Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Why in news?
The government has introduced in Lok Sabha the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
What has changed?
- The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
- Section 13 of the original Act sets the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier).
- The amendment proposes that the appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
- Again, Section 13 states that salaries, allowances and other terms of service of “the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner”, and those of an Information Commissioner “shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner”.
- The amendment proposes that the salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
- Section 16 of the original Act deals with state-level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners.
- It sets the term for state-level CICs and ICs at five years (or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier).
- The amendment proposes that these appointments should be for “such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
- And while the original Act prescribes salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the state Chief Information Commissioner as “the same as that of an Election Commissioner”, and the salaries and other terms of service of the State Information Commissioners as “the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government”, the amendment proposes that these “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Polity and Governance
Why in news?
The Bombay High Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 376E of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in the Shakti Mills rape case.
What is Section 376E?
- Under section 376E of the IPC, a repeat rape offender will have to be imprisoned for the rest of his life or sentenced to death.
- The stringent provision was added by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, introduced following the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.
- In this, the definition of rape was widened to include oral and digital penetration, and Section 376E was added to award the death penalty to a convict who is a repeat offender under Section 376, 376A and 376D.
- Section 376A includes causing death of the victim, and 376D is to charge the convict with gang rape, an offence that carries a sentence of 20 years to life.
- According to Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, whoever has been previously convicted of an offence punishable under section 376 or section 376A or section 376D and is subsequently convicted of an offence punishable under any of the said sections shall be punished with imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, or with death.
Why in news?
Bhabha Kavach to block 7.62 mm AK-47 bullets for paramilitary forces.
About Bhabha Kavach
- It is India’s lightest bullet-proof jacket.
- It was developed jointly by the Ordnance Factories Board and the public sector metals and metal alloys manufacturer MIDHANI.
- It can withstand bullets from an AK-47 assault rifle (7.62 mm hard steel core bullets), and the 5.56 mm INSAS rifle.
- The Kavach weighs 9.2 kg, a half kilogram less than the weight for a bullet-proof jacket prescribed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Each Bharat Kavach has four hard armour plates, which protect the wearer from the front, back, and either side.
- Bhabha Kavach is built from layers of high-density, high-tenacity polyethylene, which are fused together at high temperatures to form a thick, hard armour plate, which is then sprayed with BARC’s carbon nanomaterial.
- The material used in the jacket are hard boron carbide ceramics, carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer.
Why in news?
LIC to fund Centre's high-profile highway project Bharatmala Pariyojana.
What is Bharatmala Pariyojana?
- Bharat Mala Project is an ambitious road development initiative under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- It has been envisaged as an umbrella program that will subsume unfinished projects of National Highways Development Project (NHDP) launched in 1998 and also focus on new initiatives like development of roads for better connectivity.
- It was approved by the Union Cabinet on October 25, 2017.
What does the project consist of?
- The project will expand approximately 83,000 km of roads at an investment of Rs 6.9 lakh crore by 2022.
- It includes economic corridors of around 9,000 km, inter-corridor and feeder roots of around 6,000 km, 5,000 km roads under the National Corridors Efficiency Program, border and international connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, coastal and port connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, expressways of around 800 km and 10,000 km of balance NHDP roads.
- Bharatmala will give the country 50 national corridors as opposed to the 6 we have at present.
- With this, 70 – 80 percent of freight will move along NH as against the 40 percent at present.
- It envisages building 3300 kms of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and 2000 km of International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Objective and Benefits
- It focuses on optimizing efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.
- Envisages improving the efficiency of the National Corridor (Golden-Quadrilateral and NS-EW corridor) by decongesting its choke points through lane expansion, construction of ring roads, bypasses/ elevated corridors and logistics parks at identified points.
- Special attention has been paid to fulfill the connectivity needs of backward and tribal areas, areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, coastal areas and trade routes with neighbouring countries under the programme.
- The programme will help to connect 550 Districts in the country through NH linkages.
- Currently, only around 300 Districts have NH linkages.
- Bharatmala will also have a positive impact on the Logistic Performance Index (LPI) of the country.
- The newer roads are expected to increase the speed of vehicles and decrease supply chain costs from the current average 18 per cent to six per cent.
- The programme will also help generate a large number of direct and indirect employments in the construction activity (nearly 100 million man days of jobs during the road construction and subsequently 22 million jobs as a result of the increased economic activity across the country.
How funding will be done?
- More than 70% of the works will be through government funding.
- The funding will be done via several routes including debt funds, budgetary allocation, private investment, toll operator transfer model etc.
- About one-third of the investment will come from fuel cess, over one-fourth from market borrowing and the rest from budgetary support, private investment and auctioning of completed highways.
- ₹09 lakh crore will be raised as debt from the market and ₹1.06 lakh crore will be mobilised through public-private partnership (PPP).
- The remaining ₹19 lakh crore will flow from accruals of the Central Road Funds and toll projects.
- Bharatmala project will start in Gujarat and Rajasthan, followed by Punjab and subsequently traversing the Himalayan belt through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur (next to the Indo-Burmese border) and then to Mizoram.
- North-eastern states have been given special focus in the project and international trade is a key aspect as well.
- The main agencies tasked with the construction are the National Highways Authority of India, National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation and state public works department.
Current Affair Capsules
- Chandrayaan-2 goes up successfully, places satellite in orbit.
- It was launched from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, on GSLV-MKIII’s first operational flight.
- About Chandrayaan
Map Aided Programme
- Kalsubai is a mountain in the Western Ghats, located in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Its summit situated at an elevation of 1646 metres (5400 feet) is the highest point in Maharashtra
- The mountain range lies within the Kalsubai Harishchandragad Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kalsubai Peak is also known as the Mount Everest of Maharashtra
Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)
- With reference to two non-conventional energy sources called ‘coalbed methane’ and ‘shale gas’, consider the following statements:
- Coalbed methane is the pure methane gas extracted from coal seams, while shale gas is a mixture of propane and butane only that can be extracted from fine-grained sedimentary rocks.
- In India, abundant coalbed methane sources exist, but so far no shale gas sources have been found.
Which of the statements given above is /are correct?
- 1 only (b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2 (d) Neither 1 nor 2