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Mobile access scheme for remote and border areas soon

The USOF, which is maintained by the government, was formed to help fund projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. 
•    The money for this fund comes through a ‘Universal Access Levy,’ charged from the telecom operators as a percentage of various licenses fees being paid by them.
•    Last month, Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak had said that about Rs.10,000 crore will be spent in the current financial year from the USO Fund to execute various digital infrastructure projects to boost connectivity in rural areas. In the last fiscal, about Rs.3,000 crore was spent from the USOF.
•    The official added that another scheme — funded by the USOF — to connect Left wing extremism (LWE)-affected areas in ten identified states in on the “verge of completion.” “Together, these will help take forward the Digital India drive.”
•    As on date, the total available fund in USOF is more than Rs.47,411.56 crore. 
•    The total collection since the scheme was started in 2002-03 stands at about Rs.78,587.31 crore, while total amount disbursed for various initiatives to boost rural connectivity is about Rs.31,175.75 crore, according to government data.
•    The Centre is also in middle of executing the Bharat Net project which aims to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband by 2017.

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Union Government notifies National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme

Government has notified National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. It is for the first time a scheme has been notified to offer financial incentives to employers. The Scheme has an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore with a target of 50 Lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.
Apprenticeship Training is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to develop skilled manpower for the country. 
•    It provides for an industry led, practice oriented, effective and efficient mode of formal training. The National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components for creating skilled manpower in India. The policy proposes to work pro-actively with the industry including MSME to facilitate tenfold increase opportunities in the country by 2020. 
•    25% of the prescribed stipend payable to an apprentice would be reimbursed to the employers directly by the Government of India. The scheme also supports basic training, which is an essential component of apprenticeship training by sharing of basic training cost with basic training providers in respect of apprentices who come directly to apprenticeship without any formal trade training (fresher apprentices). 
•    Online portal for ease of administering. All transactions including registration by employers, apprentices, registration of contract and payment to employers will be made as online mode. Eligible employers shall engage apprentices in a band of 2.5% to 10% of the total strength of the establishment. Employers need to register on the apprenticeship portal and must have TIN/TAN and any one of EPFO/ESIC/LIN. 
•    Brand Ambassadors will be appointed for states and for local industrial clusters to act as facilitators and promoters to promote apprenticeship training.

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Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 cleared by Cabinet, to be introduced in Parliament

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of the "Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016". 
•    The Bill will regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Surrogacy Board at the central level and State Surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the State and Union Territories. The legislation will ensure effective regulation of surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples. 
•    All infertile Indian married couple who want to avail ethical surrogacy will be benefited. Further the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy will be protected. The Bill shall apply to whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 
•    The major benefits of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile couples will be allowed on fulfilment of certain conditions and for specific purposes. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy. 
•    No permanent structure is proposed to be created in the Draft Bill. Neither there are proposals for creating new posts. The proposed legislation, while covering an important area is framed in such a manner that it ensures effective regulation but does not add much vertically to the current regulatory structure already in place at the central as well as states. Accordingly, there will not be any financial implications except for the meetings of the National and State surrogacy Boards and Appropriate Authorities which will be met out of the regular budget of Central and State governments. 
•    India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries and there have been reported incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy and rackets of intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. Widespread condemnation of commercial surrogacy prevalent in India has also been regularly published in different print-and electronic media since last few years highlighting the need to prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow ethical altruistic surrogacy. The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has also recommended for prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing ethical altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian citizens by enacting a suitable legislation.

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Environment Minister Dedicates Faclities to People under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

The Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, dedicated a number of facilities the people of Jahanpur Gram Panchayat in district Sihor in Madhya Pradesh under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, yesterday. The village houses about 100 families. 
•    The Minister dedicated a night shelter, particularly for the benefit of people performing a circumambulation (Parikarama) of River Narmada. A toilet has also been constructed to prevent people from defecating in the open. 
•    Shri Dave also inaugurated a water filter plant, with an objective to provide 20-25 litres water per day per family. An auditorium, with a view to encourage people to organize cultural activities and a Panchayat Bhawan, has also been dedicated to the people. The Environment Minister also planted a sapling on the occasion. He distributed school uniforms to children of the village and held discussions with women members of NGOs. 
•    Shri Dave also held a review meeting with officers of the concerned departments to review the various works being undertaken.

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Smart Ganga city programme launched in 10 cities

Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Uma Bharti on Saturday jointly launched 'Smart Ganga City' programme in 10 cities located along the Ganga to set up Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and improve drainage. 
•    Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, Sahibganj and Barrackpore are the cities/town where the programme will be implemented in the first phase.
•    Union Urban Development Minister Naidu and Water Resources Minister Bharti launched the works through video conferencing and were joined in by District Magistrates/Mayors of cities/towns.
•    Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, Sahibganj and Barrackpore are the cities/town where the programme will be implemented in the first phase.
•    The government plans to form District-Level Mentoring committees in Ganga basin states - on the lines of High-Level Task Force chaired by Cabinet Secretary - to keep an eye on programme implementation.
•    This is a part of Namami gange program
•    This is a program based on PPP model so as to improve the present condition of Ganga


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Lok Sabha Passed bill on compensation for employees injury

The Lok Sabha on 9 August 2016 passed the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to reduce litigation in cases of disputes arising over compensation to workers. 
•    The Bill seeks to amend the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923. 
•    This law provides payment of compensation to employees and their dependents in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.
•    It makes it mandatory for employer to inform the employee of his right to compensation under the parent Act. 
•    Such information must be given in writing in Hindi, English or relevant official language at the time of employment.
•    It penalizes an employer if he fails to inform his employee of his right to compensation.  Such penalty may be between fifty thousand to one lakh rupees.
•    Any dispute related to an employee’s compensation will be heard by a Commissioner, only if the amount in dispute is ten thousand rupees. 
•    It allows Union Government to further raise this amount. 
•    It deletes the provision of withholding payments towards the employee if an employer has appealed against a Commissioner’s order in High Court.

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The Odisha Government had launched Baristha Bunakar Sahayata Yojana

The Odisha government on 7 August 2016 launched a special assistance scheme for elderly weavers, ‘Baristha Bunakar Sahayata Yojana’, to mark the National Handlooms Day.
•    Under the scheme all weavers above the age of 60 years would get a monthly pension of 500 rupees, and those above 80 years would get 700 rupees.
•    The scheme is aimed at improving the financial condition of over 8000 weavers, who have been working in this field for the last 20 years.
•    The pension amounts would be directly sent to the beneficiaries bank accounts.
•    On the occasion, chief minister Naveen Patnaik also gave away awards to weavers' cooperative societies who have been relentlessly promoting and producing the traditional weaves of Odisha.
•    As per reports, Odisha a home of nearly 1.5 lakh weavers including 78% women engaged in handloom production produces handloom fabrics worth 160 crore rupees. 
•    Some handloom products of Odisha include tie and dye, Sambalpuri, Khandua, Berhampuri Pata, Saktapar sari, Maniabandha, Bomkai and others.

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The Union Government has launched MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection)

Union Health Minister J P Nadda on 5 August 2016 launched a nation-wide programme MAA - Mothers’ Absolute Affection for promoting breastfeeding.
The goal of the programme is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices.
•    MAA is an intensified programme of the Health Ministry for creating an enabling environment to ensure that mothers, husbands and families receive adequate information and support for promotion of breastfeeding.
•    The Ministry has allocated 30 crore rupees for the Programme and 4.3 lakh rupees for each district will be allotted for implementing the various activities under MAA programme.
•    The chief components of the MAA Programme are Community awareness generation, Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities, and Monitoring and Award/recognition.
•    The practice of breastfeeding enhances immunity level in the child which will help reduce the child mortality rate.Breastfeeding is one of the important interventions for child survival.

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Prime Minister Lunched "Mission Bhagiratha"

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today launched Mission Bhagiratha at Komatibanda Village, Gajwel, in Medak District of Telangana. The scheme has been launched by the State Government with an objective to provide safe drinking water to all. 
•    The Prime Minister unveiled plaques to lay Foundation Stones for important development projects. These included the 1600 MW Thermal Power station of NTPC at Ramagundam; revival of a Fertilizer Plant at Ramagundam; Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences, Warangal; and Manoharabad-Kothapalli Railway line. He also dedicated to the nation the 1200 MW Thermal Power Station of Singareni Collieries at Jaipur, in Adilabad district. 
•    Addressing a large public meeting, the Prime Minister appreciated the State Government for the steps taken over the last two years to fulfil the aspirations of the people. Noting the importance of cooperative federalism for the country’s development, the Prime Minister said the Centre and States are now working together for this objective. 
•    Complimenting the State Government for the launch of Mission Bhagiratha to provide drinking water to the people of the State, the Prime Minister said that whenever the State Chief Minister Shri K. Chandrasekar Rao has met him, he has spoken about the State's development and water related issues. The Prime Minister spoke of the importance of water and the need for all citizens to conserve it. 
•    In the context of the foundation stone for the new railway line, the Prime Minister said a long pending demand of the people would now be fulfilled. He said the fertilizer plant would help the farmers of the State. He spoke of power sector reforms, irrigation, and how economic progress is being linked to rail connectivity. 
•    The Prime Minister asked people to beware of fake cow vigilantes, and urged State Governments to take action against them.

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Swachh Survekshan of 500 cities launched by Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu

Minister of Urban Development Shi M.Venkaiah Naidu today launched ‘Swachh Suvekshan-2017’ to assess and rank 500 cities and towns based on levels of sanitation and efforts made by respective urban local bodies and also to capture progress towards achieving ‘Open Defecation Free’ status.  The Minister also released in New Delhi today various publications and mobile applications to help the 500 cities and towns prepare for the survey to be conducted in January next year.
•    Shri Venkaiah Naidu addressed Mayors, Municipal Chairpersons, Municipal Commissioners and other concerned officials of 500 cities and towns to be surveyed via video conferencing. He informed the city officials that cities will be ranked based on the reports by urban local bodies on the progress made towards construction of toilets, feedback of citizens and independent observation of sanitation levels. Cities with a population of one lakh and above each, heritage and tourism cities, capital cities with less than one lakh population are included in this survey, the second since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission.
•    Referring to the stress being laid by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on creating a ‘Jan Andolan’ (Mass movement) to ensure ‘Swachh Bharat’ by 2019, Shri Naidu launched a web portal ‘Swachhata App’ and ‘Swachhta Helpline 1969’ to enable citizens associate more and more with Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas. Citizens can post photos of unhygienic places in urban areas on Swachh Aap and they will be informed of action taken by respective urban local bodies in specific time period. Using toll free Helpline Number 1969, citizens can seek information about the ways of participating in cleanliness mission and can also enquire the status of their applications for construction of toilets.
•    Stressing on the need for behavioral change in favour of using toilets, Shri Venkaiah Naidu launched ‘Asli Tarakki’ campaign highlighting the need for construction of toilets and using them well. This campaign to be mounted on TV channels and in print media soon brings out that having two wheelers, air coolers, TV sets etc., is not ‘Asli Tarakki’ (real  development) if such people did not either have toilets or don’t use them.
•    The Minister stated that since the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission in October, 2014, construction of 21 lakh household individual toilets has been completed and construction of another 21 lakh toilets is in progress. The mission target in this regard is construction of 1.04 cr toilets by 2019.

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