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26 November Current Affairs

Bougainville Island

In News:

Approximately 30 years after a decade-long brutal civil war in Bougainville, a tiny island in the Pacific, is going to the polls to vote on its independence from Papua New Guinea.

Geography:

Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. This region is also known as Bougainville Province or the North Solomons.

Bougainville Island is the largest of the Solomon Islands archipelago, forming part of the Northern Solomon Islands, which is politically separate from the sovereign country also called Solomon Islands.

Mount Balbi at 2,700 m is the highest point.

Independence referendum:

Between 1988 and 1998, the Bougainville Civil War claimed over 15,000 lives. In 2001, a peace agreement was signed including promise of a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea to be held in 2019.

An independence referendum is being held in Bougainville between 23 November and 7 December 2019, with results to be declared around 20 December.

Voters will have the option of requesting greater autonomy within Papua New Guinea, or full independence.

The vote is not binding and the Government of Papua New Guinea has the final say on what becomes of Bougainville in the event of voters choosing independence.

Six Plastic Parks In Different Parts Of The Country

In News:

Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister DV Sadananda Gowda informed Rajya Sabha that the government has approved setting up of six plastic parks in different parts of the country.

About:

These parks will have an ecosystem with infrastructure building and enabling the common facility to consolidate and synergize the capacities of the domestic downstream plastic processing industry.

Under the scheme, the government provides grant funding up to 50 per cent of the project cost. The remaining project cost is to be funded by State Government beneficiary industries and by a loan from financial institutions.

These parks are located in Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu. Out of them, the plastic park at Tamot in Madhya Pradesh is functional.

Four new plastic parks have also been given in-principle approval for establishment in West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.

Special Non-Resident Rupee (SNRR)

In News:

In a bid to boost internationalisation of the rupee, the RBI has relaxed norms for the opening of special non-resident rupee (SNRR) accounts and permitted direct remittance from India into these accounts.

About:

Now, RBI has expanded the scope of SNRR Account by permitting person resident outside India to open such account for:

External Commercial Borrowings in INR;

Trade Credits in INR;

Trade (Export/ Import) Invoicing in INR; and

Business related transactions outside International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) by IFSC units at GIFT city like administrative expenses in INR outside IFSC, INR amount from sale of scrap, government incentives in INR, etc.

It has also been decided to rationalise certain other provisions for operation of the SNRR Account, as under:

Remove the restriction on the tenure of the SNRR account opened for the purposes given at paragraph 3 above as the proposed transactions are more enduring in nature.

Apart from Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Account, permit credit of amount due/ payable to non-resident nominee from account of a deceased account holder to Non-Resident External (NRE) Account or direct remittance outside India through normal banking channels.

India’s per capita consumption of electricity

In News:

During the Winter Session of Parliament, the Ministry of Power released data on India’s per capita consumption of electricity.

Key highlights of the data:

India’s per capita consumption of electricity is 1,181 kWh as of 2018-19.

The highest per capita consumption in 2018-19 is in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, at 15,179 kWh. The Union Territory is followed by the states of Gujarat (2,378), Goa (2,274), Haryana (2,082) and Punjab (2,046).

The state with the lowest per capita consumption of electricity is Bihar, at 311 kWh, followed by the North-eastern states of Assam (341), Nagaland (356), Manipur (371) and Tripura (514).

The 5,251 previously un-electrified households in villages were electrified between 2017-18 and 2028-19 under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana scheme. Arunachal Pradesh accounts for the highest number of such households at 1,134, followed by Odisha (925), Jharkhand (729), Bihar (596) and Assam (572).

As of April 28, 2018 all inhabited Census villages stand electrified, with the exception of seven states where over 19 lakh households were unwilling to be electrified earlier. These households are now willing to get electricity connections.

Private member’s Bill

In News:

28th private member’s Bills introduced in Lok Sabha.

Details:

Any MP who is not a Minister is referred to as a private member.

Admissibility of a private member’s Bill:

The admissibility is decided by the Chairman for Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha.

The procedure is roughly the same for both Houses:

The Member must give at least a month’s notice before the Bill can be listed for introduction.

The House secretariat examines it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.

Exception:

While government Bills can be introduced and discussed on any day, private member’s Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.

One Stop Centre Scheme

In News:

The Government of India is implementing One Stop Centre (OSC) scheme for setting up One Stop Centre since 1st April 2015 to support women affected by violence.

About the scheme:

Popularly known as Sakhi, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has formulated this Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

It is a sub – scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women including Indira Gandhi Mattritav Sahyaog Yojana.

Under the scheme, One Stop Centres are being established across the country to provide integrated support and assistance under one roof to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces in phased manner.

Target group: The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of ageaffected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status.

The Centres will be integrated with a Women Helpline to facilitate access to following services:

  • Emergency response and rescue services.
  • Medical assistance.
  • Assistance to women in lodging the FIR.
  • Psycho- social support and counselling.
  • Legal aid and counselling.
  • Video conferencing facility.

Funds:

The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.

Stubble burning

In News:

Centre, Punjab at odds over stubble burning.

Details:

Both the Central and State governments have released data on stubble burning, but with starkly different narratives.

As per the Centre, the events had declined 19% this year, including a 16.8% reduction in Punjab.

As per Punjab, there is an increase of 2.3% in the number of incidents.

What is stubble burning?

Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.

Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.

Concern of the Farmers:

Even though farmers are aware that the burning of straw is harmful to health, they do not have alternatives for utilising them effectively.

The farmers are ill-equipped to deal with waste because they cannot afford the new technology that is available to handle the waste material.

Experts say that with less income due to crop damage, farmers are likely to be inclined to light up their fields to cut costs and not spend on scientific ways of stubble management.

Advantages of stubble burning:

  • It quickly clears the field and is the cheapest alternative.
  • Kills weeds, including those resistant to herbicide.
  • Kills slugs and other pests.
  • Can reduce nitrogen tie-up.

What’s the issue?

Stubble burning is adversely affecting environment and public health. The problem has not been fully tackled and the adverse impacts on the air quality and consequent impacts on the citizens’ health and lives are undisputed.

Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:

There is great potential for making investments in paddy straw-based power plants which can help avoid stubble burning to a large extent and also create employment opportunities.

Incorporation of crop residues in the soil can improve soil moisture and help activate the growth of soil microorganisms for better plant growth.

Convert the removed residues into enriched organic manure through composting.

New opportunities for industrial use such as extraction of yeast protein can be explored through scientific research.

What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?

The problem is required to be resolved by taking all such measures as are possible in the interest of public health and environment protection.

Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice.

The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue.

Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has also been directed to be present to “find a lasting solution.”

The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.

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