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14 August Current Affairs

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act

In News:

As per the latest amendment to the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, it is now mandatory to disclose compliance under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act in the Annual Reports of Private companies.

Significance of the move:

This is a major step towards making the workplace safe for the women in the private sector. This will cast as ever higher responsibility on the Directors of the Companies for implementation of the Act.

THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT 2013:

The Act seeks to cover all women, irrespective of their age or employment status and protect them against sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organized or unorganized. It came into force on December 9, 2013.

Some important provisions of the Act:

The Act defines sexual harassment at the work place and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges.

The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organized or unorganized sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well.

Definition of workplace: While the “workplace” in the Vishaka Guidelines is confined to the traditional office set-up where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, the Act goes much further to include organisations, department, office, branch unit etc. in the public and private sector, organized and unorganized, hospitals, nursing homes, educational institutions, sports institutes, stadiums, sports complex and any place visited by the employee during the course of employment including the transportation.

Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level.

Functions of the committee: The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days. On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, they are mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.

 

Powers: The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence. The Complaints Committees are required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.

Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

Facts for Prelims:

Companies Act, 2013 provides the disclosure framework which the Directors of every company are required to comply with in the Annual Reports. It also includes the penal provisions for non-disclosure.

Source: PIB

Ease of Living index

In News:

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has released Ease of Living Index.

About the index:

  • The index has been developed to allow city managers to get a grip on the city’s baseline and compare its performance across key indicators.
  • The index covers 111 cities that are smart city contenders, capital cities, and cities with population of 1 million plus.
  • The index captures the quality of life based on the data collected from the urban local bodies on four parameters, which were further broken down into 15 categories.
  • The four parameters include institutional (governance), social (identity, education, health, security), economic ( economy, employment) and physical factors (waste water and solid waste management, pollution, housing/ inclusiveness, mixed land use, power and water supply, transport, public open spaces).
  • Institutional and social parameters carry 25 points each, physical factors have a weightage of 45 points and economic factors five points totalling to a 100 mark scale on which cities were evaluated.

Performance of states:

  • Pune has ranked first while two more Maharashtra cities — Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — figure in the second and third spots.
  • Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijaywada and Bhopal also figure in the top 10 list in that order. Among other major cities, Chennai holds 14th rank, Ahmedabad 23rd, Hyderabad 27th, and Bengaluru 58th.
  • Rampur in Uttar Pradesh has ranked the worst on the scale with Kohima and Patna on the bottom two and three ranks while Varanasi stands at 33.
  • Kolkata is excluded from the index.

Source: The Hindu

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE)

In News:

Justice Manjula Chellur is the new Chairperson of Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE).

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL):

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity is a statutory body constituted for the purpose of hearing cases against the orders of the Regulatory Commissions and the Adjudicating officer.

By virtue of Section 110 of The Electricity Act, 2003, an Appellate Tribunal for Electricity having jurisdiction through out India has been set up to hear appeals or original petitions against the orders of the Adjudicating officer or The Central Regulatory Commission or State Regulatory Commission or Joint Commission. The Tribunal is conferred with original jurisdiction to hear petitions under Section 121 of the Act and issue directions to all Commissions for the performance of its statutory functions.

Composition: The Appellate Tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson and three other Members. Every Bench constituted by the Chairperson shall consist of at least one Judicial Member and one Technical Member.

Source: PIB

Swadesh Darshan Scheme

In News:

First project under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme the ‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’ in Manipur has been inaugurated.

 ‘North East Circuit: Imphal & Khongjom’:

  • The project covers two sites i.e. Kangla Fort and Khongjom.
  • Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological site of Manipur located in the heart of the Imphal city. It served as the seat of Manipur’s power till 1891. Kangla has a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Manipur.
  • The old Govindajee Temple, outer and inner moat and other relics are perfect reflections of the rich art and architectural heritage of Manipur.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.

Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
  • To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
  • Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
  • A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
  • A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
  • PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.

Source: PIB

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act

In News:

The Centre has notified rules for operationalising a Rs 66,000 crore fund collected as compensations under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act passed in 2016 to promote the green cover in the country.

As per the new rules:

13 activities are permitted for funding. They include plantation, assisted natural regeneration of forests, forest fire prevention, pest and disease control in forests, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat.

Usage of funds: 80% of the compensatory afforestation amount will be utilised by states for plantations, assisted natural regeneration of forests, forest fire prevention, pest and disease control in forest, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat, among others, in the list of 13 permissible activities. The remaining 20% will be used for 11 listed works to strengthen forest and wildlife protection related infrastructure.

Role of gram sabhas: Besides enlisting the 24 activities which are to be taken up using the fund, the rules also specify that the working plan will be taken up “in consultation with the gram sabha or village forest management committee”.

Significance of the move:

The move will help India re-green its forest and non-forest areas which have lost trees due to forest diversions — amounting to more than 1.3 million hectares after the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 kicked in — for allowing various developmental activities.

Background:

Over the last ten years, the fund had accumulated the amount as compensations by user agencies for diverting forest land for industries and infrastructure projects. The CAMPA was created as per a Supreme Court ruling in 2009.

Much of the funds collected under the legislation had been left unspent with an ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in absence of enabling rules.

Until now, the funds were disbursed to states under a temporary and time consuming mechanism. With the relevant rules now in place, the implementation of the act is expected to gather pace.

Way ahead:

Since the rules for utilisation of the fund have been notified, the unspent amount will now be transferred to the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund at the Centre and the respective State Compensatory Afforestation Funds in a phased manner, depending on its utilisation. The national and state funds — both non-lapsable — can be utilised for only the activities listed under the CAF Act.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016:

This act provides for setting up Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) at both central and state level to ensure expeditious and transparent utilization of amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.

The act also seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state. The payments into the funds include compensatory afforestation, NPV, and any project-specific payments.

Source: The Hindu

Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition to MT Kamet and MT Makalu

In News:

In pursuit of achieving greater heights in the field of mountaineering, Indian Army is planning to attempt Mt Makalu (8485M), the fifth highest mountain peak in the world in 2019.  As a precursor to it, an expedition to Mount Kamet (7756M), Joshimath District Chamoli, Uttarakhand is being conducted under the aegis of Army Adventure Wing in August-September 2018.

About Mt Makalu:

Among the eight mountains in Nepal above 8000m, Mt. Makalu is the fourth tallest in Nepal and fifth highest Peak on the Earth with its height 8,463m. Mt. Makalu resides in the eastern Himalayas range just 19Km southeast of the giant Mt. Everest in the border of Nepal and China. At the base of Mt. Makalu, there lies a natural wonder: The Barun Valley.

MOUNT KAMET: Mount Kamet is the second most elevated top in the Garhwal district after Nanda Devi. Kamet Peak is the third most astounding mountain crest in India and the twenty-ninth most noteworthy crest on the planet. Kamet is considered as the piece of the Zaskar Range, which lies to the north of the Himalayas between the Suru River and the upper Karnali River. Three huge crests bound Kamet, the Mukut Parbat in the northwest of Kamet, Abi Gamin and Mana, which is in the south-southeast of Kamet.

Source: PIB

Lab for Conservation of Species

  • The Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) is India’s only facility for conservation of endangered species.
  • It is a dedicated facility of CSIR’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.
  • It was set up in 2007 with the support of Department of Biotechnology, Central Zoo Authority, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Govt. of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It uses modern biotechnologies for conservation of endangered wildlife.
  • It supports both in-situ habitat preservation and Ex-situ conservation through captive breeding in controlled environment to restock original wild populations.
  • It is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing endangered blackbuck, spotted deer and Nicobar pigeons.
  • It has established Genetic Resource Bank for Indian wildlife and collected genetic resources from 23 species of Indian wild animals.

Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels

  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded approval for the procurement of 6 Next Generation Offshore Patrol vessels (NGOPVs) for the Indian Navy.
  • It will be indigenously designed and manufactured.
  • It will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensor suite with increased endurance.
  • It will strengthen maritime security by its maritime interdiction operations, search & seizure operations, surveillance missions, anti-piracy missions, anti-poaching and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Kangla and Khongjom

  • Kangla Fort is one of the most important historic and archaeological site of Manipur located in the heart of the Imphal city.
  • It served as the seat of Manipur’s power till 1891.
  • Under the project, restoration and rejuvenation of old Govindajee Temple in Kangla has been carried out.
  • Khongjom is the place where the last war of resistance of Anglo Manipur War of 1891 was fought.
  • Under the project a Pedestrian bridge and rejuvenation of Kombirei Lake has been carried out.

Ease of Living Index

  • It is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to help cities assess their liveability vis-a-vis global and national benchmarks.
  • It ranks 111 cities based on four pillars namely Institutional, Social, Economic and Physical.
  • Ranking of cities based on this index was recently released.
  • Three cities in Maharashtra – Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai topped the first Ease of Living Index.
  • The national capital, New Delhi, is ranked 65 among 111 cities, while Chennai is in 14th place. Kolkata did not participate in the survey.
  • The other cities in the top ten include Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijayawada and Bhopal.
  • The three cities at the bottom of the rankings are Rampur, Kohima and Patna.

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