Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 February 2019
Supreme court order on Forest dwellers may only affect encroachers
- The February 13 order of the Supreme Court to several States to evict
lakhs of claimants finally rejected under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006,
is an outcome of the consistent stand taken by the top court in the case
since 2016 that encroachers should be evicted from forest land after due
- On January 29, 2016, a three-judge Bench of Justices held that “if the
claim is found to be not tenable by the competent authority, the result
would be that the claimant is not entitled for the grant of any patta or any
other right under the Act, but such a claimant is also either required to be
evicted from that parcel of land or some other action is to be taken in
accordance with law.”
- Two years later, on March 7 last year, an apex court Bench of Justices
Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph (both retired) and Deepak Gupta again sought
information from the States concerned about the “action taken against those
claimants whose claims have been rejected” and “the status of eviction of
those claimants whose claims have been rejected and the total area from
which they have been evicted”, among other directions.
- The process of verification of the claims of forest-dwelling Scheduled
Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) is initiated by none
other than the gram sabha.
- The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition
of Forest Rights) Rules of 2007 mandate that the gram sabha should have
adequate representation from the Scheduled Tribes, particularly vulnerable
tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities.
National programme to eliminate viral Hepatitis launched
- Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey launched a national programme aimed
at eliminating viral hepatitis, recognized as an important public health
- The minister of state for health launched the National Action Plan -
Viral Hepatitis at Mumbai in presence of Amitabh Bachchan, the goodwill
ambassador for hepatitis, WHO South-East Asia Region.
- Mr Choubey said, the programme is also in line with the country's global
commitment towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.3. India
has affirmed this commitment at the 69th World Health Assembly.
- The Minister said, the aim of the programme is to combat hepatitis and
achieve countrywide elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030.
- India is one of the few countries to roll out management of Hepatitis B
and Hepatitis C in a public health approach and offer free diagnostics and
drugs lifelong to its beneficiaries.
GST council gives relief to realty sector
- The Goods and Services Tax Council on Sunday decided to reduce tax rates
on the sale of under-construction residential properties from April 1,
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced.
- The Council decided that the rate for normal residential properties
would be 5% without the option of availing input tax credits.
- “It was found that the case of under-construction houses was the same as
what was seen for restaurants, which set the precedent. The price of
under-construction houses should have been reduced by the amount of input
tax credits available, but this was not happening.”said the minister
- The Group of Ministers set up to look into the issue recommended
reducing the rates to 5% for normal housing and 3% or below for affordable
housing, he said.
- However, the removal of input tax credits for the real estate sector
could lead to several problems, tax analysts and industry leaders say.
“Having certain categories not eligible for input tax credits is an
aberration of the basic principles of a good GST, in addition to leading to
issues of traceability of transactions and making the transactions opaque,”
M.S. Mani, partner at Deloitte India, said.
Union minister assures water transport in Yamuna soon
- Water transport will soon start in Yamuna river in Uttar Pradesh, Union
Minister for Road Transport & Highways, and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari
announced on Wednesday.
- He said a water port will also be set up in Baghpat district. Mr Gadkari
inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of many highway projects in
Meerut, Baghpat and Moradabad.
- He said that inland waterways will be a game- changer for the region and
it will help in increasing exports and reducing the cost of goods as well as
- The Minister also laid the foundation stone of several projects under
the Namami Gange programme. The total cost of the projects is more than 12
thousand crore rupees.
- Speaking in Baghpat, Nitin Gadkari said the government is planning to
export sugar from western UP to Bangladesh through Yamuna water transport
which will be connected to Allahabad and the DPR for this project is also
- In Meerut, the Minister laid the foundation stone of three projects.
After completion of these projects, it will take only 40 to 45 minutes to
reach Delhi from Meerut.
India to go for UNSC ban on JeM chief
- With the UN Security Council and the Paris-based Financial Action Task
Force both issuing strong press statements on the Pulwama attacks and
calling on Pakistan to act against the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), diplomats in
Delhi and New York say they have begun negotiations on a new proposal to
place JeM chief Masood Azhar on the ban list operated by the UNSC’s 1267
committee, the fourth such request in four consecutive years.
- Meanwhile, Beijing has vetoed each of the past three attempts to list
Azhar: in 2016, 2017 and most recently in 2018. Ms. Swaraj is expected to
meet Mr. Wang for the trilateral meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign
Ministers along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Wuzhen, and
then will meet both bilaterally.
- The extent of the disagreement was evident from the relatively much
quicker response from the UNSC to a similar attack which killed 27 Iranian
soldiers in Sistan Baluchistan on February 13, a day before the Pulwama
attack. Despite the U.S.’s other issues with Iran, the UNSC was able to
issue its statement on February 14, while the statement on Pulwama came a
week later, on February 21.
- Acknowledging the delay in a tweet, India’s ambassador to the UN Syed
Akbaruddin, who worked behind the scenes on the final statement, wrote: “A
statement with many firsts takes more time than expected. In complex
diplomatic situations, however, it is better to be late than never.”
Indian built houses handed over to Srilankan workers
- As many as 155 houses, built as part of India’s ongoing housing project
in Sri Lanka, were on Sunday handed over to estate workers in Hatton,
located in the Central Province.
- The effort is part of India’s pledge to help construct 63,000 houses in
Sri Lanka including 46,000 homes built in the war-hit north and east with a
grant of $350 million, the largest Indian grant assistance project in any
- Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister for Hill country New
Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram and
Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu were present at
the ceremony held on Sunday, to mark the completion and handing over of the
- The houses have come up at a cost of about LKR 10 lakh each (roughly Rs.
4 lakh). Of the 14,000 houses coming up in the hill country with Indian aid,
1,000 have been completed, 3,000 are under construction and work on the
remaining are expected to commence soon, officials said.
- The newly-constructed houses will enable families of estate workers to
move out of the cramped, colonial-era line rooms, into individual units.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
DNA forensics to help track poaching
- A forensic DNA analysis showed that the meat was that of the Asian Palm
Civet ( Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), a Schedule II species protected under
the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The analysis helped Forest Department
officials press charges against the youth and in further prosecution of the
- “With investigating agencies facing increased challenges of collecting
evidence to ensure convictions in wildlife crimes, DNA forensics are
providing a major headway,” said Mukesh Thakur, a scientist with the ZSI’s
wildlife forensics team who has contributed to the research.
- Details of case studies, where advanced DNA forensics were used to help
prosecute wildlife related crimes, have been documented in a recently
published ZSI report, titled “Ascertaining species of origin from
confiscated meat using DNA forensics and Wildlife forensics in nullifying
the false accusation.”
- “We are not just confining our efforts up to species identification but
our scientists are also involved in creating a reference database to assign
the seizures to the source of origin, identifying sexes from seizures to
understand poaching/ hunting pressure on the species which might impact the
species demography in coming years,” said Director of ZSI Kailash Chandra.
- “We have a dedicated facility for DNA analysis at the ZSI, where we can
identify samples at the molecular level using DNA forensics. This new tool
is helping in solving a number of wildlife crimes,” he added.
Apurvi Chandela wins gold in ISSF
- Apurvi Chandela has won the gold medal in the women's 10-metre air rifle
event at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Saturday.
- This is India's first medal of the ISSF World Cup 2019. She set a new
world record by registering a score of 252.9 points in the final.
- Silver medallist Zhao Ruozhu of China scored 251.8 points. Xu Hong, also
from China settled for the bronze medal with 230.4 points.