The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved the following proposals:
To levy a “Green Tax” on old vehicles which are polluting the environment.
The policy of deregistration and scrapping of vehicles owned by Government department and PSU, which are above 15 years in age.
Revenue collected from the Green Tax to be kept in a separate account and used for tackling pollution, and for States to set up state of-art facilities for emission monitoring.
Applicability of green tax:
Vehicles like strong hybrids, electric vehicles and alternate fuels like CNG, ethanol, LPG etc.
Vehicles used in farming, such as tractor, harvester, tiller etc.
The benefits of the “Green Tax” could be:
It is estimated that commercial vehicles, which constitute about 5% of the total vehicle fleet, contribute about 65-70% of total vehicular pollution.
The older fleet, typically manufactured before the year 2000 constitute less that 1 % of the total fleet but contributes around 15% of total vehicular pollution. These older vehicles pollute 10-25 times more than modern vehicles.
One of the most sought after details in any Union Budget is the level of fiscal deficit. As such, it is keenly watched by rating agencies — both inside and outside the country. That is why most governments want to restrict their fiscal deficit to a respectable number.
One of the ways to do this is by resorting to “off-budget borrowings”.
Such borrowings are a way for the Centre to finance its expenditures while keeping the debt off the books — so that it is not counted in the calculation of fiscal deficit.
What is the fiscal deficit?
It is essentially the gap between what the central government spends and what it earns. In other words, it is the level of borrowings by the Union government. This fiscal deficit is the most important metric to understand the financial health of any government’s finances.
What are off-budget borrowings?
Off-budget borrowings are loans that are taken not by the Centre directly, but by another public institution which borrows on the directions of the central government.
Such borrowings are used to fulfil the government’s expenditure needs.
But since the liability of the loan is not formally on the Centre, the loan is not included in the national fiscal deficit.
This helps keep the country’s fiscal deficit within acceptable limits.
The Rajasthan government has brought a policy on manufactured sand (M-sand), giving industry status to the units producing it for construction work and reducing the dependence on bajri (riverbed sand).
Highlights of the new Policy:
The policy will enable the investors to set up M-sand units by utilising the incentives offered by the State government.
It will also help in environmental protection and generate faith among the public in the efficacy of M-sand for construction works.
The policy would help create employment opportunities through new units and resolve the issue of huge quantities of waste generated in the mining areas.
The Supreme Court had banned illegal mining on riverbeds in 2017.
What is M-Sand?
BBV154, Bharat Biotech’s single-dose intranasal vaccine for Covid-19
Bharat Biotech’s BBV154 is the first publicised attempt at getting an intranasal Covid-19 vaccine.
What is an intranasal vaccine?
Vaccines are most commonly administered as injectable shots into the muscles (intramuscular) or the tissue just between the skin and the muscles (subcutaneous).
However, with intranasal vaccines, the solution is squirted or sprayed into the nostrils and inhaled instead of injecting it.
What are the benefits to an intranasal vaccine during a pandemic?
Such vaccines not only aim to overcome barriers to delivery and administration that come with producing and distributing injectable vaccines, they also may be able to tap an additional set of immune cells found in the tissues lining the nose, mouth and lungs.
Intranasal vaccines cut down on the need for syringes, needles and other components like alcohol swabs, as they are not injected.
Eliminates needle-associated injuries and infections and is easy to administer, as it also does not require trained healthcare workers.
It is also a single-dose, making it easier for those receiving the vaccine as well–they would not have to schedule revisits for booster shots the way they would have to with existing, injectable Covid-19 vaccines.
What are the potential setbacks?
Past attempts to develop intranasal vaccines, including for measles flu, have not been very successful.
These vaccines have mostly been made using live, weakened viruses, but have never cleared clinical trials.
Only a live attenuated influenza flu vaccine has been licenced through this route of delivery.