According to new census carried out by the Odisha State Forest and Environment department in 2016, as many as 181 Irrawaddy dolphins have been sighted in the state.
This marks a significant drop from 2015 survey which had recorded 450 dolphins. The 2016 dolphin census in Odisha reported Humpback dolphins (34), bottlenose dolphins (31) and five pantropical spotted dolphins.
The Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 in 2016. About 55 dolphins were sighted this year in Bhitarakanika, compared to 58 spotted in 2015.
In the Bhadrak Wildlife Sanctuary jurisdiction, only five Irrawady dolphins were sighted. Endangered Irrawaddies are found in three places, humpback and bottlenose dolphins are not distributed uniformly in the State. According to state Forest department, sighting of dolphins depended on the weather condition of the day the census was carried out. Migration of dolphins also continuously takes place in waters close to the coast.
Irrawaddy Dolphin is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries in South and Southeast Asia.
It is slaty blue to slaty gray throughout, with the underparts slightly paler. It is identified by a bulging forehead, a short beak. It has established subpopulations in freshwater rivers, including the Ganges and the Mekong, as well as the Irrawaddy River from which it takes its name. Its habitat range extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines. They do not appear to venture off shore.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) under the Department of Revenue, Union Ministry of Finance has entered into four more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).
These four APAs are related to Manufacturing, Financial and Information Technology sectors. They cover international transactions such as Contract Manufacturing, Software Development Services and IT Enabled Services.
With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 130. It includes 122 Unilateral APAs and 8 bilateral APAs.
In the current financial year (2016-17), total 66 APAs (5 bilateral APAs and 61 unilateral APAs) were signed.
Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) : The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax (IT) Act in to provide certainty to taxpayers in domain of transfer pricing by specifying methods of pricing and determining prices of international transactions in advance.
The Rollback provisions under this scheme were introduced in 2014. The scheme seeks to foster government’s aim of non-adversarial tax regime.
Benefits: (i) Boost to economy and ease of doing business. (ii) Strengthen Government’s mission of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime. (iii) Introduces certainty in tax law by reducing compliance costs and make tax regime investment friendly. (iv) Provides certainty to taxpayers regarding transfer pricing to avoid disputes between taxpayer and tax regulator.
The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the enemy property should be handed over to the government and should not get transferred to the descendants of the erstwhile owners.
The ruling was made by a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana. The bench refused to hear the writ petition of Congress Rajya Sabha MP Husain Dalwai.
Dalwai challenged the validity of the Union Government's decision to re-promulgate Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation Act), 2016 ordinance for the fifth time, terming it a violation of constitution bench decision. However, the bench ruled that the petitioner should raise the issue in Parliament.
The ordinance amends a 50-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.
The case was presented by Senior advocate Anand Grover, who pleaded that re-promulgation of the enemy property ordinance was contrary to the law laid down by the SC. However, after finding it difficult to convince the bench, Grover withdrew the petition thereafter.
The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 was promulgated by the President Pranab Mukherjee on 7 January 2016 to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
A bill on the same lines was passed in Lok Sabha in March 2016. However, when the bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha, it was referred to a select committee and then the Parliament Session was adjourned.
The ordinance was re-promulgated in April 2016. However, there was no legislative action. It was re-promulgated for the third time on 31 May 2016. The process continued and it was re-promulgated for the fifth time in December 2016.
The Union Government failed to pass the bill in Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session due to repeated adjournments over the Demonetisation issue.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), under the Union Government, on 2 February 2017 eased the rules for the clearance of non-polluting industrial projects.
These eased rules are aimed at reducing the time taken for clearances and quicken rollout of projects. It will simplify the procedures to fast-track real estate projects.
The changes were made under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1981.
Highlights of the new rules : Non-polluting industries (White Category) will not be required to obtain consent certificate from respective State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) under the air and water pollution control laws.
On the other hand, the less polluting industries (Green Category) will automatically receive the consent for the establishment and operation, if they inform the expected date of start-up of their commercial production to the State Pollution Control Boards at least fifteen days in advance.
Moreover, no consent will be required for the building and construction projects, area development projects and township projects. For such projects, only environment clearance will be sufficient.
Furthermore, all the projects that require environment clearance from the State Pollution Control Boards, will be exempted from obtaining the consent under existing Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1981.
Such projects will be granted the approval on the basis of their installation of pollution control devices.
The Union Ministry of Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Government and two PSUs NPCC & NBCC on 6 February 2017 signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation of tourism projects In Jammu & Kashmir.
This tripartite MoU was signed by Suman Billa, Joint Secretary under Ministry of Tourism; Shamim Ahmad Wani, Managing Director of J&K Cable Car Corporation; K K Sharma, Executive Director of NPCC and Alok Rastogi, Chief General Manager (BD) of NBCC.
The MoU was signed under the Prime Minister's Development Package (Reconstruction Plan) for Jammu and Kashmir that was launched in November 2015.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Tourism, under the initiative 'Development of Tourism in the J&K State– New Projects', sanctioned following projects to PSUs NPCC and NBCC for implementation in the State in September 2017:
Proposed Central Assistance
Development of Tourism in the J&K State (Rs 400 crore for 5 years) – New Projects ( New Initiative)
Rs 2000 crore
Construction of Tourist assets in lieu of damaged/ destroyed assets ( New Initiative)
Rs 100 crore
(i) 12 Development Authorities, 3 Circuits, Setting up of 50 Tourist villages proposed under PMRP 2004
(ii)Conservation of Wular Lake
Rs 81.85 crore
Rs 59.15 crore
NBCC was sanctioned the project for Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Gulmarg – Baramulla – Kupwara – Leh for Rs 96.92 crore.
NPCC was allotted with the Integrated Development of Tourist facilities at Mantalai – Sudhmahadev – Patnitop in Jammu & Kashmir for Rs 97.82 crore.
The major components of the projects are Yoga centre, wellness SPA, Open air theatre, walking trail, landscaping, solid waste management, Log Huts, heliports, solar lighting, public amenities, etc.
The 17th session of senior officials' meeting of BIMSTEC will be held in Kathmandu on 7 February 2016.
The Indian delegation at the session is being led by Secretary Preeti Saran.
Highlights : The session will be chaired by Shanker Das Bairagi, the Foreign Secretary and Head of Nepal Delegation.
The day-long meeting will include a review of the progress made by the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).It will also include a discussion over the future course of action on strengthening cooperation among the group’s member countries.
At the end of the session, a report on various activities of the group is expected to be adopted.
The session is also expected to announce the date of the 4th BIMSTEC summit, which is to be held in Nepal later this year.
The significance of the group was brought to the front during the BRICS- BIMSTEC Outreach summit, which was held in Goa in October 2016. In fact, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had expressed his desire to promote the regional group and had assured his full cooperation in the group’s future actions.
BIMSTEC : Founded in 1997, The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying along the shore of the Bay of Bengal.
The member states include India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal.
Initially, the bloc included just four member states and was called BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
Myanmar was included later during a special Ministerial meeting in Bangkok and the group was renamed BIMST-EC.The name was changed to BIMSTEC with the admission of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial meeting in Thailand in February 2004.The group constitutes a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.
It has also created a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
The main objective behind its creation was to harness a shared growth through cooperation in different areas of common interest.
Alastair Cook on 6 Februray 2017 resigned as the captain of the England test cricket team. Cook submitted his resignation to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves.
However, Cook has stated his willingness to continue playing on as a batsman in the longest format of the game.
Highlights of Alastair Cook’s career : Statistics: A left-handed opening batsman, Cook started his international career with a test match against India in March 2006.
He played his first one day international (ODI) against Sri Lanka at Old Trafford, England in June 2006.
So far, Alastair Cook played 140 matches and scored 11,057 runs from 253 innings. His test career includes 53 half-centuries, 30 centuries and 3 double centuries.
So far, he scored 3204 runs in 92 ODIs. The score includes 19 half-centuries and 5 centuries.
He has led England in a record 69 one-day internationals between 2010 and 2014.
So far, he played four T20 International (T20I) matches and scored 61 runs with a strike rate of 112.96.
The technology giant Samsung is soon going to launch its mobile payment wallet ‘Samsung Pay’ in India. The launch is expected to happen in the first half of 2017.
According to reports, Samsung will be partnering with American Express (Amex) to bring its mobile payment solution to India.
The company is also exploring the possibility of partnering with two global financial services companies, Visa and MasterCard.
Samsung has previously partnered with these companies for its e-payment solutions in other regions such as with Amex in countries including the United States, Australia and South Korea.
Highlights : Samsung began testing of ‘Samsung Pay’ in India in December 2016.
In the first week of February, the company introduced an update in its Galaxy Note 5 smartphone in India that included the Samsung Pay app.
The e-payment solution supports MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission), a technology that allows the app to send a magnetic signal from a compatible device to the payment terminal's card reader.This feature will allow a smartphone to function like a physical card.
Samsung also aims to position the app as a central database that can store multiple cards from various banks along with Samsung reward cards.
This will enable fast online transaction like with just a tap or a code.
The service will only work in high-end Samsung smartphones such as Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7, which could limit its reach in India.
The app is equipped with NFC technology
It will make the app a hard sell as it would require the company to convince business people across the country to upgrade their existing point-of-sale machines.
Most of the point-of-sale devices in India don't support NFC.
NFC : Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless connectivity technology, which enables short-range communication between electronic devices.
It is convenient, as it connects all types of consumer devices and enables rapid and easy communications.
Overall, Samsung Pay is positioned for a perfect entry into the Indian market, as post demonetization, e-wallets such as Paytm and MobiKwik have seen an enormous growth in their user base.
Uber launched a new service called UberHire in 9 Indian cities on 6 February 2017. The new category will allow customers to hire a taxi for an entire day, make multiple stops and cover several destinations at one go.
With the introduction of the service, the American company has made its first foray into the hourly rental cab market.
Highlights : The time-based taxi service aims to reach out to tourists, senior citizens who need to make trips punctuated with multiple stopovers and business travellers who have multiple meetings in one city.
Customers will be able to hold their cabs for up to 12 hours.
The total fare for a trip will be calculated on the basis of the distance covered and the trip duration.
The minimum fare ranges between Rs 449-649 till up to 2 hours or 30 km, after which the user will be charged at a rate of Rs 2 per minute or Rs 12 per km.The pricing and cancellation charges may vary from city to city.
The service is currently available only through cash payment.
It had a pilot run in Kochi, following which it was launched in cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Visakhapatnam and Pune.
More cities will be included in the service in the coming few weeks.
Ola, Uber’s local rival in India had launched a similar service called ‘Rentals’ in August 2016 in 85 Indian cities. However, the company is yet to reveal how successful the service was for it in the past six months.
Uber as of now is present in around 20 cities in India. It rolled out its newest feature in 8 cities where it has its biggest customer base. The new category has already been made available on the Uber app.
India will host the World Billiards Championship for the next four years, the Billiards and Snoooker Federation of India (BSFI) announced
The premier event was held in Bengaluru last year when champion cueist Pankaj Advani had triumphed in the 150-UP format beating Peter Gilchrist of Singapore.
The IBSF has allotted the World Billiards Championship to India for the next four years. This will be the only World Championship recognised by all as the earlier one being held by the World Billiards Limited will not take place now. The World Billiards Limited will only have ranking events
The Ujjivan Small Finance Bank officially started its operation on February 6, 2017 with 5 pilot branches in Bengaluru. Samit Ghosh is the MD and CEO of the Ujjivan Small Finance Bank.
The five pilot branches of the Ujjivan SFB would offer full services to its customers. TheSmall Finance Bank will test its technology, channels, people and processes for a period of one month as a part of its pilot launch.
The Bank aims to launch about 14 branches by March 2017 and extend services across 457 branches in 24 states in a planned and phased manner over the next few months.
The Ujjivan SFB will work to become the leading retail bank in the next five years to cater to the needs of the un-served and under-served customers.
Ujjivan SFB would offer an attractive rate of interest in the range of 5.5 percent to 8 percent on Fixed Deposit and Recurring Deposits. The bank will offer an interest rate of 4 percent on savings account.
The Ujjivan SFB will provide unlimited access to ATM transactions on Ujjivan’s ATM network and a total of six free transactions on other bank’s ATM networks. Benefits like Biometric ATMs, RuPay Debit Card, Phone, Internet & Mobile Banking would be provided on saving account.
The Non-banking financial company, Ujjivan Financial Services is the holding company of the small finance bank. It was among the 10 entities to get license from the Reserve Bank in 2016 to commence small finance banking operations.
India’s third largest private bank, Axis Bank has tied up with Earthport Plc, a cross-border payment network, to enable faster outbound cross-border payments for its customers through Earthport’s state-of-the-art global payments network.
Axis Bank has become the first bank in India to connect with Earthport’s global payments network, which spans over 60 countries. The Bank joins a growing number of major banks across the globe that can, through a single connection with Earthport, send payments seamlessly to almost any bank account in the world on behalf of their clients, while delivering a faster, more efficient and cost-effective service.
Public sector lender Bank of Maharashtra has partnered with insurance company Cigna TTK Health to market the insurer’s products in the bank’s branches across the entire country. Under the agreement, the bank will offer the all of Cigna TTK’s superior health insurance products to its 2 crore customers through its network of over 1,896 branches, its 14,000 bank employees across the country as well as through its digital platforms.
Bank of Maharashtra’s tie-up with Cigna TTK will bolster penetration of health insurance in the country, which is currently between 5-7%. Additionally, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Sustainable Development Goals 2030 include ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, with a specific focus on India.
Bank of Maharashtra enjoys great visibility in a large number of tier III and tier IV cities, helping expand Cigna TTK’s footprint across previously unchartered territories, helping to offer affordable health insurance solutions to an increasing number of people .
In an effort to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and UAE, the Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Samudra Pavak made a goodwill visit at the Mina Al Rashid (Dubai Port) from February 4 to 7, 2017.
The Indian Ambassador in UAE Navdeep Suri visited the Indian Navy ship on February 5, 2017. During the stay at port Rashid, a series of activities is scheduled to take place between Indian and UAE coast guard.
As a part of the visit, a joint exercise is scheduled to take place between Indian coast guard and UAE coast guard to enhance co-operation and exchange of operational expertise.
Besides, training and sporting events between the coast guards of both the countries will also take place.
Samudra Pavak or “Purifier of the Seas” is the third ship of the Pollution Control Vessel series of the Indian Coast Guard that was indigenously designed and commissioned in January 2016.
The ship is equipped with state of the art technology including integrated platform managements system to monitor and control machinery parameters dynamic positioning system for precise maneuvering and positioning and power management systems for automatic control of generators.
The Railway Ministry is set to develop the first ever railway line in Andaman and Nicobar Island that currently has no rail network.
The Ministry of Railway is set to approve the project that will construct 240-km broad gauge railway line connecting Port Blair with Diglipur, the largest town on Andaman Island. It will connect the two islands with bridges and stations along the coast.
Currently the Island are connected to each other through a 350-km bus service taking above 14 hours and ship taking over 24 hours. Besides, the island do not have air connectivity.
According to the ministry, the cost of laying the line would be nearly Rs 2,413.68 crore.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu inaugurates the State’s first Smart Police Station at Nagarampalem in Guntur city in Amaravati on February 6, 2017.
The Smart station has been built within two months at a cost of Rs 91 lakh as a pilotproject. The Andhra Police administration has formulated plans to build another 100 Smart Police Stations across the state.
The main motive behind such smart police station is to bring a sense of pride among the officers and satisfaction among the public.
The smart police stations are fully air-conditioned with a staff room, dormitory, mini control room, a reception chamber and individual enclosures for the Station House Officer and three Sub-Inspectors.
Besides, the daily uniform of the staff has been changed from the usual khaki uniform to a navy blue trouser and a light blue shirt for men and a light blue sarifor women constables with additional blue blazer for lady receptionist
Instead of lock-up for detainees, a custody room with a double bed has been deployed.
Above all, a closed circuit television cameras have been installed in and around the station for closer surveillance of staff behaviour and movement of visitors.
Racharla Samrajyam, a veteran freedom fighter, passed away on 6 February 2017 following age-related illness at Vishakhapatnam. She was 98. She is survived by her only son Saranga Rao.
She was inspired by the Quit India Movement at the time when she was undergoing Hindi Pracharak training at Anantapur in 1942. It was at this point of time, she had quit the training programme and joined the Quit India Movement.
Racharla Samrajyam : Samrajyam was born in April 1919 to Goparaju Venkata Subba Rao and Rajyalakshmi at Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. She was the younger sister of social reformer Gora.
While leading the protests during the Quit India Movement, she was arrested at Bezawada (now known as Vijayawada) and was sent to the Raya Vellore Jail for six months in 1944.
Motivated by G Durga Bai, she underwent training in rural development activities in 1945 in Kasturi Ba Smaraka Trust at Seva Gram under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
She worked in various capacities at the Kasturi Ba Gandhi Rashtriya Smaraka Trust’s Regional Office at Seethanagaram in East Godavari district, where she served the trust for 34 years, beginning from June 1946.
She received the ‘Tarmra Patra’ from the Union Government in the year 1972.
A mobile app developed by Alibaba helped Chinese authorities recover 611 missing children last year.
The 'Tuanyuan' app, which means 'reunion' in Chinese, sends push notifications with photos and descriptions to users who are close to the location of a child's disappearance.
The notifications are sent to users farther from the location of the disappearance till the child is found.
The Nagaland Cabinet has decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister to issue an ordinance to exempt the state from the provision of Part IX A of the Constitution related to municipalities and ULBs, and their composition.
The decision comes in the wake of various tribal organisations opposing elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULB) with 33 per cent reservation of seats for women.
Taking serious consideration of the widespread concern expressed by various tribal and other organisations with regard to certain provisions of Part IX-A of the Constitution relating to municipalities and women reservation, the state Cabinet, in an emergency meeting attended by special invitees comprising of legislators from all tribes yesterday, decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister to amend the Constitution through an ordinance.
The state Cabinet has decided to take the matter to New Delhi to demand that Nagaland be exempted from the purview of Part IX A.
All 60 legislators of the state, both the MPs, the chairman and vice chairman of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland will submit the memorandum jointly for which an early appointment with the Prime Minister has been sought.
Tribal organisations are observing an indefinite bandh in the state against the functioning of state government offices and vehicles and demanding the resignation of Chief Minister T R Zeliang and his cabinet.
Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (NTAC) Kohima has expressed shock over the decision of state Cabinet to submit a memorandum to the PM to amend the provision of Part IX A.
Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution deals with special provision with respect to the state of Nagaland.
Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum said the government should call a special Assembly session to again revoke the said Act reiterating the 2012 resolution and further revoking the 2016 resolution.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das today said the state would give two per cent reservation to sports persons in government jobs and nutritious food to them.
Das said efforts were also being taken to give nutritious food to the sports persons.
He said to promote football, Kamal Clubs are being set up, and for this the government would give kits to players and competitions would be held at block, district and state levels.
If necessary, foreign coaches would be drafted in to encourage hockey in Jharkhand so that they could excel at national and international level, he said after laying foundation stone for a high school stadium at Ormanjhi on the outskirts of Ranchi.
The Chief Minister felicitated those who gave land for construction of the school stadium and distributed school kit to the children from the Birhor tribe.
Rural development Minister Nilkanth Singh Munda, MP Ram Tahal Choudhary, MLAs Naveen Jaiswal and Ramkumar Pahan and others were present on the occasion.
The Telangana government has launched India's first social innovation centre -- The ‘Kakatiya Hub For Social Innovation’ in Nizamabad .
Telangana IT Secretary Jayesh Ranjan made this announcement at the one-day Development Dialogue, an international social entrepreneurship ecosystem conference hosted by Kakatiya Sandbox.
Jayesh Ranjan said the ‘Kakatiya Hub For Social Innovation’ funded by the Telangana government and implemented through Kakatiya Sandbox will function like a rural incubator to encourage entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.
The move is expected to create a model for promoting entrepreneurs in rural and semi-urban areas in the country.