Current Affairs of 24th December 2019

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1. NITI Aayog to Launch SDG India Index & Dashboard 2019–20

NITI Aayog will launch the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets, on 30 December 2019 at NITI Aayog, New Delhi.

The SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019–20 have been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), the United Nations in India, and the Global Green Growth Institute. It will be launched by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, in the presence of Members Dr. Ramesh Chand, Dr. VK Paul and Dr. VK Saraswat, CEO Amitabh Kant, UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien, MoSPI Secretary and Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava, and NITI Aayog Adviser (SDGs) Sanyukta Samaddar.

NITI Aayog has the mandate of overseeing the adoption and monitoring of SDGs in the country, at the national and sub-national level. The SDG India Index, whose first edition was launched in December 2018, was the first tool developed by any large country to monitor the progress towards achieving SDGs at the sub-national level. The SDG India Index and Dashboard 2019 tracks the progress of and ranks all States and UTs on 100 indicators drawn from MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework, comprising 306 indicators. It indicates where the country and its States and UTs currently are on SDG implementation, and charts the distance to be traveled to reach the SDG targets. The Index covers 16 out of 17 SDGs and a qualitative assessment on Goal 17. This marks an improvement over the 2018 Index, which covered only 13 goals.

2. Cabinet approves the transfer of administrative control of Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Ltd.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of administrative control of Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL), the Central Public Sector Undertaking implementing the Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP) from Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals to Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

The CCEA has also approved the following:

  • Feedstock subsidy to BCPL for 15 years of plant operation to maintain minimum Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 10% (post-tax).  To bring the IRR to 10%, BCPL has an estimated feedstock subsidy of approximately Rs.4600 crore for the project for 15 years of plant operation.  BCPL will submit the proposal on a yearly basis from the next financial year onwards and the administrative Ministry / Department will devise a mechanism to examine the proposal in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.
  • Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to make firm arrangements through concerned PSUs for supply of committed quantity and quality of feedstock to the project as envisaged in the earlier CCEA approval of 2006.

The project is seen as a part of the implementation of Assam accord, and would give impetus to the development of the north-eastern region of the country and will improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of Assam through increased employment.

3. Cabinet approves Rs 3,941.35 cr for updating National Population Register (NPR)

The Union Cabinet on 24th December 2019 approved over Rs 3,941.35 crore for updating the National Population Register.

Earlier, officials had quoted the census funds figure as that of the NPR. The updating exercise is to commence from April next year.

About NPR

The NPR will be prepared at the local (village/sub-Town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

The NPR is a list of “usual residents” of the country. A “usual resident” is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.

The data for National Population Register was collected in 2010 along with the house-listing phase of the Census of India 2011. The data was updated in 2015 by conducting a door-to-door survey. Now it has been decided to update the National Population Register along with the house-listing phase of Census 2021 during April to September 2020 in all the states/union territories except Assam, according to the website of the Office of the Registrar General, and Census Commissioner.

4. Cabinet approves signing of MoU between India and Brazil on Bioenergy Cooperation

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of India and the Federative Republic of Brazil on Bioenergy Cooperation

India and Brazil are major consumers of energy in the world and Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) region. Brazil is currently the world’s second-largest producer and consumer of biofuels and biofuels and bioelectricity accounted for 18% of Brazil’s energy mix. India also has a strong focus in the area of biofuels and has set a target to achieve 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030 with the announcement of the new policy on Biofuels in 2018.

During the meeting between Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of Brazil in India in 2016, the two sides agreed to cooperate on research and development of renewable energies, as well as in the field of second-generation biofuels.  In this regard, the MoU provides a framework to cooperate and promote investment in biofuel, bioelectricity and biogas supply-chains, including feedstock, industrial conversion, distribution, and end-use sectors. Few other salient features of the MoU include Exchange of information on agricultural practices and policies regarding biomass for bioenergy, including sugarcane, corn, rice, oil-crops, and lignocellulosic crops; policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions levels based on the use of biofuels, using cycle analysis and the issuance of emissions reduction certificates traded in an organized market; trade aspects and the promotion of a joint position to address market access and sustainability of biofuels, including advanced biofuels; Engine and fuel modifications/adjustments that may be necessary for different percentages of biofuels blended with fossil fuels.

5. PM Modi launches Atal Bhujal Yojana

Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged farmers to opt for less water-intensive crops and irrigation methods that will help conserve water, as he launched the Atal Jal Yojana, aimed at improving groundwater level in seven states.

The Atal Jal Yojana will help improve the groundwater level in 78 districts, more than 8,300 villages in the states of Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Modi said villages with low groundwater levels should prepare water budget and farmers should be encouraged to grow crops accordingly. He said that on the one hand, Jal Jeevan Mission will work towards delivering piped water supply to every house, and on the other, Atal Jal Yojana will pay special attention to those areas where groundwater is very low.

To incentivise village panchayats to perform better in water management, Modi said a provision has been made in the Atal Jal Yojana in which better performing village panchayats will be given more allocation.

The prime minister also emphasised that water-related schemes should be made according to the situation at every village level. Both Union and state governments will spend Rs 3.5 lakh crore on water-related schemes in the next five years.

6. 24 December: National Consumer Day

Every Year 24th December is observed as National Consumer Day in India. On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the president.

This day provides an opportunity for individuals to highlight the importance of the consumer movement and the need to make every consumer more aware of their rights and responsibilities. The theme of National Consumer Day 2019 is- ‘Alternate Consumer Grievance/Dispute Redressal’.

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