Only 10 of 100 Ganga sewage projects completed
Topic : GS Paper – II Polity
According to the records, the government has only finished 10 of the 100 sewage infrastructure projects commissioned after 2015 under the Namami Gange mission.
- Commissioning of sewage treatment plants (STP) and laying sewer lines are at the heart of the mission to clean the Ganga.
- Nearly Rs. 23,000 crore has been sanctioned of theRs.₹28,000 crore outlay for sewage management work.
- River-front development, cleaning ghats and removing trash from the river — the cosmetic side of the mission — make up about for Rs. 1,200 crore of the mission outlay.
- The bulk of the projects completed were those commissioned before the Ganga mission began work in earnest under programmes such as the Ganga Action Plan-1 and Ganga Action Plan-2, which began in 1987 and 1996 respectively.
- For instance, as of March 31, 27 of the 37 completed STP projects and sewer infrastructure were those commissioned before 2015, says a report on the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) website.
- None of the towns through which the Ganga courses through has water fit for bathing or drinking, according to water monitoring reports by the State and Central Pollution Control Board.
Reasons for the delay:
- Director-General, NMCG, said it was only after August 2016 that the NMCG got the necessary independence and authority to commission projects quickly.
- Most of the major projects were sanctioned in 2017 and 2018 and several of them would come online (and translate into improved water quality) by 2019 and early 2020.
- A new model of having a single private operator take care of all the infrastructure works of a city (to improve efficiency) has been followed.
- Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) was followed in awarding tenders to STP and infrastructure developers.
- About 65 projects were “under process” and would have shorter gestation times than in the GAP-1 and GAP-2 era, the Director General said.
- The HAM, inspired from the prevalent practice of developing highways in India, has 40% of the capital cost of the project is paid by the government during the construction phase of the project.
- The remaining capital investment on the project, the cost of operations and maintenance of STP are paid over a period of 15 years as quarterly instalments, subject to achieving performance standards.
Don’t terminate GSP benefits to India
Topic : GS Paper – II International Relation
25 US lawmakers urge Trump administration, not to cancel GSP trade benefits to India.
- On March 4, President Donald Trump announced that the US intends to terminate India’s designations as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme.
- “India’s termination from GSP follows its failure to provide the United States with assurances that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors,” Trump had said in a letter to Congress.
- However, Trump says that there is continued assessment to check whether the Government of India is providing equitable and reasonable access to its markets, in accordance with the GSP eligibility criteria
- The USTR through a simple notification in federal register can formally terminate GSP benefits to India.
What is GSP?
- The Generalized System of Preference (GSP) is the largest and oldest US trade preference programme and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.
- It is a preferential tariff system which provides tariff reduction on various products.
- The concept of GSP is very different from the concept of MFN. MFN status provides equal treatment in the case of tariff being imposed by a nation but in case of GSP, differential tariff could be imposed by a nation on various countries whether it is a developed country or a developing country.
- Both the rules come under the purview of WTO.
- GSP provides tariff reduction for least developed countries but MFN is only for not discriminating among WTO members.
- GSP involves reduced/zero tariffs of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries to the markets of GSP-providing countries.
- The lawmakers stated that the country’s companies seeking to expand their exports to India could be affected.
- The 25 members of the US House of Representatives in a passionate letter urged US Trade Representative to continue negotiating a deal that protects and promotes jobs that rely on trade both imports and exports with India.
- American companies that rely on duty-free treatment for India under the GSP will pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new taxes. In the past, even temporary lapses in such benefits have caused companies to lay off workers, cut salaries and benefits, and delay or cancel job-creating investments in the United States.
India extends retaliatory tariff deadline on U.S. items
- The Indian government has again extended its deadline to impose retaliatory import duties on 29 U.S. products, including on almonds, walnuts and pulses.
- A Finance Ministry notification said that implementation of increased customs duty on specified imports from the U.S. has been postponed.
- These deadlines have been extended several times since June 2018, when India decided to impose duties in retaliation to a U.S. move to impose high customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.
Facebook bans conspiracy theorists
- Facebook has banned prominent conspiracy theorists, including Infowars founder Alex Jones and the controversial black activist Louis Farrakhan, in its latest push to crack down on hate content at the leading social network.
- Facebook has been under intensifying pressure to curtail extremist content.
- Among the most prominent figures banned, Mr. Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, is notorious for spreading anti-Semitic and black supremacist views.
- Far-right conspiracy theorist Jones is best known for calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job and for describing the Sandy Hook school massacre as a hoax. Mr. Jones’s organisation Infowars was also banned by Facebook.
- Facebook said those being banned had violated policies against dangerous individuals and organisations.
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