Current Affairs 15th June 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Maharashtra government has decided to use plastic waste along with tar in a bid to improve the durability and longevity of asphalt roads and reduce soil pollution. The Centre in its recommendations has stated that using plastic waste along with tar to build roads improves the quality. It also helps reduce soil pollution caused by plastic. Thus, the state government has decided to include plastic waste along with tar while building roads. The Central Road Research Institute has assured the government that roads built by using plastic waste along with tar will be of better quality and cheaper.In the beginning, municipal corporations with a population of over 5 lakh and municipal councils that have a population of over 2 lakh will be asked to include plastic waste for building roads in 50-km radius. For every 100 kg of tar used to build asphalt roads, 3 to 6 kg of plastic will be mixed in it.adding that materials like plastic carry bags, sacks, milk pouches, bin linings, cosmetic and detergent bottles, drinking water bottles, bottle caps and household articles will be used. Studies have revealed that plastics waste have great potential for use in bituminous construction as its addition in small doses, about 5-10% by weight of bitumen, helps in substantially improving the Marshall stability, strength, fatigue life and other desirable properties of bituminous mix, leading to improved longevity and pavement performance. The benefits are, such roads will have higher resistance to deformation, water induced damages, increase durability, strength and ultimately dispose of plastic waste in a larger quantity to save pollution.

A translator of worldwide influence and esteem who helped introduce Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar and other Latin American authors to millions of English-language readers, Mr. Gregory Rabassa has passed away in Branford, Connecticut, US. He was 94 years old. He has died after a brief illness. He was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1922, and raised on a farm in Hanover, New Hampshire, near Dartmouth College, where Rabassa majored in languages.  Rabassa studied Spanish and Portuguese as a graduate student at Columbia University and translated Spanish and Portuguese language works for the magazine Odyssey.  Later he joined Queens College as Professor. He has also won the PEN Translation prize in the year 1977, and PEN/Ralph Manheim medal for Translation in the year 1982.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet has approved the takeover by State Bank of India of several subsidiaries, a government source said, in a first move to consolidate the country's struggling public sector banks. As earlier proposed, SBI was due to take over five units that had been run at arms-length, as well as state-run Bharatiya Mahila Bank, a bank for women set up in 2013. SBI has five associate banks — State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad. The merged entity will create a banking behemoth, which can compete with the largest in the world with an asset base of almost Rs 37 lakh crore, with 22,500 branches and 58,000 ATMs as on December 2015. SBI alone has close to 16,500 branches, including 198 foreign offices spread across 36 countries. The merger of SBI and its associate banks is a win-win for both. While the network of SBI would stand to increase,  its reach would multiply. One can expect efficiencies to be created from rationalization of branches, common treasury pooling and proper deployment of a large skilled resource base. Currently, no Indian bank features in the top 50 banks of the world. With this merger, some visibility at global level is likely to increase. Customers of associates and subsidiaries of the Bank will also be beneficiaries. Any introduction of new technology by SBI would simultaneously be available uniformly. SBI first merged State Bank of Saurashtra with itself in 2008. Two years later, State Bank of Indore was merged. SBI has maintained since then that it would merge the others as well but none of its initiatives fructified due to lack of capital  which was pegged at least Rs 2,000 crore for each bank  and stiff opposition from the employee unions.

The Gujarat government has decided to launch the mobile app 'Digital Gujarat' by August 15. Our aim is to put most of the services on the fingertips of citizens, so that they don't have to visit government offices.Initially, it would offer 30 services for which the citizens hitherto had to visit government offices or access the online portal digitalgujarat.gov.in. Using this app, people can apply for various services, such as ration card. Initially, the services available through the app would include procurement of ration card, senior citizen certificate, caste certificate, domicile certificate, income certificate, widow certificate, SC/ST certificate, non creamy-layer certificate and religious minority certificate. These services are currently available through our portal . To add 70 more services in later stages and take the number of services to 100.The citizens would no longer be required to visit any government office even to register himself. Earlier, when the common services portal was launched, people were still required to visit nearbyJan Seva Kendra to verify their credentials before being registered. Now, we have done away with that provision, as we would verify the authenticity of the (app) user by checking his Aadhaar number or ration card number.Apart from providing e-services, the app would be equipped with several other features, includinge-Locker to digitally store certificates. With smartphone sales increasing by 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2016, it is a good inititiative to bolster the integration and convenience of availing government services.

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has launched a scheme for setting up of 1000 Mega Watt (MW) Wind Power Project connected to transmission network of Central Transmission Utility (CTU). The objective of the scheme is to facilitate supply of wind power to the non-windy states at a price discovered through transparent bidding process. The Scheme will encourage competitiveness through scaling up of project sizes and introduction of transparent and efficient e-auctioning and e-bidding processes. It will also facilitate fulfilment of Non-Solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) requirement of non-windy states. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has been designated nodal agency for implementation of the scheme.  The Scheme will be implemented for setting up 1000 MW capacity of CTU connected Wind Power Projects by Wind Project Developers on build, own and operate (BOOT) basis. However, if there is higher demand from Discoms of non-windy states the capacity may go higher than 1000 MW. The Union Government has set an ambitious target of achieving 175 Giga Watt (GW) power capacity from clean renewable energy resources by 2022. Out of this, 60 GW target is set for wind power. The present installed wind power capacity in the country is nearly 26.7 GW accounting for nearly 9% of total installed capacity. Globally, India is at 4th position in term of installed wind power capacity after China, USA and Germany.  The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) under the MNRE assesses the wind power potential in the country at 100 meter above ground level. It has estimated it over 302 GW and there are 8 windy states namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was observed globally on 15 June 2016. The day is observed to voice against abuse and suffering inflicted on older people. On this day, number of events is held across the globe to raise awareness of elder abuse and highlight ways to challenge such abuse. About Global Elder Population The global population of people aged 60-year and older will more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025. Elder Abuse : Elder abuse can be defined as a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. At present, elder abuse is a global social issue, which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world. It can be termed as a violation of older people’s human rights and is an issue which deserves the attention of the international community. Around 4 to 6% of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home.  Elder maltreatment can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.  It can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse.It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect. Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally.The incidence of abuse towards older people is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries  ranging from 1% to 10%. United Nations Resolution on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day : The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) via its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 19 December 2011.The day represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 13 June 2016 elected Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji, as President of its upcoming 71st session. Thomson was elected in a rare secret ballot vote. He defeated Andreas Mavroyiannis of Cyprus by a secret-ballot vote of 94 to 90, with one abstention.The Fiji representative will replace current General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft. Thomson will begin his tenure in September 2016 at the commencement of the 71st General Assembly session. Who is Peter Thomson :  Peter Thomson is a Fijian diplomat.He has served as Fiji's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since February 2010. For the year 2014, he was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS).He was the architect of the name-change of the UN's Group of Asian States to the new name of the Asia-Pacific Group, effective 2011.The President of Fiji conferred on Peter Thomson the award of Officer of the Order of Fiji in 2014. United Nations General Assembly : The United Nations General Assembly is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is the only organ in which all member nations have equal representation. Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, receive reports from other parts of the UN and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions.The General Assembly meets under its president or Secretary-General in regular yearly sessions.The first UNGA session was convened on 10 January 1946 in the Westminster Central Hall in London. It included representatives of 51 nations.  

Gujarat’s Shiyal Bet got electricity for the first time, after 70 years of Independence on 11 June 2016. State’s Chief Minister Anandiben Patel inaugurated the 18.35 crore rupees project to supply grid power to the island through marine cables. CM Patel also unveiled a plaque dedicating the electrification project to the public at a ceremony organised in the compound of the Government Secondary School in Shiyal Bet. The Shiyal Bet project is an important part of the Prime Minister’s target to electrify 18000 villages in India by mid-2018. Earlier, electrification was attempted from Pipavav port, the nearest mainland from the island. However, it failed as there was a possibility that anchors at the port site could damage the undersea cables. Shiyal Bet : Shiyal Bet is an island, which is a part of Jafrabad taluka of Amreli district.The distance from Pipavav port to Shiyal Bet is 600 metres.Around 90% dwellers of the island are fishermen.There are 841 households on the island. Out of them, 600 have applied for and got power connection.Before electrification of the island, the Island functioned on a solar power system, kerosene oil lamps or battery-run lights.  

Florida-based Stonegate Bank on 14 June 2016 issued a new credit card that will allow Americans to use it in Cuba during their visit to the country. The card will help the US visitors to avoid the Cuban 10-percent penalty on the dollar. Pompano-beach based Stonegate is also the first US bank to introduce a debit card for use in Cuba. The bank announced that US travelers will be able to use its Mastercard to charge purchases at Cuban state-run businesses and some private businesses, starting 15 June 2016. Initially, the bank will issue only 1000 cards and each card will feature artwork by celebrated Cuban painter Michel Mirabal.

The Union Government has  approved a series of measures for the abatement of pollution and for the conservation and preservation of lakes in Bengaluru on 14 June 2016. The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting jointly chaired by Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Ananth Kumar and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar. Under the decision, all Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) of the city will be monitored online 24x7. Apart from this, lake water quality will be monitored by concerned authorities in Bengaluru. Some actions that have been agreed upon include : Bio-development of lakes of Bengaluru will be undertaken.Lakes will be restored in a bio-diverse manner in Public-Private Partnership mode. All residential group housing projects/apartments with >20 units and total build-up area of 2000 sq meter will have to install Sewage Treatment Plants (STP). Dual piping system to be prescribed in apartments/commercial establishments for re-use of treated sewage for various purposes.State Pollution Control Board will be monitoring the STPs on regular basis. Retrofitting of existing STPs will be conducted to meet the revised effluent norms. Proper management of plastic waste will be carried out to ensure that it is not dumped in the lakes Madivala Lake will be developed as a biodiversity park on the lines of Yamuna Biodiversity Park under the guidance of Karnataka Knowledge Commission.Lake Wardens will be appointed for involvement of public in lake conservation. The corporate sector will be involved in the effort to conserve and preserve the lakes and the progress will be monitored every six months. CSR funds to be tapped for conserving and developing lakes. The pollution of lakes in Bengaluru due to discharge of untreated sewage generated in the city has become a major environment problem in last few years. For instance, in May 2015, Bellandur Lake, the largest lake of Bengaluru, and Varthur Lake had caught fire due to formation of foam on water. This formation of foam was caused by discharge of industrial effluents like phosphorus present in detergents.As a result, water of these lakes has become harmful for domestic and irrigation purposes and it may also contaminate groundwater. It also suggested that the foam may cause an environmental problem and can be a great threat for the wetlands of Bengaluru. Steps taken to deal with Untreated Sewage : In order to deal with this, it is to be ensured that untreated sewage is not released in the lakes. To bridge the gap between sewage generation and treatment, several STPs are being developed in the city. The STPs under development by Bengaluru Water Supply & Sewerage Board include a.336 mld STP capacity to be completed by December 2018 b.515 mld STP capacity to be completed by December 2019 c.189 mld STP capacity to be completed by December 2020 At present, the installed treatment capacity is 721 mld (with quantity of sewage treated in these STPs is only 600 mld). But with the completion of these three STPs by 2020, the STP capacity will grow up to 1761 mld which will be available for treating the entire sewage generated in the city. Projects totaling to 887.97 crore rupees relating to sewerage system and STPs in Bengaluru have been approved/initiated under AMRUT programme of Union Ministry of Urban Development. Apart from other benefits, these projects will help in rejuvenating lakes in Bengaluru by reducing the pollution load being discharged into them.

Businessman Vijay Mallya was on 14 June 2016 declared as a Proclaimed Offender by a special court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Mumbai in a loan diversion case. The court issued proclamation under Section 82 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against Vijay Mallya. The move came after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), an investigation agency under the Union Finance Ministry, on 10 June 2016 filed a petition over a case where Mallya is suspected to have diverted a 430 crore rupees loan given by IDBI Bank Ltd to his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. The ED requested the court to issue an order under Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and term Mallya a proclaimed offender, citing multiple arrest warrants pending against Mallya including a non-bailable warrant (NBW) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Mallya left the country on 2 March 2016 for London on a diplomatic passport. The ED now plans to send the court order to the UK authorities to start on the process of deportation. The directorate has identified around 4000 crore rupees worth of assets owned by Mallya. Proclaimed Offender : A person is termed as a proclaimed offender in a criminal investigation if the court believes that the accused has absconded or is concealing himself, so that the warrant cannot be executed.According to the Section 83 of CrPC, the proclaimed offender is required to appear before the PMLA court and the investigation agency within 30 days.

India are set to make their maiden appearance in the Under 17 Futsal World Cup next month, after being invited by the sport's governing body, the Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF), as a wild card to take part in the event.  The competition, among futsal's biggest global events, is to be held from July 11-20 in Paraguay, with India one among a total of 12 competing countries. India have been drawn in Zone 'A' which pits them against the host nation Paraguay, Catalonia and Kazakhstan. Colombia, Belgium, Brazil and Australia make up Zone 'B';, whereas Argentina, Uruguay, Morocco and Curazo complete the line-up in Zone 'C'.  The U-17 Futsal nationals, organised by the Futsal Association of India (FAI) which is the AMF-accredited governing body for futsal in the country, are to take place in Haryana . The tournament, in which 16 states would be taking part, would serve as the selection process to pick players to represent India at the World Cup. The final decision is to be taken during the FAI-AGM which will be held on the sidelines of the National Championship in Haryana.

SKS Microfinance has the name of the company has been changed to Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd. Pursuant to approval of Government, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Registrar of Companies, the name of the company has been changed from 'SKS Microfinance Limited' to 'Bharat Financial Inclusion Limited' with effect from today (June 13, 2016) . It is the only listed company in the microfinancing space in the country. Earlier in May, the company had said the decision to change the name was taken as its core had undergone a transformation, equipping it to play a major role in fulfilling the national priority of financial inclusion. The company is among the largest microfinance companies in India. It has presence across 18 states covering 1,00,000 villages, catering to its 63.65 lakh women members.  The company was mired in serious controversy in late 2010 due to rising spate of suicides by its borrowers, triggered by allegedly coercive recovery practices. 

India has pledged a financial assistance of Rs 48.84 million to Nepal for the construction of a college building in the capital Kathmandu.  Ambassador of India to Nepal Ranjit Rae laid foundation stone of the building for Koteshwor Multiple Campus in Kathmandu district. The campus building is constructed with financial aid from India and the project is being implemented through District Development Committee of Kathmandu.  Established in 1990, Koteshwor Multiple Campus is a non-profit, non-governmental, service-oriented community college situated at Koteshwor on the outskirt of Kathmandu. The current infrastructure of the college is inadequate and is being run from an old school building. The college has enrolled more than 2000 students.  he new campus building will provide much needed classroom space and create an improved environment for learning and contribute to the development of education in the area, said a statement issued by Indian embassy here.  India has provided a financial aid of nearly Rs 501 million to Nepal in the financial year 2015-2016 to help the quake-struck country renovate, restore and upgrade its various religious, cultural and educational institutions.The India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme has an outlay of over Rs 76 billion with more than 529 large and small development projects completed or being implemented in almost all the districts of Nepal.  These development projects, mainly in the sectors of education, health and infrastructure development have been undertaken in response to local needs and in partnership with the Government of Nepal.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is attending a meeting of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers here on Tuesday to nudge the states to arrive at a consensus on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. The draft Goods and Services Tax Bill, including the overall framework, and the Information Technology process of the GST are on the agenda of the two-day discussions. The meeting would also deliberate upon finding ways and means to resolve issues between the states and the Centre on the GST. However, the contentious issues of the GST rate, the dispute settlement mechanism and one per cent additional tax are not a part of the agenda. The bill for a pan-India GST to thoroughly overhaul India's indirect tax regime, first mooted by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime at the Centre, has been passed by the Lok Sabha, but is stalled in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA lacks a majority. The states will draft their own State GST (SGST) bill based on the draft model law with minor variations, incorporating state-specific exemptions. The Centre and the states will also have to approve the integrated GST law or iGST, which will deal with inter-state movement of goods.The Constitution amendment bill needs to be ratified by more than half of the states.

President Pranab Mukherjee has been presented National Order of the Republic of Ivory Coast, the highest civilian award of the West African country. The award was bestowed upon Pranab Mukherjee during his two days visit to Ivory Coast on the second leg of his three-nation African tour. With this, Mr Mukherjee’s became the first Indian President to visit Ivory Coast. He was invited by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara. National Order of the Republic of Ivory Coast :  It is highest state order of knighthood of the Ivory Coast. Established: 10 April 1961 to celebrate the independence of the Ivory Coast from France in 1960. It is state honour awarded to those who have highly distinguished themselves to the service to the state. The Collar, one of the five grades of the award is awarded solely to foreign heads of state.

Small sized private lender RBL Bank (formerly known as The Ratnakar Bank Limited) on Monday said the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) India chief Brijesh Mehra will be joining the company as head of corporate banking. The appointment comes within a month of RBS announcing its withdrawal from customer facing activities in India. Brijesh Mehra, the current country executive, India and the corporate and institutional banking head at RBS India, will take charge as head of corporate, institutional and transactional banking at RBL Bank. At RBL, he will be responsible for developing and managing relationships with large corporates, multinational corporations, public sector undertakings, financial institutions, government departments and local administration. Mehra, who has over three decades of experience of working for foreign lenders, will be reporting to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Vishwavir Ahuja, the Kolhapur-headquartered bank.RBL added that it has effected a string of changes in portfolios of key personnel, including the transfer of Gurumurthy R as head of risk and governance after being replaced by Mehra and elevation of Neeta Mukherjee as the Chief Credit Officer. In what virtually ended all of its customer-facing activities in India, RBS announced last month it will shut its 10 branches serving the retail segment in the country.

India's largest bank, State Bank of India (SBI) and MasterCard announced pilot launch of a distribution alliance with travel prepaid cards distributor Centrum. This partnership will aid the distribution strength of the Bank for it's multicurrency prepaid card and will largely target the corporate customers of the bank. The Bank is excited as this has been the first ever alliance SBI has entered into to supplement their distribution reach which is already very deep in the consumer segment. The partnership with Centrum will help the Bank to serve the Corporate Segment in a focused and more personalised manner.  To start with, the pilot will be initiated in select branches and based on the learning will be expanded across the country in near future . Outbound travel from India has witnessed a steep surge over the past few years, with DGCA findings further stating that outbound travel is slated to grow to 50mn travelers by 2020 from 17.2mn in 2014. Within this, outbound travel for business from India has also risen by several notches, and this has created a need for a payment solution that brings a range of relevant benefits.  With Centrum's capabilities of a wide distribution network, the partnership between SBI, MasterCard and Centrum will enable better and stronger outreach to an increasing number of corporates with this proposition .

Railways has signed a pact with the Odisha government for setting up a joint venture company for development of rail infrastructure in the eastern state.  Under the agreement, Railways will have 49 per cent stake while the state government will own 51 per cent in the JV company which will identify projects for development and mobilisation of financial resources for their execution. As part of it, the two partners will fund part of such identified projects, it said, adding, project-specific special purpose vehicles (SPVs) would also be formed after financial closure of the project.  In view of growing demands for railway lines in various states and huge requirement of funds to execute them, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had announced in his budget speech setting up of joint ventures with states for focused project development, resource mobilisation, land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.  As many as 17 state governments have consented to formation of JV companies for development of rail infrastructure in their respective state.

Public Sector Power equipment manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has commissioned 195 MW unit at Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Station in Bihar.  This is the second 195 MW unit to be commissioned by BHEL at the 2×195 MW Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Station Stage-II of Kanti Bijlee Utpadan Nigam Limited (KBUNL). KBUNL is a joint venture (JV) of NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) and BSPGCL (Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited).  The first 195 MW unit was commissioned in March, 2015. For this thermal power plant, BHEL had envisaged design, manufacturing, engineering, supply, erection and commissioning of steam turbines, generators and boilers, along with associated auxiliaries etc.  It should be note that BHEL is the leading supplier of coal-based main plant equipment to NTPC and its joint ventures. It has an over 80% share in their installed capacity in them.

Australian Great Barrier Reef rodent (also known as Bramble Cay melomys) has become the first mammal species driven to extinction by human-induced climate change. It was revealed after researchers in extensive survey (searches) failed to find a single specimen from its only known habitat on a sandy island in far northern Australia. The extensive survey in the hope of conserving the species was conducted by Scientists from the University of Queensland, after a study in 2014 found no sign of the species. The main reason for extinction Bramble Cay melomys is anthropogenic climate change. The climate change caused in ocean inundation (due to sea rise) of the low-lying cay areas of their habitat over the last decade resulting in dramatic habitat loss. Bramble Cay melomys  : Bramble Cay melomys is a small rat-like (rodent) animal species in the family Muridae. It is Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic (found nowhere else) mammal species. It was mainly found in a small coral cay called Bramble Cay located off the north coast of Queensland in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Their coral cay habitat was only 340m long and 150m wide and was 3m above sea level. It was first discovered in 1845 on the cay by Europeans who shot the “large rats” for sport. The last known sighting of this species was in 2009 by a professional fisherman.

The United Nations General Assembly has  elected Israel to chair its Legal Committee, which is also known as the Sixth Committee on 13 June 2016. It is for the first time ever that Israel has been chosen to head one of its six permanent committees. In the secret ballot election, Israel received 109 Yes votes. No votes were cast against Israel. However, there were 23 abstentions, 14 invalid ballots and 43 votes for other countries in the Western European. Sixth Committee : The United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal) is one of the main committees of the United Nations General Assembly. The Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly. The committee has universal membership, which means all member states of the UN are de jure members of the Sixth committee. It is led by a chairman assisted by three vice-chairmen and a rapporteur. It meets every year from late September to late November.

Jal Marg Vikas is a project on the river Ganga that is being developed between Allahabad and Haldia to cover a distance of 1620 kilometers.The project is being implemented with technical and investment support from World Bank and would be completed over a period of six years at an estimated cost of 4200 crore rupees. It envisages development of a fairway with three metres depth which would enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 ton vessels on the river. The construction of multi modal terminals, jetties, river information system, channel marking, navigational lock, river training and conservancy works are to be undertaken as part of the project. They are: Varanasi : Phase-I (A) of the project is being implemented on 5.586 hectares of land at Ram Nagar, Varanasi, mainly for offshore works of the terminal. Haldia : 61 acres of land has been taken on 30 years’ lease from the Haldia Dock Complex for construction of the terminal. Sahibganj : The requirement of land for the main terminal, rail and road connectivity, resettlement and rehabilitation of 235 households has been assessed at 241.63 acres for which land acquisition proceedings are in progress.

Scientists have discovered a Jupiter-like planet, Kepler-1647b, orbiting a system of two stars, making it the largest such cosmic body ever found. The planet Kepler-1647b, located in the constellation Cygnus, was discovered by astronomers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre and San Diego State University (SDSU) in the US. Researchers said that the Kepler-1647 is 3700 light-years away and about 4.4 billion years old, roughly the same age as the Earth. The planet was discovered by using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, an instrument launched in 2009 to look for potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.The stars are similar to the Sun, with one slightly larger than our home star and the other slightly smaller. The planet has a mass and radius nearly identical to that of Jupiter, making it the largest transiting circumbinary planet ever found. Planets that orbit two stars are known as circumbinary planets. It takes 1107 days (over three years) to orbit its host stars, which is the longest period of any confirmed transiting exoplanet found so far. Orbit of the planet puts it within the so-called habitable zone, which means the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.Like Jupiter, it is also a gas giant, making the planet unlikely to host life.The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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