THE KARNATAKA GRAM SWARAJ AND PANCHAYAT RAJ (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2020 

#GS2 #Polity #Governance 

The Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by the Karnataka Assembly to bring about major changes in the functioning of the rural local bodies in Karnataka. 

Salient features of the Bill: 

  • The Bill amends the Karnataka Gram swaraj and Panchayat Raj act, 1993. 
  • It reduces the term of the offices of presidents and vice-presidents of gram panchayats, taluk panchayats and zilla panchayats from five years to 30 months. 
  • No-confidence motion could not be moved against the presidents and vice-presidents of all three-tiers of local bodies before 15 months from the date of election. At present, no-confidence motion can be moved within 30 months from the date of election. 
  • The Deputy Commissioner would preside over the meeting while no-confidence motion is considered in taluk panchayat and the regional commissioner would preside in the case of ZP. 
  • In case the no-confidence moved is defeated, then no such motion is to be moved again in the next six months. 
  • The Bill envisages some electoral reforms and that included closing of liquor shops 48 hours before the polling of panchayats. 
  • On property tax collection by GPs: It has proposed no tax on vacant land in airport or industrial area or industrial areas where plantations are grown. It proposes to levy 0.10% tax on the capital value of the property on the runway area of an airport. 

Rabi harvest to be affected for want of farm workers 

#GS3 #Agriculture 

Farmers worry about govt. procurement and the ability to sell crops as markets are still closed. 

  • Farmers worry about government procurement and their ability to sell their crops, given that many mandis or agricultural markets are still closed, despite fresh Home Ministry orders to exempt all such farming activities from the shutdown.   
  • Wheat, mustard, rabi paddy, maize, chickpeas and soyabean are amongst the major crops harvested during this season. Most of the agricultural workers in Haryana and Punjab come from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and will not be there for this harvesting season.   
  • For the wheat harvest, farmers may be able to use mechanical combine harvesters. But Punjab’s mandis alone employ 3.5 lakh agricultural workers during this season, to load, weigh, clean and bag the produce.   
  • The mechanical combine harvesters owned by Punjab and Haryana farmers are also stuck in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, which harvest their wheat earlier than the northern States.   
  • Haryana has written to the Central Food Ministry, asking for incentives to farmers in a bid to stagger the procurement process and prevent congestion at mandis in late April.   
  • It wants to offer an additional ₹50 per quintal for those able to store their crops and wait to sell until May 5, and ₹125 for those willing to hold on till June.  

Relief on crop loans 

  • The Centre offered some relief on crop loans up to ₹3 lakh which are due for repayment between March and May, by deciding to extend 2% interest subvention to banks and 3% prompt repayment incentive to all farmers up to May 31, 2020.   
  • The State government was struggling to deal with the health crisis and did not plan to address the agricultural concerns till the end of the month.   
  • The Telangana government has announced that it will procure all non-perishable crops at the village level itself, freeing the farmer of the responsibility of finding storage or transport to the mandis.   
  • The Home Ministry issued an addendum to its lockdown guidelines, exempting all farming activities, after an uproar by the agricultural community. However, farmer groups say implementation on the ground is still patchy.  

Forest Fires 

#GS3 #Environment  

In Telangana, a whopping 3,996 fires have been recorded in the last seven days. 

  • The State has recorded over 6,000 fires in its forests since November 1 last year, of which a whopping 3,996 were recorded in the last seven days only, both numbers being highest in the country as per the alerts put out by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) and the Suomi-National Polar Orbiting Partnership Spacecraft-Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite part of the alert system.    
  • Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) spread over former composite Adilabad district recorded 134 fires between March 1 and 21 while the number jumped to 477 for a much smaller period, between March 22 and 29.  
  • March 29 was the worst of the days as it saw a mindboggling 103 fires raging in the KTR forest.   

Kawal Tiger Reserve 

  • Kawal Tiger Reserve is located at Adilabad district in Telangana state of India. 
  • The Government of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012. 
  • The Kawal wildlife sanctuary was established in 1965 and later declared as the Protected Area (PA) in 1999 under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 
  • Flora: Dry Deciduous Teak Forests mixed with Bamboo. 
  • Fauna: Mammal species that have been sighted include tiger, leopard, gaur, cheetal, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, chowsingha, sloth bear. 
  • The River Kadam (a tributary of Godavari) flows through this area. 
  • The area is increasingly getting threatened by growing human encroachments, rampant poaching, illegal wood felling and habitat loss. 

NRIs can now invest in specified govt. bonds 

#GS3 #Economy 

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced a separate channel, namely ‘Fully Accessible Route’ (FAR), to enable non-residents to invest in specified government bonds with effect from April 1. 

  • The move follows the Union Budget announcement that certain specified categories of government bonds would be opened fully for non-resident investors without any restrictions. 
  • “Eligible investors can invest in specified government securities without being subject to any investment ceilings. This scheme shall operate along with the two existing routes, viz., the Medium Term Framework (MTF) and the Voluntary Retention Route (VRR),” the RBI said. 

What is being sprayed on migrants, is it safe? 

The chemical in the spray was a sodium hypochlorite solution. Sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as a bleaching agent, and also to sanitise swimming pools. 

Is the chemical safe? 

  • As a common bleaching agent, sodium hypochlorite is used for a variety of cleaning and disinfecting purposes.  
  • It releases chlorine, which is a disinfectant.  
  • The concentration of the chemical in the solution varies according to the purpose it is meant for. Large quantities of chlorine can be harmful.  
  • A normal household bleach usually is a 2-10% sodium hypochlorite solution.  
  • At a much lower 0.25-0.5%, this chemical is used to treat skin wounds like cuts or scrapes.  
  • An even weaker solution (0.05%) is sometimes used as a handwash. 

Does the chemical get rid of the novel coronavirus? 

The World Health Organization, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend homemade bleach solutions of about 2-10% concentration to clean hard surfaces to clear them of any presence of the novel coronavirus.

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