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Current Affairs – 30 April 2021

Current Affairs (30th April 2021)

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021

Context:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a gazette notification stating that the provisions of the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, would be deemed to have come into effect from April 27.

About the Act:

  • It provides a framework for the functioning of the Legislative Assembly and the government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.
  • It gives the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi more powers and significantly waters down the powers of both the elected government and the Legislative Assembly.
  • It specifies that all executive action by the government, whether taken on the advice of the Ministers or otherwise, must be taken in the name of the LG.
  • It will clarify the expression “Government” and address ambiguities in the legislative provisions to promote harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive.
  • It defines the responsibilities of the elected government and the L-G along with the constitutional scheme of governance of the NCT interpreted by the Supreme Court in recent judgments regarding the division of powers between the two entities.
  • It will also seek to ensure that the L-G is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise powers entrusted to him under clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
  • It allows the Legislative Assembly to make Rules to regulate the procedure and conduct of business in the Assembly. The Bill provides that such Rules must be consistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
  • It bars the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.

Criticism:

  • It will greatly reduce the efficiency and timeliness of the Delhi government by making it imperative for it to hold consultations with the L-G even when a situation demands urgent action.
  • The L-G could politically exploit these unbridled powers to hamper the government’s administrative work and thus turn the political tides against the incumbent if he so desires.
  • It is against the spirit of ‘Federalism.” Over the years, there was friction between the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) over power-sharing.

 

Assam Earthquake

Context:

  • An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 struck Assam.

About:

  • The earthquake was felt across northeast India, Bihar, West Bengal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
  • The National Centre of Seismology said the epicentre of the quake, at a depth of 10 km, was Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district, and initial analysis showed it was located near the Kopili Fault closer to the Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT).
    • NCS is an office of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences. The office monitors earthquakes and conducts seismological research.
    • The Seismology Division and Earthquake Risk Evaluation Centre of the India Meteorological Department merged with NCS in August 2014 to more effectively monitor and research seismological activity.
  • The area is seismically very active falling in the highest Seismic Hazard Zone V associated with collisional tectonics where the Indian Plate subducts beneath the Eurasian Plate.
  • The last major quake in the region was of magnitude 6.0 on July 29, 1960.

Earthquake:

  • An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards, based on the past seismic history, has grouped the country into four seismic zones namely Zone-II, Zone-III, Zone-IV and Zone-V.
  • Zone-V is the most seismically active region whereas Zone-II is the least active region.
  • Entire northeastern India, parts of the UTs Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rann of Kutch, parts of North Bihar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are classified as Zone-V.
  • Earthquake zone V is the most vulnerable to earthquakes, where historically some of the country’s most powerful shocks have occurred.
  • Earthquakes with magnitudes in excess of 7.0 have occured in these areas, and have had intensities higher than IX.

  • HFT, also known as the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT), is a geological fault along the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.
  • The Kopili fault zone is a 300 km long and 50 km wide lineament (linear feature) extending from the western part of Manipur up to the tri-junction of Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

Need of the hour:

  • The Northeast is in the highest seismological zone, so we must have constant earthquake preparedness at all levels. Continuous tectonic stress keeps building up particularly along the faultlines.

 

Vehicle Scrappage Policy

Context:

  • According to a report by ratings agency Crisil Research, limited sops would make the vehicle scrappage policy unattractive.
  • This policy is unlikely to have freight transporters queuing up to replace old vehicles with new ones. The scrappage volume of buses, passenger vehicles (PVs) and two-wheelers will be limited as well.

About:

  • The report states that limited incentives and poor cost economics for trucks in the Vehicle Scrappage Policy, coupled with lack of addressable volumes for other segments are unlikely to drive freight transporters to replace their old vehicles with new ones.
  • Eg: The potential benefit from scrapping a 15-year-old, entry-level small car will be ₹70,000, whereas its resale value is around ₹95,000.
  • However, it said that though the scrappage volume of buses, PVs and two-wheelers are expected to be limited as well, the policy’s impact on new commercial vehicle (CV) sales could be sizeable.
  • The policy proposes to de-register vehicles that fail fitness tests or are unable to renew registrations after 15-20 years of use.

Way Ahead:

  • There is a need to have a comprehensive plan in terms of removing ELV (End of life vehicles) from the road. Freight transporters need stronger financial support.
  • It is important to note that unless old fleet vehicles are off the road, the benefits of implementation of BSVI vehicles will not be fully leveraged.

 

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

Context:

  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund has crossed the Rs. 8000 crore mark after receiving 8,665 applications worth Rs. 8,216 crores.
  • The largest share of the pie is contributed by Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) (58%), agri-entrepreneurs (24%) and individual farmers (13%).

About:

  • Eligible beneficiaries include farmers, FPOs, PACS, Marketing Cooperative Societies, SHGs, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
  • All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crores. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years.
  • Fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

 

Maharashtra’s Two-child Norm

Context:

  • Recently, a woman prison officer in Maharashtra was dismissed from service after an inquiry revealed that she suppressed the information of having had three children prior to her joining the department in 2012.

Issue:

  • The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rule of 2005 makes the Small Family norm an additional essential requirement for Groups A, B, C, D of Maharashtra government employees.
  • The Rules define a small family as wife, husband and two children.
  • It stipulates that a person is not eligible for a job with Maharashtra Government if he or she has more than two children after 2005. The definition of child under these rules does not include adopted children.
  • It mandates filing a small family declaration at the time of applying for a government job.
  • A person having more than two children on the date commencement of the rule (March 28, 2005), shall not be disqualified so long as the number of children on the date of commencement does not increase.
  • Also, one or more than one child are born in a single delivery within a year of commencement, shall not be considered for the disqualification of the rules.
  • The rules also empower the state government to give relaxation in ‘just and reasonable’ manner and mandates recording such reasons.

Other states:

  • Maharashtra is one of the few states in the country that have a ‘two children’ policy for appointment in government jobs or even for the elections of some local government bodies.
  • Other states with children norm – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Gujarat, Odisha, Uttarakhand, and Assam.
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