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INDIAN EXPRESS EDITORIALS AND EXPLAINED 27TH DECEMBER 2019

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ISSUE: ATAL BHUJAL YOJANA

ON WEDNESDAY, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana, or Atal Jal, a day after the Cabinet approved it. Atal Jal is a World Bank-funded, central scheme aimed at improving groundwater management. It was approved by the World Bank Board in June 2018.

How scarce is water in India?

India accounts for 16 per cent of the world’s population living in less than 2.5 per cent of the global area, and has just 4 per cent of the global water resources.

According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), the estimated water resources potential of the country, which occurs as natural runoff in the rivers, is 1,999 billion cubic metres.

Of this, the estimated utilisable resources are 1,122 billion cubic metres per year — 690 BCM per year surface water and 432 BCM per year replenishable groundwater.

With the population rising, demand for water will increase manifold in coming years. According to the CWC, per capita availability in the country will decrease from 1,434 cubic metres in 2025 to 1,219 cubic metres in 2050.

By CWC benchmarks, a water-stressed condition happens when per capita availability is less than 1,700 cubic metres, and a water-scarcity condition when per capita availability falls below 1,000 cubic metres.

Some river basins are facing a water-scarcity condition. Among these are the basins of the Indus (up to the border), Krishna, Cauvery, Subarnarekha, Pennar, Mahi, Sabarmati and east-flowing rivers, and west-flowing rivers of Kutch and Saurashtra including Luni.

Water scarcity is most acute in the basins of the Cauvery, Pennar, Sabarmati and east-flowing rivers, and west-flowing rivers of Kutch and Saurashtra including Luni.

Compared to the decadal average for 2009-18, there has been a decline in the groundwater level in 61% of wells monitored by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), according to a reply by the Jal Shakti Ministry in Parliament recently. Among the states where at least 100 wells were monitored, the highest depletion has been in Karnataka (80%), Maharashtra (75%), Uttar Pradesh (73%), Andhra Pradesh (73%), Punjab (69%).

How much of this does the new scheme seek to address?

For now, the Atal Bhujal Yojana will be implemented in seven states – Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and UP over five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25. It is expected that it will benefit about 8,350 gram panchayats in 78 districts. According to Jal Shakti Ministry sources, if the scheme meets its objectives in water-stressed areas, it will be extended to other parts of the country.

How will these objectives be met?

The focus will be on arresting the rate of decline of groundwater levels as well as water consumption. The scheme will seek to strengthen the institutional framework and bring about behavioural changes at community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. It envisages community-led Water Security Plans.

There has been a Groundwater Management and Regulation scheme to manage the country’s groundwater resources since 2013. The new scheme is an updated and modified version. Concepts such as ‘Water User Associations’ and Water Budgeting will be introduced. Better performing districts and panchayats will get more funds.

Where will this money come from?

Of the Rs 6,000 crore, Rs 3,000 crore will be contributed by the World Bank as loan while the other half will be provided by the central government in the form of central assistance. All of it — the World Bank component and central assistance — will be given to the states as grants.

 

GOOD GOVERNANCE INDEX

On Wednesday, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh launched the Good Governance Index (GGI). December 25, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was declared Good Governance Day by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

Minister Singh said the GGI had been “scientifically designed” to reflect various parameters of governance.

WHAT IS GOOD GOVERNANCE?

“Good governance can be referred as an effective and efficient process of decisionmaking and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented) keeping the amelioration of citizens as the topmost priority. Resource allocation, creation of formal establishments, setting up rules and regulations etc., are part of achieving this goal.”

Good Governance Index (GGI)

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, GGI is a uniform tool that will help in assessing the status of governance and the impact of interventions undertaken by governments across all states and UTs.

Measuring performance of states

GGI will consider 10 sectors: agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare and development, judicial & public security, environment, and citizen-centric governance.

On the index, Tamil Nadu has got the highest score (5.62), followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh (5.4, 5.1, and 5.05) respectively.

Among the Northeastern and hill states, Himachal Pradesh is at the top with a score of 5.22, followed by Uttarakhand, Tripura, and Mizoram at 4.87, 4.5, and 4.41 respectively.

In the list of environment rankings, West Bengal is on top, followed by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.

In economic governance ranking, Karnataka leads, followed by Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

ISSUE: BRAHMOS LATEST UPGRADE

Last week, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out two successful tests of the latest variant of the BrahMos missile, one from the land platform and the other from air. BrahMos, developed through a collaboration between India and Russia, is one of the most advanced weapons in India’s armoury.

The missile

BrahMos is a cruise missile, meaning it can be guided towards a pre-determined land- or sea-based target. With a capability to attain speeds 2.8 times that of sound (Mach 2.8), BrahMos is classified as supersonic cruise missile. A newer version under development is aimed at flying at speeds greater than Mach 5. These are called hypersonic cruise missiles. Besides decreasing the reaction time of the enemy, higher speeds also substantially reduce the chances of the missile getting intercepted.

An amalgam of the names of the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva, BrahMos is being produced by BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture company set up by DRDO and Mashinostroyenia of Russia in 1998. The first version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was inducted into the Indian Navy in 2005, meant to be fired from INS Rajput.

In November 2017, the Indian Air Force had become the first in the world to successfully air-launch a Mach 2.8 supersonic surface-attack missile of this category from a fighter jet. It had destroyed an at sea-target in the Bay of Bengal at that time. This year, on May 22, an air-launch was tested again, this time against a land-based target in the Car Nicobar Islands region.

The BrahMos Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), as it has since been called, has been a significant addition in IAF’s air combat capability from stand-off ranges. Stand-off range missiles are ones that are launched at a distance sufficient to allow an attacking party to evade defensive fire expected from the target area. Officials said that stand-off range missiles, of which cruise missiles are a type, have been in the arsenal of all the major powers of the world.

Last week’s test has again validated the ship attack capability of the ALCM. During the test, the missile was gravity-dropped from the fuselage of a Su-30 and the two-stage missile’s engine fired up. Subsequently, the missile propelled towards a target ship at the sea, destroying it with pinpoint accuracy.

 

 

 

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