50 more days of work under MGNREGA in drought-hit areas
In view of the deficit monsoon, the Centre has agreed to an additional 50 days of employment per household per year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in drought affected areas. The objective behind increasing the days of work from 100 to 150 is to overcome rural distress owing to the poor monsoon. Apart from this the Government has also announced several measures to combat deficit rains, one of which is a Rs 5,000 crore plan to identify and develop 300 clusters of smart villages by 2019-20.
Centre forms committee to restructure CWC and CGWB
The Government has constituted a seven-member Committee to restructure the two key central bodies that manage the country's water resources--Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB). The purpose behind this is to optimally develop water resources in India and to quickly complete the task of aquifer mapping to quantify available groundwater resources. Along with this, the Centre has also mentioned the adoption of the Gujarat-model of irrigation reform to ensure better availability of water to farmers.
Environment Ministry postpones green nod to Ken-Betwa link
There is yet another hurdle to the controversial Ken-Betwa river link as the Expert Panel appraising the project has noted that the river link will have a significant impact on the Panna Tiger Reserve and thus, needs to be studied more carefully. Also, the Panel has asked the Madhya Pradesh Government and the National Board for Wildlife to respond to the objections being made to the project. Despite this temporary setback, the MP Government is planning to add three new buffer zones (with a combined area of 8,000 ha) to the Panna National Park to give more space for tiger movement.
Clearance denied to Etalin hydel project for the third time
The Environment Ministry has denied clearance to the 3,097 MW Etalin hydroelectric project that is proposed to come up on the Dibang river basin in Arunachal Pradesh. This is the third time that the green nod has been denied to a project that will lead to the submergence of nearly 119.44 hectares of land and the felling of 2,80,000 trees if implemented. Moreover, the cumulative impact assessment study report for the Dibang river basin is due for submission. Although the clearance to one of the biggest hydel project has been denied, the Ministry has given its green signal to five other small projects in the state.
NGT rejects the proposal of thermal power plant in Nayachar Island
The National Green Tribunal has rejected the proposal to set up a thermal power plant in Nayachar Island in the Hooghly River in West Bengal because Nayachar Island has been recognised under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and is an eco-sensitive zone where soil conditions are not fit to set up any industry. The decision has brought disappointment to the State Government, which had earlier wanted to declassify the Nayachar island.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from September 15 - 21, 2015. Also read last week's news updates.