GK Today: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Preparation: 11 August 2018

Cabinet approves raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given the approval for raising of four additional battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to strengthen the India’s disaster response set up at an estimated cost of Rs 637 crore. The objective of raising four additional battalions is to reduce the response time keeping in view the vast geographic area of the country. These four battalions will initially be raised as two battalions in Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and one battalion each in Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Rifles (ARs). Later these four battalions will be converted into NDRF battalions. Based on the vulnerability profile, these four battalions will be placed in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi National Capital Region. NDRF is a specialized force, which has been created in the year 2006 for the purpose of specialist response during the natural and man-made disaster or threatening situation. At present there are 12 battalions in NDRF which are deployed strategically across the country to provide immediate response.

 

“PARIVESH” – an environmental single window hub for Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ clearances launched

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub) on the occasion of World Biofuel Day.  PARIVESH is a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System, developed in pursuance of the spirit of ‘Digital India’ initiated by the Prime Minister and capturing the essence of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.  The main highlights of PARIVESH include – single registration and single sign-in for all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ), unique-ID for all types of clearances required for a particular project and a single Window interface for the proponent to submit applications for getting all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forests, Wildlife and CRZ clearances). PARIVESH offers a framework to generate economic growth and strengthens Sustainable Development through EGovernance. PARIVESH helps in improving the overall performance and efficiency of the whole appraisal process. PARIVESH also helps the processing authorities, as it has a Single Window System for Central, State and District level clearances, auto-generation of agenda (based on first come, first served principle), minutes of the meetings and online generation of approval letters, resulting in ease and uniformity in processing of clearance applications, online submission and monitoring of compliance reports including geo-tagged images of the site by regulatory body / inspecting officers even through the Mobile App for enhanced compliance monitoring. PARIVESH enables project proponents, citizens to view, track and interact with scrutiny officers, generates online clearance letters, online mailers and alerts to state functionaries in case of delays beyond stipulated time for processing of applications.

 

President of India inaugurates ‘One District one Product’ Summit

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, inaugurated the ‘One District One Product’ Summit in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that micro, small and medium enterprises are called the backbone of our economy. These enterprises are engines of inclusive development. After the agricultural sector, most people find employment in this sector. This sector generates more employment opportunities at a lower cost of capital. And the most important thing about this sector is that it creates jobs in rural and backward areas. The President noted that Uttar Pradesh contributes around 44 per cent in the total handicraft exports of the country. Industries such as handicrafts, food processing, engineering goods, carpets, readymade clothes, leather goods etc earns foreign exchange as well as provide employment. Therefore, this sector will play an important role in the development of Uttar Pradesh. He expressed confidence that the ‘One District One Product’ scheme will enhance skills of local people as well as increase the reach to products. And it will result in economic progress of artisans of Uttar Pradesh.

 

World Biofuel Day

World Biofuel Day is observed every year on 10th August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and to highlight the various efforts made by the Government in the biofuel sector.  Biofuels have the benefits of reducing import dependency on crude oil, cleaner environment, additional income to farmers and employment generation in rural areas.  The biofuels programme is also in synergy with the Government of India initiatives for Make in India, Swachh Bharat and enhancing farmers’ income.  Since 2014, the Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to increase blending of biofuels. The major interventions include administrative price mechanism for ethanol, simplifying the procurement procedures of OMCs, amending the provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 and enabling lignocellulosic route for ethanol procurement. These interventions of the Government of India have shown positive results. Ethanol blending in petrol has increased from 38 crore litres in the ethanol supply year 2013-14 to an estimated 141 crore litres in the ethanol supply year 2017-18.  Bio-diesel blending in the country started from 10th August, 2015 and in the year 2018-19, Oil Marketing Companies have allocated 7.6 crore litres of biodiesel.  Oil PSUs are also planning to set up 12 Second Generation (2G) Bio-refineries to augment ethanol supply and address environmental issues arising out of burning of agricultural biomass. The Government approved the National Policy on Biofuels-2018 in June 2018.  The policy has the objective of reaching 20% ethanol-blending and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030.  Among other things, the policy expands the scope of feedstock for ethanol production and has provided for incentives for production of advanced biofuels. The Government has reduced GST on ethanol for blending in fuel from 18% to 5%.

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