The week that was: several social measures announced by the government during independence week

18th Aug 2017
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India celebrated 70 years of independence this week. On this occasion, several measures were announced by the central and state governments which could benefit India’s aspiring social sector.

There were other important issues though, such as the floods in Meghalaya, which need much more attention. SocialStory presents a weekly update of the news and development in the social space:

Sustainability

Pending irrigation projects

In the agriculture sector, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBRs) of up to Rs 9,020 crore by NABARD through bonds for concessional lending for 99 ongoing irrigation projects. The 2016-17 Budget has announced the creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore. This amount will be utilised by projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY). Further, the rate of interest may be kept around six percent with the central government bearing a part of the interest cost to make the loan from NABARD attractive for states.

World Bank pledges $24M to enhance India's forest ecosystem services

The Finance Ministry and the World Bank recently signed a grant agreement of $24.64 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for ecosystem service improvement project. The objective of the project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the departments of forestry and organisations to enhance forest ecosystem services and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities in central Indian highlands. Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are being looked at under the National Mission for Green India.

Government approves Rs 9,020cr for Long Term Irrigation Fund

The Union Cabinet has approved raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) by Rs 9,020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) for year 2018-19 through the issuance of bonds by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). To make the loan from NABARD attractive, it was decided that the rate of interest may be kept around six percent by providing requisite cost-free funds to NABARD every year during 2016-17 to 2019-20, on which interest cost would be borne by the government.

Seven Indian companies among 200 in green energy revenues

With seven of its companies in 200 largest publicly traded entities that are making significant revenue from clean energy, India is one among the top 11 countries. The seven Indian companies are Suzlon Energy Ltd, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Tata Chemicals Ltd, Exide Industries Ltd, IDFC Ltd, Thermax Ltd and Havells India Ltd. This list is according to a report by You Sow and Corporate Knights, a non-profit organisation promoting environmental and corporate social responsibility. India is ranked fifth after China (68), the US (34), Japan (20) and Germany (9) while South Korea, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the UK take the spot after India.

Livelihood

World's largest sample survey under progress

Approximately 30 lakh students will be assessed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, making it the world's largest sample survey of student learning achievement. The survey has already covered 4.45 lakh students and aims to provide a tool for teachers which will enable them in understanding what exactly a child should learn in various classes. The Ministry has announced November 13 as the date for conducting its National Assessment Survey (NAS) for the students of Class III, V, and VIII.

Rs 100 crore corpus to treat rare diseases

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finalised a policy for funding the treatment of rare and genetic diseases. The policy has proposed an initial corpus of Rs 100 crore under the National Health Mission. Owing to the rise of Japanese encephalitis, the ministry has urged states to come forward and request funds, as patients sought expensive drugs required for treatment to be provided for free.

Urbanisation

Metro Rail Policy 2017

A day after Independence Day, the Union Cabinet approved Metro Rail Policy 2017 that seeks to introduce public-private participation component in the metro rail sector by making it mandatory for seeking central assistance. The new policy mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors. TOD reduces travel distances besides enabling efficient land use in urban area.

Rs 1,000cr fund to develop Odisha's mining-affected areas

The Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC) has received Rs 1,000 crore fund for development of mining-affected areas in the state, including Dhenkanal, Jharsuguda, and Mayurbhanj. A total of 691 villages of 30 blocks have been brought under the purview of OMBADC fund for inclusive developmental activities. Projects worth Rs 900 crore have been approved for housing, drinking water, sanitation and afforestation activities in the villages.

Action

Over one lakh affected by Meghalaya flood

The recent flash floods in the Brahmaputra and Jingiram rivers have inundated 136 villages in western Meghalaya. Large tracts of agricultural land, besides fish ponds, have been damaged. The state has set up thirty relief camps to accommodate those affected. Over 209 boats are deployed at different locations for relief and rescue operations. Precautionary measures have been taken to check the outbreak of water-borne diseases, including distribution of chlorine tablets and bleaching powder among the affected.

Centre to launch scheme for self-help groups

The Centre recently said it will launch a new scheme under which self-help groups will run road transport services in backward areas. The "Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)" is a part of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The scheme will help provide safe, affordable, and community-monitored rural transport services to connect remote villages with key services and amenities (such as access to markets, education, and health) for the overall economic development of backward rural areas. On a pilot basis, it will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country, which will provide additional livelihood avenues for SHGs.


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