Bhutan to ensure that its hydropower sector becomes profitable. And unless India finds ways to help, it will be accused of the same sort of “debt-trapping” that China is accused of today.

Naryana Guru spiritual circuit plan

The Ministry of Tourism has considered the revival of the Sivagiri Sree Narayana Guru Ashram-Aruvipuram Kunnumpara Sree Subrahmania-Chembazhanthi Sree Narayana Gurukulam spiritual circuit.

Details –

  • It has been decided to revive ₹69.47 crore Sree Narayana Guru spiritual circuit. However, the Ministry will not revive the ₹85.23 crore spiritual circuit linking 133 places of worship in Kerala that was dropped along with the Sree Narayana Guru circuit.
  • The two projects had been approved under Swadesh Darshan, aimed at the development of theme-based tourist circuits, launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2014-15.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme –

  • The Swadesh Darshan Scheme is a central Sector Scheme was for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country.
  • It is to develop theme-based tourist circuits on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
  • Under the scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development – North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
  • The first project under the Scheme was inaugurated in Manipur. The project covers two sites i.e. Kangla Fort and Khongjom.
  • First Tribal circuit under the scheme was inaugurated in Chhattisgarh and this is the second project under the scheme.
  • Tourism Ministry has sanctioned Rs. 460.74 Crore for Five Ongoing ‘Eco CircuitProjects. The five eco circuit projects are in the states of Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Kerala, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project was recently sanctioned under this Scheme. It will be focusing on the development of water-based thematic cruise experiences in North Kerala.

Who was ‘Sree Narayana Guru’?

  • Sree Narayana Guru was a great saint, scholar, philosopher, poet and the forerunner of social renaissance in Kerala. He was born in 1856 in a peasant family of then untouchable Ezhava caste, in Thiruvananthapuram.
  • He led a reform movement in Kerala, against the injustice in the caste-ridden society in order to promote social equality.
  • He gave the universal message, “One caste, one religion, one God.”
  • Sahodaran Ayyappan’ (Pulaya Ayyappan), a social reformer from Kerala coined a rejoinder ‘No Caste, No Religion, No God for Mankind.
  • Aravipuram Movement’ was launched by Narayana Guru. He defied the religious restrictions traditionally placed on the Ezhava community and consecrated an idol of Shiva at Aravipuram.
  • He was a follower of Advaitha philosophy.
  • He translated Tamil works like “Thirukkural” into Malayalam.
  • He had written number of hymns to different gods and some of the notable ones are “Atmopadesa Sathakam” and “Darsanamala”.
  • He lent his support to the ‘Vaikkom Satyagraha’. Mahatma Gandhi met him during this time.
  • Sivagiri pilgrimage’ was conceived by three of the disciples, Vallabhasseri Govindan Vaidyar, T. K. Kittan and Muloor S. Padmanabha Panicker.


Bharat Biotech gained an edge in the race among a few entities in the country and several more globally to ready a vaccine for COVID-19 when the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) cleared its product for human clinical trials.

What is ‘Covaxin’?

  • Covaxin is a vaccine candidate to developed by BBIL against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology (NIV).
  • As part of this collaboration, NIV isolated a strain of the virus from an asymptomatic Covid-19 patient and transferred it to BBIL early in May. The firm then used it to work on developing an “inactivated” vaccine–a vaccine that uses a the dead virus–at its high containment facility in Hyderabad.
  • Once the vaccine is injected into a human, it has no potential to infect or replicate, since it is a killed virus. It just serves to the immune system as a dead virus and mounts an antibody response towards the virus.

What does the approval mean for India?

  • The Drug Controller General of India, who heads CDSCO, has given Bharat Biotech approvals to begin testing its vaccines on humans through phase I and II clinical trials.
  • This brings India a step closer to finalising a domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine for its population–a positive sign at a time when the country’s cases continue to surge, especially in the national capital.
  • The first phase, usually conducted on a small group of individuals, tries to find what dosage of the vaccine is safe for use, whether it is effective in building their immunity to the virus and whether there are any side effects.
  • The second phase is conducted on a larger group comprising hundreds of persons fitting the description of those for whom the vaccine is intended using characteristics like age and sex. This phase tests how effective the vaccine is on the population group being studied.

Draft Environment Impact Assessment norms

Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, India notified its first EIA norms in 1994, setting in place a legal framework for regulating activities that access, utilise, and affect (pollute) natural resources. Every development project has been required to go through the EIA process for obtaining prior environmental clearance ever since.

The 1994 EIA notification was replaced with a modified draft in 2006. Earlier this year, the government redrafted it again to incorporate the amendments and relevant court orders issued since 2006, and to make the EIA “process more transparent and expedient.”

About EIA norms –

An EIA notification is issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, to impose restrictions on setting up new projects or expansion or modernisation of existing projects. The section stipulates that such measures must benefit the environment.

What is exempted?

All inland waterways projects and expansion/widening of national highways will be exempt from prior clearance. These include roads that cut through forests and dredging of major rivers.

The 2020 draft also exempts most building construction projects of built-up area up to 1,50,000 sq m.

What changes have been brought?

  • The two most significant changes in the new draft are the provisions for post-facto project clearance and abandoning the public trust doctrine. Projects operating in violation of the Environment Act will now be able to apply for clearance.
  • All a violator will need are two plans for remediation and resource augmentation corresponding to 1.5-2 times “the ecological damage assessed and economic benefit derived due to violation”. For such late applications, a developer will have to cough up Rs 2,000-10,000 per day for the period of delay.
  • The 2020 draft also spells out how the government will take cognisance of such violations. It has to be reported either by a government authority or the developers themselves. There is no scope for any public complaint about violations. Instead, the reliance is on the violators to disclose, suo motu, that they broke the law.

What are the issues?

  • The 2020 draft offers no remedy for the political and bureaucratic stronghold on the EIA process, and thereby on industries. Instead, it proposes to bolster the governments discretionary power while limiting public engagement in safeguarding the environment.
  • While projects concerning national defence and security are naturally considered strategic, the government gets to decide on the strategic” tag for other projects. The 2020 draft says no information on “such projects shall be placed in the public domain”. This opens a window for summary clearance for any project deemed strategic without having to explain why.
  • Additionally, the new draft exempts a long list of projects from public consultation. For example, linear projects such as roads and pipelines in border areas will not require any public hearing. The ‘border area’ is defined as “area falling within 100 kilometres aerial distance from the Line of Actual Control with bordering countries of India.” That would cover much of the Northeast, the repository of the country’s richest biodiversity.

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