1. 10th meeting of Empowered Task Force of Clean Ganga Mission
The Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat chaired the 10th meeting of the Empowered Task Force (ETF) of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) on 8th December 2022.
The Minister reviewed the progress of various components under the Namami Gange Programme.
The Union Minister directed the States and Central Ministries/Departments to expedite the work being done for the overall rejuvenation of river Ganga.
The minister urged the states and central ministries to achieve the targets in a time-bound manner.
Ashok Kumar, Director General, NMCG, briefed the task force about the activities undertaken by Arth Ganga over the past months.
Kumar added that the Ghat Mein Haat initiative was launched under Arth Ganga in the Ganga Basin among other activities.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare informed of the steps taken to build organic farming and natural farming corridors along River Ganga.
National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG)
It was registered on 12 August 12, 2011 as a society under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
It serves as the implementing arm of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which was constituted under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986.
It was established to address pollution challenges in the Ganga river.
The operational area of the project covers the Ganga basin and all the states through which the river flows, including Delhi.
The objective is to reduce pollution and ensure rejuvenation of the Ganga river.
2. Government of India invest Rs 5000 crore in the SWAMIH fund to complete housing projects
The government of India has invested an additional Rs 5,000 crore into the SWAMIH Invest Fund-I to help the stressed realty investment platform achieve its final close at Rs 15,530 crore.
Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income (SWAMIH)
In November 2019, the Union Finance Ministry announced creation of a Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) to provide debt financing for the completion of stressed, brownfield and residential projects registered with regulatory bodies that fall in the affordable, mid-income housing category.
The corpus of the Fund is Rs 12,500 crore with a green shoe option of Rs 12,500 crore. Green Shoe options means that if required an additional Rs 12,500 crore fund will be raised for the SWAMIH scheme.
The Sponsor of the Fund is the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Government of India on behalf of the Government of India.
The Investment Manager of the Fund is SBICAP Ventures Ltd which is owned by State Bank of India.
The major investors in the fund are Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), HDFC, and other major Public Sector Banks.
So far, the fund has given final approvals to 127 projects which will in turn complete over 79,000 homes
Stressed project means that the company which started the residential project is unable to complete the project due to financial problems.
Brown field projects means that no new houses will be built but the existing housing project which is either finished or under construction will be finished.
3. Govt extends rooftop solar scheme till March 2026
The government on 8 December said the rooftop solar programme has been extended till March 31, 2026, and therefore, subsidy under the programme will be available until the target for the scheme is achieved.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has advised that all residential consumers should not pay extra amount to any company for applying on the National Portal, nor should they pay more than the amount fixed by the concerned distribution company for metre and testing.
The ministry said that any vendor, agency or individual demanding additional charges should be informed about the same through email.
Consumers wishing to install solar panels on the roof of their houses can apply through the National Portal.
Under this program, the central government gives a subsidy of Rs 14,588 per kilowatt to a person who installs solar panels on the roof of his house.
About Rooftop Solar Scheme
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Scheme (Phase II) to generate solar power by installing solar panels on the roof of houses.
Phase II aims to achieve a cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar Projects by the year 2022.
The objective of the programme is to promote the grid-connected SPV rooftop and small SPV power generating plants among the residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments.
To ease the implementation of the scheme, a National Portal was developed, which was launched by PM Modi on 30 July 2022.
The central government has set a target of 450 GW of renewable energy generation by 2030.
Under this, many schemes are also going on, in which a target has been set to provide more than 17 lakh solar pumps to farmers in the country through Pradhan Mantri-Kusum Yojana.
4. Horticulture Cluster Development Programme
The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has prepared a Horticulture Cluster Development Program (CDP), for which a meeting was held on November 30 under the chairmanship of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
The implementation of the CDP will focus on the overall development of horticulture in the country.
Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with garden crops, generally fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants.
About Horticulture Cluster Development Programme
The Nodal Agency of CDP is the National Horticulture Board (NHB).
Aim of CDP is to improve exports of targeted crops by about 20% and create cluster-specific brands to enhance the competitiveness of cluster crops.
Its objective is to promote the Agriculture sector in the country and to increase the income of the farmers by giving them a reasonable price for their produce.
It will support integrated interventions to enhance the competitiveness of targeted clusters.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has identified 55 horticulture clusters.
5. Adani Group bags Dharavi Redevelopment Project as highest bidder
Gautam Adani-led Adani Properties on 29 November bagged the Dharavi redevelopment project, Asia's second largest slum colony, as the highest bidder.
Adani Properties, the highest bidder offered Rs 5,069 crore as its investment in the project.
The Adani group quoted Rs 5,069 crore for this project, followed by Rs 2,025 crore quoted by the DLF group.
Dubai-based infrastructure firm Seclink Technologies Corporation turned out to be a successful bidder in January 2019 against Adani.
Dharavi redevelopment will involve a massive investment of money upfront, amid tricky complications of land acquisition and rehabilitation.
What is the Dharavi redevelopment project?
Dharavi is only a short drive from India's richest business district, the Bandra-Kurla Complex, which has the largest concentration of commercial offices in the country.
The slum, spread over 2.8 sq km, is home to an informal leather and pottery industry that employs over a lakh people.
The state government had envisaged to convert this slum area into a cluster of skyscrapers with better urban infrastructure.
It entailed resettling 68,000 people, including slum dwellers and those with commercial establishments.
In 1999, the BJP-Sena government first proposed to redevelop Dharavi.
Thereafter, the Maharashtra government in 2003-04 decided to redevelop Dharavi as an integrated planned township, and an action plan for this was approved.
6. Power Ministry launches schemes to procure 4,500 MW electricity supply for five years
The Ministry of Power on 28 November launched a scheme for power procurement totaling 4500 megawatts (MW) under the SHAKTI Policy.
PFC (Power Finance Corporation) Consulting, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PFC, has been designated as the nodal agency by the ministry of power.
Under the scheme, PFC Consulting has invited bids for the supply of 4,500 MW. Supply of electricity will commence from April 2023.
The ministry of coal has been requested to allocate around 27 MTPA for this.
Gujarat Energy Development Corporation, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company, New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation have shown interest for the scheme.
The scheme is expected to help those states which are facing power shortage and will also help in increasing the capacity of power generation plants.
About SHAKTI scheme
The SHAKTI (Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala Transparently in India) policy was approved in May 2017 with the intent of better allocation of coal to present and future power plants.
Its objective was to introduce a more transparent and competitive coal allocation policy.
The policy was amended in March 2019 to provide assistance to stressed projects based on the recommendations of the High-Level Empowered Committee.
7. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launches Har Ghar Gangajal project in Rajgir
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on 27 November launched the Har Ghar Gangajal project (First phase) in Rajgir.
This is a unique and ambitious initiative to make Ganga water available through taps in the dry areas of the state.
The scheme will help to harvest the excess water of the Ganga during the monsoon season.
The water will be stored in reservoirs in Rajgir and Gaya before being channelled to three treatment-and-purification plants, from where it will be supplied to the public.
Har Ghar Gangajal is part of the Bihar government’s Jal, Jeevan, Hariyali scheme.
Under the scheme about 7.5-lakh households of Rajgir (Nalanda), Gaya and Bodhgaya will start getting piped Ganga water.
The second phase will start in 2023 and will cover Nawada district as well.
A Rs 4,000-crore scheme has harnessed flood water from the Ganges to take it to reservoirs in Gaya and Rajgir.
This is the first time in India that flood water harvesting has been done for the purpose of drinking water.
8. Assam government launches millet mission to double the income of state farmers
The Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on 16 November 2022 launched the “Assam Millet Mission” aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and doubling the farmer’s income. The mission also aims at encouraging the farmers to diversify their crops. .
Along with the Millet mission the Chief Minister also launched six soil testing and quality control laboratories Bongaigaon, morigaon,Golaghat, Udalgiri,Karimganj and Darrang.
Initially the millet mission will cover 25,000 hectares of land and later it will be extended to 50,000 hectares.
Millets or coarse cereals or nutri cereals
- Millet is one of the oldest known foods to humans. However its consumption in the world has declined due to the emphasis given to wheat and rice by the governments.
- It is also called coarse cereals or nutri cereals due to its high nutritive value.
- Nutri-cereals refers to a group of crops comprising sorghum (Jowar), pearl millet (Bajra), finger millet (Ragi/Mandua), and small millets like little millet (Kutki), kodo millet (Kodo), barnyard millet (Sawa/Jhangora), foxtail millet (Kangni/Kakun), and proso millet (Cheena).
- They are called a superfood as they are rich in nutrients such as copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. They are low on glycemic index.
Millets and India
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) , India is the largest producer of millet in the world followed by Niger and China .
- The total production of millets in India in 2020-21 was 17.96 million tonnes which was nearly 41% of the world production.
- Rajasthan was the largest millet producing state in India.
- Millets are grown in about 21 states in the country including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana.
- India was the 5th largest exporter of millet in the world in 2020 according to the Union ministry of Commerce data.
International Year of Millets 2023
- To highlight the importance of millets, India proposed in the United Nations to declare 2023 as the International Year of the Millets.
- The proposal was accepted and passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2021 and 2023 was declared as the International Year of Millets.
9. Central government releases Rs 13,000 crore from Contingency Fund for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana -Gramin
The Union Finance Ministry has authorized release of Rs 13,000 crore from the Contingency Fund of India to meet the additional financial demand for implementing the Government of India's flagship Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Gramin (PMAY-G) programme in 2022-23. This amount is in addition to the Rs 20,000 crore allocated for the programme in the Union Budget 2022-23.
Reason for such unusual step
The Government of India under the PMGY-G has set a target of building 52.78 lakh houses under the scheme in 2022-23.
In the first seven months (April-October 2022), the Union Rural Development Ministry has utilized Rs 16,785 crore which is about 84 per cent of the Rs 20,000 crore under the PMAY-G scheme.
With several states demanding extra funds for construction of rural houses, the Union Rural Development Ministry had approached the Ministry of Finance way back in June for additional allocation
Funding pattern of the PMAY-G and Central government share
Under the PMAY-G scheme, the government provides financial assistance of Rs 1.20 lakhs per beneficiary for construction of houses in rural areas in plain areas and in the North East and Hilly areas the assistance amount is Rs 1.30 lakhs per beneficiary.
The financial assistance shared between the Center and the States are as follows:
- In the plain areas the ratio of the Center and States is 60:40.
- In the hilly areas (8 Northeastern states, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) the ratio of the Center and States is 90:10.
- In the Union Territories the centre’s share is 100%.
PMAY-G and financial obligation of the Central Government for the remaining period
- The Narendra Modi government when it came to power in 2014 changed the name of the Indira Awas Yojana to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Gramin (PMAY-G) and it was re- launched on 20 November 2016.
- It set a target of providing “Housing to All” for rural areas to eligible beneficiaries by 2022 which was later extended to 2024. A total of 2.95 crore houses were to be constructed under the scheme.
- According to the government a total of 2.02 crore houses have been built till 15 August 2022.
- The government has set a target to build 52.78 lakh houses in 2022-23 and 57.34 lakh houses in 2023-24.
- According to the estimates of the Union Ministry of Rural Development which is implementing the scheme, a Central share of Rs 48,422 crore would be required to complete the target of 52.78 lakh houses in 2022-23.
- However only Rs 20,000 crore was allocated in the Budget 2022-23. Thus the Union Rural Development Ministry asked the Union Finance Ministry to release the additional fund otherwise it will not be able to release the Centre’s share of the fund to the state government and the scheme will not be able to achieve the target.
Why Release of Funds from Contingency Fund?
- In the Union Budget the government mentions how much money is allocated to a Union Ministry and for which purpose. If the ministry’s need for funds is more than those allocated in the budget then permission of the Parliament is needed.
- For this purpose a supplementary demand for grants is brought before the Parliament requesting for extra funds. The Parliament authorizes the extra expenditure by passing the supplementary grants.
- In this case the Parliament's next winter session is expected to start in December 2022. The Rural development ministry wanted the extra fund now so that the scheme can achieve its target in time. The Finance Ministry agreed and released the fund from the
- Contingency fund of India.
What is the Contingency Fund of India?
- Article 267 of the constitution provides for a Contingency Fund of India for the central government and for each state government. Parliament can set the fund for the Government of India and the concerned state legislature set up for its state government.
- The Contingency fund of India was set up under the Contingency Fund of India act 1950.
- Its corpus was increased from Rs 500 crore to Rs 30,000 crore in 2021-22. This fund is used to meet unforeseen expenditure like natural calamities etc.
- The Secretary, Ministry of Finance manages this fund on behalf of the President of India. There is no need for prior approval from the Parliament to spend the money from the Contingency Fund of India.
Union Minister for Finance: Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Minister for Rural Development: Giriraj Singh
10. Per capita income rose in real terms by 33.4% since enactment of NFSA: Center inform Supreme Court
The Central government on 11 November 2022, informed the Supreme Court that the per capita income of the population in India has increased in real terms by 33.4 per cent since the enactment of National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, the Union government said this rise in per capita income of people has taken a large number of poor households to higher income class.
The affidavit was filed in response to a Supreme Court ordered comprehensive survey of migrant labourers who faced extreme hardship and loss of jobs during corona induced lockdown in 2020.
Main points of the government response
- The overall national ceiling under NFSA is 81.4 crore beneficiaries and a few states are yet to reach their state ceiling.
- Actual national coverage is nearly 79.8 crore as on August 31. Under NFSA ceiling, there is still scope for adding approximately 1.6 crore beneficiaries for Antyodaya Anna Yojana and priority households categories.
- About 4.7 crore ration cards, which is equivalent to about 18-19 crore individuals, have been added in the last 8 years (2013-2021) under NFSA.
National Food Security Act 2013(NFSA)
The Public distribution system in India is covered under the National Food Security Act 2013. It was implemented on 10 September 2013.
- It covers all the State and Union Territories in India.
- The scheme is administered by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution.
- The Act provides for coverage of up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- Food Grains are provided to beneficiaries in two categories, Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Household (PHH).
- The Antodaya Anna Yojana beneficiaries get 35 kg of foodgrains per month and the Priority Household gets 5kg per person per month.
- The beneficiary gets rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg and coarse cereals at Rs 1 per kg.
Per capita Income
It is used to determine the average income of a person of a country. It is calculated by dividing the National income of a country by its population.
The Per capita Income of India in 2021-22(on Net National Income basis) was Rs 91481.
Source National Statistical Office