Narmada dam built despite attempts to stop it- PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated the Narmada dam project to the nation on his birthday, calling it Gujarat’s lifeline that has been completed despite many hurdles.
- Inaugurating the dam for which the foundation was laid by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Modi recalled the contribution of Sardar Patel, in whose memory the project has been named, and B.R. Ambedkar, who had propagated the benefits of irrigation.
- There was, however, no mention of Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech at Dabhoi, 55 km from the dam site, in Vadodara.
Why its important:
- The Narmada is the second biggest concrete gravity dam by volume after the Grand Coulee Dam in the U.S. and has faced many hurdles, including the World Bank’s refusal to fund it on grounds of environmental damage and displacement of tribal people in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
India under U.S. pressure to scale down ties with North Korea
- U.S. officials have asked India to cut down ties with Pyongyang as war clouds gathered over the Korean peninsula following the North Korean missile tests.
- American pressure on the issue has been rising over the last few months even as India joined Japan last week in describing North Korea as a common threat.
- An India-Japan joint statement issued at the end of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit last week called upon North Korea to roll back its nuclear and missile programmes.
- Bangladesh’s Parliament raised the stakes in a stand-off against the judiciary last week by passing a unanimous resolution to take “proper legal steps” over a Supreme Court verdict nullifying the Constitution’s 16th amendment.
What is 16th amendment?
- The amendment, passed in 2014, had empowered Parliament to remove judges of the Supreme Court found incompetent or guilty of misconduct, based on a two-thirds majority.
- This amendment had in a way restored the power of Parliament to impeach judges and was in line with the original Constitution of 1972.
Supreme courts stand:
- The Supreme Court had in July this year scrapped the amendment, suggesting that it was antithetical to the independence of the judiciary and restored the Supreme Judicial Council, headed by the Chief Justice, with powers to remove errant judges.
- The Parliament, dominated by the Awami League, not only resolved to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision, but also found fault with Chief Justice S.K. Sinha’s comments in this regard.
’Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ has helped sex ratio’
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said
- the ‘Beti Bachao—Beti Padhao’ campaign has helped improve the State’s sex ratio which crossed the 950 girls per 1,000 boys mark.
- “The sex ratios in districts such as Sonipat and Panipat were quite low, but now it has crossed the mark of 950 girls per 1,000 boys,”
U.S. not to soften stance on Paris pact
- The White House pushed back at a European suggestion it was softening its stance on the Paris climate accord, insisting Washington will withdraw from the agreement unless it can re-enter on more favorable terms.
- The remark came as Environment Ministers from some 30 countries gathered in Montreal seeking headway on the Paris climate accord, which President Donald Trump had pulled out of in June.
- The White House insisted that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord without more favorable terms.
Irrationalism in city planning
- Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has reportedly sought further improvements to the design by the international architectural firm Foster + Partners for the Amaravati start-up area.
- There are two issues in the Amaravati city project — one of professional integrity and the other of public interest.
- Both are important, and the reason that they are interlinked in this article is that the lack of the former has made possible irresponsible and improper administrative action of major public expense and serious consequence.
- To summarise the murky happenings of the Amaravati city project: In March 2016, Maki and Associates were declared as winners of an invited competition for the Amaravati capital complex.
- The competition was adjudged by a jury of professionals but the jury’s report on shortcomings or strengths of the winning design has not been made public.
- Complaining to the Council of Architecture (CoA) in December 2016, the principal architect of the firm, Fumihiko Maki, a Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, questioned the motivations of the Andhra Pradesh government committee, alleging unfair practice, a lack of transparency and his firm’s ‘fraudulent’ removal from the project.
Modi predicts ‘green revolution’ in his home State
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Sunday, said that with the project’s completion, Gujarat would see a green revolution as farmers in the parched northern and Saurashtra regions would have their lands irrigated.
- Though the dam has been completed in Narmada district of south Gujarat, the massive and sprawling canal network remains woefully incomplete.
- Its potential benefits to the farmers will, therefore, not be realised for many years, till the canal network is in place.
- The project was delayed by a strong movement by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by social activist Medha Patkar, who opposed the dam on the ground that it displaced thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra where thousands of hectares of forest land was submerged.
- A sustained campaign by the activists had also led to the World Bank’s withdrawal from funding the multi-purpose project, which is often described as the lifeline of drought-prone Gujarat.
Time for caution
- Last week, the current account deficit (CAD) widened to a four-year high of $14.3 billion in the first quarter of the current financial year, standing at 2.4% of gross domestic product, compared to 0.1% last year.
- The widening CAD was driven by a greater increase in merchandise imports than exports.
- Compared to last year, net FDI almost doubled to $7.2 billion in the first quarter, while net portfolio investment jumped about six times to $12.5 billion.
- Forex reserves were at an all-time high of $400.7 billion for the week ending September 8, while the rupee has appreciated by over 6% against the dollar this year.
- Low global oil prices over the last two years have also helped contain a good portion of its import bills.
- Further, India’s total external debt declined by 2.7% during the financial year 2016-17, standing at $471.9 billion, driven by a fall in external commercial borrowings and deposits by non-resident Indians.
- According to a report by India Ratings & Research earlier this year, a 10% depreciation of the rupee combined with a 50 basis point interest rate hike can severely affect most Indian borrowers.
- It added that as much as 65% of foreign debt exposure of Indian companies may be unhedged.
- As the world looks to withdraw from an era of historically low interest rates, it would be wise for India’s policymakers to be ready with an emergency plan to tackle a period of significant volatility.
GST Composition Scheme registration open till Sept. 30
- The Goods and Services Tax Network announced the opening of the registration window for the Composition Scheme again till September 30.
- Under the Scheme, small taxpayers with a turnover of Rs. 75 lakh can file quarterly returns instead of the normal monthly returns.