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12 March Current Affairs

Long Term Reverse Repo Operation

In News:

According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the response to the Long Term Reverse Repo Operation (LTROs) has been highly encouraging.

Key Points:

Long Term Reverse Repo Operation (LTRO) is a mechanism to facilitate the transmission of monetary policy actions and the flow of credit to the economy. This helps in injecting liquidity in the banking system.

Funds through LTRO are provided at the repo rate. This means that banks can avail one year and three-year loans at the same interest rate of one day repo. But usually, loans with higher maturity period (here like 1 year and 3 years) will have a higher interest rate compared to short term (repo) loans.

According to the RBI, the LTRO scheme will be in addition to the existing Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) and the Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) operations.

The LAF and MSF are the two sets of liquidity operations by the RBI with the LAF having a number of tools like repo, reverse repo, term repo etc.

The central bank has been conducting LTROs for one- and three-year tenors of appropriate sizes for up to a total amount of Rs 1,00,000 crore at the policy repo rate from the fortnight beginning February 15, 2020.

The central bank received total bids of ₹1.94 lakh crore, for the three-year repo, compared with the notified amount of ₹25,000 crores.

In yet another (LTROs) ₹48,856 crores worth of bids were conducted for an amount of ₹25,000 crores with a three-year tenor.

LTROs are conducted on Core Banking Solution (E-KUBER) platform. The operations would be conducted at a fixed rate.

The minimum bid amount would be Rs 1 crore and multiples thereof. There will be no restriction on the maximum amount of bidding by individual bidders.

Benefits of the LTROs:

Enhance Liquidity: It will enhance liquidity in the banking system by Rs 1 lakh crore.

Bring down the cost of funds for banks: The introduction of long-term repo operations (LTRO) will bring down the cost of funds for banks without effectively cutting deposit rates. This decision is likely to make reverse repo rate as the operative policy rate over a point of time.

Boost Investment: It is a measure that is expected to bring down short-term rates and also boost investment in corporate bonds.

Ensure banks have durable liquidity: These efforts are being carried forward with a view to assuring banks about the availability of durable liquidity at a reasonable cost relative to prevailing market conditions.

Ensure credit flow to productive sectors: This should encourage banks to undertake maturity transformation smoothly and seamlessly so as to augment credit flows to productive sectors.

CPCB Notifies Contaminated Sites

In News:

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there are 128 sites in India contaminated by toxic and hazardous substances.

West Bengal led the list with 27 sites followed by Odisha at 23.

Incidents of Contamination:

Oil contamination due to leakage of underground oil pipelines of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited in Tamil Nadu.

Pesticide and heavy metal contamination in creeks at Eloor, Kerala.

Chromium contamination at Rania, Ranipet, Tamil Nadu, and Lohianagar, Uttar Pradesh.

Improperly disposed electronic waste lying on the banks of river Ramganga, Moradabad.

Mercury contamination of the soil at Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, and Ganjam, Odisha.

The Central Pollution Control Board:

CPCB is a statutory organisation which was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

It was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Principal Functions of the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

India’s Record:

Independent organisations have warned that India has a poor track record in dealing with chemical accidents.

According to ToxicsLink, an organisation that deals with hazardous waste disposal, there have been four major chemical accidents recorded, on average, every month between 2016-2019 and several accidents are not duly recorded.

A committee constituted by the NGT in a report on the state of the management of hazardous waste (HW) in India noted that the inventory was not very comprehensive.

Hubli-Ankola Railway Line Project

In News:

The Hubballi-Ankola railway line project, saw stiff opposition from a majority of the board members of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board.

Key Points:

The proposed 164.44-km railway line passes through forests between two major protected areas — Kali Tiger Reserve and Bedthi Conservation Reserve.

More than 80% the line has to pass through the dense forest lands of the Western Ghats, and this entails the diversion of 727 hectares of prime forests.

Kali Tiger Reserve:

Kali Tiger Reserve is located in the central portion of Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka state.

The Tiger Reserve comprises two important protected areas of the region viz., Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Anshi National Park.

These two protected areas are contiguous to each other and form a single tract of protected area located in the biologically sensitive Western Ghats.

Forests of the Tiger Reserve are primarily moist deciduous and semi-evergreen, with excellent patches of evergreen forests in the western most parts as well as in deep valleys.

Animals found in the Tiger Reserve include Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Bison, Wild dog, Sambar, Spotted deer, Sloth bear, Wild boar, Hanuman langur, Bonnet macaque, varieties of reptiles and birds, etc.

Government to Launch Mahua-based Alcoholic Drink

In News:

The central government is set to launch a mahua-based alcoholic beverage ‘Mahua Nutribeverage’ in the market for the first time.

Details:

The Beverage will come in six fruit-based flavours and will be available at the price of ₹700 for a 750ml bottle.

This is the first time that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is getting into bottling and sale of alcoholic beverages.

Key Points:

The beverage has a high nutritional value and relatively low alcohol content (5%).

It has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in collaboration with the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED).

TRIFED is a national-level apex organization functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

TRIFED has signed a memorandum with the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to undertake the assignment of technology transfer to the suitable entrepreneurs for production and marketing of the beverage.

The marketing is being undertaken under the Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram.

It is Tribal Affairs Ministry’s value-addition scheme which was launched in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur in 2018.

The nation-wide programme earmarked ₹500-600 crore for training tribal clusters to add value to their produce and sell it in a packaged format, aiming to increase their income manifold.

The products marketed under the scheme include only those that need primary-level processing, including handicrafts, textiles, food items, jams and pulps and jewellery.

Besides mahua, other tribal staples such as tamarind and amla will be de-seeded and brought to the market in the form of candies and jams.

PM Ujjwala Yojana

In News:

Parliamentary committee’s observations on performance of the PM Ujjwala Yojana.

Key observations:

The government in September, 2019 met the target of eight crore LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

But, only three States have become kerosene free. These include- Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Union Territories that have become kerosene-free are the Union Territories of Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Andaman & Nicobar Island and Puducherry.

Key issues and gaps highlighted by the Committee:

The scheme is no longer running. The committee was upset at the closure of the scheme and said there was still a lot of ground to cover.

There are poor households in the general category in urban and semi-urban localities that also need to be covered.

Large segments of people in various States still depended on kerosene for cooking and household lighting.

What next?

The scheme should be extended to poor households in urban and semi-urban slum areas.

There is need for achieving a higher LPG coverage of the population by providing connections to households that do not have LPG.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Launched in May 2016.

Aim: To provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Key features: A deposit-free LPG connection is given to eligible with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Target: The scheme gained traction with its ambit being expanded to include 80 million poor families from the earlier target of 50 million families with an additional allocation of Rs4,800 crore.

Eligibility criteria:

Applicant must a woman above the age of 18 and a citizen of India.

Applicant should belong to a BPL (Below Poverty Line) household.

No one in the applicant’s household should own an LPG connection.

The household income of the family, per month, must not exceed a certain limit as defined by the government of the Union Territories and State Government.

Applicant must not be a recipient of other similar schemes provided by the government.

Objectives of the scheme are:

Empowering women and protecting their health.

Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.

Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

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