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Ken-Betwa River Link Project

Why in News

Recently, a memorandum of agreement was signed virtually between Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP).

About Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP)

  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers.
  • Under this project, water from the Ken river will be transferred to the Betwa river. Both these rivers are tributaries of river Yamuna.
  • It has two phases:
  • Phase-I: In this Phase, Daudhan dam complex and its appurtenances like Low Level Tunnel, High Level Tunnel, Ken-Betwa link canal and Power houses will be completed.
  • Phase-II: In Phase II, three components i.e., Lower Orr dam, Bina complex project and Kotha barrage will be constructed.

Significance of the Project

  • This project lies in the area called Bundelkhand which is a drought-prone region spreads across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • It will benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially in the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh.
  • It will help the country to fulfil its dream of ensuring equitable distribution of water and, thereby, prosperity for all.
  • It will also generate employment in the area of Bundelkhand.
  • According to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, the project is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower.

Need of River Linking Project

  • Though India receives about 4,000 BCM (billion cubic meters) of precipitation annually, utilizable resources are only 1,123 BCM.
  • But these are not distributed equally in India.
  • Most of the precipitation occurs in about 90 days in a year and the distribution of annual average availability ranges from 510 BCM for Ganga, 527 BCM from Brahmaputra and 11.02 BCM for Pennar and 12.06 BCM for Sabarmati.
  • This shows the skew between potential demands and availability.
  • It has, therefore, been recognized that the inter-basin transfer of water is the only recourse for making an equitable distribution of water across the country and thereby ensuring equal opportunities of development.

Challenges

  • It will have some environmental and resettlement and rehabilitation issues. Daudhan reservoir will cause submergence of about 9,000 ha land of which 5,800 ha is forest land.

Historical Background

  • In the 1970s, the idea of transferring surplus water from a river to water-deficit area was mooted by the then Union Irrigation Minister.
  • The Union Irrigation Ministry suggested construction of a National Water Grid for transferring water from water-rich areas to water-deficit areas.
  • Similarly, Captain Dinshaw J Dastur proposed the Garland Canal to redistribute water from one area to another.
  • In August, 1980 the Ministry of Irrigation prepared a National Perspective Plan (NNP) for water resources development envisaging inter basin water transfer in the country.

National Perspective Plan

  • The NPP comprised two components:
  • Himalayan Rivers Development; and
  • Peninsular Rivers Development.
  • Based on the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 river links—16 under Peninsular component and 14 under Himalayan Component.
  • Later, the river linking idea was revived under the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government. Ken Betwa Link Project is one of the 16 river linking projects under the Peninsular component.

Previous projects of Water-linking

  • Inter-basin water transfer is not a new concept and there have been many such successful examples in the country.
  • It has been practised in our country since 1887 when the Mulla Periyar dam was built and waters of the west-flowing river basin were transferred to east flowing Vaigai basin transforming agricultural development in and around Madurai for about 68,000 hectares.
  • The trans- basin transfers in case of the Beas Sutlej link, Sardar Sahayak pariyojana, Sardar Sarovar project, Kurnool Cudddapah canal etc. which are functioning well.
  • In the US, the Colorado-Big Thompson project has been functioning since the 1930s and has contributed greatly to the economy of Colorado state.

Way forward

  • However, with a comprehensive environment management plan (EMP), compensatory afforestation and liberal R&R policy, these impacts will be taken care of.
  • A comprehensive landscape management plan is also being prepared for the conservation of Panna Tiger Reserve.
  • Even wildlife will get sustenance in hot summers with assured water supply from the reservoir.
  • The reservoir remaining at relatively low level will expose large tracts of land allowing fodder to be grown, benefitting the lower rung of wildlife which, in turn, can support the whole pyramid.

GS PAPER II

Chief Minister of Puducherry

Why in News

Shri N. Rangasamy Ji elected as the Chief Minister of Puducherry.

About Shri N. Rangasamy

  • Sri Rangasamy is a simple, soft-spoken and accessible leader is famous for driving around in a two- wheeler across the streets of Puducherry, even as a CM.
  • He was born on 4th August 1950 in Puducherry to Nadesan Krishnasamy and Panchali in a Tamil family.
  • He got his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Tagore Arts College and LL. B from Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College, Puducherry.
  • He started his political career in 1990 by contested his first election at Thattanchavady constituency which was lost by him.
  • He previously served as Chief Minister of Puducherry from 2001 to 2008 and then from 2011 to 2016.
  • He holds the record of becoming Chief Minister within three months.

About Chief Minister of States

  • According to the Constitution of India, the Governor is the Nominal head i.e., head of the state and the Chief Minister is the real head i.e., the head of the government.
  • Article 164 of the Indian Constitution deals with the appointment of Chief Minister by the Governor.
  • It also deals with the appointment of the Council of Ministers by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.
  • The Council of Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.

Appointment of Chief Minister

  • In case of no majority in the elections, governor exercises his own discretion and appoint a Chief Minister accordingly.
  • In such case, Governor appoints the member of the largest party or one from the coalition as the Chief Minister.
  • They have 1 month time to prove confidence in the house.
  • If the incumbent dies during the tenure, Governor at his own discretion can appoint a Chief Minister.
  • However, the ruling party nominates a member and Governor usually appoints that person as the Chief Minister.
  • This person then has to prove confidence within a specified time.
  • A person not a member of any house (Legislative Assembly & Council) can also be appointed as the Chief Minister, but within six months of his tenure as a CM he should be elected to either house without which he ceases to be a CM.
  • Chief Minister can belong to any house in the State Legislature.

Tenure of Chief Minister

  • The tenure of the office of the Chief Minister is not fixed and hold the office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • But Governor cannot have power to remove him at any time.
  • He can be removing by the governor when he loses his majority support, then Governor dismisses him then.

Other related articles to the Chief Minister of states

  • Article 163 states that the governor advised by the council of ministers which is headed by the Chief Minister.
  • Article 167 states that the Chief Minister has to communicate all administrative decisions that are taken up by him and the council of ministers to the governor.

Power and Functions of CM

  • The Chief Minister have power to Aid and Advice to the Governor in the appointment of Council of Ministers.
  • The Chief Minister is the Head of the Council of Ministers.
  • The Chief Minister is the leader of the State Legislative Assembly and all principal announcements of policy are made by him.

Eligibility to become a Chief Minister

  • He must be a citizen of India.
  • He should be a member of the state legislature.
  • If a person is elected chief minister who is not a member of the legislature, then he/she must take sign from governor.
  • His age must be of 25 years or more.

GS PAPER II

India-European Union Summit

Why in News

After a gap of eight years, India and the European Union (EU) will resume talks on a “comprehensive” free trade agreement, a key outcome of the India-EU leaders meeting that will take place virtually on 8th May 2021.

Key Points

  • With a focus on a “balanced, ambitious” FTA pact, European sources called the resumption of FTA talks a “breakthrough”.
  • It will be connectivity partnership that will “bring region, people” much together.
  • This is the second time the EU will have such a partnership with any country — the first was Japan.
  • The summit was scheduled at Portugal, but it was postponed due to the covid crisis in India.
  • Portugal is the President of the Council of the European Union and the virtual India-EU Leaders meet is being hosted by Portugal.
  • This is the second time this format of one world leader and all 27 EU member states is meeting, the first was with US President in March 2021.

Significance of India-EU Summit 2021

  • The India-EU Leaders’ Meeting is an unprecedented opportunity for discussion with all the leaders of the EU Member States.
  • It is a significant political milestone and will further build on the momentum witnessed in the relationship since the 15th India-EU Summit in July 2020.
  • Vaccines will be another key focus as the virtual summit, with a waiver on intellectual property rights on covid vaccines to be part of the discussion.
  • EU has been exporting a large number of vaccines, something which helps the world.
  • Other key focus areas will resiliently supply chains, with a special focus on medical supply chains, artificial intelligence, supercomputing, with sources describing India as “truly a powerhouse on the digital partnership”.
  • On Indo-Pacific, the EU is keen to “reinforce” its position, given that just a few weeks ago European Council had approved the conclusions on the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • The human right remains another area of discussion under the India and EU human rights dialogue.

European Union

  • It is the group of 27-nations of Europe formed in the aftermath of World War II.
  • Group was firstly joined by the countries in 1957 includes France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands.
  • Croatia was the last country to join the bloc in 2013, taking the total number of EU members to 28.
  • The United Kingdom voted to leave European Union in June 2016, which reduces the total number of EU members to 27.

India-European Union Relation

  • The relation between India and European Union instituted in 1960s and became the first country to establish diplomatic relationship with European Union.
  • A cooperation agreement signed in 1994 took the bilateral relationship beyond trade and economic cooperation.
  • The first India-EU Summit took place at Lisbon in June 2000 and marked a watershed in the evolution of the relationship.
  • At the 5th India-EU Summit at The Hague in 2004, the relationship was upgraded to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
  • They adopted a Joint Action Plan in 2005 (which was reviewed in 2008) to strengthen
  • Dialogue and consultation mechanisms in the political and economic spheres,
  • Enhancing trade and investment, and
  • Bringing peoples and cultures together.
  • The 12th Summit was the first Summit to be held in India after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2012.
  • The EU is India’s largest trading partner with 12.5% of India’s overall trade between 2015 and 2016.
  • Also, India is the 9th largest trading partner of European Union with 2.4% of the EU’s overall trade.

Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

  • It is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers on imports and exports among them.
  • Under this policy, goods and services export and import across international borders with negligible government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.

GS PAPER III

S&P Global Ratings

Why in News

According to the S&P Global Ratings, India’s sovereign rating will remain unchanged at the current level of BBB­ for the next two years despite the potential adverse impact of the surging pandemic on its economy.

Key Points

  • The country would witness a slightly faster pace of growth in the next two years, effectively supporting the ratings.
  • According to the S&P Global Ratings, India sovereign rating remains stable, and change is not expecting in rating level for the next two years.
  • Maintaining real GDP growth forecast at 11% for fiscal year 2021-22.
  • It is a baseline scenario with some downside risk, but, if number creeping lower, most likely it will not go too far in current downside scenario.
  • The report says, the second wave would not have any major impact on the government’s fiscal position in a moderate downside scenario.
  • There could be upside pressure on fiscal revenue generation could be weaker but the government’s debt stock would remain roughly stable at just above 90% of the GDP.
  • Report stated that India’s nascent economic recovery through March solidified government revenue. But the rapidly developing health crisis may derail this progress.
  • Record number of cases, limited healthcare system capacity and localised lockdowns would likely take a toll on household consumption and retail activity.

S&P Global Ratings

  • S&P Global Ratings is an American credit rating agency.
  • It publishes financial research and analysis on stocks, bonds, and commodities.
  • It also considered the largest of the Big Three credit-rating agencies, which also include Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.
  • Its head office is located on 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City.

Way Forward

  • The severity of the crisis is challenging the country’s fiscal settings which were already weak before COVID struck.
  • This means full­ year growth of 9.8% for fiscal 2022. This compares with baseline forecast of 11% growth for the period. In such scenario, the hit is 2.8% points, with 8.2% growth.

GS PAPER III

World food price index

Why in News

The Food and Agriculture Organization published its April 2021 report of World Food Price Index.

Key Points

  • World food prices increased for an 11th consecutive month in April, hitting their highest level since May 2014, with sugar leading a rise in all the main indices.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, averaged 120.9 points in April versus a revised 118.9 in March.
  • It also stated that new forecasts pointed to growth in both world wheat and maize output in the coming season.

Highlights of the report

  • The cereal price index rose 1.2% in April month-on-month and 26% year-on-year.
  • Crop conditions in Argentina, Brazil and the United States pushed maize prices up 5.7% last month, while wheat prices held largely steady.
  • By contrast, international rice prices slipped.
  • Vegetable oil price index rose 1.8% in March, pushed higher by rising soy, rapeseed and palm oil quotations, which offset lower sunflower oil values.
  • Dairy prices rose 1.2%, with butter, skim milk powder and cheese all lifted by good demand from Asia, while the meat index climbed 1.7%.
  • After a sharp drop in March, sugar prices rebounded in April, posting a 3.9% increase on the month and an almost 60% surge on the year.
  • FAO forecast for global cereal production in 2020 by 1.7 million tonnes to 2.767 billion tonnes, 2.1% up on 2019 levels.
  • The U.N. agency provided its first outlook for wheat in the 2021/22 season, forecasting production at 778.8 million tonnes, up 0.5% on the 2020 estimate, lifted by an anticipated 6% increase in output in the European Union.
  • The global coarse grains production in 2021 pointed to a likely third consecutive year of growth, mostly related to maize.

About Food and Agriculture Organization

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • Its goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
  • With over 194 member states, it works in over 130 countries worldwide.
  • It was established in 1985 headquartered at Rome, Italy.
  • It helps governments and development agencies coordinate their activities to improve and develop agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and land and water resources.
  • It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, operates educational and training programs, and collects data on agricultural output, production, and development.