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AFTER SLAPPING RS. 5 CRORE FINE, NGT NOD FOR SRI SRI EVENT
Imposing an initial fine of Rs. 5 crore, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to the ‘World Culture Festival’, a three-day cultural extravaganza being organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation on the flood plains of the Yamuna.
It also directed the Art of Living to bear the cost of restoring the area into a biodiversity park after the completion of the event, holding it responsible and liable for the damage caused to the environment, ecology, bio-diversity and aquatic life of the river. After imposing the initial token ‘environmental compensation’ on Art of Living — which has to be deposited before the event begins on March 11 — the green watchdog also pulled up the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), stating that they hadn’t discharged their statutory functions.
A Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, slapped a fine of Rs. 5 lakh on DDA and Rs. 1 lakh on DPCC.
The Tribunal directed Art of Living to give an undertaking by Thursday that enzymes will not be released into the Yamuna and no further degradation of environment will happen.
INDIA INKS PACT FOR SAVING BIRDS OF PREY
India has become the 56th country to sign a pact on conservation of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia, a move that will help the country gain knowledge in effectively managing the habitats of such raptors.
The government signed the ‘Raptor MoU’, covering 76 species, out of which 46 including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers and others are also found in India.
The agreement was signed on March 7 this year at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Abu Dhabi by Ambassador of India to the UAE T P Seetharam.
The agreement, under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS, is not “legally binding”.
The Union Cabinet had on December 30 last year approved the proposal of the Environment Ministry to sign the pact on conservation of migratory birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia with CMS or Bonn Convention with regard to United Nations Environment Programme.
The CMS aims to conserve migratory species and India is a signatory to it since November 1, 1983.
SHARP DROP IN AID TO SAARC NATIONS
Contrary to the NDA government’s “Neighbourhood First” diplomatic posture, the development assistance for all SAARC countries has been significantly reduced in the 2016-17 Budget. Except Pakistan, all other six members of SAARC receive significant financial assistance from India.
The slashing of the assistance to SAARC countries is in line with the cut in Budget to the Ministry of External Affairs this year that has fallen by about Rs. 500 crore, if one counts the allocation for the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) that was merged with the MEA this year.
But the magnitude of the figures put out ((Notes on Demands for Grants No. 28/2016-17 for the Ministry of External Affairs) indicate the drop in development funds may not be something that can be covered up later in the year. Take a look at the numbers: Nepal that was hit by a major earthquake in 2015 was unable to use the full budget allocation of Rs. 420 crore last year, and saw its revised estimate fall to Rs. 300 crore.
Despite the expectation that Nepal will need increased assistance as it begins its reconstruction programme this year, the allocation has seen a drop of 28.6%. Sri Lanka and the Maldives have seen cuts of 54% and 78.1% compared with the previous year. And even the countries with the lowest GDP, Afghanistan and Bhutan, saw cuts this year of 23% and 10.8% respectively.
NITIN GADKARI ANNOUNCES METRINO SYSTEM
Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced the construction of a Metrino Personal Rapid Transit System in Gurgaon from Delhi-Haryana border to Sohna road (Badshahpur Chowk) through Rajiv Chowk as a pilot project.
He was speaking at the valedictory function of the two-day “Happening Haryana: Global Investors’ Summit -2016) here.
Mr. Gadkari said the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project had been prepared at a cost of Rs.980 crore. This project would be like an airborne personal rapid transit system. “This Car Cable Service will be cheaper than the metro rail network,” said Mr. Gadkari.
Announcing a host of measures to decongest NH-8 and ensure better connectivity between Delhi and Gurgaon, Mr. Gadkari announced to accord the status of National Highway to the 18-km Dwarka Expressway from Dwarka in Delhi to Kherki Dhaula in Gurgaon.
He also announced to construct a bypass road linking NH-8 (near Ambience Mall) and NH-236 (Mehrauli-Gurgaon road).
INDIA-PAKISTAN GAME MOVED TO KOLKATA
The India-Pakistan World T20 match on March 19 has been moved to Eden Gardens in Kolkata, because of security concerns over the original venue Dharamsala. The ICC chief executive David Richardson made the announcement in Delhi on Wednesday, ending weeks of uncertainty over the fixture, which began with the Himachal Pradesh chief minister saying his government would not be able to provide adequate security for the match.
The PCB, however, has continued to delay the departure of the Pakistan men’s and women’s teams to India pending assurance from the BCCI or the Indian government. “The PCB has also today conveyed to ICC and BCCI that our government is expecting an assurance to Pakistan against specific threats to the Pakistan team from various political parties and groups during the tour,” the board said in a release. “Pending this assurance and in accordance with the recommendation by the security delegation, the PCB has decided to defer the departure of Pakistan men and women teams to India.”
“The decision to relocate the match has been made for security reasons,” Richardson said in Delhi. “The concerns initially arose following alleged public comments recently reported by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, warning of demonstration and attempts to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the match. Our concerns relate both to uncertainty as to the level of those threats as well as the level of commitment to implement any security plan developed to mitigate such treats.
GOVERNMENT RAISES FUND LIMITS TO SEED START-UPS
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) may invest up to Rs. 1 crore in every fresh start-up that it will seed from the next financial year, Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST said.
The DST’s outlay for seeding has been increased four-fold—from Rs. 40 crore to Rs.180 crore—in the coming financial year to help fund the increased investment, Mr. Sharma told The Hindu.
Currently, the maximum permissible investment is Rs.50 lakh, Mr. Sharma said.Promoting start-ups has been among the government’s major promises with Prime Minister Narendra Modi frequently asking India’s youth to become more entrepreneurial.
About 2,000 ventures have been incubated of which 950 have ‘graduated’
WEST BENGAL ELECTIONS: BJP PITS NETAJI’S GRANDNEPHEW CHANDRA BOSE AGAINST MAMATA BANERJEE
BJP on Wednesday declared Chandra Kumar Bose, grandnephew of Subhash Chandra Bose, its candidate against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Bhawanipur constituency in the upcoming Assembly elections.
“Chandra Kumar Bose will be BJP’s candidate against Mamata Banerjee,” Union Minister Smriti Irani told a press conference in Kolkata. BJP is trying hard to make its presence felt in the state where it had drawn a blank in the Assembly polls and the party believes that a high-pitched battle against the TMC chief could be of help.
Bose said the change for which people had voted TMC to power in 2011 had not come and only BJP was capable of bringing it. Asked about his chances, Bose said it was not about him, but about the people of West Bengal.
The Bhawanipore seat falls in the Kolkata Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency.
The Election Commission had on Friday announced the dates for the West Bengal assembly elections. The first phase of the six-phase voting will take place on April 4 and 11, while the second and third phases will be conducted on April 17 and 21, respectively. The last three phases of elections will take place on April 25 and 30 April and May 5, whereas the votes will be counted and results will be declared on May 19.
CENTRE TO SIGN PACTS WORTH OVER RS.72,000 CR AT SHIPPING SUMMIT
The government is expected to sign agreements worth over Rs. 72,000 crore with private players on port-related projects at the Indian Maritime Summit to be held in Mumbai next month.
The Ministry of Shipping has identified 109 projects worth Rs.72,864 crore on which agreements will be signed during the event to be held from April 14-16. South Korea will be the partner country for the Summit, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said here on Wednesday.
The sectors identified for investment include ship-building, ship repair and recycling, port modernisation, new port development and multi-model logistic hubs among others.
Mr. Gadkari said, in addition, more than 150 projects will be showcased for investment under the Sagarmala Project for port modernisation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the summit on April 14.
Over 150 projects will be showcased for investment under the Sagarmala Project for port modernisation
SIR GEORGE MARTIN, BEATLES PRODUCER, DEAD AT 90
Sir George Martin, the music producer whose collaboration with the Beatles helped redraw the boundaries of popular music, died Tuesday, according to his management company. He was 90.
Martin died “peacefully at home” in England, according to Adam Sharp, the founder of C A Management which represents the music producer.
“In a career that spanned seven decades he was recognized globally as one of music’s most creative talents and a gentleman to the end. The family ask that their privacy be respected at this time,” Sharp said.
Martin worked with countless others over a career that spanned decades, including Peter Sellers, Shirley Bassey, America, Cheap Trick, Jeff Beck and Celine Dion. But his fame, and his influence, rests on the seven years he spent with the Beatles, the most successful group in music history — a group Martin helped propel to the top spot with his musical expertise, tasteful arrangements and willing experimentation.
OVER 80 LAKH HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GIVEN UP LPG SUBSIDY: PRADHAN
Campaign is part of government’s endeavour to reduce LPG subsidy bill
More than 80 lakh households have given up LPG subsidy under the ‘Give it Up’ scheme, as of March 3, 2016, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.The ‘Give it Up’ campaign is part of the government’s endeavour to reduce its LPG subsidy bill.
Under the scheme, LPG users who can afford to pay the market rate for the fuel are encouraged to give up their subsidy. The government, on its part, has promised to use the savings from this to provide more LPG connections to the unconnected.
“The response from LPG consumers to the ‘Give it Up’ campaign initiated by the Ministry to voluntarily surrender subsidy is overwhelming and as on March 3, 2016, more than 80 lakh LPG consumers have voluntarily surrendered subsidy on LPG.