Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 9 February 2018

SSC CGL Current Affairs

Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 9 February 2018

::NATIONAL::

Low water availability in Narmada may trigger severe crisis in Gujarat

  • Despite heavy rainfall last year, Gujarat is set to face a severe water crisis because of the low water availability in Narmada dam.
  • It is the main source of water in the State — due to deficient rainfall in the Narmada catchment area in Madhya Pradesh.
  • As a result, the State government has repeatedly announced that it will not supply water for irrigation.
  • The entire stock will be reserved for drinking water in Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions, both water starved provinces and highly dependent on water from Narmada canals.
  • In a statement, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) appealed to farmers not to sow a summer crop unless they had a local water source which could irrigate their fields because in the Narmada dam, the storage level was at 45% of the 15-year average.
  • However, the government’s move to curtail supply has irked farmers as well as the Opposition party, who allege mismanagement by the State authorities.
  • According to Gujarat government officials, they had the inkling that this year Narmada water would not be available for irrigation.
  • However, due to the Assembly polls in November-December, the State government, instead of making proper arrangements, did not even inform the farmers and the public of the likely shortfall.
  • October 2017 onwards, it became evident that the availability of water from the Narmada dam would be substantially lower than the State’s quota of 9 million acre feet (MAF) that it gets as per the Narmada water sharing award.
  • Now, Gujarat will get only 4.71 MAF. That is enough for drinking water but not for irrigating fields.
  • Interestingly, when the State government was apparently aware of a sharp drop in water inflows in the Narmada dam.
  • It celebrated the Narmada Festival while Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended an event to announce the completion of dam over the river.
  • Gujarat’s Chief Secretary J.N. Singh told the media that the State government would ensure that there was no drinking water crisis during summer.

We will handle Ayodhya title dispute as a Land issue only: SC

  • The Supreme Court exhorted parties in the 70-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute to treat it merely as a “land issue”.
  • Indicating it would not be swayed by the history of religious conflict and violence associated with the Ayodhya site, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra addressed a tense and crowded courtroom, saying, “Please treat this as a land issue.”
  • The Hindu parties and sects involved in the dispute believe Lord Ram was born on this land.
  • Kar sevaks razed the 15th century Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.
  • In September 2010, a three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court directed a three-way partition of the disputed site in Ayodhya.
  • But this judgment led to appeals and cross-appeals filed by parties in the Supreme Court.
  • The court warded off third-party intervenors, who said they wanted in as the Ayodhya appeals dealt with an issue which impacted the nation.
  • But the Bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer, firmly told them that these were appeals and cross-appeals filed in land suits, and parties concerned were quite capable of arguing them without any third-party interventions.

4 Weeks to UP for Taj protection plan: SC

  • The Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to place before it a vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal.
  • It also asked why there was a “sudden flurry of activity” in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
  • The TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq. km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in U.P. and Rajasthan.
  • A Bench of justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta questioned Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the U.P. government, on why leather industries and hotels were coming up in the TTZ when such activities were stopped earlier.
  • “There is a sudden flurry of activity in the TTZ. Is there any particular reason for that? Leather industries and hotels are coming up there. Why? It should remain stopped. Why this activity is there in the TTZ?” it asked.
  • Mr. Mehta submitted that he would seek instructions on the issue and get back to the court.
  • The Bench also asked the State government to file within four week a vision document on protection and preservation of the 17th century mausoleum.
  • The court had in December last year said that a detailed and comprehensive vision document and plan with a futuristic perspective that could protect and preserve the iconic monument, its environs and the TTZ for at least a few hundred years, should be prepared.
  • During the hearing, the State government filed an application seeking the court’s permission to cut 234 trees in Agra for laying pipelines for water supply in the city.
  • The counsel told the Bench that 122 km of pipelines out of the 130 km had already been laid and for the remaining 8 km, the authorities need to cut 234 trees and the TTZ had granted permission for it.
  • The court asked the State government to inform it within four weeks on where land to plant trees was available in the area and also give details about the number of trees planted there.
  • Environmentalist M. C. Mehta, who has filed a plea seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area, told the Bench that he had attended a meeting of the authorities concerned last month to discuss the issue related to protection of the monument.
  • “In my view, no satisfactory discussion took place,” he said, adding that he had not yet received the minutes of the meeting.
  • To this, the ASG said that the minutes of the meeting have been prepared and as per the court’s direction, members of civil societies had also attended the discussion.
  • Meanwhile, advocates representing the leather and glass industries referred to separate applications filed by them but the Bench said it would hear these matters after four weeks.
  • The apex court would also take up during the next hearing another application seeking permission to cut trees for widening of road near Govardhana Hill in Mathura.
  • The TTZ had earlier told the court that a “no construction zone” was declared within a-500 metre radius of the Taj and the State government had envisaged a comprehensive plan to ensure balance between environment and development.

In 6 months, fresh mining leases: Parrikar

  • Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that fresh mining leases could be issued tentatively within six months with due process.
  • The Chief Minister was addressing a press conference at the State Secretariat on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court cancelled all 88 ore mining leases citing irregularities in the second renewal process.
  • “Six months should be the target, from March, subject to no hurdles and problems in between. I have told you that the State is examining all options,” Mr. Parrikar said.
  • He added that the State would not face any financial setback due to the apex court’s decision.
  • “The damage is temporary. There is not much of a loss to the government. As far as financial impact on the State goes [it will be around] Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 crore. We can bear it. Next year income from [the mining sector] will be Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 crore. There is material still available in balance from e-auctions. We can auction that,” Mr. Parrikar said.
  • He admitted, however, that there would definitely be an impact on those depending on the mining industry, and said the government will work fast to start mining with proper procedure.
  • Mr. Parrikar said the leases were renewed for a second time based on directions from the Bombay High Court at Goa.
  • “The Supreme Court has set aside that decision, saying that the High Court did not interpret their judgement [of cancelling the leases] properly,” he said.
  • Mr. Parrikar refused to confirm if the State government would auction the leases, saying that he needs to study the legal aspects.
  • He also said that as per the apex court’s order, while mining has been banned from March 15, there was nothing to stop mining companies from exporting the ore already extracted, which is stacked on transportation jetties and other plots outside the lease areas.
  • “[The lease-holders] have been permitted to extract up to March 15. So obviously that ore will belong to them, subject to the condition that they pay the royalty, District Mineral Fund, everything,” Mr. Parrikar said.
  • He said there is no ban on export.
  • The Supreme Court order has also asked about recovery of State dues from miners.
  • Mr. Parrikar said the State has already started the process to recover dues from mining companies after exhaustive audit by chartered accountants.

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::INTERNATIONAL::

All-party talks: Maldives Govt.

  • The Maldivian government invited all political parties to re-convene talks.
  • This happened days after it shut down Parliament and declared a state of emergency, drawing sharp criticism at home and abroad.
  • “In view of the existing situation in the country, and the importance of all-party talks for the welfare of the people of the Maldives, the government has decided to reconvene all-party talks, and has issued invitations to all parties to engage in dialogue with the government,” a statement from the President’s office said.
  • However, a top Opposition source told The Hindu that all-party talks were “absolutely out of the question” in a situation where dissidents were arrested and “ill-treated”, and the President had effectively “imposed martial law”.
  • “There can be no negotiating with a dictator like this,” the source said, requesting anonymity.
  • Meanwhile, a visiting delegation of Ambassadors from Colombo-based German, the U.K. and EU missions — that flew to Male — on Thursday said its request to meet President Yameen was turned down.
  • Following the government’s refusal to implement a surprise Supreme Court ruling last week, its subsequent declaration of a state of emergency, and a series of high-profile arrests, the Maldives has plunged into a political crisis.
  • The arrests of the Chief Justice and another Supreme Court judge — part of the bench that ordered the release of nine Opposition leaders including former President Mohamed Nasheed — escalated the tension.
  • Three other judges annulled part of the earlier ruling, effectively revoking the release order of jailed dissidents.
  • Lawyers of the Supreme Court judge said the Chief Justice was threatened that he would be “cut into pieces unless he reversed the ruling”, in a statement.
  • South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, said it was “deeply concerned” by the political crisis engulfing the Maldives, following President Abdulla Yameen’s increasingly “authoritarian and undemocratic actions”.
  • Observing that “President Yameen stands accused of multiple charges of corruption and human rights violations” — allegations that he has denied in the past — the human rights organisation noted that the strongman President has been “politically isolated”.

::ECONOMY::

IT dept. sends 1lakh notices to bitcoin investors

  • The Income Tax Department has issued one lakh tax notices to people who have invested in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra said.
  • The tax department had conducted a nationwide survey which showed $3.5 billion worth of transactions on various cryptocurrency exchanges across India over a period of 17 months.
  • People who have made investments [in cryptocurrency] and have not declared income while filing taxes and have not paid tax on the profit earned by investing, we are sending them notices as we feel that it is all taxable.
  • They found out that there is no clarity on investments made by many people which means that they have not declared it properly.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had, in his Budget speech last week, stressed that cryptocurrencies were not legal tender.
  • The government would clamp down on any such illegal transactions, he had said at the time.
  • However, industry players said the action taken by the Income Tax Department still did not mean that holding cryptocurrencies was illegal.
  • “You see, the Finance Minister and the RBI have both clarified that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender,” the CEO of one of India’s cryptocurrency exchanges said on the condition of anonymity.
  • “This means that you cannot use it in place of the rupee. But he did not say anything about investing in it as an asset. This action by the tax department is only against those who made investments but did not declare it in their returns. It would have been the same if they had invested in any other asset and didn’t declare it.”
  • India is a very attractive market for cryptocurrency companies, both domestic and international.
  • A worldwide study of the market by Malaysian firm Pundi X, which is looking to enter the Indian market, found that India accounted for 10% of the global trade in cryptocurrencies.
  • Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, saw its value soaring 1,700% over the course of 2017 to settle at about $20,000.
  • It has, however, fallen sharply in 2018 on concerns about a global regulatory clampdown.

5900 tons of medical waste per annum from Delhi-NCR: ASSOCHAM

  • The lack of proper disposal of hospital trash can pose a serious risk to the health of people and the environment.
  • Delhi-National Capital Region generates over 5,900 tons of medical waste annually — most of which remains untreated and is dumped along with municipal waste.
  • ASSOCHAM’s latest findings state that the Capital alone generates around 2,200 tons of biomedical waste.
  • The study also looked at Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad.
  • India has seen unprecedented growth in the number of hospitals across the country.
  • Non-treated hospital waste always causes public health risks, including AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, gastroenteric infections, respiratory infections, bloodstream infections, skin infections, effects of radioactive substances and intoxication.
  • “We have to ensure that waste disposal is done as per policy guidelines framed by the State government,” said ASSOCHAM secretary-general D. S. Rawat.
  • Segregation and collection facilities for medical and clinical waste need improvement not only in Delhi-NCR but in cities like Meerut, Loni, Bulandshahr, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, said the paper.
  • About 65% of hospital waste is non-hazardous and mixing of hazardous trash with general waste leads to contamination.
  • This leads to risk of infections and diseases in anyone coming in contact with such items.
  • Waste pickers often come in contact with piles of waste, which may have syringes or bandages with blood on them.
  • These are potential sources of infections and diseases.
  • Proper segregation of waste — be it at a healthcare facility or at home — is important to ensure that waste pickers do not face such risks.
  • ASSOCHAM added that centralised biomedical treatment plants should be put up in series as growing economies like India have huge prospects for future healthcare facilities.
  • No sooner than that happens, the identified cities need to be equipped with disposal facilities to protect public safety, health, environment and ecology from degradation.

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