News Digest : 27 February to 04 March, 2016

Thursday, 3 March 2016

★ Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of vital infrastructure projects in the road, railway, coal, power and renewable energy sectors. These projects spread over several states including Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh,
Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chandigarh and
Delhi. Mr Modi chaired the tenth interaction through Pragati- the ICT-based, multimodal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. The Prime Minister also reviewed the complaints and grievances from people relating to road and highways and directed all concerned officials to expedite their redressal.

★ Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that Left Wing Extremism, LWE, situation has shown massive improvement in recent months throughout the country.
He said, the spread of LWE affected districts has declined to 141 in 2015 from
162 districts in 2014. The minister said this became possible due to efforts of security agencies and developmental programmes and policies of the government. Mr Singh said this while reviewing the LWE scenario in Andhra Pradesh at a meeting with senior officials in Vishakhapatnam.

★ The Centre has sanctioned construction of around eighty two thousand houses for Economically Weaker Sections in urban areas of 163 cities. The cities are in West Bengal, Telangana, Bihar, Mizoram, Rajashtan, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.
The construction of houses will involve an investment of over four thousand crore
rupees. Of the total cost, the Centre will provide an assistance of 1,226 crore
Rupees. Of the total houses, 58,456 houses will be built under the ‘Beneficary
Led Construction’ component. The rest of the houses will be built under the Affordable Housing in Partnership component under which state governments will provide land and the central government will give an assistance of 1.5 lakh Rupees to each beneficiary.

★ India has hit back at Pakistan on Afzal Guru remark. India has said that Jammu
and Kashmir is its internal matter. In response to a question over the Pakistan
Foreign Office's comments on Jammu and Kashmir, Ministry of External Affairs
spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, Pakistan's gratuitous references to the state are unacceptable. Pakistan Foreign Office in weekly media briefing had said that Kashmiris have never accepted the trial that led to the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

★ India successfully test fired its indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile from the Chandipur, off Odisha coast on 16th February, 2016. The medium range missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines. As part of a user trial, the missile with a strike range of 350 km, the surface-to-surface Prithvi-II test was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at around 1030 hrs.The first missile to be developed by DRDO under India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, Prithvi-II was Inducted into India's armed forces in 2003.

★ Announcing the Swachh Survekshan 2016 award in New Delhi, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu unveiled the Swachh Survekshan results of 73 major cities in the country which were surveyed for sanitation ranking. Mysuru tops the list of clean cities in the survey and Dhanbad ranks the lowest. Of 73 cities which were surveyed, Mysuru of Karnataka topped the list of clean cities.
Chandigarh got the second position, Tiruchirapalli 3rd, New Delhi Municpal Council 4th and Visakhapatnam 5th. Surat was ranked 6th,Rajkot 7th,Gangtok 8th while Pimpri-Chindwad ranked 9th and Greater Mumbai got 10th position. The survey was conducted to measure the impact of efforts under Swachh Bharat Mission for construction of toilets, solid waste management and service delivery level.

★ Over 250 villages have been electrified across the country from 8th to the 14th
February under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna. Out of these electrified
villages, 111 villages belong to Odisha, 81 villages in Assam, 40 in Jharkhand, 13 in Rajasthan, four in Bihar, three in Madhya Pradesh and one in Uttar Pradesh. Our correspondent reports, government has decided to electrify the remaining 18,452 unelectrified villages within 1000 days by the 1st of May, 2018. During 2015-16, 5279 villages have been electrified.

★ Finance minister Arun Jaitley has launched a portal to electronically collect over 2 trillion rupees annually in non-tax receipts from sources such as dividends by state-owned firms, the Reserve Bank of India and spectrum fee. Inaugurating the
Non-Tax Receipt Portal, NTRP, Mr Jaitley said, the portal has its own advantages
and it will reduce a lot of manual work now. The annual collection of non-tax
receipts amounts to over 2 lakh crore rupees.

★ Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA, gave its nod to six railway lines and a railway bridge to cater to increased passenger and freight needs across country at a cost of 10,700 crore rupees. Briefing media, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said, the CCEA also cleared doubling of 261 kilometres of Katni-Singarauli railway line. The project will be completed in five years.

★ The Union Cabinet has given in principle approval to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory of India, LIGO-India mega science proposal for research on gravitational waves. LIGO-India is piloted by Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology. It also approved signing of Agreement for collaboration in Traditional Medicine between Ministry of AYUSH and the World Health Organisation.

★ Movie 'The Revenant' a wilderness drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio dominated this year's British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The film took top honours in number of categories and is being seen as key predictor of success at the upcoming Oscars. In a ceremony held at London's Royal Opera House, The Revenant won the BAFTA award for Best Film, with Leonardo Di Caprio winning Best Actor, Alejandro Gonzalez bagging Best Director and Emmanuel Lubezki getting award for Best Cinematography. Apocalyptic action movie 'Mad Max : Fury Road' also took home four awards: for make-up and hair, editing, costumes and production design. Brie Larson won the best leading actress award for her role as a kidnapped mother in 'Room'. Steve Jobs biopic starring Kate Winslet was named best supporting actress while Mark Rylance won best supporting actor for his role as British-born Soviet agent in 'Bridge of Spies'.

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