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Current Affairs for 3 March 2016
March 3, 2016
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GOVT NOD FOR ONE LAKH AFFORDABLE HOUSES IN MAHARASHTRA

There is more cheer for those looking to buy affordable houses near the city. The Maharashtra government, on Wednesday, gave its in-principle approval to construct over 1 lakh dwelling units in the State under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY). The State’s decision comes close on the heels of the announcements in the Union Budget to exempt affordable houses (measuring up to 60 sq metres) from service tax. The no service tax rule applies to affordable houses coming up under any scheme of the Central or State government, including the PPP Schemes.

On Wednesday, the State Empowered Committee on construction of homes for the economically weaker section cleared as many as 28 proposals of the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA), the nodal agency for implementing the PMAY. These proposals were to build homes for first-time buyers with a monthly household income of not more than Rs 25,000, and those who are willing to buy units of not more than 30 sq metres or 322 sq feet. A subsidy of Rs 2.5 lakh for each EWS buyer is jointly shared by the Centre and the State. The empowered committee of the State is headed by the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.


 

RWAS STEP TOWARDS ECO-FRIENDLY COLONIES

A host of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in the Capital are coming out to help each other in making their localities eco-friendly. The collective project being undertaken has three focus areas — solar power, rainwater harvesting and waste management.

According to Atul Goyal, the convenor of the United RWAs Joint Action (URJA) Front, about 95 per cent of the existing rainwater harvesting chambers in Delhi is lying defunct. In a bid to conserve the old water harvesting units, URJA Front, which is an umbrella body of about 850 RWAs in the city, has chalked out a pilot project to revive 50 of them. While restoration of one such harvesting unit has been completed in Defence Colony, some other areas where work is yet to be completed include Vasant Kunj, Gargi College, Chittaranjan Park and so on.

Project has three focus areas — solar power, rainwater harvesting and waste management


 

MAHARASHTRA RANKS AMONG TOP 5 IN DOMESTIC TOURISM

With a good mix of scenic places, architectural monuments, wildlife sanctuaries and religious places, Maharashtra ranks among the top five States in domestic tourism.

The State saw 94.1 million domestic travellers in 2014, as per the Economic Survey of India 2015-2016. However, in terms of figures, it is way behind Tamil Nadu (327.6 million), Uttar Pradesh (182.8 million) and Karnataka (118.3 million).

A number of places from Mumbai made it to the top ten destinations for domestic as well as foreign travellers, namely Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Mahalakshmi temple, Juhu Chowpatty, Marine Drive and Haji Ali. Destinations such as Shirdi, Ellora, Tadoba Tiger project, Mahalakshmi Temple in Kolhapur, the hill stations of Lonavala and Khandala were also popular among Indian travellers.


 

MODI TO LAUNCH ROAD PROJECT

rime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Rs. 10,200-crore Setu Bharatam project that aims to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019, on Friday.

The Union Road, Transport and Highways Ministry plans to develop road overbridges and underpasses at unmanned railway crossings.

Under the project, 208 road overbridges and underpasses would be built in the first phase and the tender for 65 bridges was already out, Minister Nitin Gadkari said.


TWO MORE AWACS FROM ISRAEL

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel later this year, a first by an Indian Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared the purchase of additional surveillance aircraft from the country.

The CCS chaired by Mr. Modi on Tuesday cleared the proposal to acquire two more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) at a cost of Rs. 7,500 crore under a tripartite agreement with Israel and Russia.

The AWACS are advanced radars mounted on an aircraft to give 360 degree coverage to detect incoming aircraft and missiles at long ranges.

India had procured three Phalcon AWACS, Israeli radars mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft, in 2003 at cost of $1 billion. Indo-Israel ties got a major boost after Mr. Modi came to power.


LPG FOR BPL UNITS TO LIFT KAMARAJAR CARGO VOLUMES

The Centre’s initiative of providing LPG connections to families below the poverty line (BPL) with state support is expected to bring in more cargo for Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL), said a top official.

KPL is one of the few ports in the south which has the capacity to handle 1.5 million tonnes (MT) of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) per annum.

A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Kamarajar Port, said: “The Centre’s move will push up our cargo volume by 15 to 20 per cent. Last year, we handled 30.25 MT of cargo, including over 1.2 MT of LPG. This year, we will be handling 31 MT of cargo including over 1.2 MT of LPG.”


 

ISS CREW RETURN TO EARTH AFTER ONE YEAR IN SPACE

U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth on Wednesday after spending almost a year in space in a ground-breaking experiment foreshadowing a potential manned mission to Mars.

The 340-day mission saw Mr. Kelly break the record for the longest single stay in space by a U.S. astronaut, while Mr. Kornienko is now fifth on the list for lengthiest mission by a Russian cosmonaut.

After returning from his lengthy stint in space Mr. Kelly was clearly in high spirits as he was lowered to the ground by burly Russian rescue workers at the landing site. “The air out here feels great. I’ve no idea why you guys are so bundled up,” NASA TV reported him as saying as he sat upright in a chair on the steppe in temperatures just below zero.

Mr. Kelly and Mr. Kornienko returned with Russia’s Sergei Volkov, who was stationed at the ISS for over five months and was met upon landing by his father, retired cosmonaut Aleksandr Volkov.