Daily Current Affairs for 19th August 2020

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‘NoGo’ forests approved for mining


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

In 2020, of the 41 blocks put up for auction, 21 features in the original NoGo list, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said at a webinar. The meeting was organised to present results of an investigation into coal block auctions.

‘NoGo’ areas

  • In 2009, the environment ministry had placed the country’s forested areas under two categories – Go and No-Go – and imposed a ban on mining in the ‘No-Go’ zones on environmental grounds.
  • Based on this categorisation, the ministry has barred mining in 203 coal blocks that hold 660 million tonnes reserves and 1,30,000-mw electricity generation potential, as they fall in the ‘No-Go’ or dense forest zone.
  • ‘NoGo’ areas, or regions that were once classified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change as containing very dense forests and hence closed to coal mining.


  • On June 18, Prime Minister of India launched the auction of 41 coal blocks through video conference.
  • A two-stage e-auction is being adopted for the allocation of mines.
  • The decision was part of the announcements made by the Centre under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.


  • India was not utilising its existing capacity fully.
  • A Right To Information response by the Union Coal Ministry revealed that 67% of the mines auctioned since 2015 are were not operational
  • From 2015-2020, the government tried to auction 112 mines, but succeeded in only 42 cases.
  • Several potential coal reserves are located in dense forests particularly in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh which are home to many Indigenous tribes.
  • The government determined which of them were too ecologically important to touch by using a ‘decision support system software’ that rated forest lands on environmental parameters. results of the software evaluation were “tweaked” to make ‘NoGo’ land into ‘Goforests’.
  • It also found that officials from the Coal Ministry, the beneficiary organisation, were “deputed” to work with the Forest Survey of India to “rework” conditions and clear forests for mining.


  • Forests and coal are intrinsically linked in India and poorest people live in these areas, which also hold most abundant watersheds.
  • If at all mining is must, which itself has serious pollution implications, there is a need to do so after careful consideration that have taken utmost care not to destroy forests needlessly and this means the need to optimise on current mines and not mine more.

No need to audit PM CARES: SC


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The Supreme Court endorsed the PM CARES Fund as a “public charitable trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily. There is “no occasion” for the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit a public charitable trust independent of budgetary support or government money.


NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation had argued that:

  • The PM-CARES Fund was not subject to CAG audit.
  • It was not under “public scrutiny”.
  • Contributions to it were “100% tax-free”.

SC Verdict:

  • The Supreme Court has endorsed the PM CARES Fund as a “public charitable trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily.
  • It said that there is no occasion for the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit a public charitable trust independent of budgetary support or government money.
  • The Bench also refused to direct the transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), saying that they were two separate entities.
    • The NDRF is a statutory fund created under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
    • The court held that individual and organisations are free to contribute to NDRF and there is no prohibition on the same.
  • The court rejected the need for a fresh national disaster management plan to take on the COVID-19 challenges.

Rationale Behind PM CARES Fund

  • The need to provide relief to the affected in emergent situations of Coronavirus COVID-19, a public charitable trust under the name of PM CARES Fund has been set up.
  • The PM CARES is a dedicated national fund created to combat the dreadful contingencies like COVID-19 pandemic in India.
  • The primary objective of this fund is to deal with forthcoming emergencies or distress situations.

Objectives of PM CARES Fund:

  • To undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, including the creation or upkeep of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support.
  • To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.
  • To undertake any other activity, which is not inconsistent with the above Objects.

Constitution of the PM CARES Trust

  • The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund.
  • Government of India, Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the PM CARES Fund.
  • The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees i.e. the Prime Minister shall have the power to nominate 3 trustees to the Board of Trustees who shall be the eminent persons in the field of research, science, health, social work, public administration law, and philanthropy. Any person appointed a Trustee shall act in a pro bono capacity.


Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in India is the fund raised to provide support for people affected by natural and man-made disasters, first created by Jawaharlal Nehru to support the displaced people from Pakistan during Partition.

RBI unveils framework for retail payments entity


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a framework for setting up of a pan-India umbrella entity for retail payments systems.
  • Presently only the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a not-for-profit company, performs this role.

Key Details:

  • The entity that will focus on retail payments systems would be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The formation of the umbrella entity has been authorised under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • The entity will be permitted to participate in Reserve Bank’s payment and settlement systems, including having a current account with Reserve Bank, if required.


  • The umbrella entity will set up, manage and operate new payments systems in the retail space comprising ATMs, white label PoS, Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
  • The entity will operate clearing and settlement systems for participating banks and non-banks, identify and manage relevant risks, monitor retail payments system developments and related issues in the country and internationally.
  • It will be the responsibility of the entity to frame necessary rules and the related processes to ensure that the system is safe and sound, and that payments are exchanged efficiently.

First right theirs, all govt jobs in MP only for children of state: Chouhan


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news:

MADHYA PRADESH Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that all government jobs will be given only to the “children” of the state.

Fresh debate on the fundamental right to equality of citizens:

  • The Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination based on place of birth, the Supreme Court has held domicile reservation — especially in educational institutions – as constitutional.
  • Article 16(2) of the Constitution states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against, in respect of any employment or office under the State.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad High Court struck down a recruitment notification issued by the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Service Selection Commission, which prescribed preference for women who were “original residents” of the state.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated the appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan, where the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned.”
  • The Supreme Court has, in its rulings since 1955, underlined the distinction between domicile status and place of birth. Domicile or status of residence is a fluid concept that can change from time to time, unlike place of birth. The place of birth is one of several grounds on which domicile status is conferred.
  • In the context of reservation in education, the court had upheld a law providing domicile reservation in Madhya Pradesh in 1955.
  • In Maharashtra, only those living in the state for over 15 years with fluency in Marathi are eligible.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir, government jobs are reserved for “domiciles”.
  • Uttarakhand too only recruits residents of the state in some posts.
  • In West Bengal, reading and writing skills in Bengali is a criterion in recruitment to some posts.

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