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The government has extended the waiver of inter-state power transmission charges and losses for the solar and wind power projects commissioned till 31 March 2022, with a view to giving a boost to clean energy sources.

Earlier, the waiver was available to solar and wind power projects commissioned till 31 December 2019, and 31 March 2019, respectively. The waiver was available for a period of 25 years from the date commissioning of the project. "For generation projects based on solar and wind resources, no inter-state power transmission charges and losses will be levied on transmission of the electricity through inter-state transmission system for sale of power by such projects commissioned till 31 March 2022,” according to an order issued by the power ministry.

The waiver will be available to these projects for 25 years from the date of commissioning provided the developers sign power purchase agreements with entities, including discoms, for sale of power for compliance of their renewable purchase obligation.The order also provides that the waiver would be available to only those projects which are awarded through competitive bidding process as per the guidelines issued by the central government. Earlier the incentive was not available to firms other than power distribution companies. Thus, other entities procuring clean energy from these projects were at disadvantageous position. Now they can also avail the benefit.

It also provides that these new conditions for wavier of transmission charges and losses irrespective of purchasing entity will be applicable prospectively, the order dated 13 February 2018.The order also provides that the waiver would be available to only those projects which are awarded through competitive bidding process as per the guidelines issued by the central government. Earlier the incentive was not available to firms other than power distribution companies. Thus, other entities procuring clean energy from these projects were at disadvantageous position. Now they can also avail the benefit.

The order assumes significance in view of India’s ambitious target of having 175GW of renewable energy capacities including 100GW of solar and 60GW of wind energy. At present, India’s installed renewable generation capacity is 62.84GW excluding large hydro projects above 25MW.The central government has planned to auction 40GW of solar energy capacities and 20GW of wind projects in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to meet the tall order.

  • India is the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which will take place on June 5, 2018.
  • With “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme for this year’s edition, the world is coming together to combat single-use plastic pollution.
  • In the time it takes Hardik Pandya to bowl an over in a cricket match, four garbage trucks worth of plastic get dumped into the ocean.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Erik Solheim, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment, jointly announced that India will be hosting the global World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June 2018.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment 2018, urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health. India is excited to host the World Environment Day this year on June 5. Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of co-existence with nature. We are committed to making Planet Earth a cleaner and greener place.

The Government of India has committed to organizing and promoting the World Environment Day celebrations through a series of engaging activities and events generating strong public interest and participation. From pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives in public areas, national reserves and forests to simultaneous beach clean-up activities – India will lead the initiative by setting an example. India will be a great global host of 2018’s World Environment Day celebrations.World Environment Day is a UN Environment-led global event, the single largest celebration of our environment each year, which takes place on June 5 and is celebrated by thousands of communities worldwide.

Since it began in 1972, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated across the globe.Most of all, World Environment Day is a day of everyone around the world to take ownership of their environment and to actively engage in the protection of our earth.

Plastic Pollution facts:

  • Every year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable
  • We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate

UK-India research projects on ‘Water Quality Research’ and ‘Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment’ were launched today by Dr V K Saraswat, Member, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST) India and Daniel Shah, Director, Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

The ‘Water Quality Research’ programme has eight projects and ‘Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment’ programme has four projects, with a total joint investment of up to £15 million. These projects aim to deliver mutual benefits and research solutions not only to the UK and India but also to address shared global sustainable development goals – clean water and clean energy.

Dr Saraswat, Professor Sharma and Mr Shah commended the true partnership in high-quality, high-impact research between the two nations and their research communities, and wished them success. They released joint catalogues highlighting the potential impact of these projects.

DST – The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on Water Quality Research
DST - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) programme on Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment. A dossier highlighting India’s national efforts in Building Energy Efficiency comprising details of 30 projects was also released on the occasion.

The ceremony was preceded by an initiation meeting of the ‘Water Quality Research’ projects, providing an opportunity for lead researchers to present their work,   understand how they can work together to deliver a coherent programme and identify any research gaps or potential overlaps. A similar initiation event is planned for ‘Energy Demand Reduction in Built Environment’ projects on 20th February 2018.This meeting brought together senior Indian government officials, funding partners (DST, NERC and EPSRC with support from RCUK India), and scientists both from the UK and India.

According to Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India  Access to clean water and efficient energy are crucial to the well-being and prosperity of every nation.  I congratulate the UK-India research teams leading these projects. Another great example of how the UK and India’s research partnership is a global force for good.Dr V K Saraswat, Member of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, highlighted thrust of the Government on Sustainable Development through synergistic efforts and greater inter-ministerial coordination. The ambitious targets and missions for renewable energy and energy efficiency for meeting ever increasing needs of the country is an illustration of governments’ commitment. The success achieved in LED programme can be replicated in building sector with scientific inputs.

Research on water quality is extremely critical for our national missions on Ganga rejuvenation and Swachha Bharat. Highlighting the new initiatives for cleaner fuels such as methanol and desalination, he stressed upon the need to leverage global experience and collaborative endeavour to accelerate the innovations in the very important domains of water and clean energy and lauded the efforts of EPSRC, NERC, DST and all participants of these programmes

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, said, Department of Science and Technology accords high priority to development of cost effective and environment friendly technological solutions for clean energy, clean water and clean air. The global research fraternity has to play a pivotal role in making these pursuits successful and we intend to pursue these objectives both through our national and collaborative endeavours. Sustained India and UK research collaboration in all domains, especially clean technologies has scaled greater heights and is a valuable instrument to bring best brains together for addressing societal challenges.

Daniel Shah, Director Research Councils UK (RCUK) India said, This India-UK water quality programme, supported jointly by the Department of Science and Technology in India, and NERC, EPSRC and ESRC in the UK, aims to equip local communities, policymakers, regulators and businesses with the information and solutions they need to secure the provision of clean water, rejuvenate rivers and restore ecosystems. These eight collaborative research projects should bring benefits to both people and the environment, and we are delighted that the programme is being launched today.

 

The Maharashtra government is all set to roll out its “Asmita Yojana” on the International Women’s Day next month. Under the scheme, girls in Zilla Parishad schools will get a sanitary napkin packet at Rs 5 while rural women can avail it at a subsidised rate of Rs 24 and Rs 29.

The scheme, catering to girl students and women in rural areas, will be formally launched on March 8. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar will be present at the launch. Akshay’s film “Padman”, released recently, envisioned to create awareness about menstrual hygiene among rural women.

The Asmita Yojana was announced last year by Women and Child and Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde. According to the official, there is very little awareness about hygiene during periods among girls in the age group of 11 to 19 years and women in general in rural areas of Maharashtra. Only 17 per cent of them use sanitary napkins. He attributes high costs of sanitary pads, their unavailability in rural areas and awkwardness among women to purchase them from male chemists as the main reasons behind such low usage.

The state government has appointed “Umed’- the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission, as a nodal agency for effective implementation of the scheme. Under the scheme, beneficiary girls will be given “Asmita Cards”, while participating Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be entrusted with the task of the supply and sale of sanitary pads and counselling the girls and women.

The SHGs will have to procure sanitary napkins from suppliers by registering on the Asmita mobile application and distribute them to rural women and girls as per the requirement and demand. The SHGs concerned will earn Rs 5 in profit per sanitary packet. Meanwhile, the Rural Development Minister said a hygiene campaign will also be launched across the state to increase awareness among young girls on usage of sanitary pads.This will boost school attendance as well. Similarly, it will help to create employment opportunities for women in rural areas and create awareness about health and education. The move came at a time when various sections of the society and some political parties have been demanding slashing of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on sanitary napkins.

Earlier this year, the state Cabinet approved a plan to provide sanitary pads to women in rural areas at subsidised rates to promote hygiene and reduce school absenteeism.

The Parliament House will soon be setting an example of an inclusive and supportive work environment for its women employees by establishing crèche facility on its premises. Under the direct supervision of Hon'ble Speaker, crèche development work is in progress and a senior official has also been deputed to oversee the work.
 
In a letter dated 29th March, 2017, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, apprised Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Hon'ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, about the absence of a crèche facility at the Parliament House. In her letter, Smt. Gandhi pointed out that since over one-third of the total number of officials working in the Parliament were women, provision of creche facility was crucial. Swiftly responding to the letter, the office of the Hon'ble Speaker notified that a crèche facility will soon be functional within the premises of Parliament House. The Ministry of Women and Child Development thanked the Speaker on twitter.
 
The provisions under the'Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017' state that a healthy workplace diversity is to be maintained and direct establishments to provide crèche facility.A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as per the laid guidelines will be followed while accepting the employees' request for Crèche registrations. The 1500 sq-foot centre will be guarded by professionals, ensuring all-round development of children and will also have a separate feeding room to aid mothers.

This significant development by Government will bring in a visible impact by pushing other private establishments, central and state owned organizations to set up a crèche facility, to aid mothers.
 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the Cooperation Agreement between India and the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF) to develop long-term cooperation and partnership in different areas of railway sector. The Cooperation Agreement was signed on 14th December, 2017.

The Cooperation Agreement will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-

a. Training and staff development;

b. Expert missions, exchange of experience and personnel; and

c. Mutual technical assistance, including exchanging of experts.

Background:

Ministry of Railways have signed MOUs for technical cooperation in the Rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways. The identified areas of cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc. The cooperation is achieved through exchange of information on developments in areas of railways technology & operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.

The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. The MoUs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

An indigenously developed intermediate-range nuclear capable ballistic Agni II was successfully test-fired today at 8:30 am from Launch Complex-4 of Integrated Test Range (ITR) from the Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast. The trial was conducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army as part of its user training exercise.

The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) had successfully tested country's longest indigenously developed nuclear missile Agni-V in January and short-range nuclear capable ballistic Agni-I earlier this month.

The Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) has already been inducted into the services and today’s test was carried out by the Army’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) with logistic support provided by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).The 20-mt-long Agni-II ballistic missile has a launch weight of 17 tonne and can carry a payload of 1,000 kg over a distance of 2,000 kms.

The state-of-the-art missile, already a part of the country’s arsenal for strategic deterrence, was launched as a training exercise by the armed forces.Agni-II, a two-stage missile, equipped with advanced high accuracy navigation system and guided by a unique command and control system was propelled by solid rocket propellant system.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the construction of 4.531 km long 2-Lane Bi-Directional Silkyara Bend - Barkot Tunnel with escape passage including approaches on Dharasu -Yamunotri section between Chainage 25.400 Km. and Chainage 51.000 Km in Uttarakhand.

The project will be falling along NH-134 (old NH-94) in the State of Uttarakhand.  The project will be built under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode. This is funded under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of RT&H and forms part of ambitious Chardham Plan.

The construction period of the project is 4 years. The civil construction cost of the project is estimated at Rs. 1119.69 crore, while the total project cost is Rs. 1383.78 crore, which is inclusive of the cost towards Land Acquisition & Rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as Maintenance and Operation cost of tunnel for 4 years.      
The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity to Yamunotri, one of the dham on Chardham Yatra, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country. It will reduce the travel distance from Dharasu to Yamunotri by about 20 km and travel time by about an hour. The proposed tunnel will save number of trees that would have been required to be removed in the road improvement of 25.600 km, had the original alignment been followed.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), through National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL), a wholly state owned company, formed in 2014 for development of highways in states on the international borders.

The project aims at construction of 4.531 Km long two lane Bi-Directional tunnel (along with 328m approach road) with escape passage on Dharasu –Yamunotri in the State of Uttarakhand.