- Char Dham project: CCEA approves nod to Rs 1,384cr tunnel in U’khand
- The central government on Tuesday approved a 4.531-km tunnel project in Uttarakhand that would be part of the ‘Char Dham’ project to connect Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.
- Estimated to cost Rs 1,384 crore, Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel will be two-laned and two-way, and is expected to bring down travel time between Dharasu and Yamunotri by an hour, cutting the journey short by 20 km.
- “The CCEA has given approval to the construction of 4.5 km long 2-lane bi-directional Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel with escape passage including approaches on Dharasu -Yamunotri section between Chainage 25.4 km and Chainage 51 km in Uttarakhand,” road, transport and highways ministry said in a statement after a meeting of the CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- The tunnel will be along NH-134 (old NH-94) in Uttarakhand and will be built under the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode, funded under NH (O) Scheme of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Ministry. It is meant to provide “all-weather connectivity to Yamunotri, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism in the country”, the press statement said.
- The target for completing the project is four years.
- World Day of Social Justice: 20 February
- Social Equality Justice day is observed every year on 20th February.
- It is a day recognizing the need to promote efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment.
- The theme of World Day of Social Justice 2018 is “Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice.”
- Mandarin approved as official language of Pakistan
- The Pakistani Senate has approved a motion to declare Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan.
- The motion said the step was necessary in view of ties between Pakistan and China.
- Punjabi, which is widely spoken in Punjab province of Pakistan, Pashto and many other native languages have not been declared official languages of the country.
· Singapore to Impose Carbon Tax From 2019
- Singapore will impose a ‘carbon tax’ from 2019 to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and make companies more competitive as global agreements on climate change take effect.
- Finance minister Heng Swee Keat stated that the tax would be levied on all facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions a year.
- The tax, to be applied to all sectors, will be Sg$5.0 ($3.8) per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 to 2023.
Gk bit – Carbon Tax
- A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). Briefly: a carbon tax is the core policy for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of fossil fuels whose combustion is destabilizing and destroying our climate.
- A carbon tax is a way — the onlyway — to make users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If set high enough, it becomes a powerful monetary disincentive that motivates switches to clean energy across the economy, simply by making it more economically rewarding to move to non-carbon fuels and energy efficiency.
- The energy essence of every fossil fuel is its carbon and hydrogen atoms. Oxidizing (combusting) those atoms releases their heat energy but also converts carbon to carbon dioxide. Natural gas, with a high ratio of hydrogen to carbon, is the least carbon-intensive fuel, while coal is the most. The CO2 released from burning these fuels rises into the upper atmosphere and remains resident there — typically for around a century — trapping heat re-radiated from Earth’s surface and causing global warming and other harmful climate change.
- The carbon content of every fossil fuel, from anthracite or lignite coal to heating oil and natural gas, is precisely known. A carbon tax obeys these proportions, taxing coal more heavily than petroleum products, and much more than natural gas.
· India and Indonesia Joint Military Drill ‘Garuda Shakti’ Begins
- The Indian and Indonesian armies began the sixth edition of their annual military exercise named ‘Garuda Shakti’ in Bandung, Indonesia.
- It is a two-week long joint Military drill.
- The exercises will include experience sharing in counter-terrorism operations, close quarter combat, and other areas of special operations.
- Prime Minister to inaugurate Uttar Pradesh Investor’s Summit in Lucknow
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate two–day Uttar Pradesh Investors’ Summit 2018 in Lucknow.
- While the PM will inaugurate the summit on February 21, President Ram Nath Kovind will be present at the closing ceremony.
- The event has been organized by Uttar Pradesh Government to showcase the investment opportunities and potential in the state.
- Seven nations – Finland, Netherlands, Japan, Czech Republic, Thailand, Slovakia and Mauritius have been identified as country partners for the event.
· Union Cabinet Approves Creation of National Urban Housing Fund
- The Union Cabinet approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF)for Rs.60,000 crores.
- This fund will be situated in Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
- NUHF will facilitate raising requisite funds in next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals i.e. Beneficiary Linked Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership(AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).
· Union Government Clears Private Commercial Mining in Coal
- In a major reform in the coal sector since its nationalization in 1973, the government allowed private companies to mine the fossil fuel for commercial use.
- This move ended the monopoly of state-owned Coal India Ltd.
- The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) under the Chairmanship of PM Narendra Modi.
- Currently, the private sector is allowed coal mining for captive use only. The reform will bring efficiency into the coal sector by moving away from the era of monopoly to competition and lower power tariffs.
· Delhi Government to Launch ‘Mission Buniyaad’ To Fix Learning Crisis in Delhi Schools
- The Delhi government announced the launch of “Mission Buniyaad” for improving learning skills of children studying in state and municipal-run schools.
- The announcement was made by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
- Under the programme which will run from April to June for Class 3 to 5 in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools and for Class 6 to 8 in government’s schools, children will undergo a reading level assessment based on which they will be enrolled in specialized “Mission Buniyaad” classes.