Current Affair-March 30, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Pradhan MantriAwas Yojana ­Gramin (PMAY­- G)

Rural Development Ministry told following to Parliamentary Standing Committee:

  • Less than 6% of houses sanc­tioned under the Centre’s flagship rural housing scheme in 2020-21 have reached completion so far this year, with COVID­19 stalling progress.
  • Some States, such as Odisha and Jhark­hand, used the scheme to provide employment oppor­tunities for migrant workers, who returned to their villages during the crisis.

About PMAY-G

  • With a little over a year left to achieve its goal of ‘Housing for All’, PMAY-­G has only completed 55% of its construction target.     PMAY-G was introduced with the view to boost the “Housing for All” scheme. The central government came up with the vision to fulfil the ‘Housing for All’ scheme by the year 2022.
  • The main aim of the PMAY-G scheme is to provide pucca house with some of the basic amenities. This scheme is meant for people who do not own a house and people who live in kutcha houses or houses which are severely damaged.
  • At present, the minimum size of the houses to be built under the PMAY-G scheme has been increased to 25 sq. mt. from 20 sq. mt.

Benefits

  • Under the scheme, beneficiaries can avail a loan of up to Rs.70,000 from financial institutions.
  • Interest subsidy is 3%.
  • The maximum principal amount for the subsidy is Rs.2 lakh.
  • The maximum amount of subsidy that can be availed is Rs.38,359 for the EMI payable

Features of PMAYG Scheme

  • The cost of the unit will be shared in a 60:40 ratio between the Central and State governments in plain areas, i.e., Rs.1.20 lakh of assistance for each unit.
  • In the Himalayan states, northeastern states, and the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu & Kashmir, the ratio is 90:10 with up to Rs.1.30 lakh of assistance for each unit.
  • 100% financing from the Centre for Union Territories including the UT of Ladakh.
  • Beneficiaries are provided Rs.90.95 per day of unskilled labor from MGNREGS.
  • Beneficiaries are identified using parameters from Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) and verified by Gram Sabhas.
  • Assistance for construction of toilets of up to Rs.12,000 to be provided under Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) in collaboration with MGNREGS or other schemes.
  • Payments are made electronically directly to bank accounts or post office accounts that are linked to Aadhaar.

PMAYG Eligibility Requirements

  • Houseless families
  • Families with houses having zero, one, or two rooms with a kutcha wall and kutcha roof.
  • Households without a literate adult above 25 years of age.
  • Households without an adult male member aged between 16 and 59 years of age.
  • Households without any adult member between 16 and 59 years of age.
  • Households without any able-bodied members and with a disabled member.
  • Landless households who derive income from casual labour.
  • Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Others, and Minorities.
Source: The Hindu

Cryptocurrency

Context:

  • Visa Inc will allow the use of the cryptocurrency USD Coin to settle transactions on its payment network.
  • The USD Coin is a stable coin cryptocurrency whose value is pegged directly to the U.S. dollar.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

  • A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.
  • Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers.
  • They are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation. It is a form of digital asset based on a network that is distributed across a large number of computers. This decentralized structure allows them to exist outside the control of governments and central authorities.

Advantages

  1. Easier to transfer funds directly between two parties, without the  need for a trusted third party like a bank or credit card company. These transfers are instead secured by the use of public keys and private keys and different forms of incentive systems, like Proof of Work or Proof of Stake.
  2. Fund transfers are completed with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
  3. They also have been praised for their portability, divisibility, inflation resistance, and transparency.

Disadvantages

  1. The semi-anonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions makes them well-suited for a host of illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion.
  2. Cryptocurrencies face criticism for a number of reasons, including their use for illegal activities, exchange rate volatility, and vulnerabilities of the infrastructure underlying them.
Source: The Hindu

 Gelatin Sticks

  • Gelatin sticks are cheap explosive materials used by industries for the purpose of mining and construction related work, like building structures, roads, rails and tunnels etc.
  • They cannot be used without a detonator.

Who manufactured gelatin sticks?

  • Only licensed explosive manufacturers can make gelatin sticks.
  • The manufacture is regulated by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), formerly known as Department of Explosives. Since its inception on September 5, 1898, it has been the nodal agency for regulating safety of hazardous substances such as explosives, compressed gas and petroleum. These substances include gelatin sticks.
  • PESO  looks after the approval, grant, amendment and renewal etc. of various licenses and permits regarding manufacture, testing, authorisation, storage, transportation, use, import, and export of explosives.
  • The PESO comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and carries out administration work of the Explosive Act 1884 and Explosives Rules 2008 etc.
Source: Indian Express

Global Wind Report: Global Wind Energy Council

  • GWR 2021 has been released.
  • The report is published by Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
  • GWEC called for coordinated action from private and public sectors to meet the net zero goal by 2050.

Report Findings:

  1.  The world’s capacity to generate electricity from wind jumped 53% in 2020. A total 93 gigawatts (GW) capacity was installed in the year.
  2. This growth is not sufficient for the world to reach a ‘net zero’ emission status by 2050.
  3. The record growth in 2020 was driven by a surge of installations in China and the United States — the world’s two largest wind power markets.
  4. At present, the world has a total wind energy capacity of 743 GW.
  5. New onshore installations in Africa and ‘the Middle East’ remained the same as in 2019 at 8.2 GW.
  6. Due to the novel coronavirus disease pandemic, the wind power projects were hit by delays across the world.
  7. New offshore wind installations decreased slightly compared to 2019, which was mainly due to weak activity in the two largest European offshore markets: the United Kingdom and Germany.

India

  • For India’s onshore wind market, 2020 was a challenging year.
  • The novel pandemic caused delays in project construction.
  •  Other challenges: land acquisition, grid connection and permitting.
Source: Downtoearth

New Study on Chilika Lake  by National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa

  • The Chilika lake in Odisha is the Asia’s largest brackish water lake.
  • Chilika is 64 kilometres long in the north-south direction and 13.5 km wide in the east-west direction.

NIO study

  • Chilika Lake was once part of the Bay of Bengal.
  • The process of the formation of the Chilika might have begun in the later part of the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago.
  • India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a heavy load of silt and dumped part of it at its delta. As the sediment-laden river met the Bay of Bengal, sand bars were formed near its mouth.
  • These created a backflow of the sea water into the sluggish fresh water at the estuary, resulting in the huge brackish water lake.
  • Stone anchors and hero stones (memorial stones commemorating ancient heroes) from Manikapatna, Palur and the adjoining onshore regions of the Chilika suggest that the present brackish water lagoon was in fact a part of the Bay of Bengal.

Chilika in ancient times

  • Chilika once acted as a safe harbour for cargo ships bound for southeast Asia and other parts of the world. The lake has been a useful centre for maritime activities since the third millennium before the Common Era (CE).
  • Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy (150 CE) described Palur as an important port of Kalinga and referred to it as ‘Paloura’.
  • Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang(7th century CE) recorded ‘Che-li-ta-lo-Ching’ as a flourishing port. This port was located at Chhatargarh on the banks of the Chilika.
  • TheBrahmandaPurana(10th century CE approximately) says the Chilika was an important centre of trade and commerce, with ships sailing to Java, Malaya and Ceylon.
  • The famous Sanskrit poet Kalidas called the king of Kalinga ‘Madhodhipati’ or ‘Lord of the Ocean’.
Source: Downtoearth

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