The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, will dedicate to the nation, India’s longest tunnel (road) – the 9-kilometre-long “Chenani – Nashri Tunnel” – on April 2nd, 2017.
India’s Longest Tunnel | About
India’s Longest Tunnel on NH-44 which connects Jammu with Srinagar, will reduce travel time between the two cities by up to two hours. It achieves a distance-reduction of 31 kilometres, bypassing snow-bound upper reaches. The estimated daily fuel savings are to the tune of Rs. 27 lakhs.
Besides avoiding large scale deforestation and tree-cutting, the tunnel will provide a safe, all-weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur, to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar.
The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems, and is expected to boost tourism and economic activities in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
India’s Longest Tunnel | Salient features
It is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35 metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres.
There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with “Cross Passages” connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres.
It also has smart features such as an Integrated Traffic Control System; Surveillance, Ventilation and Broadcast Systems; Fire Fighting System; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres.
The project has been completed at a cost of over Rs. 2500 crore.
In what might be creating huge uproar in the Parliament, the Government has proposed a large scale Tribunal Reorganisation by seeking to reduce the number of these quasi-judicial bodies and bring uniformity in the service conditions of their officials.
The amendments proposed under the Finance Bill will alter several laws and allow the Government to set a criterion for the appointment and removal of the chairperson, the vice-chairperson and other members of the tribunals, and decide on their terms of service.
Details of reorganisation
The Competition Appellate Tribunal is proposed to be merged with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.
The Cyber Appellate Tribunal and Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal is proposed to be merged with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.
The Industrial Tribunal is also proposed to perform the functions of the Employees Provident Funds Appellate Tribunal and
The Copyright Board is proposed to be merged with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.
Need and impact
India has a vast number of tribunals to look into appeals made by the orders of specific regulators. Hence, post-merger, the Government will have to ensure specialisation in tribunal functions, the absence of which will lead to overlapping of powers and confusion.
It might lead to overburdening the tribunals with more cases than it their capacity to handle.
It might expedite administrative purposes which will speed up dispute resolution and curb wasteful expenditure on the resolution of disputes.
It is argued that allowing the executive organ of the state to determine appointment, reappointment and removal of members might affect the independent functioning of Tribunals themselves. Currently, these administrative rules, such as appointment eligibility, remuneration, and the like, were governed by the respective statutory acts and provisions rolled out by the concerned ministry. Hence, it could also pose a conflict of interest in cases where the executive is a litigant.
Moreover, parity in administrative rules could help in streamlining the functioning of these quasi-judicial bodies (tribunals) and ensure that vacancies do not stymie the functioning of the tribunals.
There are concerns regarding the fact that Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) is unfit to merge with any other tribunal as it is carries too much specialisation under its arms and deals with complex issues. Either dissolving COMPAT or merging it with the NCLT could defeat the focus of competition law in the country.
Likewise, the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal is proposed to be merged into the Telecom Dispute Settlements and Appellate Tribunal, which appears incongruous at the outset itself.
Increasing control of the executive over tribunals will be contrary to the spirit and values laid down by the Supreme Court to ensure fairness and jurisprudence. Section 179 of the Finance Bill transfers massive powers from the Parliament to the Centre.
Although, there is no harm in reorganizing the tribunals, it must be done after careful scrutiny to make them better streamlined. It should not be made another point of conflict between the executive and the judiciary, as the latter might feel that the former is exercising overreaching powers over the state functions.
Malnutrition among Pre-School Children is a serious problem. As per the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) third repeat survey report, 2012 for ten Indian States, 0.5% of children aged 1-5 years suffer from Vitamin-A deficiency manifested as Conjunctival Xerosis; and as per National Family Health Survey- 4 (2015-16) report, 58.4% children below five years suffer from anaemia.
Malnutrition | Causes
The main reasons for these micronutrient deficiencies are poor dietary intake, repeated infections, poor complementary feeding practices, and lack of adequate sanitation and hygiene practices.
Steps taken by the Government
Promotion of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices that include early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months of age through ASHA worker and health care provider at health facilities. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently launched “MAA” programme to provide impetus on capacity building of the health workers on lactation management at both community and facility levels and 360 degree IEC campaign to create awareness regarding breastfeeding.
Management of malnutrition and common neonatal and childhood illnesses at community and facility level by training service providers in IMNCI (Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses) training.
Treatment of sick children with severe acute malnutrition at special units called the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), set up at public health facilities. Presently 965 such centres are functional in 26 States and UTs.
Vitamin A supplementation for children aged 6 months to 5 years.
Village Health and Nutrition Days and Mother and Child Protection Card are the joint initiative of the Ministries of Health & Family welfare and the Ministry of Woman and Child for addressing the nutrition concerns in children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Monthly Village Health and Nutrition Days (VHND) are monthly days held at village level in Anganwadi centre to increase the awareness and bring about desired changes in the dietary practices including the promotion of breastfeeding.
‘National Iron Plus Initiative’ has been launched as an effective strategy for iron folic acid supplementation and treatment of anaemia in children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, in programme mode through life cycle approach.
Promotion for intake of iodised of salt under National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme
Under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) and Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), systematic efforts are undertaken to detect nutrition deficiency among children and adolescents respectively.
Supplementary Nutrition in form of hot-cooked meals and take-home ration provided to children aged 6 months to 6 years under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Growth monitoring of children aged 0-5 years on a monthly basis at Anganwadi Centres
Mid-day meal for all students under the Government and Government aided schools.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has said that E-Cinepramaan – the Online Film Certification System of CBFC would facilitate the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Ease of Doing Business and Digital India. The complete automation of the Film Certification Process would enable Good Governance making the entire process transparent and efficient.
E-Cinepramaan | Objectives
The objective is to eliminate the need for human interface to the extent possible. The new online certification system would be an important step in making the CBFC Office paper less and would enable effective monitoring & real time progress tracking for both CBFC Officials and the applicant (Producers). More online initiatives would be introduced in the Ministry as part of the roadmap for transparent Governance. The Minister stated this at the launch function of the Online Film Certification System of CBFC here today.
E-Cinepramaan | Salient features
In the e-cinepramaan, the status of each application would be visible online in the dashboard of the producer/concerned CBFC official.
In case of short films/promos/trailers less than 10 minutes, even for Examination purposes also, the producer need not visit the Office/Theatre. They can merely submit their creations online.
For films longer than 10 minutes, the applicant will only have to show the film at the Examining theatre and will not have to visit the CBFC Offices at all except to collect their certificates.
The producer/applicant would be informed by SMS/e-mail of the status of their application and any action needed, beginning from the receipt of application to the certificate collection.
The transparency in the system and elimination of middle men would mitigate chances of any corruption and would also avoid allegations of jumping the queue or rigging up of Examination committees.
The implementation of QR code on the certificates would eliminate chances of fraudulent certificates.
The system envisages a robust MIS system for performance tracking and efficient reporting.
The system has inbuilt alerts depending on the pendency of the application to ensure that time limits prescribed by the Rules are not violated.
Simultaneously, a new CBFC Website has also been developed bringing in new user friendly features and important information at the click of a button.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana, a ‘Scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens belonging to BPL category’ will be launched in District Nellore, Andhra Pradesh on 1st April, 2017.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana | Highlights
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment said that the Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens will be distributed in Camp mode and the Scheme will be implemented through the sole implementing agency, ‘Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO)’, (a PSU under M/o SJ&E), which will undertake one-year free maintenance of the aids & assisted living devices.
The devices will help the Senior Citizens to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family. The ambitious Scheme, first of its kind in the country is expected to benefit 5,20,000 Senior Citizens over a period of the 3 years, he added.
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana | Background
The proposal for formulation of a Scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-Living Devices for Senior Citizens belonging to BPL Category was announced in the Budget 2015-16. Pursuant to this, the “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana” has been formulated.
The Scheme aims at providing Senior Citizens, belonging to BPL category and suffering from any of the age related disability/infirmity viz. Low vision, Hearing impairment, Loss of teeth and Locomotor disability, with such assisted-living devices which can restore near normalcy in their bodily functions, overcoming the disability/infirmity manifested.
The assistive devices shall be of high quality and conforming to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards, wherever applicable.
This is a Central Sector Scheme, fully funded by the Central Government. The expenditure for implementation of the scheme will be met from the “Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund”.
Under the Scheme, the following Aids and Assisted-Living Devices will be provided to eligible elderly beneficiary senior citizens, depending upon their physical impairment: –
Walkers / Crutches
Tripods / Quadpods
Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana | Salient features
Free of cost distribution of the devices, commensurate with the extent of disability/infirmity that is manifested among the eligible senior citizens.
In case of multiple disabilities/infirmities manifested in the same person, the assistive devices will be given in respect of each disability/impairment.
The devices will help the Senior Citizens to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family.
The Scheme will be implemented through the sole implementing agency, ‘Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO)’, (a PSU under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment)
ALIMCO will undertake one year free maintenance of the aids & assisted living devices.
Beneficiaries in each district will be identified by the State Governments/UT Administrations through a Committee chaired by the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector.
As far as possible, 30% of the beneficiaries in each district shall be women.
The State Government/UT Administration/District Level Committee can also utilize the data of BPL beneficiaries receiving Old Age Pension under the NSAP or any other Scheme of the State/UT for identification of senior citizens belonging to BPL category.
The devices will be distributed in Camp mode.
The expected financial outlay over the next three years (i.e. upto 2019-20) is Rs. 483.6 Crores.
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals with regard to the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June, last year with a corpus of Rs. 1,000 crores.
Fund of Fund For Start-Ups | Details
Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups qualifying as per the Gazette Notification G.S.R.180 (E) dt. 17/02/2016. Further, if the amount committed for a Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the balance funding can continue thereafter.
It was also decided that operating expenses for carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc. would be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50% of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. This will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year; i.e. April 1 and October 1.
Fund of Fund For Start-Ups | Background
The Union Cabinet in its meeting had approved the proposal testablish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total corpus of Rs.10000 crores, with contribution spread over the 14th & 15th Finance Commission cycles based on progress of implementation and availability of funds.
It was decided that the FFS shall contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing in equity and equity linked instruments of various start-ups at early stage, seed stage and growth stages.
The FFS is being managed and operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). FFS contributes to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of 35% of the corpus of the AIF concerned.
The Cabinet had decided that the corpus of Fund of Funds along with counterpart funds raised by the AIFs in which FFS takes equity would be invested entirely in Start-ups.
It has been pointed out to the Department during its interactions with various stakeholders that investors in the AIFs would prefer that the portfolio of AIFs is adequately diversified to manage the investment risks appropriately and if the entire pool of funds of the AIF is invested in Start-ups, it poses unacceptable risks to the investors of such AIFs.
The other issues raised by stakeholders were that the process of funding of Start-ups by AIFs is long drawn which starts from pitching by a Start-up, commitment by the AIF and then release of funds in tranches. Thus it is possible that before release of the final instalment the turnover of the Start-up crosses Rs. 25 crores but it still needs funds to meet its growth requirements. Besides, Start-ups need access to funds through various stages of their life cycle, viz. early stage, seed stage and growth stage.
It was also pointed out to the Department by SIDBI that the present provisions don’t provide for SIDBI to get compensated for activities done post sanction to AIFs.
The Government of India has approved and notified Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM) on 29th September 2014.
National AYUSH Mission
The scheme envisages better access to AYUSH services;
Strengthening of AYUSH educational institutions,
Facilitate the enforcement of quality control of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani & Homoeopathy (ASU &H) drugs, and
Sustainable availability of ASU & H raw-materials by promotion of medicinal plants in the States/UTs during 12th Plan.
Under NAM, the Central Government provides financial assistance to the States/UTs for encouraging Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy Centers for the health care of the people of the country as per the State Annual Action Plan (SAAP).
Highlights of National AYUSH Mission (NAM)
The National AYUSH Mission (NAM) inter-alia makes provision for the following: –
Co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs).
Up gradation of exclusive State Government AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries.
Setting up of up to 50 bedded integrated AYUSH Hospital.
Upgradation of State Government Educational Institutions.
Setting up of new State Government AYUSH Educational Institutions in the State where it is not available.
Strengthening of State Government/ Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy (ASU&H) Pharmacies and Drug Testing Laboratories (DTL).
Cultivation and Promotion of Medicinal Plants.
Other initiatives for the promotion of AYUSH treatment
Under the Central Sector Scheme for Promotion of Information, Education and Communication (IEC), the Ministry takes up initiatives for propagation and promotion of AYUSH systems of medicines by organizing Arogya fairs/melas, conferences, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, symposium and also undertakes publicity through electronic multimedia/print media campaign for awareness amongst the citizens.
Ministry of AYUSH celebrated ‘National Ayurveda Day’ on the day of Dhanvantari Jayanti (Dhanteras). The theme for year 2016-17 i.e. the first National Ayurveda Day was ‘Ayurveda for Prevention & Control of Diabetes’ which was celebrated on 28th October 2016. Mission Madhumeh was launched on this occasion and Ministry also released a protocol for Prevention & Control of Diabetes through Ayurveda.
AYUSH intervention in National Program for Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease & Stroke (NPCDCS) program is being implemented in one District each in six States viz. Bhilwara (Rajasthan), Surendranagar (Gujarat), Gaya (Bihar), Lahimpur Khiri (Uttar Pradesh), Krishna (Andhra Pradesh) and Darjeeling (West Bengal).
An Employees Enrolment Campaign has been launched by Employees Provident Fund Organisation during the period 01.01.2017 to 31.03.2017, in order to extend social security benefits to all the eligible workers in the country.
Employees Enrolment Campaign | Highlights
During the Employees Enrolment Campaign, various financial incentives are being offered to establishments to enroll their workers.
As an incentive, the following shall apply to the declarations made under the campaign: –
The employee’s share of contribution if declared by the employer not to have been deducted shall not be required to be paid.
The damages to be paid by the employer in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign shall be at the rate of Rupee 1(one) per annum.
No administrative charges shall be collected from the employer in respect of the contribution made under the declaration.
Employees Enrolment Campaign | Conditions to obtain financial incentives
An employer, whether already covered or yet to be covered, can enroll employees who remained un-enrolled for any reason between 01.04.2009 and 31.12.2016 by making a declaration of such employees during the campaign period.
Such declaration shall be valid only in respect of employees who are alive as on 1st January, 2017 and no proceedings under section 7A of the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions (EPF & MP) Act, 1952 or under paragraph 26B of the Employees’ Provident Funds (EPF) Scheme, 1952 or under paragraph 8 of the Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995 have been initiated against their establishment or employer, as the case may be, to determine the eligibility for membership of such employees.
For the declaration made under this campaign, the employer shall be responsible to remit the employer’s contribution, interest under section 7Q of the Act and damages.