- River Dolphins go missing in Sunderbans as water salinity rises.
- Because of its unique body shape, it becomes difficult for the dolphin to remain submerged in waters with high salinity.
- According to her, freshwater flow to the Sunderbans is crucial for the subsistence of these species.
- The rise in sea level, triggered by climate change, is one of the reasons for the increase in salinity of waters of rivers and channels.
- Soon, tourists visiting Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Kaziranga (Assam), Colva Beach (Goa), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi temple (Bihar) will be able to avail themselves of an audio guide through a mobile application.
Adopt a Heritage
- “Adopt a Heritage” programme allows public and private sector companies to operate, maintain and develop amenities at heritage sites.
- Fiscal deficit touches 115% of target PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI India’s fiscal deficit touched 114.8% of the full-year target of ₹6.24 lakh crore at the end of November on account of lower revenue collection, showed government data.
- The fiscal deficit stood at ₹7.16 lakh crore during April-November of the current financial year. At the end of November 2017, the deficit was 112%of the Budget Estimate (BE).
- The government has budgeted to cut the fiscal deficit to 3.3% of GDP in 2018-19, from 3.53% in the previous financial year.
- Gaganyaan programme will send three Indian astronauts to space for up to seven days by 2022 at a cost of ₹10,000 crore.
- Use of abusive language against a person who shortly went on to take his own life will not amount to abetment of suicide, the Supreme Court has held.
- The govt approved the CRZ Notification 2018, aimed at streamlining of Coastal Regulation Zone clearances.
- According to the new notification, only such projects which are located in CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 nautical miles seaward) will require the necessary clearance from the Union Ministry.
- The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II (the areas that have been developed up to or close to the shoreline) and III (areas that are relatively undisturbed) have been delegated to the State level.
- The new notification also relaxed the No Development Zone (NDZ) criteria. Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2,161 per square kilometre, falling under CRZ-III A, now have NDZ of 50 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL) as against 200 metres stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.
- For islands close to the mainland coast and for all backwater islands in the mainland, the new norms stipulate an NDZ of 20 metres.
- The notification also permits temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. in beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also now permissible in NDZ of the CRZ-III areas.
- Also, in order to address pollution in coastal areas, setting up of treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ—I B area subject to necessary safeguards.
- Defence and strategic projects have been accorded necessary dispensation.
- The Shailesh Nayank Committee held wide ranging consultations with State Governments and other stakeholders and submitted its recommendations in 2015.
Bill on Indian medicine
- Govt has approved the draft National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2018.
- The draft Bill will enable the constitution of a National Commission with four autonomous boards for the purpose of conducting overall education in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Sowarigpa.
- To assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions, the Bill proposes an entrance and an exit exam that all graduates need to clear to get practising licenses.
- India will support Bhutan’s development needs by providing ₹4,500 crores.
- India provided ₹4,500 crore for the 11th five year plan that lasted between 2013 and 2018.
- ISRO is moving ahead with plans to set up a ground station in Bhutan that will help in telemedicine, disaster relief and climate trends.
- Mangdechhu hydro power project in Bhutan would be completed soon with Indian collaboration.
- Manbij is a strategic city in Syria close to the Turkish border where Kurdis forces have been deployed since 2016 and where U.S.-led coalition forces are also stationed.
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published its annual ‘Trends and Progress of Banking in 2017-18’ report.
- The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion issued a clarification to the existing rules pertaining to Foreign Direct Investment in e-commerce companies.
- The main features of the clarification include the provision that vendors that have any stake owned by an e-commerce company cannot sell their products on that e-commerce company’s portal.
- Another provision says any vendor who purchases 25% or more of its inventory from an e-commerce group company will be considered to be controlled by that e-commerce company, and thereby barred from selling on its portal.
- The third major provision says the e-commerce firm will not be allowed to influence the price of a product sold on its portal by giving incentives to particular vendors.
- E-commerce companies can operate under two different models in India.
- The first is the marketplace model where the e-commerce firm simply acts as a platform that connects buyers and sellers. FDI is allowed in e-commerce companies in this model.
- The second model is inventory-based where the inventory of goods sold on the portal is owned or controlled by the e-commerce company. FDI is not allowed under this model.
- What has been happening is that large e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart, while not owning inventory themselves, have been providing a platform for their group companies such as CloudTail and WS Retail respectively. Some see this as skewing the playing field, especially if these vendors enjoyed special incentives from the e-commerce firm, over others. These controlled or owned vendors may then be able to offer discounts to customers that competitors may not be able to match.
- The thrust of the DIPP policy is directed at protecting small vendors on e-commerce websites. It seeks to ensure small players selling on the portals are not discriminated against in favour of vendors in which e-commerce companies have a stake.
- India’s total greenhouse gas emissions grew by more than 22 per cent between 2010 and 2014, reaching a level of 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2014.
- The Cabinet cleared a climate change action report that India, like every other country, has to submit to the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change every two years. Called the biennial update report, or BUR, the submission contains the national greenhouse gas inventory among other information.
- India had submitted its first BUR in 2016, reporting its emissions data till the year 2010. This time it has submitted data till 2014.
- The submission shows that the energy sector, which includes electricity generation, transport and other fuel combustion activities, increased its contribution to India’s total emissions between 2010 and 2014.
- India is already the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, though way behind lead polluters China and the US.
- The submission also shows that carbon dioxide absorption, through forests and croplands, had gone up.
- India has committed itself to substantially increase its forest cover, promising to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.
- As part of its Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDC), India has also promised to ensure that at least 40 per cent of its electricity generation in 2030 would happen from non-fossil fuel sources, and that its emissions intensity, or emissions per unit of GDP, would reduce by at least 33 to 35 per cent by the year 2030 from 2005 levels.
- In a big rush to provide credit to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), the state-owned banks have sanctioned loans worth over Rs 14,000 crore under the 59-minutes scheme launched by the government only last month.
- The government launched the 59 minute online loan portal along with a series of other measures to boost fund flow to the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) in November.
- The measures included providing GST-registered MSMEs access to cheaper credit by way of an interest subsidy on fresh loans, and mandating state-owned companies to procure at least 25 per cent of their product requirements from smaller firms, among others.
- MSMEs that were registered on the GST platform were to be given two per cent interest subsidy on fresh loans, while a psbloansin59minutes.com portal was started to provide sanction on loan up to Rs 1 crore within 59 minutes.
- The portal assesses the creditworthiness of the applicant through data analysis of GST returns, tax returns and bank account statements.
- The government decided to list six central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) on the stock exchanges and permitted KIOCL to come out with a follow-on public offer.
- The Centre’s decision to list these companies comes in the backdrop of the government struggling to meet this year’s fiscal deficit target of Rs 80,000 crore.
- The listing of the CPSEs on exchanges would unlock their value and encourage investor participation.