Current Affairs 2017 - March

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Indian Navy unveils Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological System at Rajali Air Station

The Indian Navy has unveiled the Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological System (IAAMS) at Rajali Air Station in Tamil Nadu.

The aim of IAAMS is to modernise the meteorological infrastructure of the nine Naval Air Stations (NAS). It is expected to bring accuracy in weather monitoring mechanism in the Indian Navy.

Key Facts
  • IAAMS is equipped with the state-of-the-art meteorological sensors viz., Radar Vertical Wind Profiler, Ceilometer, Transmissometer and Automatic Weather Observation System.
  • It undertakes automatic and continuous recording of relevant weather parameters that are vital for accurate weather forecasting.
  • It has a special alarm feature that alerts the duty staff during abnormal change of weather parameters that may affect safe flying operations.
  • It can also provide automatic dissemination of routine weather reports as per standards of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to other air stations and Air Traffic Controller towers without human intervention.
Background

The IAAMS is an ambitious project of the Indian Navy to modernise the meteorological infrastructure of the nine Naval Air Stations (NAS). Installation of the system at remaining eight stations is expected to be completed by March 2019. After completion, the project will give a major fillip to aviation safety, through automation of weather monitoring process.

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SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles

The Supreme Court has banned the sale and registration of Bharat Stage (BS)-III emission norm-compliant vehicles from April 1, 2017, when environmentally friendly BS-IV emission norms will come into force across the country.

The order came after all vehicle manufacturers including their association -Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) approached SC to stop the ban till existing stock is sold.

SC Order
  • The SC bench held that health of the citizen is more important than the commercial interests of the automobile industry.
  • All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are prohibited from registering such vehicles on and from April 1, 2017 that do not meet BS-IV emission standards.
  • Vehicles that have already been sold on or before March 31, 2017 will be not included in this ban. From 1 April 2017, BS-IV fuel emission standards will kick in and all new vehicles have to comply it. 
What are manufacturers saying?

Vehicle manufacturers have argued that they were entitled to make BS-III vehicles till March 31, 2017. So, the sale and registration of these vehicles should not be prohibited after April 1, 2017 with the introduction of BS-IV norms. They should further be given a reasonable time to dispose of their existing stock which is as about 820,000 vehicles (worth Rs 12,000-crore) most of them two-wheelers. Government also has favoured the prospect of selling the existent stock of BS-III vehicles, as it done twice before when fuel emission norms were upgraded to BS-II and BS-III, respectively.

Issue

Many vehicles including heavy commercial vehicles with BS-III built engines, employ a mechanical fuel pump and used fuel less efficiently. It negatively influences environment by subsequent emissions of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

How BS-IV engines cut emissions?
  • Passenger vehicles compliant with Bharat Stage-III emission norms vary widely from their Bharat Stage-IV compliant engines, depending on the size of the car and whether they are petrol or diesel versions.
  • BS-IV compliant engines differ in the electronics, sensor system, and its ability to process low-sulphur fuel and their “after-exhaust” system that determines emissions.
  • BS-IV engines also require that the sulphur content of the fuel they use be less than 50 part per million (ppm) whereas BS-III ones can run on 350 ppm fuel.
  • The transition from BS-III to BS-IV will lead to substantial reductions in particulate matter emissions. For instance, from new trucks, the emissions dip by 80% and from cars by 50%.
  • Similarly, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions can also drop between 41 and 80%, depending on the engine sizes.

Note: India also has set a deadline of 2020 to switch to BS-VI norms, by skipping stage V. This huge leap towards cleaner and environment friendly fuel, will include technology upgrade, making vehicles costly.

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Lok Sabha passes 4 GST Bills

Lok Sabha has passed four Bills relating to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It paves way for implementing a new, consolidated indirect tax regime from the proposed date of July 1, 2017.

The four bills passed were Central GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill, GST Compensation Bill, and the Union Territory GST Bill, 2017. These Bills were passed as Money Bills, thus eliminates the role of Rajya Sabha.

Key Facts
  • The tax rates under GST regime will be based on the recommendation GST Council. Council has two-thirds voting by States and one-third by Centre.
  • The GST laws passed by Parliament will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir, as it will have to legislate its own law and integrate with the GST regime.
  • There will be no single rate under GST as it will be not possible and it will be highly regressive. So The GST Council has recommended a four-tier tax structure 5, 12, 18 and 28%.
  • On top of the highest slab (28%), a cess will be imposed on luxury and demerit goods to compensate the states for revenue loss for five years.
  • Essential food articles will not taxed and those will continue to be zero rated under the GST. All other commodities will be fitted into the nearest tax bracket.

The fifth GST legislation, the State GST Bill, needs to be separately passed by the respective legislative assemblies of each of the States and Union Territories with legislature.

Background

GST is touted as the biggest taxation reform since independence. It will subsume indirect taxes such as central excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies to create an uniform market. GST regime is expected to boost GDP growth by about 2% and check tax evasion. It will make commodities “slightly cheaper” and exports more competitive. It will also improve tax compliance and ensure that assessees get input credit of the taxes paid

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