Current Affairs – 10 December 2021

Ken-Betwa River Linking Project

Indian Express

GS 2: Government policies and issues related

Inter-state relations

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet approved the funding and implementation of Ken-Betwa inter-linking of rivers project with a total cost of Rs 44,605 crore. The project will be completed in eight years with “state of the art technology”.

What is the Ken-Betwa Link Project?

  • It is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers.
  • The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa river through the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.
  • The project has two phases, with mainly four components:
    1. Phase-I will involve one of the components — Daudhan Dam complex and its subsidiary units such as Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa Link Canal and power houses.
    2. Phase-II will involve three components — Lower Orr Dam, Bina Complex Project and Kotha Barrage. According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the project is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, supply drinking water to about 62 lakh people, and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be set up to implement the project.
  • In fact, the Centre has set in motion the process of creation of National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), an independent autonomous body for planning, investigation, financing and implementation of the interlinking of river (ILR) projects in the country. The NIRA will have powers to set up SPV for individual link projects.

Significance:

  • The project lies in Bundelkhand, a drought-prone region, which spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, the project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region.
  • It will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water does not become an inhibitor for development in the country.
  • The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
  • It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.
  •  It will curb the rate of farmers suicide and will ensure them stable livelihood by providing sustainable means of irrigation and reducing excessive dependence on groundwater.

Issues:

  • The project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
  • After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.

 

2021 Global Health Security (GHS) Index

DTE

GS 3: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context:

  • Recently released the Global Health Security (GHS) Index is a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • All countries had insufficient health capacities. This left the world acutely vulnerable to future health emergencies.

Highlights:

  • The world remains unprepared for future epidemic and pandemic threats.
  • Countries across all income levels remain dangerously unprepared to meet future epidemic and pandemic threats.

  • The world’s overall performance on the GHS Index score slipped to 38.9 (out of 100) in 2021, from a score of 40.2 in the GHS Index, 2019.
  • This, even as infectious diseases are expected to have the greatest impact on the global economy in the next decade.
  • Some 101 countries high-, middle- and low-income countries, including India, have slipped in performance since 2019.
  • In South Asia, India, with a score of 42.8 (out of 100) too, has slipped by 0.8 points since 2019. But three neighbouring countries — Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives — have improved their score by 1-1.2 points.
  • In 2021, no country scored in the top tier of rankings and no country scored above 75.9.
  • Sixty-five per cent of assessed countries had not published and implemented an overarching national public health emergency response plan for diseases with epidemic or pandemic potential.
  • Seventy-three per cent countries did not have the ability to provide expedited approval for medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs, during a public health emergency.
  • Thus, the world was acutely vulnerable to health emergencies in the future. These included pandemics that could be much more devastating than the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  • Most countries, including high-income ones, have not made dedicated financial investments in strengthening epidemic or pandemic preparedness.
  • Close to 79 per cent of the 195 countries assessed had not allocated national funds within the past three years to improve their capacity to address epidemic threats.
  • In fact, just two low-income countries have allocated funds. Some 90 countries have not fulfilled their full financial contribution to the World Health Organization. Fourteen of these are high-income countries.
  • Just one-fourth of the countries considered in the Index have published an updated health workforce strategy over the past five years to address the shortage of health work force.
  • Health emergencies demand a robust public health infrastructure with effective governance. But the trust in government, which has been a key factor associated with success in countries’ responses to COVID-19, is low and decreasing.
  • A whopping 82 per cent of countries have low to moderate levels of public confidence in their government.
  • The world’s performance on communicating the risk communication messages to people has also been very disappointing.
  • Over 71% of the countries did not identify how risk communication messages would reach populations and sectors with different communication needs related to language, location and media reach.

Six categories covered by the Index:

  • The GHS Index assesses countries’ health security and capabilities across six categories, 34 indicators, and 85 sub-indicators. The six categories are as follow:
    1. Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens.
    2. Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern.
    3. Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic.
    4. Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers.
    5. Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms.
    6. Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats.

Scoring System under the Index:

  • The index measures countries’ capabilities from 0-100, with 100 representing the highest level of preparedness. The GHS Index scoring system includes three tiers.
    1. Low Scores: Countries that score between 0 and 33.3 are in the bottom tier.
    2. Moderate Scores: Countries that score between 33.4 and 66.6 are in the middle tier and
    3. High Scores: Countries that score between 66.7 and 100 are in the upper or “top” tier.

 

PM Awas Yojana-Gramin Scheme

Indian Express

GS

Context:

  • Recently, The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana Gramin (PMAY-G) for another three years till March 2024.

About:

  • The extension of the scheme will help in the construction of the remaining 155.75 lakh houses. It will help achieve the target of 2.95 crore ‘pucca’ houses.
  • The total financial implication for the remaining construction stands at Rs 1,98,581 crore.
  • It will be helpful in providing assistance for the construction of Pucca houses with basic amenities to achieve the objective of “Housing for All” in rural areas.

PMAY-G:

  • It is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India which is driven by the noble objective of providing “Housing for All” by the year 2022.
  • It was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • It is a social welfare program through which the Government provides financial assistance to houseless beneficiaries identified using SECC 2011 data to help them construct a house of respectable quality for their personal living.
  • Under PMAY, the cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.
  • The program envisages the completion of 2.95 crore PMAY-G houses with all basic amenities by the year 2022.