Centre launches National Rural Drinking Water and Sanitation Awareness Week
The week long campaign was inaugrated on March 16 at Kankrola-Bhanglora in Gurgaon, Haryana and will conclude on March 22 at Kohima, Nagaland. The whole week will focus on extensive awareness measures related to the construction and use of household toilets, keeping villages clean, safe handling and use of drinking water, awareness of drinking water quality, water conservation, and community managed water supply systems in rural areas. It will involve grassroots level institutions like village water and sanitation committees, Panchayati Raj institutions, angwanwadis , ASHA workers, school teachers, women self help groups and youth clubs.
Swacch Bharat may leave a big hole in your pocket
Government is planning to add 1% extra service tax to five 'high-end services' which includes bills in four and five-star hotels, for funding to the Swachh Bharat Mission. This tax will be apart from the 2% cess levied over the 14% service tax and expected to fetch Rs. 2,000 crore annually to the Government. Along with this, the Government will also be attracting around Rs. 6,000 crore from a levy of Rs. 200 a tonne on coal.
Six states misused drinking water and sanitation funds, observes Centre
According to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, six states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland, have either misused or diverted Centre's funds granted under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. The misuse has come to the Centre's notice following reports submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) during the audit of the states' accounts. The states have misused or diverted funds during the financial years 2005-06 to 2013-14.
A single portal for forest, ecology, wildlife clearances
The Environment Ministry has put in place a portal for online submission & monitoring of environmental, forests and wildlife clearances, in a bid to bring more transparency and accountability in the clearance process. With this portal, the clearance processes will go hand-in-hand, as against the earlier system that took months for a project to get cleared. The states have been ordered to inform the user agencies to submit their project proposals online from now.
Sunderbans have lost 3.71% of green cover in a decade: ISRO
According to a satellite analysis conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Indian side of Sunderbans has lost 3.71% of its mangrove and other forest cover, along with 9,990 hectares of its landmass due to erosion from 2003 to 2014. The reason attributed to the loss of green cover is both natural and anthropogenic processes.
This is a roundup of important news from March 9 - 16, 2015. Also read last week's policy updates.