Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 MARCH 2019

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 08 MARCH 2019


Centre details supreme court on Lokpal appointment progress

  •  Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that names for Lokpal, the anti-corruption ombudsman, have been shortlisted and forwarded to the Selection Committee chaired by the Prime Minister.
  •  Mr.Venugopal, appearing for the government, said he received a letter from the Search Committee chairperson and former Supreme Court judge, Justice RanjanaPrakash Desai, on February 28 informing him that three panels of shortlisted names, for the Lokpal Chairperson and judicial and non-judicial members, had been handed over to the high-power Selection Committee.
  •  The court refused a plea by petitioner NGO Common Cause, represented by advocate PrashantBhushan, to put the shortlisted names in the public domain for the sake of transparency. Chief Justice Gogoi observed that there was no provision in the Lokpal Act to gather public opinion on shortlisted names.
  •  The court, however, did not dispose of the case despite the AG’s submission that nothing remained in the matter. Mr.Venugopal said the Selection Committee comprised high-ranking authorities and it would take some time to fix a date for all of them to sit together.
  •  Under Section 4 (1) of the Lokpal Act, the Selection Committee consists of the Prime Minister, LokSabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition (LoP), the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him and an eminent jurist.
  •  Mr.Venugopal said in the absence of anLoP, the leader of the single largest party in Opposition in the 16th LokSabha would be a ‘special invitee’. The AG pointed out that appointment of Lokpal Chairperson or members would not become invalid “merely by reason of any vacancy in the Selection Committee.”

NGT seeks compensation from wolkswagen company

  •  The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed Volkswagen India to deposit a sum of Rs. 500 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within two months for using cheat devices in its diesel vehicles.
  •  A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel enhanced the compensation amount of Rs. 171 crore, which was recommended by an NGT-appointed committee, as a means of “creating deterrence.”
  •  During the hearing, the company however contended that prescribed norms under BS-IV were not violated and that the test results were based on ‘on-road testing’, for which there were no prescribed norms.
  •  While stating that the Rs. 171 crore recommended by the committee was a “conservative value due to lack of methodology to calculate overall damage” the bench directed the company to deposit the amount to the CPCB.
  •  The bench further said that the apex pollution monitoring body may consider utilising the money towards improving air quality in the National Capital Region and other highly-polluted areas. Additionally, the bench said that the CPCB can “initiate prosecution upon due consideration.”
  •  Reacting to the NGT order, a Volkswagen spokesperson said, “The Volkswagen Group in India reiterates that all cars from the group are compliant with the emission norms defined in India. The Group awaits a copy of the order. The Group will challenge the NGT order before the Supreme Court.”
  •  The directions came when the NGT was hearing a plea moved by petitioner SaloniAilawadi and others, who sought a ban on the sale of Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.


Union government approves new hydroelectric policy

  •  The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a new hydroelectric policy aimed at boosting the sector, including according large hydro projects the status of renewable energy projects.
  •  According to the new policy, large hydro projects will also be designated as renewable energy projects. So far, only smaller projects of less than 25 MW in capacity were categorised as renewable energy.
  •  With the removal of this distinction, large hydro projects will be included as a separate category under the non-solar renewable purchase obligation policy. Under this policy, power purchasers will have to source a portion of electricity from large hydro projects.
  •  “The hydro policy was in the works for a long time,” Power and Renewable Energy Minister R.K. Singh said.
  •  He also said the new policy had increased the debt repayment period for hydro projects to 18 years from the current 12 years with the provision to introduce an escalating tariff of 2%.

Centre launches E-Dharti app for property related substitutions

  •  Housing and Urban Affairs Minister HardeepPuri today launched e-Dharti app where all the three modules- Conversion, Substitution and Mutation related to properties have been made online.
  •  The payment system in Land and Development Office, L&DO has also been completely digitized.
  •  Work is also going on other three small modules namely Sale Permission, Mortgage Permission and Gift Permission will be completed soon.
  •  The public can now submit their applications online by visiting the L&DO website and are not required to visit this office for submission of them and for follow up of their applications.
  •  Mr Puri also launched e-DhartiGeoPortal, through which the lessee of the property will be able to see the basic details of property along with map showing its location.
  •  The lessee can also be issued a Property Card from this office about his property if he asks for it.
  •  This application will not only benefit public but the Government also in getting to know the actual status of its vacant properties, whether there is any encroachment on the property.

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NATO chief rules out nuclear deployment in EU

  •  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has ruled out deploying ground-based nuclear missiles to Europe.
  •  At a press conference on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland Stoltenberg said the 29-nation alliance had already started planning for a world without the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
  •  The United States decision to suspend participation in the INF has prompted concerns of its European allies.
  •  It formally suspended its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty on February 2 and triggered the six-month withdrawal process, citing alleged Moscow's violation of the deal.
  •  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned that Europe would be most vulnerable to any negative consequences of the potential collapse of the deal.
  •  The agreement bans all ground-launched missiles, conventional or nuclear, with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles.

India excluded from student visa relaxation list

  •  India is, once again, not included in an expanded list of countries from where students applying for visas will be subject to less stringent documentation requirements, details provided on Thursday showed.
  •  This follows last year’s controversy when the failure to include India triggered much criticism, particularly after the U.K. sought to suggest that the exclusion related to New Delhi’s decision to pull out of a Memorandum of Understanding on the return of illegal migrants.
  •  The changes are part of a wider update to Britain’s immigration system that will introduce two new visa routes for setting up businesses in the U.K. including a “start-up” route and an equivalent one for more seasoned business people. In both cases, business experts will be involved.
  •  The government has also updated its rules governing a fast-track visa scheme for wealthy investors which has been used by many Indians. The scheme, which is open to those who invest at least £2 million in U.K. government, shares or businesses, offers a faster route to settlement in the country.
  •  However, amid concerns that the route has been abused for illicit money flows, applicants will be “required to prove that they have had control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds”, the Home Office said.


India signs nuclear submarine deal with Russia

  •  India on Thursday sealed a $3-billion deal with Russia for leasing a nuclear-powered attack submarine for the Indian Navy for a period of 10 years, military sources said.
  •  The two countries signed an inter-governmental agreement capping months of negotiations on price and other aspects of the deal. Under the pact, Russia will have to deliver the Akula class submarine, to be known as Chakra III, to the Indian Navy by 2025. It will be the third Russian submarine to be leased to the Navy.
  •  India has been significantly bolstering its naval prowess in the backdrop of China’s attempts to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean region.


Indian cricketers donate towards national defence fund

  •  As a mark of respect for the CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the Pulwama terrorist attack, the Indian cricketers Friday sported special Army caps during the third ODI against Australia in Ranchi and donated their match fee to the National Defence Fund.
  •  Captain ViratKohli came out for the toss wearing the camouflage military cap, which had the BCCI's logo on it.
  •  He also urged everyone to contribute towards the National Defence Fund so that the money could be used for the welfare of the families of the slain CRPF Personnel.

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