UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Climatic Zones and their Characteristics

by - Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala, Deputy Director(M & C), PIB, New Delhi

Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the “average weather”, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). These quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.

The difference between climate and weather is usefully summarized by the popular phrase “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”. Over historical time spans there are a number of static variables that determine climate, including latitude, altitude, proportion of land to water, proximity to oceans and their currents, mountains, persistent ice or snow cover, humidity, rainfall, atmospheric particle count, the density and type of vegetation coverage affecting solar heat absorption, water retention, and rainfall on a regional level.

Alterations in the quantity of atmospheric greenhouse gases determines the amount of solar energy retained by the planet, leading to global warming or global cooling. Modern climate classification methods also focus on the relative frequency of different air mass types or locations within synoptic weather disturbances, plant hardiness, evapotranspiration, air mass origin and certain biomes. Regions having similar characteristics features of climate are grouped under one climatic zone based on the climatic factors. The country can be divided into a number of climatic zones. India can be divided into six climatic zones, namely, hot and dry, warm and humid, moderate, cold and cloudy, cold and sunny and composite.

Particularly mean monthly temperatures-minimum and maximum and relative humidity are considered here. A place is assigned to one of the first five climatic zones only when the defined conditions prevail there for more than six months. In cases where none of the defined categories can be identified for six months or longer, the climatic zone is called composite. According to recent code of Bureau of Indian Standards, the country may be divided into five major climatic zones. It is seen that the recent classification is not very different from the earlier one except that the cold and cloudy, and cold and sunny have been groupedtogether as cold climate; the moderate climate is renamed as temperate climate. However, a small variation is noticed as far as the land area of the country corresponding to different zones is concerned.

It may be mentioned that each climatic zone does not experience the same climate for the whole year. It has a particular season for more than six months and may experience other seasons for the remaining period.

Hot and Dry
The hot and dry zone lies in the western and the central part of India, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Sholapur are some of the towns that experience this type of climate. The mean monthly temperature remains 30 degree celsius and relative humidity 55 %.A typical hot and dry region is usually flat with sandy or rocky ground conditions, and sparse vegetation comprising cacti, thorny trees and bushes.

There are few sources of water on the surface, and the underground water level is also very low. Due to intense solar radiation (values as high as 800-950 W/m2), the ground and the surroundings of this region are heated up very quickly during day time. In summer, the maximum ambient temperatures are as high as 40-45 oC during the day and 20-30 oC at night. In winter, the values are between 5 and 25 oC during the day and 0 to 10 oC at night. It may be noted that the diurnal variation in temperature is quite high, that is, more than 10 oC.

The climate is described as dry because the relative humidity is generally very low, ranging from 25 to 40% due to low vegetation and surface water bodies. Moreover, the hot and dry regions receive less rainfall – the annual precipitation being less than 500 mm. Hot winds blow during the day in summers and sand storms are also experienced. The night is usually cool and pleasant.

A generally clear sky, with high solar radiation causing an uncomfortable glare, is typical of this zone. As the sky is clear at night, the heat absorbed by the ground during the day is quickly dissipated to the atmosphere. Hence, the air is much cooler at night than during the day. In such a climate, it is imperative to control solar radiation and movement of hot winds. The design criteria should therefore aim at resisting heat gain by providing shading, reducing exposed area, controlling and scheduling ventilation, and increasing thermal capacity.

The presence of “water bodies” is desirable as they can help increase the humidity, lot of heat in the afternoons and evenings. As far as possible, this heat should be avoided by appropriate design features.

Warm and Humid
The warm and humid zone covers the coastal parts of the country. Some cities that fall under this zone are Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The high humidity encourages abundant vegetation in these regions. The diffuse fraction of solar radiation is quite high due to cloud cover, and the radiation can be intense on clear days. The dissipation of the accumulated heat from the earth to the night sky is generally marginal due to the presence of clouds. Hence, the diurnal variation in temperature is quite low. In summer, temperatures can reach as high as 30 – 35 o C during the day and 25-30 o C at night. In winter, the maximum temperature is between 25 to 30 o C during the day and 20 to 25 o C at night. Although the temperatures are not excessive, the high humidity causes discomfort. An important characteristic of this region is the relative humidity, which is generally very high, about 70-90% throughout the year. Precipitation is also high, being about 1200 mm per year, or even more. Hence, the provision for quick drainage of water is essential in this zone. The wind is generally from one or two prevailing directions with speed ranging from extremely low to very high. Wind is desirable in this climate, as it can cause sensible cooling of the body. The main design criteria in the warm and humid region are to reduce heat gain by providing shading, and promote heat loss by maximizing cross ventilation. Dissipation of humidity is also essential to reduce discomfort.

Pune and Banglore are examples of cities that fall under this climatic zone. Areas having a moderate climate are generally located on hilly or high-plateau regions with fairly abundant vegetation. The solar radiation in this region is more or less the same throughout the year. Being located at relatively higher elevations, these places experience lower temperatures than hot and dry regions. The temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold. In summers, the temperature reaches 30 – 34 o C during the day and 17 – 24 o C at night. In winter, the maximum temperature is between 27 to 33 o C during the day and 16 to 18 o C at night. The design criteria in the moderate zone are to reduce heat gain by providing shading, and to promote heat loss by ventilation.

The composite zone covers the central part of India. Some cities that experience this type of climate are New Delhi, Kanpur and Allahabad. A variable landscape and seasonal vegetation characterize this zone. The intensity of solar radiation is very high in summer with diffuse radiation amounting to a small fraction of the total. In monsoons, the intensity is low with predominantly diffuse radiation. The maximum daytime temperature in summers is in the range of 32 – 43 o C, and night time values are from 27 to 32 o C. In winter, the values are between 10 to 25 o C during the day and 4 to 10 o C at night. The relative humidity is about 20 – 25 % in dry periods and 55 – 95 % in wet periods. The presence of high humidity during monsoon months is one of the reasons why places like New Delhi and Nagpur are grouped under the composite and not hot and dry climate. Precipitation in this zone varies between 500 – 1300 mm per year. This region receives strong winds during monsoons from the south-east and dry cold winds from the north-east. In summer, the winds are hot and dusty. The sky is overcast and dull in the monsoon, clear in winter and frequently hazy in summer. Generally, composite regions experience higher humidity levels during monsoons than hot and dry zones. Otherwise most of their characteristics are similar to the latter. Thus, the design criteria are more or less the same as for hot and dry climate except that maximizing cross ventilation is desirable in the monsoon period.

Cold and Cloudy
Generally, the northern part of India experiences this type of climate. Most cold and cloudy regions are situated at high altitudes. Ootacamund, Shimla, Shillong, Srinagar and Mahabaleshwar are examples of places belonging to this climatic zone. These are generally highland regions having abundant vegetation in summer. The intensity of solar radiation is low in winter with a high percentage of diffuse radiation. Hence, winters are extremely cold. In summer, the maximum ambient temperatures is in the range of 20 – 30 o C during the day and 17 – 27 o C at night, making summers quite pleasant. In winter, the values range between 4 and 8 o C during the day and -3 to 4 o C at night, making it quite chilly. The relative humidity is generally high and ranges from 70 – 80 %. Annual total precipitation is about 1000 mm and is disturbed evenly throughout the year. This region experiences cold winds in the winter season. Hence, protection from winds is essential in this type of climate. The sky is overcast for most part of the year except during the brief summer. Conditions in summer are usually clear and pleasant, but owing to cold winters, the main criteria for design in the cold and cloudy region aim at resisting heat loss by insulation and infiltration, and promoting heat gain by directly admitting and trapping solar radiation within the living space.

Cold and Sunny
The cold and sunny type of climate is experienced in Leh (Ladakh). The region is mountainous, has little vegetation, and is considered to be a cold desert. The solar radiation is generally intense with a very low percentage of diffuse radiation. In summer, the temperature reaches 17 – 24 o C during the day and 4 – 11 o C at night. In winter, the values range from -7 to 8 o C during the day and -14 to 0 o C at night. Winters thus, are extremely cold.

The relative humidity is consistently low ranging from about 10 – 50 % and precipitation is generally less than 200 mm per year. Winds are occasionally intense. The sky is fairly clear throughout the year with a cloud cover of less than 50%.As this region experiences cold desert climatic conditions, the design criteria are to resist heat loss by insulation and controlling infiltration. Simultaneously, heat gain needs to be promoted by admitting and trapping solar radiation within the living space.

Universalizing Secondary Education

Government’s initiatives during the 11th Five Year Plan
by - Subhash C. Khuntia, Joint Secretary, (Secondary Education), Ministry of Human Resource Development

Secondary Education occupies a crucial stage in the educational hierarchy as it prepares the students for higher education and also to face the challenges of life at large. Besides moulding the personality traits, this stage of education also enhances individual level of productivity.

The remarkable growth of enrolment in elementary education and improvement in retention rate over the past few years, particularly among more disadvantageous sections of society, have dramatically shifted the focus to the Secondary Education sector in the country.

Increased Demand For Secondary And Higher Education
While pressure on Secondary Education is already being felt due to the success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universalisation of Elementary Education ), India’s impressive and sustained economic growth has worked as an impetus for increased demand for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.
Added to this is the increased awareness about the role of Secondary Education, in particular for the girl child, in reinforcing positive social outcomes. There is a growing realization of the desirability to universalize access to secondary education leading to greater opportunity for participation to all. In other words, the challenge today is how to drastically improve the reach and quality of Secondary Education.
Keeping in view the rapid growth of Indian economy, the demographic advantage that India enjoys, the centrality of education in social and economic development, and the role of education in poverty reduction, an all out emphasis on education is visible in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12) which has an allocation of Rs. 2,89,000 crore for Education constituting 19.4% of the total plan size. This is a steep increase from the share of 7.7% in the 10th Plan. With a view to achieve the goal of universalisation of access to secondary education while improving quality in a phased and sustained manner, the allocation for the Secondary Education sector for the 11th five year plan has been pegged at Rs. 53,550 crore, which reflects a quantum jump from the 10th Five year plan allocation of Rs. 4, 325 crore. This twelve fold increase brings within its fold a series of new schemes besides revising existing schemes making their design, intervention and coverage wider and more focused.

The importance accorded to secondary education can be gauged from the fact that it occupies a share of 19.9% of the total Central Plan allocation to the education sector in the 11th Plan as compared to only 9.9% in the 10th Plan.

The Most Active, Dynamic And Happening Sector
In all, there are eight important schemes being rolled out in the Secondary Education sector alone, during the 11th Plan, making it one of the most active, dynamic and happening sectors. The new schemes that have already been rolled out, or in the pipeline are:
(1) Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan,
(2) Model Schools,
(3) National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship,
(4) Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education,
(5) Girls’ Hostel
(6) ICT in Schools,
(7) Inclusive Education for the Disabled Children and
(8) Vocationalization of Secondary Education.

These schemes, individually as well as collectively, address issues connected with access, equity and quality in the entire gamut of Secondary Education sector.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan
Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) or SUCCESS (Scheme of Universalization of Access to and Improvement of Quality at Secondary Stage) , as the scheme is alternatively called, will be a centrally sponsored scheme for universalizing access to secondary level through substantial enhancement of access so that by the end of 12th Five Year Plan, there would generally be a high school within 5 kms of any habitation. The main objectives include improvement of the gross enrolment ratio for classes IX-X to 75% by 2012 from 52.26% in 2005-06 and to provide facilities for estimated additional enrolment of 63 lakh by 2011-12 through strengthening of 44,000 existing Government high schools and opening of nearly 12, 000 new high schools, through upgradation of higher primary schools, appointment of 2.50 lakh additional teachers and construction of 1.33 lakh additional classrooms.

The scheme envisages development of State-specific norms. The general strategies are to provide required infrastructure and teaching-learning resources, including laboratories, libraries , computer rooms, toilets and qualified teachers. The scheme also envisages in-service training of teachers, capacity building of Headmasters and broad-based curricular, examination and educational governance reforms. National Curriculum Framework 2005 is already a right step in the direction of desirable curricular reforms.

As a basic requirement in planning the entire activity, complete mapping of secondary schools for developing a comprehensive Secondary Education Information and Management System (SEMIS) is being undertaken by the States.

Rs. 20,120 crore has been allocated for this scheme during the 11th Five year Plan, with a budget provision of Rs. 2185 crore during 2008-09. The ultimate aim is to universalize secondary education by achieving full enrolment by the end of the XIIth Plan, i.e., 2017, and to attain full retention by 2020.

6000 Model Schools at Block Level
Pursuant to the announcement of the Prime Minister, during his address to the nation on the Independence Day last year, the scheme of model school supports 6,000 new high quality schools – one in every block of the country. These schools will play a pace-setting role for other schools in the Block. The schools would have quality infrastructure, innovative curriculum, pedagogy and assessment system, effective and innovative use of educational technologies including ICT and a superior system of school management and governance. 3500 of these schools will be set up in the Government sector whereas 2500 will be set up under public-private partnership.

An amount of Rs. 12,750 crore has been earmarked for the scheme in the 11th five year plan and the budget allocation for 2008-09 is Rs. 650 crore. It is expected that these schools, spread over the entire country, will act as live demonstration of what a good school should be, and will act as nuclei for a positive qualitative shift in the schools of the neighbouring area, and will thus lead to a quality revolution in the secondary education sector.
National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme

While access to secondary education needs to be substantially improved, the issue of equity is equally important to achieve our ultimate aim of inclusiveness in the society. To bring meritorious students belonging to dis-advantageous and socially and economically backward section of the society to the secondary schools, the Central Government has launched a scheme to award one lakh new scholarships every year to students of class IX. Each selected student will be given Rs. 500 per month for study in classes IX upto XII. This is intended to arrest the drop-out at class VIII and to encourage the students to continue upto the end of the higher secondary stage.

Selection test for the first batch of students is being conducted by most State Governments on 16th or 17th August, 2008. It is hoped that the drop-outing of many bright students at the end of upper primary level would be checked because of this scheme, which will motivate them to continue to excel.

Incentive Scheme for SC/ST Girls
Gender disparity in secondary education is a cause of concern. In 2005-06, the enrolment ratio for girls in the secondary stage was 46.23% as against the figure of 57.72% for boys. Similarly, the drop-out rate for girls from class I to X was 73.7% as against 68% for boys. The disparity in case of SC/ST girls is even more alarming with the enrolment for ST girls at a lowly 32.6% and drop-out rate at a high of 79.8%.

In this background, the Central Government has launched a centrally sponsored scheme to encourage higher participation of girls. Under the scheme, a sum of Rs. 3000 will be deposited in the names of all SC/ST girls and also all girls who have studied in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, who pass class VIII and enrol for class IX in Government and Government-aided schools. The amount with interest will be payable to the girls after they reach the age of 18 provided they complete at least class X successfully.

Girls’ Hostel Scheme
Another scheme specially aimed at enhancement of participation of girl students, is to provide hostel facility so that they don’t discontinue secondary education due to distance from home to school. The scheme will assist the State Governments for construction of one 100-seater hostel in each of about 3500 identified educationally backward blocks in the country. The target group would be the girls studying in classes IX to XII, with special focus on SC, ST, OBC, minority and families below poverty line. The Central Government will also assist the States in meeting a major part of the recurring cost for running the hostels during the 11th Plan. An allocation of Rs. 2000 crore has been made in the 11th Plan for this purpose.
Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in Schools

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in School” was launched in December 2004, for imparting ICT literacy to high school students and also to use ICT in an effective way to enhance the quality of teaching. The Scheme is a major catalyst to bridge the digital divide amongst students of various socio economic and other geographical barriers. The Scheme provides support to States/UTs to establish ICT infrastructure on a sustainable basis and to provide internet connectivity.

The Scheme currently covers both Government and Government aided secondary and higher secondary schools.
Support is provided for procurement of computers and peripherals, educational software, training of teachers and internet connectivity.
A computer lab having at least 10 working stations is envisaged in each school. For Smart Schools the lab may have at least 40 work stations.

The project cost is shared in the ratio of : 75:25 between Centre and General Category States and 90:10 between Centre and Special Category States. During 2007-08, assistance was provided for 22,833 schools.

Allocation for the scheme for the 11th Five Year Plan is Rs. 6000 crore. It is proposed to ICT-enable all the government and government aided schools in the country by the end of the 11th Plan, so as to bring about a major qualitative improvement in teaching-learning process in these schools.

Inclusive Education for Disabled Children
The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Integrated Education for Disabled Children was launched in 1974 with a view to provide educational opportunities to children with mild to moderate disability in common schools and facilitate their retention in the school system.
Under the scheme, disabled children receive allowances for books & stationery, uniform, equipment (assistive aids), transport, readers, escorts, and boarding and lodging. The scheme also provides for appointment of special teachers, attendants for severely orthopaedically handicapped children, removal of architectural barriers and production of relevant instructional material. 2.84 lakh disabled children were covered under this scheme in 28 States/UTs during the Xth Plan. Over 200 NGOs were engaged in implementing the scheme. At the end of the 2007-08, 3.6 lakh disabled children were covered in 31 States/UTs with an expenditure of Rs.76.11 crore in 2007-08.

Steps have been initiated for launching a new scheme of “Inclusive Education of the Disabled at Secondary Stage” so as to shift the focus from integration to inclusion, and a no rejection policy in the schools.

Vocationalisation of Secondary Education
The existing Centrally Sponsored scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education was launched in 1988 and has already covered 10,000 schools with 25,000 vocational sections through establishment of capacity for an annual intake of 10 lakh students. Presently 150 vocational courses are being offered. The scheme of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education is under revamp to make it more need-based and to reduce the demand and supply gap in the economy.

Besides introducing new skill-based courses at the higher secondary level with appropriate curriculum, 10,000 new vocational schools are proposed to be opened so as to enroll about 25 lakh students in these courses. Linkage with industry, scope for horizontal and vertical mobility, training of vocational teachers, modularity of courses with multiple entry and exit facilities, career guidance and counseling, apprenticeship etc., will be insisted upon so as to ensure that the courses practically benefit the students in choosing the career and in specialization in higher education.

Other Schemes
The Central Government also runs Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas through autonomous organizations to provide quality education. These are pace setting schools for the entire country. There are 981 Kendriya Vidyalayas as of now. 50 of these were opened in educationally backward special focus districts during the last two years.

Navodaya Vidyalayas are residential schools meant to provide quality education to talented rural children. There are 554 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas in as many districts and these help fulfilling the aspiration of a large number of bright rural children and their parents. All expenses on boarding and lodging of students of JNVs as well as expenses on their uniform, stationery etc. are borne through support from the Central Government. It has been decided to open 20 new Vidyalayas in districts having large concentration of SC and ST population so as to give a boost to education of meritorious SC/ST children.

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), another autonomous organization under the Ministry of HRD provides opportunity to those outside the formal school system to learn through distance education mode. The Central Government also encourages State Governments to open their own State Open Schools. Besides conventional curriculum for various stages of school education till higher secondary level, the National Open School also offers a variety of vocational courses of practical utility. With the advent of knowledge economy and its attendant requirement of skill and attitude, the importance of secondary education can not be over stressed. The Central Government, in partnership with State Governments has chalked out a blue print to enhance access to quality secondary education while ensuring equity.

National Campaign on Homoeopathy for Mother and Child Care

by - Prof. Chaturbhuja Nayak, Director, Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, New Delhi

The different AYUSH systems have their particular strengths as far as the treatment is concerned. The Department of AYUSH has launched National Campaigns so as to focus on the strengths of the different AYUSH systems relating to particular areas of concern. Homoeopathy has been chosen for Mother and Child Care.

Even though there has been tremendous improvement in the health indices relating to women and children after independence, a great deal remains to be done if we are to achieve the levels already attained in the developed countries. Mother and child health is also a focus area in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The task of improving the health status of women and children is so enormous that unless combined efforts of Central and State Governments, NGOs and all sections of civil society are made significant improvement in the situation can not be achieved.

Homoeopathy for Mother and Child Care
Homoeopathy is the second most widely practiced system of treatment after allopathy. The public acceptance of this system is growing very fast. Due to the increased demand for this therapy, the development of Homoeopathy in the recent past has been impressive across in the country. Homoeopathy has a very definite role to play in the health care delivery system in the country because it is effective, safe and affordable and the interventions are also simple to administer. The fact that homoeopathic treatment is cost effective is another plus point. The ever-increasing cost of conventional health care has had the unfortunate effect of reducing the ability of the poor to access quality health care. This is where Homoeopathy treatment has an advantage.

Whilst specifically talking about Homoeopathy in mother and child care, it can be emphasized that homoeopathic medicines can be safely used in sensitive conditions like pregnancy, lactation, infancy and early childhood, without the possibility of adverse events.

At the start of Campaign, a National Workshop on “Homoeopathy for Healthy Mother and Happy Child” was organized by the Department of AYUSH and Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy on 5th and 6th November 2007 at New Delhi. The objectives of the workshop were to sensitize the stakeholders, policy makers and physicians from other medical disciplines, pharmaceutical industry, NGOs etc. regarding the strengths of Homoeopathy in Mother and Child Care and to create greater awareness and avenues for coordination amongst the practitioners of different streams of medicine thereby benefiting the patients at large.

The workshop also aimed to assist the participants in acquisition of practical knowledge that will lend them for the follow up activities of replicating this workshop at state and district levels and also become active participants in the development and evaluation of women and child health programs in India, through Homoeopathy. The workshop unanimously resolved that Homoeopathy could play a useful role in preventive and promotive health care of women and children and popularize and utilize the system at the primary and secondary health care delivery level. Central Government will provide financial and technical support for the IEC activities to the State Governments.

The State Governments will set up more Homoeopathic Indoor and Outdoor treatment facilities in existing allopathic hospitals under the NRHM. A CME programme for practitioners exclusively on mother and child care would be evolved and implemented at district level. The Panchayati Raj institutions, Urban self-government institutions, NGOs would also be involved in the campaign. Resource centers at central and state level will also be set up. It was also resolved to constitute a National Task Force under the Department of AYUSH with a representative from the State Governments to plan and coordinate campaign.

The National Task force has been constituted which has identified the States for conducting State level workshops in the first phase. These states have been provided guidelines for conducting workshops in their states. States which have conducted workshops are provided the action plan for implementing the campign activities at the grass root level.

State Level Workshops on Homoeopathy for Mother and Child Care
The National Campaign at New Delhi was widely attended by the stakeholders (policy makers, homoeopathic & allopathic physicians, NGOs and representatives from industries) and this generated a lot of enthusiasm among the participants. The meaningful interaction among resource persons and the participants on various facets of Mother and Child Care through Homoeopathy ignited a lot of interest among the participants from different states. It was, therefore, planned to conduct state level workshops by the State ISM&H Departments involving all stakeholders.

Four States have already conducted state level workshops and other states have also scheduled their activities. Thereafter, the campaign would be taken to the district and sub-district levels. The Panchayats, Urban local bodies, Homoeopathic practitioners, PHCs. and CHCs. etc. would be involved in this effort. As resolved in the National Workshop, State Governments should start Mother and Child Health (MCH) clinics of Homoeopathy at PHC and sub-centre levels for the benefit of large number of patients. It is hoped that such integration at the PHC, CHC and district level hospitals would enable the general public to have a choice of treatment in Homoeopathy and other systems under one roof.

States which have conducted workshops on Homoeopathy for Mother and Child Care:
Uttar Pradesh: The workshop was held on 17th & 18th March 2008 at Lucknow. The workshop adopted resolutions on the lines of the national workshop held at Delhi. It was resolved to start homoeopathic clinics and IPD facilities for Mother & Child care in Allopathic hospitals up to the districts level. It was also decided to involve Homoeopathic Medical colleges and NGO’s working in Health sector in urban and rural areas.

Andhra Pradesh: The workshop was held on 24th & 25th March 2008 in Hyderabad. It was resolved to conduct district level workshops to carry forward the message. It was also resolved to involve NGOs for creating awareness among the people about role of Homoeopathy in Mother and Child Care. Homoeopathic Kits for Mother and Child Care will be provided to the health care providers at the grass root level for benefiting the patients.

Kerala: The Workshop was held on 10th & 11th May, 2008 at Thiruvanthapuram. In view of the strong infrastructure available in Kerala in Homoeopathy, it was resolved to operationalize the campaign through district & panchayat level institutions with a view to reap maximum benefit. President, Grama Panchayaths Association of Kerala assured that all the Panchayat Homoeopathic dispensaries throughout Kerala will initiate introduction of Happy Mother and Healthy child theme in their dispensaries. It was resolved to have this campaign on the active go as a follow up measure through conducting district level programmes in Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Eranakulam and Kozhikode Districts. It was also decided to actively involve the Homoeopathic Medical Colleges situated in concerned districts in such campaigns. One of the Hospitals constructed recently in Kannur District will be dedicated to Mother and Child care through Homoeopathy.

Tripura : The workshop on Homoeopathy for Healthy Mother and Child Care was held on 19th and 20th May 2008 at Pragna Bhawan, Agartala. It was resolved that Homoeopathy hospital at Agartala should have all the facilities for undertaking antenatal, intranatal and postnatal care. It was also resolved to upgrade the N.S. State Homoeopathic hospital up to the level of State Hospital of other systems so that crisis management care can be taken up.

Gujarat: Encouraged by the success of the workshop of the National Campaign, the Government of Gujarat has decided to launch the Mother and Child project in the Community through a unique Public-Private initiative. This project will try to integrate with the existing programmes in Public Health and cover 99 villages of Karjan taluka of Vadodara District. It will focus on anemia control and mother and child health. The technical support will be provided by the Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homeopathic Institute which has been working in the area for last 4 years. Department of Health and Family Welfare of Gujarat and the Department of AYUSH, New Delhi will co-sponsor the project.

With these initiatives it is hoped that people will become more aware about the potentials of Homoeopathy for Mother and child care and more facilities in terms of special clinics for mother and child care at CHC, PHC, sub-centre, district and panchayat level will benefit the patients.

Panchayati Raj - power to the grassroots

*Inputs from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj

Village communities in the Indian sub-continent have been self-governing over the centuries. The earlier councils or assemblies called Sabhas had a position of considerable authority and slowly they assumed the form of the Panchayats. These Panchayats became the pivot of administration and the principal forum for the dispensation of justice and resolution of local disputes. The British Colonial Administration referred to these village communities as “little republics”. The Indian constitution adopted w.e.f. 26th January 1950 included Article 40 that read : “The state shall take steps to organize village Panchayats and endow them with such power and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government”.

In 1957, a historic breakthrough in establishing Panchayati Raj came about through the report of the Team for the Study of Community Development Projects and National Extension Service headed by Shri Balwantrai Mehta which recommended that “public participation in community works should be organized through statutory representative bodies”. The Team was of the view that without an agency at the village level that could represent the entire community, assume responsibility and provide the necessary leadership for implementing development progammes, real progress in rural development could not come about. Further discourse on this matter saw the term “Panchayati Raj” gaining currency as a process of governance organically linking the will of the people from the Gram Sabha to the Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Nehru inaugurated Panchayati Raj in Rajasthan on 2nd October, 1959 at Nagaur.

From 1959 to the eighties, Panchayati Raj made sporadic progress in different parts of the country. While it took root in States such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal, in many States elections to the Panchayats were not held regularly and long periods went by when there was no effective representation of people at the grassroots nor was the participation of representative institutions at the grassroots in development programmes and local governance visible. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was driven by a vision to provide the people with a “representative administration”.

He also observed that there were weaknesses in the structure of Indian democracy since although the superstructure was strong, the foundation was weak. Putting together both Houses of Parliament and the State Legislatures, there were only 5-6 thousand persons representing nearly 80 crore Indians. Panchayati Raj finally got the constitutional mandate through the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Bill, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 1992. The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 came into force on 24th April, 1993. The 73rd Amendment provides for the constitution of the Panchayats at the village, block and district levels. Elections at five years intervals are also mandated. Reservation of at least one third of seats for women is provided for. Disadvantaged sections of society such as SCs, STs and OBCs (in some states) get representation in proportion of their population.

The establishment of State Election Commissions and State Finance Commissions is mandatory. Provision has also been made through Article 243ZD introduced through the 74th Amendment to the Constitution for constitution of District Planning Committees. The 73rd Amendment is applicable in 24 States and five Union Territories.

Today, when most States and Union Territories have had three rounds of elections, there are more than 28 lakh elected representations at the 3 levels of Panchayats. Of these over 10 lakh are women, 5.2 lakh belong to the Scheduled Castes and 3.3 lakh to the Scheduled Tribes. The last fifteen years have seen a silent revolution in the rural areas as political representation available to women and marginalized groups has empowered them and improved their social and economic situation very significantly.

One of the first actions of the Government, when it took office in May 2004, was to set up a separate Ministry of Panchayati Raj to provide focused and dedicated attention to operationalizing the constitutional mandate on Panchayati Raj. It was decided to evolve a national consensus regarding the roadmap for Panchayati Raj through consultations between the Centre and the States.

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj organized Seven Round Tables which the State Ministers of Panchayati Raj joined. Within a period of 150 days, from 23rd July 2004 to 19th December, 2004, 18 dimensions of Panchayati Raj ranging from the effective devolution of the 3Fs – functions, finances and functionaries – to district planning, training, capacity building and IT enabled e-governance were discussed. At the conclusion of all the Round Tables the totality of nearly 150 action points were unanimously adopted by all Panchayati Raj Ministers. The priority areas identified for concerted action were Activity Mapping, Panchayat Sector Windows in State budgets based on the Activity Maps and the assignment of functionaries in conformity with the pattern of devolution of functions and finances

Local self-government is a State subject. The 73rd Constitutional Amendment makes it mandatory for all States to hold regular elections to the three tiers of the Panchayati Raj system. Panchayat Raj has thus brought in a third stratum of government to supplement the Union Government at the Centre and the State Government to reinforce the federal characteristics of our Constitution. At an operational level the largest inflow of resources to State Governments is through Centrally Sponsored Schemes that cover sectors like primary education, public health, drinking water, sanitation, etc. identified in the 11th Schedule for devolution to the Panchayats.

Key Objectives
One of the key objectives of Panchayati Raj is to ensure that the process of planning for development in the country follows a bottom-up approach and commences at the grassroots level. The core approach is that the village Panchayat plans prepared with people’s participation are joined by plans prepared by the Intermediate and District Panchayats and these are then consolidated by the District Planning Committees with the Municipal plans into the draft district development plan.

Till now, 18 States in the country have constituted District Planning Committees while the process is underway in the remaining ones where Part IX of the Constitution is applicable. In order to guide the process of grassroots planning an Expert Group was constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri V. Ramachandran and the recommendations of the Group have been accepted by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Planning Commission for guiding the process of district planning. Decentralization and planning from the below have also been recognized in the 11th Plan document endorsed by the National Development Council. This document also recognizes the centrality of the role to be played by the Panchayats in the planning and development process.

Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) Programme
The BRGF is designed to redress regional imbalances in development. The fund provides financial resources in supplementing and converging existing development inflows into the identified 250 districts with a view to bridging critical gaps in local infrastructure and other development requirements that are not being adequately met through existing inflows. It is expected that the fund will help strengthen panchayat and municipal level governance with appropriate capacity building, facilitation of participatory planning, decision making, implementation and monitoring to reflect the local felt needs.

Through the Fund, professional support can be provided to local bodies and it is hoped that this will help improve the performance and delivery of critical functions assigned to Panchayats. The substantially untied grant is distributed among the districts with each district receiving a fixed minimum amount of Rs.10 crore per annum. 250 crore is reserved for capacity building while 50% of the balance under this Scheme is released on the basis of population and 50% on the basis of physical area of the district.

It may be mentioned also that Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) has been subsumed in the BRGF and balance allocations to districts that have not completed implementation of their plans approved under the RSVY are funded from BRGF. In 2007-08 an amount of Rs.3599 crore was released to the districts under RSVY and BRGF. This year the allocation for the programme is Rs.4670 crore.

Empowerment of Women
Indeed, the proportion of women getting elected tends to be significantly higher than the reserved quota, with women from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes often securing election to a higher proportion of seats and chairpersonships than women from the socially and economically better off classes. The political and social empowerment of women on this scale is without parallel in the world and without precedent in the history. There are more elected women in India than in the rest of the world put together. Combined with the economic empowerment fostered by the enormously successful women’s self-help group movement, what we are witnessing in the Indian countryside is a gender revolution of a magnitude never before seen.

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched the Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan (PMSA) in collaboration with the National Commission for Women’s “Chalo Gaon ki ore Programme” that aims at consolidating the collective strength of elected women representatives. Each time a PMSA is convened, elected women representatives in a State get together in a conference where experiences sharing and discussion of common problems is facilitated.

In November 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj published the first comprehensive baseline report on the state of Panchayat across the rural India. In March 2008, the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Sikkim, Manipur, Goa and Haryana were awarded in recognition of their efforts in empowering the Panchayats.

Rural Business Hubs
The idea of setting up rural businesses through facilitation by Panchayats originated from the Prime Minister’s address to the Conference of Chief Ministers on 29th June, 2004, where he stressed the importance of decentralized economic development in rural areas. In November 2004, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Confederation of Indian Industry jointly organized a national presentation on Rural Business Hubs. This was followed up with identification of champion products in block Panchayats, developing linkages with industry and promoting training of artisans and marketing of agri and handicrafts items.

Removing poverty and ensuring that the “Aam Admi” gets the services from the State that he/she is entitled to is the avowed goal of the Government. Satisfactory development of outcomes cannot be ensured without the participation of grassroots institutions of local governance. While much progress has been made over the last 15 years, much more still remains to be done before we can have a true participatory democracy functioning from the grassroots level upwards where every Indian has a voice and every Indian gets his entitlements.

E-Governance helps make Corporate Affairs a Paperless Affair !

Inputs from the Ministry of Company Affairs

With the galloping Indian economy and the strides being made by the corporate sector, the existing governmental work transaction structure is not in sync with the times. Being more than a century old the existing system is characterized by large amounts of paper work, time consuming processes and complicated set of controls. This legacy framework has come under immense pressure in the globalised context, necessitating creation of a favorable climate for encouraging sustainable economic growth and maintaining a healthy business eco-system. Institutional arrangements and processes necessary to support accelerated growth are needed to be put in place.

It is particularly relevant to the country’s corporate sector, which has registered a four-fold growth in the number of companies from about 200,000 in 1990 to over 8 lakh as of today. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has the only authentic information repository on the corporate sector and serves as the registry for all filings / public records.

Flagship of Transformational Change
The possibilities offered by technology to simplify the interfaces between the Government and the stakeholders have been effectively adopted to address this challenge. Towards this end the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has embarked upon an ambitious e-Governance project called the MCA21 e-Governance Program. It aims at continuously repositioning MCA as an organization capable of fulfilling the aspirations of its stakeholders in a globally competitive business environment. The comprehensive, end-to-end service oriented solution has helped establish a fine balance between facilitation and compliance – as a blend of well-defined goals and performance metrics.

Demonstrable Stakeholder Values
MCA21 is an outcome-oriented initiative and the objectives of the program are to address the concerns of all the major stakeholders:
 Business: enabled to register a company and file statutory documents quickly and easily and in a convenient manner;
 Public: to get easy access to corporate records and get their grievances redressed effectively;
 Professionals: to be able to offer efficient services to their client companies;
 Financial Institutions: to find registration and verification of charges easy;
 Government: to ensure proactive and effective compliance of relevant laws, corporate governance and transparency;
 MCA Employees: enabled to deliver best of breed services to all the stakeholders in a speedy and transparent manner.

100 MCA Services covered
About 100 citizen-facing services are covered within the scope of this project. Service categories include:
 Name approval & Incorporation of new companies;
 Filing of Annual Statutory Returns;
 Filing of forms for change of names/address/Director’s details;
 Creation/ Modification/ Satisfaction and verification of charges;
 Various other statutory filings required under the Companies Act;
 Inspection of public records;
 Providing a forum to redress investors’ grievances.

Big Bang Strategy
Given the unique nature of requirements and the outcomes targeted, a ‘big-bang’ strategy was adopted to migrate to a near complete paperless system. A hybrid system would have only added to complexities of reconciling paper and electronic transactions. The back office operations have been made completely paperless (with the exception of stamp papers) with the use of electronic workflows and secure digital document repositories. No other similar solution implemented elsewhere in the world has made such a massive transition within a seven month period like what has been achieved in MCA21.

A unique Project
MCA21 is a departure from the conventional ‘computerization’ approach involving procurement of infrastructure and project related services. Instead, it has adopted a ‘service delivery’ model where the project operator would provide the desired service facilitation through a clearly agreed service level agreement. Financial and legal structuring of the project has been carried out with the help of experts. MCA21 is the first project implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) wherein a consortium led by Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. represents the private sector.

The commercial approach involves a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model that is based on the operation of a service driven technology solution. The project cost includes the costs towards software/solution development, digitization and data migration, implementation and change management, operation of the solution for a period of six years upon implementation. The payments to the operator are made on an equated quarterly basis of clearly defined service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure effective service delivery. A system of incentives and penalties has been built in so as to enforce adherence to service levels by the Operator.

The MCA21 process involves extensive processes re-engineering to provide ethos with anywhere, anytime secure electronic filing of all statutory documents. Electronic workflows and sophisticated document management systems for processing service requests has enabled quicker service turnaround from the back office. Consequently all statutory forms have been revised and adopted for electronic filing. E-filing process has been implemented through freely available software, where there is no additional cost on end user.

50 MCA Facilitation centers (service provided free of cost) and about 1,000 Certified Filing Centres operated by practicing professionals (services provided for a nominal, prescribed fee) have been set up to address problems associated with ‘digital divide’.

Nearly 50 million pages of public records (legacy corporate paper documents in the registry) have been digitized for ready electronic access through Internet to the investors and general public.

MCA21 is the first project to be implemented through a Public-Private partnership and includes best-in-class computing infrastructure with facility to handle business continuity requirements.

Current Status
The Project was launched on 18th Feb. 2006 at Registrar Of Companies office at Coimbatore, the first pilot location, and a second major pilot was launched at ROC Delhi one month later. Progressive rollout was completed at all other ROC offices in the country by 4th Sept. 2006, almost co-terminus with the mandating of electronic filing from 16th Sept. 2006 enabled through the amendments introduced in the Companies Act, 1956.

Subsequently, the MCA21 system has been serving as the operational backbone to the process of MCA service delivery at the ROC offices. An average of 1.7 million portal hits per day is registered and about 34 lakh documents have been filed electronically so far. About 85,000 new companies have been registered using the newly introduced secure electronic services and 5 lakh users have viewed company documents online from the registry. During the peak season when annual statutory documents are submitted (September to December each year), the maximum filings registered in a given day has touched 41,800. Approximately, 85% of all filings are done directly at the MCA portal while the balance is filed through facilitation centres (both MCA established and those established by practicing professionals).

Banks play a key role in collection of the MCA payments. Reporting of the collections to MCA is critical in the service turnaround to the stakeholder. 97% of the payment realization and reporting has been achieved within T + 3 days. About 48% of the transactions are being received using the on-line system of payment of statutory fees.

Best Practices
Despite its size and complexity, MCA21 e-Governance Project has been accomplished within a very aggressive timeframe. The implementation benchmarks can be compared to some of the best efficiencies achieved in the private sector enterprises. Some of the key factors that have contributed to such high levels of project efficiency are (i) establishing a sound conceptual framework and comprehensive documentation including the RFP and supporting technical data (ii) ability to adhere to project timelines and not allowing any scope creep, though there were delays in obtaining the concept and budgetary approvals.

MCA21 e-Governance project was initiated after a very careful assessment of the environment to ensure the successful adoption of the ICT solution. It is based on a holistic services outsourcing model as opposed to procurement and integration of solution components. This is a significant departure from the conventional project approach that is generally adopted in ICT initiatives, where there is a clear shift from a capital intensive investment model to one that is a Build-Operate-Transfer model where payments to the Operator are made on an equated quarterly basis based on adherence to a set of contractually enforced service level agreements that broadly cover project outcomes, service times, business continuity and technical parameters governing performance and service uptime. In short, the MCA21 project has been treated on par with any other core infrastructure initiative with a sustainable mechanism to ensure its performance.

Awards & Recognition
MCA21 e-Governance Program is envisioned to catalyze the way corporate India interfaces with the Government. Aimed at bringing about a service transformation through a harmonious blend of facilitation and compliance, it is considered a benchmark among e-governance projects in India, involving large-scale deployment of information technology within the shortest possible timeframe. This is perhaps the first green project that has successfully cut down large scale usage of paper.

Considered as a flagship project under the National e-Governance Plan, MCA21 has evolved to prove that how the finite nature of paper based systems could be overcome especially in a country with continental dimensions like India. Recognized as ‘a revolutionary step by the Government in the right direction’ by 92% of CEO/CFOs surveyed by Ernst & Young / CNBC TV, the project has been conferred numerous recognitions and awards including the ‘IT Pathbreaker Award 2006’ by the Dataquest Magazine, ‘Excellence in e-Governance Implementation’ at Technology Sabha, 2008 organized by the Indian Express Newspaper Group and TATA Indicom, ‘Golden Icon’ National Award for “Excellence in Government Process Reengineering” for 2007 by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances and “Skoch Challenger Award 2008” for “Project of National Significance”.

Infrastructure Development Through Public Private Partnerships

by - B.S. Chauhan, Addl. Director General (Finance), PIB, New Delhi

In order to achieve the targeted growth rate of 9 per cent for the 11th Five Year Plan, country requires enormous investment in physical infrastructure. At 2006-07 prices, infrastructure investment requirement has been estimated at over 20,60,000 crores (about US $ 515.5 billion). This amount cannot be met by public sector alone. Moreover, investment in the social sectors is the priority charge on the Government’s own resources as they are not amenable to private investment in a big way.

Therefore, it is necessary to explore avenues for increasing investment in infrastructure through a combination of public investment, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and also, exclusive private investments wherever feasible. PPPs offer a number of advantages in terms of leveraging public capital to attract private capital and undertake a larger number of infrastructure projects, introducing private sector expertise and cost reducing technologies and bringing efficiency in operations and maintenance.

While encouraging PPPs main constraints identified are policy and regulatory gaps; inadequate availability of long term finance; inadequate capacity in public institutions and public officials to manage PPP processes; inadequate capacity in the private sector – both in the form of developer/investor and technical manpower; inadequate shelf of bankable infrastructure projects & inadequate advocacy to create greater acceptance of PPPs by the public.

Initiatives to promote PPPs
The Government has taken several initiatives to create an enabling framework for PPPs by addressing issues relating to policy and regulatory environment. Progressively more sectors have been opened to private and foreign investment, levy of user charges is being promoted, regulatory institutions are being set up and strengthened and fiscal incentives are given to infrastructure projects. Approval mechanism for PPPs in the central sector has been streamlined through setting up of Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) in the Ministry of Finance headed by Finance Secretary. An Online database on PPP projects in the country is being developed to provide comprehensive information on the status of infrastructure sector PPPs.

Funding of PPP Projects
The Government has taken various steps to address the financing needs of these projects. India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited has been set up to provide long tenor debt to infrastructure projects and a scheme for Financial support to PPPs in infrastructure has been launched to provide Viability Gap Funding to PPP projects. Multilateral agencies such as Asian Development Bank have been permitted to raise Rupee bonds and carry out currency swaps to provide long term debt to PPP projects. Setting up of dedicated infrastructure funds are also being encouraged to increase the flow of equity investments.

The ‘India Infrastructure Finance Initiative’ facilitated by the Ministry of Finance, is one such collaborative effort to deploy approximately US$ 5 billion in capital for infrastructure projects in India. The Fund is structured as a Venture Capital Fund, with about US$ 2 billion in equity capital and US$ 3 billion in long term debt financing with maturities exceeding ten years. Initial steps have been taken to use Foreign Exchange Reserves for building Infrastructure. The Reserve Bank of India has given ‘in principle” approval to invest upto US $ 5 billion in the securities of the SPV and these would be fully guaranteed by the Government.

PPP Projects in India
Analysis based on study of 221 PPP projects in the country reveal that development and use of PPPs for delivering infrastructure services has now at least 10 years of precedence in India, with the majority of projects coming in line in the last five years. Participation as well as innovation with different structures have met with varying degrees of success.

Some sectors like telecommunications, power, ports and roads, have done very good progress compared to limited success in other sectors. Some states have undertaken far more PPPs than others, and a much heavier use of PPPs in some sectors than others. As per the survey of the 221 PPP projects in the main sectors of focus, undertaken at the instance of Department of Economic Affairs for preparation of the Online Database on PPPs, - where a contract has been awarded and projects are underway - the total project cost is estimated to be about Rs. 1,29,575 Crore.

The road projects account for 78 percent of the total number of projects (36 percent by total value) because of the small average size of projects. Ports, with a much larger average size of project, account for 17 percent of the total number of projects (47 percent by total value). It is noteworthy that if ports and central road projects are excluded from the total, there is a relatively small value of deal flow, in basic infrastructure PPPs to-date, suggesting a significant potential upside for PPP projects across sectors where states and municipalities have primary responsibility.

The potential use of PPPs in e-governance, health and education sectors remains largely untapped across India as a whole, though of late there have been some activities shaping in these sectors. Almost all contracts have been of the BOT/BOOT type or close variants. Since its constitution in January 2006, PPPAC has granted approval to 65 projects, with an estimated cost of Rs. 53,284.95 crore. These includes Highways (Fifty-six projects), Ports (six projects), Airports (two projects) and Tourism Infrastructure (one project).

The Central Government is working with the State Governments and all other stakeholders to expand the horizon of PPPs in infrastructure development in the country. It has created a favourable atmosphere, provided fiscal incentives and facilitated funding of PPP projects. The Government now allows FDI in most infrastructure sectors to the extent of 100 percent. The time is ripe for the foreign strategic investors for taking greater interest in PPP Projects for infrastructure development.

Holistic Development of Urban India

*Inputs from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation is the apex authority of the Government at the national level for formulation of housing policy and programmes relating thereto, review of the implementation of the plan schemes, collection and dissemination of data on housing, building materials/techniques and for adopting general measures for reduction of building costs. In addition, it is entrusted with implementation of the specific programmes of urban employment and urban poverty alleviation.

To address the problem of housing shortage along with deficiencies in basic services and in consonance with the changing policy environment, this Ministry has announced the National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (NUHHP), 2007, for promoting sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring equitable supply of land shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of the society. Involvement of multiple stakeholders namely- private sector, co-operative sector, industrial sector for labour housing and the services, institutional sector for employee housing has been emphasized in the NUHHP.

For holistic slum development and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dweller Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is being implemented to assist cities and towns in taking up housing and infrastructural facilities for the urban poor in 63 cities in the country under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) Programme. Under BSUP 274 Detailed Projects Reports on improvement/development/relocation of slums to improve the housing and infrastructure conditions of urban poor from 61 Mission Cities of 30 States have so far been approved with a total project cost of Rs. 17,421.11 crore with a Central Share of Rs. 8761.03 crore covering 7,87,111 Dwelling Units and other basic civic amenities to the Urban Poor.

Further, to address the needs of shelter and basic amenities in the non-Mission cities and for taking up housing and slum upgradation programmes, the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) is being implemented with the objective to strive for holistic slum development, with a healthy and enabling environment by providing adequate shelter and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dwellers including the displaced. Under IHSDP 424 Detailed Project Reports on improvement/development/relocation of slums to improve the housing and infrastructure conditions of urban poor from 29 States have so far been approved with a total project cost of Rs. 4021.53 crore with a Central Share of Rs. 2878.84 crore covering 2,59,746 Dwelling Units and other basic civic amenities.

JNNURM has contemplated three key reforms at State and Urban Local Body levels to build the foundation for sustainable urban development and eradication of urban poverty in the face of growing, challenges of urbanization. The key reforms in the context of housing to the urban poor and slum development are:
· Reservation of Land for Housing the Urban Poor: Earmarking at least 20-25% of developed land in all housing projects (both Public and Private Agencies) for EWS/LIG category with a system of cross subsidization.
· Internal earmarking within local body budgets for basic services to the urban poor.
· Provision of basic services to urban poor including security of tenure at affordable prices, improved housing, water supply, sanitation and ensuring delivery of other already existing universal services of the government for education, health and social security.

With a view to ameliorate the living conditions of the urban poor and to reduce urban poverty, the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY) is being implemented as a centrally sponsored scheme for the benefit of the urban poor on all India basis, since December 1,1997. The scheme is now being revamped. Keeping in view the fact that the number of urban poor getting increased in comparison to the decrease in rural poverty, the allocation for the year 2008-09 for the Scheme of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana, which is the only urban poverty alleviation programme of the Government, addressing the livelihood needs of the urban poor, has been enhanced from Rs. 344 crore for 2007-08 to Rs. 515 crore in 2008-09 i.e. an increase of about 67 per cent. Total amount of Rs. 336.91 crore was released to State Government in 2007-08. During 2007-08 against the physical target of setting up 1.20 lakh microenterprises, the achievement was 1.81 lakh. Also, against a target of providing skill training to 1.50 lakh urban poor, during 2007-08, 2.48 lakh urban poor were imparted skill training. Thus, in both these areas, the achievement was more than 100 per cent.

Apart from the above, Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme (ILCS), a centrally sponsored scheme, envisages conversion of existing dry latrines into low cost pour flush latrines and construction of new ones where none exist. Till 31st March 2008 the total number of projects sanctioned under the ILCS Scheme through HUDCO is 873 covering 1538 town in 23 States/Union Territories. The cumulative subsidy released as on 31.3.2008 is Rs. 359.32 crore as per the progress reported by the State nodal agencies 28,15,857 units have been completed. To make the Scheme more attractive and implementable, the guidelines of the ILCS Scheme have been suitably modified.

This Ministry is also implementing the Scheme of 10% Lumpsum provision for North-Eastern States including Sikkim. Under this Rs. 15.93 crore was released during the current financial year, 2008-09 for various ongoing projects in Manipur, out of total allocation of Rs. 50.00 crore.

A number of organizations working under the Ministry are:

The Housing & Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO), a Public Sector Undertaking, was set up as a fully owned Government company in April, 1970 with a view to provide loans and technical support to States and City level agencies and other eligible organization for various types of housing activities and infrastructure development.

The Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) undertakes the task of extension, dissemination and application of innovative technologies and low-cost building material based on industrial and agricultural wastes, developed by research institutions. It also encourages development of appropriate standards for the new materials and their adoption in the schedule and specification for the public housing and construction agencies.

The Central Government Employees Welfare Housing Organisation (CGEWHO) is responsible for execution of housing projects for Central Government employees, on ‘all-India’, ‘self-financing’ and ‘no profit-no loss’ basis and it has completed 10,018 dwelling units and is having 2734 dwelling units under various stages of construction and planning.

National Buildings Organisation (NBO), an attached office under the Ministry is the nodal authority on housing and building construction statistics in the country.
NBO has implemented the Central Sector Scheme “Urban Statistics for HR and Assessments (USHA)” aiming at the development and maintenance of national database, MIS and knowledge repository relating to urban poverty, slums, housing, construction and other urbanization-related statistics. The main objective of the scheme is to support Ministries with an information base and knowledge input for the purpose of planning, policy-making, project design, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, particularly in the context of programmes relating to urban poverty, slums and housing.
NBO has developed a state-of-the-art fully computerized MIS on housing and building construction statistics backed by appropriate hardware, software and facilities to operate the MIS.

Research and Development in Water Resources

by - Sanjay Kumar, Media & Communications Officer, PIB, New Delhi

Three organizations of the Ministry of Water Resources - Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), Central Soil and Materials Research Station (CSMRS) and National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) are fully devoted to research and development in the water sector. CWPRS is the premier national institute for research in the area of hydraulics of water resources structures related to irrigation, hydropower, navigation, coastal works and related instrumentation.

CSMRS is involved in research related to construction materials, concrete technology, geophysics, rock mechanics, soil mechanics and rock fill testing technology. NIH is devoted to systematic and scientific studies in all aspects of hydrology with the objective of improving the present practices in planning, design and operation of water resources projects.

Promotion of Research in Water Sector

The Ministry provides financial assistance by way of grants to academicians/experts in the Universities, IITs, recognized research and development laboratories/institutes, Water Resources/Irrigation Departments of the Central and State Governments in the country and NGOs for carrying out research and studies related to water resources sector. Research proposals of applied nature as well as basic research are considered for financial assistance.

Research and Development Division under the Policy and Planning Wing of the Ministry coordinates the programme for providing financial assistance for research and development. Considering the wide range of topics covered under water resources engineering, five Indian National Committees (INCs) namely INCH (Hydraulics), INCOH (Hydrology), INCID (Irrigation and Drainage), INCGE (Geo-Technical Engineering) and INCCMS (Construction Materials & Structures) have been constituted to provide necessary technical and advisory support for the implementation of R&D Programme. The Members of these Committees are drawn from various Central and State government Agencies as well as experts from academic and research organizations.

Indian National Committee On Hydraulic Research (INCH)

The Indian National Committee on Hydraulic Research was constituted in the year 1990, and is the apex body in hydraulics with the responsibility of co-coordinating various research activities in the field of management of floods, hydraulic structures, river and estuarine hydraulics, river morphology, ground water hydraulics, instrumentation for seismic and geophysical measurements, open channel flow, pipe flow, hydraulic machinery, city water supply and ports and harbours. During the year 2007-08, 21 research schemes were under implementation.

Indian National Committee On Hydrology (INCOH)
Indian National Committee on Hydrology (INCOH) was constituted in the year 1982 and is located atNIH Roorkee. It is the apex body looking after hydrology, both surface and ground water with the responsibility of co-coordinating various research activities in the field of meteorology, surface water hydrology, evaporation control ground water hydrology and management, instrumentation, real time systems, application of GIS and remote sensing.
In pursuance of its objectives, the Committee has brought out 26 state-of-art reports in hydrology in the country. The Committee has also provided financial support for organizing seminars, conferences etc., for dissemination of knowledge and promoting education and training in hydrology.

The Committee is participating in the activities of International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by organizing regional courses and workshops.

During the year 2007-08, 35 research schemes were under implementation, out of which three research schemes have been completed. The Research and Development session of INCOH was held in September, 2007 at Udaipur.

Indian National Committee On Irrigation And Drainage (INCID)
Indian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (INCID) was constituted in the year 1990, the apex body in irrigation and drainage with the responsibility of co-coordinating various research activities in the field of irrigation, drainage, agronomy, water management, environmental impact and socio-economic aspect of water resources projects, plastic culture development, geo-textiles. This is working as National Committee for the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).

INCID contributes to various ICID meetings/workshops/conferences and to other international technical publications in the form of manuals, reports, bulletins, seminar proceedings etc., during the year 2007-08, 38 research schemes were under implementation out of which five schemes have been completed. The research and development session of INCID was held in February 2008 at Hyderabad.

Indian National Committee on Geo-technical Engineering (INCGE)
Indian National Committee on Geo-technical Engineering (INCGE) was constituted in the year 1991, the apex body in geo-technical engineering with the responsibility of co-coordinating various research activities in the field of rock mechanics and tunneling technology, soil mechanics and foundation engineering and instrumentation and measurement techniques. Its secretariat is located at CSMRS, New Delhi. During the year 2007-08, 38 research schemes were under implementation under the supervision of INCGE. Out of this two schemes has been completed. The research and development session of INCGE was held in February 2008 at New Delhi. In pursuance of its objectives, the Committee has published three state-of-art reports in geo-technical engineering in the country.

Indian National Committee on Construction Materials and Structures (INCCMS)
Indian National Committee on Construction Materials and Structure (INCCMS) was constituted in the year 1992, the apex body in construction materials and structures with the responsibility of co-coordinating various research activities in the field of management of construction materials, concrete technology and structures. Like INCGE, its secretariat is also located in CSMRS, New Delhi.

During the year 2007-08, 11 research schemes were under implementation under the supervision of INCCMS out of which two schemes have been completed. The research and development session of INCCMS was held in February 2008 at New Delhi.
Status Of Research And Development Schemes

275 research schemes have been sanctioned by various academic and research institutions of the Ministry since 1992. Out of which 157 schemes have been successfully competed, six schemes foreclosed and 112 schemes are under progress in various academic and research institutions. About 15 new research proposals are under consideration for funding under the research and development programme.

Study Regarding Gaps In Irrigation Potential Created And Utilized
The Ministry has awarded a study to examine the various issues related to the gap between irrigation potential created and utilized and for suggesting measures for reducing the gap in the country to four Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), namely IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow and IIM Calcutta. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)for the study was signed between the IIMs and the Ministry of Water Resources in August, 2007. The study is scheduled to be completed shortly.

New Activities Proposed During XI Plan
With a view to addressing the research problems in proper perspective, the State Government institutions such as engineering/irrigation research institutions, water and land management institutes are being actively involved in efficiency studies for completed Major and Medium irrigation projects and effect of climate change on water resources. They are being actively involved in studies in respect of vulnerability assessment and adaptation and reservoir sedimentation studies, post-facto evaluation and management plan for optimal benefit from the resources and initiation of benchmarking of irrigation projects for performance improvement.

Water Quality Assessment Authority (WQAA)
The Water Quality Assessment Authority (WQAA) was constituted in May 2001 with the powers and functions to improve the quality of national water resources has been continued during the XI Plan period (2007-12). The Authority is headed by the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests as the Chairman and the Commissioner (B&B), Ministry of Water Resources as the Member Secretary. The Authority has 12 Members.

Government moves to control Double-Digit Inflation

by - S. Sethuraman, Freelance Journalist

India is battling a double-digit inflation, like many other emerging economies, largely resulting from the surge in global commodity prices, chiefly oil, food, metals and fertilizers. Overall, the international commodity prices are yet to moderate to an extent that would help countries including India to arrest the steady uptrend in inflation, already in double digit, and stabilise domestic price levels. Moving in that direction, the Government has announced further measures to strengthen availability of essential articles of daily consumption. Supply management must have high priority along with demand control.

Progress in the anti-inflation strategy, however, would depend much on whether the recent downtrend in global oil prices and some softening in cereal prices would become durable. Oil prices dropped from an all-time high of 147 to around 120 dollars by mid-August though it is still double the 60 dollars in March 2007. Oil prices are influenced by geo-political tensions and the US dollar’s exchange rate.

Cereal prices also eased in the second quarter of 2008 and this should be of some relief. With maximum wheat and rice procurement and a good kharif crop to be harvested, India is better placed with its food economy.

How Long Double Digit?
Reflecting world prices and domestic demand pressures, the annual rate of inflation began surging and entered double-digit in the new fiscal year. At 12.63 per cent in the week ended August 9, the annual rate of increase in the wholesale price index for all commodities was the highest in a decade and a half, a matter of utmost concern to Government, which has been tackling inflation through an array of fiscal, administrative and monetary measures on a continuous basis. While inflation which hurts the poor the most has to be brought down as early as possible, Government’s efforts at the same time seek to ensure that there is no disruption in the growth momentum.

According to the Finance Ministry, the current rate of inflation has also to be looked at the “base year” effect as the wholesale price index is measured on an annual point-to-point basis. That is, if the rate of price rise was too low in the relevant week of the previous year, even a small increase in WPI of the corresponding week in the current year would show up in a larger rate of inflation point-to-point. While prices of some articles may have softened, there are also significant rises in some other commodities, on a year to year comparison.

The current expectations are for inflation to remain in double digit for some months to come but Government hopes that at least the rising trend could be halted by November, even if the annual rate does not revert to single digit before the end of the fiscal year, as predicted by economists. The Reserve Bank of India has been tightening lending rates in order to contain excessive liquidity and reduce aggregate demand.

Since monetary policy has a greater role in the present context to contain build-up of inflationary pressures and eventually to bring the rate of inflation down to single digit early in 2009, there could be further tightening of policy rates. This is to keep in check inflationary expectations, and additional demand pressures, emanating from salary increases to central government employees. Containment of inflation is imperative for macro-economic stability and sustainable growth but a dramatic improvement can come about only if domestic measures are complemented by a sustained fall in global oil and other key commodity prices, as pointed out by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.

Supply-Side Measures
With a record procurement and build up of reserve stocks in excess of buffer stock norms, Government has decided to offload upto six million tonnes of wheat in the open ‘market at intervals. It would include additional allocation to states for the requirements of the ‘above poverty line’ population, retail sales and for meeting needs of bulk consumers like roller flour mills. It is one of the measures to enhance availability especially during the coming festival season when prices tend to rise in the open market.

The Government has extended the ban on export of rice, wheat and pulses till April next. Although India needs to import edible oils – a sensitive item in price rise – exports are banned. For consumer benefit, a scheme for the supply of edible oil with a subsidy of Rs.15 per kilogram has been introduced. Ten lakh tonnes of edible oil are being imported and would be distributed to states for public distribution. Also, an additional quantity of five lakh tonnes of non-levy sugar (ex-factory) is being released for the festival season. In addition, the Government proposes to supply four lakh tonnes of pulses, a commodity always in short supply, with a subsidy of ten rupees per kilogram.

Among manufactured products category, steel price rises have also contributed to the inflation flare-up. After raising prices in the first half of the year, in line with international trends and the rising costs of iron ore and other inputs, producers have agreed to restrain themselves and hold the price line for three months. Government had imposed export duty on steel to augment domestic supply and later withdrew it when steel manufacturers agreed on restraint. With global prices falling recently, they have been urged to reduce prices correspondingly.

Growth Outlook
Global economic slowdown and unprecedented levels of inflation are impacting on emerging economies including India, slowing their pace of growth. India had gone through a five-year phase of high growth averaging 8.5 per cent. The Economic Advisory Council has projected a 7.7 per cent growth in 2008-09 as against the 9 per cent last year with a possible return to above 8 per cent in the following year.

Growth in USA, European Union and Japan, among the major industrial economies, has considerably weakened this year in view of the continued financial market turmoils, tight credit markets, US housing slump and elevated energy and non-oil commodity prices. Stability in the global financial system is unlikely to be restored in 2008, according to US economists.
Relatively faster-growing Asian economies, notably China and India are well-placed to absorb external shocks though they cannot avoid some fall-out such as a possible decline in capital flows and in external demand for their products in 2008-09. Altogether, a major challenge for Government to bring down prices while keeping economic growth intact in a pre-election year.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Towards Conservation of Flora and Fauna

*Inputs from the Ministry of Environment and Forests

The Wildlife Division, Forest Protection Division, Survey & Utilisation Division and National Afforestation Division protects, conserves and surveys the natural resources of the country including flora, fauna, forests and wildlife, afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas and ensuring the welfare of animals with sustainable development and enhancement of human wellbeing.

National Tiger Conservation Authority
Several milestone initiatives have been taken by the Government for protection of wildlife, particularly, tiger conservation and conservation of flora and fauna at large. Some of the important ones are-implementing the urgent recommendations of the Tiger Task Force to strengthen tiger conservation, amendment of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to provide a separate chapter for tiger conservation, constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, strengthening field protection by providing central assistance for deployment of ex-army personnel and local workforce, declaration of eight new tiger reserves, revision of Project Tiger Guidelines which interalia include enhancement of village relocation package.

For the first time all India tiger estimation and assessment of habitat status was done using a refined methodology, notification / identification of 31013.379. sq. km. of core / critical tiger habitat, MoU with States for better implementation of Project Tiger Scheme, bilateral arrangements with neighboring tiger range countries for fostering tiger conservation, taking initiatives in the CITES conference for restricting captive breeding of tigers in other countries to safeguard wild tiger in India, reintroduction of tigers in Sariska and taking steps for creating the Special Tiger Protection Force.

National Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau with its five regional offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Jabalpur, Chennai and three sub-regional offices at Guwahati, Cochin and Amritsar set up by the Ministry in June, 2007 has been strengthened and made operational. The Bureau is a multidisciplinary agency consisting of officials from forests, police and revenue (customs/excise). The main objective of the Bureau is to compliment the efforts of existing state machineries/enforcement agencies in dealing with wildlife related crimes having national and international ramifications.

Conservation and Management of Dugongs
An MoU for conservation and management of Dugongs (Dugong dugon) and their habitats under the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) was signed during May, 2008. The Agreement is designed to facilitate national level and transboundary actions to conserve dugong populations and their habitats of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

Initiatives in Vulture Conservation
In pursuance to the recommendations of the National Board for Wildlife, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) issued notification banning the drug Diclofenac for veterinary purposes. Further follow-up actions were taken for effective implementation of this ban in the interest of vulture conservation. The Government has set up in situ vulture conservation centres at Haryana, West Bengal and Assam and four Captive breeding centres for vulture conservation at zoos at Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Junagarh and Hyderabad.

Conservation of Flagship Species other than Tigers and Elephants
Necessary provisions have been made in the existing Centrally Sponsored Scheme, Assistance for the Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries (renamed as Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats), for providing focus on conservation of other terrestrial species like Great Indian Bustard, Snow Leopard, Kashmir Stag, etc. and marine species like Dugong, Turtles, etc. The scheme is at advanced stage of consideration under the Ministry.

Central Zoo Authority
The Central Zoo Authority during the 2007-2008 had initiated a plan for the conservation breeding of the 63 endangered wild animal species in Indian zoos. The conservation breeding centres for more than 20 species are being set up in the respective habitat zone of the species.

Forest Protection Division
Participation of local communities has been ensured in forest management through the process of Joint Forest Management. There are more than 106482 JFM committees actively involved in protection and management of forests. States have been provided assistance under Integrated Forest Protection Scheme to the extent of Rs.68 crore during last financial year to take up various projects with emphasis on use of new tools and technologies, such as digitization of maps, use of GPS, computerization of data base, improved communication etc.

The Forest Survey of India, Dehradun is also giving information about active forest fire locations to States through use of satellite data. The Ministry, through the Forest Survey of India, has brought out State of Forest Report 2005 giving details of forests and tree cover in the country. The total forests and tree cover in the country has been estimated to be 23.96% of the country’s geographical area. The scope of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme-Intensification of Forest Management will be enhanced by adding two new components, namely Conservation and Restoration of Unique Vegetation & Ecosystem, and Protection and Conservation of Sacred Groves besides Protection & Management of Forests.

Survey & Utilisation (SU) Division has streamlined Forest Certification of Timber and Non-Timber Forest Products, marketing and trade of timber. Forest Certification has emerged as a market driven mechanism in support of Sustainable Forest Management to safeguard the interest of exporters in the country. Three Committees have been constituted to prepare the road map and the necessary criteria and processes for the development of National Certification mechanism in the country.

The Ministry has constituted a ‘Sustainable Forest Management Cell’ in the SU Division for the development of National Programme aimed at Sustainable Utilization and conservation of forests maintaining their ecological balance.Four teams for preparation of criteria and indicator for plantations, NTFPs, pilot testing of National draft C&I developed for forests and Revision of Working Plan Code accordingly.India, having large areas of tropical forests, belongs to producer member group of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), an inter-government commodity organization with its headquarters located at Yokohama, Japan. India is also one of the founding members of this Organization.

The Indian Delegation actively participated in the four rounds of negotiations and renegotiation with the ITTA to formulate new Agreement. This new Agreement is now open for ratification. This will help in India’s contribution to the International trade in tropical timber and will generate goodwill to the country and enhance the status of India on the World forestry map under the aegis of this UN Organization.

Besides, overseeing the functioning of all Forest Development Corporations, the division is actively involved with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest Plantation and Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair. The Scientific Expert Committee has submitted its report “Status of Forests and other Allied Matters in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands”to the Ministry which will help in the restructuring of ANIFPDCL.

National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board (NAEB) is making long strides in achieving the afforestation goals of the nation through participatory process as enshrined in the National Forest Policy 1988.

Keeping pace with the democratic decentralization process, NAEB has facilitated implementation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, ‘National Afforestation Programme’ (NAP) through 28281 village level institutions to realize the dream of Joint Forest Management across the country. These institutions, commonly named Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs), are organized into district level federations named as Forest Development Agencies (FDA) which play the pivotal link between the Central Government and the JFMCs for natural resource management. This institutional framework encompasses all States and Union Territories of the country. The scheme has supported 782 FDA projects in all including 31 projects for special problem areas like ‘Jhum’/shifting cultivation.

National Afforestation Programme
National Afforestation Programme (NAP) is a flagship scheme of Ministry of Environment and Forests which aims at regeneration of degraded forests and adjoining areas, has treated over 1.41 million hectares of land at a cost of Rs. 1570 crores till last financial year. The programme is monitored and evaluated internally by the FDAs and also through concurrent, independent agencies including Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) Dehradun. The Forest Survey of India using state-of-the-art Remote Sensing and GIS technology does monitoring of area covered under plantation and survival rate of plants.

Greening India Scheme
Grants-in-Aid for Greening India Scheme is another endeavor to encourage participation of interested Non-Government-Organizations as well as Government Institutions in planting trees and creating mass awareness in their areas of interest. Fully appreciating/recognizing that economic gain is the major driving force in adopting tree plantation in private lands, this scheme is focused on raising good quality planting material in specially established high-tech nurseries, dissemination of the information thereof and providing support for carrying out plantation.

Eco-Development Force
Eco-Development Force (EDF) Scheme of NAEB is playing the dual role of afforestation in remote and difficult areas on the one hand and rehabilitation of ex-servicemen of defense forces on the other. Presently there are as many as six battalions located at Kiarkuli (Uttrakhand), Bikaner (Rajasthan), Samba (J&K), Pithoragarh (Uttrakhand), Ballipara and Chirang (Assam) making significant contribution in increasing the green cover in their respective areas.
In view of the competing land uses, there are little chances of any significant increase in government forest land and hence it is necessary to carry tree planting beyond government forests, i.e. in available community, institutional as well as private lands. In order to facilitate this endeavor, a new scheme named Gram/Panchayat Van Yojana is in offing which is envisaged to be implemented through Panchayati Raj Institutions on a partnership basis between the Centre and the State governments.

Seven Regional Centers established in various premier institutes across the country are important nerve centers that provide valuable intellectual input in the form of replicable technologies, extension strategies, interdepartmental linkages and action research on cluster based forest micro-enterprise development at JFMC level.

The exceptional contribution in the field of afforestation and wasteland development made by individuals, government as well as non-government organizations are duly recognized at national level by Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra Award every year.

Focus on North-East
The problem of gregarious flowering of Bamboo in the North Eastern Region was addressed by the Ministry through a special scheme by releasing Rs. 23.00 crores during the last year to all the North Eastern States. The threats of rodent menace and consequent famine were effectively reduced and the flowered area are being regenerated.
For management of gregarious flowering of bamboos, an Action was approved by the steering committee set up by the Ministry with representatives from these states and concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
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