Current Affairs April 2015

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Union Government issues revised norms for disaster relief

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued orders on revision norms with respect of the Centrally notified disasters. These disasters include tsunami, earthquake, floods, cyclones, drought, hailstorm, etc.

Facts about revised norms

  • Norms related to various aspects of response and preparedness like ex-gratia to the kin’s in case of loss of lives, disability and livelihoods have been revised.
  • Permitted State governments to use upto 10% of allocation of the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) on equipment. On capacity building, maximum of 5% of SDRF allocation can be spent.
  • State Governments also can use upto 10% of their SDRF allocation on local disasters. In this case the State Executive Committees have to work out the criteria and modalities.
  • Procedure for adjustment of available balances under SDRF is simplified while releasing assistance from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) in case of severe disasters.
  • Automatic annual updation of the norms by reference with the movement of wholesale price index (WPI) is also enabled.

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Union Government allows pharmaceutical companies to hike rates of 509 essential medicines

Union government has allowed pharmaceutical companies to hike rates of 509 essential medicines by 3.84 per cent. The new prices will be effective from 1 April 2015.

In this regard, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a notification under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), 2013 in line with the wholesale price index of 2014.

These essential medicines are used for treating various ailments like hepatitis B and C, diabetes, and cancer.

Presently, Union government regulates prices of a total of 348 essential medicines based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 per cent.

Union government also regulates prices of all other medicines and pharma companies are allowed to hike prices of such drugs by only up to 10 per cent in a year.

DPCO, 2013 was notified by the Union government with an effect from May 2014. It has replaced the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs and covers 680 formulations.

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India registers record production of nuclear fuel

India has registered a major milestone for the nuclear industry by producing record nuclear fuel i.e. producing over 1,252 Metric Tonne (MT) of uranium bundles.

Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) has contributed to achieve this milestone by producing over 30 per cent more fuel compared to its 961.023 MT fuel production in 2013-14.

The recorded production also has exceeded country’s annual fuel requirement of 650 MT for the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). This surplus nuclear fuel production can last for at least a few months.

Nuclear fuel production in India

  • Since 2008, the nuclear fuel production in the country has seen a steady increase.
  • This increase in production has been attributed to the Indo-US nuclear deal and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which had simplified the process of acquiring uranium.
  • In 2008-09, NFC had produced 226.89 MT nuclear fuel, prior to signing Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008.
  • But after the Indo-US nuclear deal the production had increased to 600.91 MT in 2009-10.

At present, India produces around 5,780 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power. Of this total power produced 4,780 MW of electricity is generated by fuel processed at the NFC.

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