Current Affairs 2017 – May

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ Resigns

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has resigned from his post. He was elected as the 39th Prime Minister of Nepal. Prachanda has stepped down honouring a power sharing agreement entered by him with the ruling partner Nepali Congress on August 3, 2016. As per the agreement, Dahal, who is the Chairman of CPN (Maoist Centre) was to have a brief stint of 9 months and will be succeeded by Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba. It was agreed that the government will be run on a rotational basis until elections to Parliament are held in February 2018.

Sher Bahadur Deuba is expected to assume the office by next week. In his tenure, he will oversee the remaining two elections — provincial and central which are to be conducted by January 2018.

Prachanda’s tenure has helped to ease the hostile relationship between the Government of Nepal and Madhesis. Both Prachanda and Sher Bahadur Deuba are committed to amend the constitution to accommodate the aspirations of Madhesi people who have been protesting since 2015 against those constitutional provisions that excludes them from the power structure.

Background

First local level polls were held in Nepal on May 14 which is a first in two decades. After 1997, local level elections could not be held in Nepal due to the decade-long Maoist insurgency and ensuing political instability.  Nepal has seen around 25 prime ministers in the last 25 years.

Nepal is also recovering from the devastating earthquake which killed over 9,000 people. In addition, it is also plagued by the protests of the minority ethnic Madhesis who demand amendment of the Nepali Constitution.

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Union Cabinet Approves Allocation of 2.5% of Central Road Fund for National Waterways Development

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for allocating 2.5% of the Central Road Fund (CRF) for the development of the National Waterways.

Central Road Fund is a duty on excise and customs levied on petrol and high-speed diesel.

Significance

The allocation will provide around Rs 2000 crore annually for the development and maintenance of the National Waterways which in turn will boost inland water transport. According to the Inland Waterways Authority of India, the development of National Waterways would require Rs 25,000 crore till 2022-2023. The move is also expected to provide employment opportunities to 1.8 lakh persons in the next 5 years

A number of facilities like navigation aids, night navigation facility, facilities for embarking and disembarking at designated locations, facilities for expeditious crossing of the Farakka Navigation Lock, pilotage and assistance in distress will be provided by the IWAI.

Background

The National Waterways Act, 2016 was passed in 2016 for the development and maintenance of National Waterways. The act which came into force in 12 April, 2016 has declared 111 inland waterways across 24 states as national waterways. At present five National Waterways are operational.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. Its main function is to build the necessary required infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration and regulation.

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