17.2.23 UKPSC Daily Current Affair

70% relaxation in GST for pine needle product makers in Uttarakhand
With the Met department predicting a hot and dry summer this year, the Uttarakhand government has decided — with the onset of the wildfire season in the state — that the industry players involved in making chir pine needle products will be given a whopping 70% relaxation in GST for five years.
Moreover, the forest department will create a “special corpus” to make payments to all the NGOs involved in the collection of pine needles from forests. Also, the transit fee for the transportation of pine needles would be reduced. The meeting was chaired by chief secretary SS Sandhu and attended by senior forest officials. The clearance of pine needles from the forest floor is important, because an Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) study during lockdown had established that a staggering 70% of the forest fires are related to anthropogenic activities. Pine needles (leaves of pine trees) are highly combustible and often, a carelessly-tossed beedi or matchstick in a chir pine forest is known to have triggered a major wildfire in the hills. According to forest department, Chir pine forests are spread across around 3.94 lakh hectares of total forest area in the state and the trees shed at least 15 lakh metric tonnes of pine needles annually, leading to highly inflammable conditions in forests, especially during summer.
Incidentally, out of 13 different types of trees classified by the forest department here, chir pine has the highest area — almost 15.25% of the total 25,86,318 hectares.
In ‘historic’ move, Spain approves Europe’s first law on menstrual leave
Spanish lawmakers gave final approval to a law granting paid medical leave to women suffering severe period pain, becoming the first European country to advance such legislation.
The law, which passed by 185 votes in favour to 154 against, is aimed at breaking a taboo on the subject, the government has said.
Menstrual leave is currently offered only in a small number of countries across the globe, among them Japan, Indonesia and Zambia.
The legislation entitles workers experiencing period pain to as much time off as they need, with the state social security system — not employers — picking up the tab for the sick leave.
Saudi Arabia to send its first woman astronaut into space
A Saudi Arabian woman will become the first woman astronaut from the country to go on a space mission later this year.
Barnawi and Al-Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission this spring by the private space company Axiom Space, according to Saudi Press Agency and Axiom.
The crew will be launched into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Neighbouring United Arab Emirates had become the first Arab country to send woman astronaut Noura Al-Matrooshi into space in 2021.
J&K bag first position at 3rd Khelo India Winter Games
Hosts Jammu and Kashmir have maintained their supremacy in winter sports by bagging the first position with a tally of 26 gold medals at the third Khelo India Winter Games at Gulmarg.
Besides 26 golds, Jammu and Kashmir bagged 25 silver and 25 bronze medals in the five-day event, which concluded on Tuesday.
Maharashtra bagged the second position with 14 gold, eight silver and six bronze medals followed by Himachal Pradesh in third place with 10 golds.
Groundwater extraction worst in Pb, Hry close 3rd
As per the groundwater assessment report, Punjab has annual extractable groundwater resources of 17.07 billion cubic metres (BCM). The recharge is 18.94 BCM, while the extraction turned out to be 28.02 BCM. This is 165.99% of extractable resources. Also, 117 of the 153 (including three urban blocks) groundwater blocks were overexploited. This is 76.47% of total blocks.
Of 28.02 BCM, 26.69 BCM is extracted for irrigation purpose. Domestic extraction was recorded at 1.17 BCM (4.18%) and extraction for industrial sector was recorded at 0.16 BCM, which turns out to be a meagre 0.57% of the total extraction.
In the entire country, extractable resources, as per 2022 report, have been assessed at 398.08 BCM and the extraction has been recorded at 239.16 BCM, while the recharge is 437.60 BCM. The extraction rate is 60.08%.
IOTS plans to expand up to 53 centres across India
The Institute of Occupational Training Services (IOTS) has announced its plans to open 53 centres across India to provide vocational and skill development training.
The centres would provide skill based training in accordance with international standards, preparing Indian applicants for global markets.The centres will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and resources to provide candidates with a high-quality up-skilling training experience. Headquartered in Delhi, the organisation is all set to expand in the north-eastern regions of India, including Pune, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Jamshedpur, Guwahati, Arunachal Pradesh, Indore, and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
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