Green clearance test for NDA

FROM DOWN TO EARTH SEPTEMBER 15 2014 BY SUNITA NARAIN

Environmentalists are rightly alarmed that the NDA government is busy dismantling the environmental regulatory system in the country. Over the past two months, the media has reported that clearances for projects, from mining to roads, have been fast-tracked. While the web¬site of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has not been updated in August, in the two months till July end, forest clearance was granted to over 92 pro¬jects, which will divert some 1,600 hectares of forest. More recently, it was reported that the National Board for Wildlife has processed many projects located near or in sanctuaries and national parks.

Additionally, rules are being changed, purportedly to speed up the process. This is being done in mainly two ways. One, as much as possible, MOEF is push¬ing decision-making to the states –Read more

HT power lines prove bane of farmers

HT power lines passing through agriculture land in Nellore district.- PHOTO: K. RAVIKUMAR
HT power lines passing through agriculture land in Nellore district.- PHOTO: K. RAVIKUMAR /FROM THE HINDU

TEXT AND PICTURE: THE HINDU DATED: AUGUST 25 2014 BY G. RAVIKIRAN

At a time when the land owners are making fortunes by selling their properties, for Kavali Venkatesh, a poor farmer, who possesses 1.5 acres at Painapuram in Muthukur mandal, it has become a worry.

Mr. Venkatesh, who has been offered up to Rs. 30 lakh for the piece of land till a year ago, now finds no takers for it. The trouble began when the nearby thermal power project laid high tension lines through this land.

None come forward now to buy the land due to the HT line.

Mr. Venkatesh has eight children and some of them are working with him at his small aquaculture firm to eke out living.

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Include millets in PDS for food and nutritional security, demand scientists

Text from: downtoearth.org.in
Dated: August 22 2014 By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava

While the Union government plans to restructure the Food Corporation of India (FCI), agriculture scientists and nutrition experts are recommending that effective millet management should be included in the Public Distribution System (PDS) of the country. The step is important to achieve the food and nutrition security for the small and marginal tribal farming communities, they say.

Recently, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution constituted a committee to restructure FCI in order to put a check on high cost and high wastage in food procurement and its distribution to consumers. One of the mandates of the committee is to suggest ways to make PDS, a scheme through which FCI procures grains from the farmers and distributes them to consumers at subsidised prices, more affective.

In a national level consultation on ‘New Opportunities for Nutritious Foods –Read more

A new planning commission or an advisory body?


Text from: downtoearth.org.in 
Dated: August 15 2014 By Richard Mahapatra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally cleared all doubts regarding the fate of the Planning Commission. In his first Independence Day speech, he declared a new body in place of the Planning Commission, to be called the National Development Reforms Commission. He gave enough hints on how the new body would look like by saying: “From the time when the Planning Commission was set up and now, there is a difference. Federalism is taking roots and we need to reflect this change.”

Since his government came to power in May this year, there have been speculations over the Planning Commission. Last month, things finally moved when Modi’s office got feedback on an alternative institution. This happened for the first time after the Commission was set up through a Cabinet order on March 15, 1950.

Modi has promised that by October the details of the new body will presented before Parliament. Though it doesn’t require any parliamentary”

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An ambitious plan for inclusion

Text from: The Hindu Dated: August 19 2014 EDITORIAL

In rural areas 44 per cent of the households and in urban areas 33 per cent of them still do not have a bank account.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, a major socio-economic initiative of the National Democratic Alliance government, was announced by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech. It is an ambitious attempt at extending formal financial services in a country where only 58.7 per cent of an estimated 24.67 crore households avail themselves of banking services. Despite several steps taken by many governments over the years, financial inclusion has remained elusive. In rural areas 44 per cent of the households and in urban areas 33 per cent of them still do not have a bank account. The NDA government has brought a degree of urgency to the scheme of financial inclusion. A few details of the government’s action plan figured in the budget speech. A Comprehensive Financial Inclusion Plan (CFIP) envisaging coverage of excluded households has been drawn up and is expected to be rolled out under the nomenclature. In its first phase, the Jan-Dhan Yojana will endeavour to provide universal access to all the beneficiaries through sub-service areas (SSA), each of them consisting of 100-150 families in a cluster of villages. Each SSA will be serviced by a business correspondent, who is now being given a pivotal role in facilitating account opening and ensuring smooth bank operations. Unlike in previous action plans, the Jan-Dhan Yojana will have as its focus households rather than geographical areas.

The other important innovation is in extending need-based credit facilities to the new account holders upon their fulfilling certain conditions. A smart card — the Ru Pay card — will be issued. Using this it should be possible for customers to operate their accounts without any external help. This would be one of the most visible manifestations of technology as a tool to further inclusion, others being money –Read more

Planning Commission to be replaced with new institution: PM

From: The Hindu Dated: August 15 2014 Agencies

“The Planning Commission, he said, was set up to cater to the needs of earlier times and has participated in its own way in the development of the country.

However, Mr. Modi said, “the internal situation of the country has changed, global environment has changed… If we have to take India forward, then states will have to be taken forward. The importance of federal structure is more today than it was in last 60 years”.

He further said there is a need to have a relook at the structure of the Planning Commission and give it a new shape. “Sometime it becomes necessary to repair a house. It costs a lot of money. But it does not give us satisfaction. Then we feel it is better to make a new house,” he said.

“We need an institution of creative thinking and for optimum utilisation of youth capability,” he said, —Read more