India Current Affairs 2017

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Income Tax Department launches Operation Clean Money

The Income Tax Department (ITD) launched Operation Clean Money (Swachh Dhan Abhiyan), an e-platform to analyse large cash deposits made during the demonetisation window (9 November to 30 December 2016).

Under it, e-verification of large cash has been done using data analytics for comparing the demonetisation data with information in ITD databases.

Key Facts
  • In the first batch of the operation,around 18 lakh persons have been identified in whose case, cash transactions do not appear to be in line with the tax payer’s profile.
  • It comprises account-holders whose deposits did not match their incomes, as per data with the IT department, will be alerted on their e-filing portals.
  • IT department has sent emails and phone text messages to these accountant holders to seek their explanation about the source of funds and a response within 10 days.
  • In absence of a response, they will receive a notice from the tax department or further action. The verification will also be closed if the cash deposit is declared under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY).

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Bombay Natural History Society launches climate change programme in Central Himalayas

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has launched climate change programme to conduct study to assess the status, distribution and conservation of Pheasants and Finches in Central Himalayas.

It is long-term monitoring project funded by Oracle and facilitated by CAF-India. It will focus on their conservation in the context of climate change with the help of community participation.

Background
  • The Himalayas hold a rich natural heritage with diverse flora and fauna enhancing the beauty of the region.
  • Indian subcontinent is home to nearly 62 species of finches and 50 species of pheasants, with several species listed in ‘Globally Threatened’ category by IUCN. Both these groups are spread across the Himalayas.
  • Shrinking habitats combined with several biotic factors, along with poaching and trapping pressures in many areas have pushed several of them to near extinction.
  • Besides, climate change is influencing vertical and horizontal distribution of these groups. Those species adapting with it will be able survive, but those species sensitive to temperature rise will suffer.
Climate change programme 
  • It will help in making an inventory of pheasants and finches, documentation of local specific conservation issues, and designing local as well as species specific conservation action plan with the community participation.
  • The conservation action plan of these sites will be the first step towards the protection of the ecosystem which benefits both biodiversity as well as the people in the system.
  • It also aims to assess the socio-economic activities of local communities and involve them in conservation efforts and sensitize the local forest department staff.

About Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS)

BNHS is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research. It was founded on 15 September 1883 and headquartered at Hornbill House, Mumbai. It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Department of Science and Technology has designated as a ‘Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’.

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Finance Ministry to aid Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh for rail safety

The Union Finance Ministry has agreed to contribute partially to a new dedicated railway safety fund named as ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’ in the upcoming Union Budget 2017-18.

The proposed safety fund will be utilised for track improvement, bridge rehabilitation, rolling stock replacement, human resource development, improved inspection system and safety work at level crossing, among other things.

Key Facts
  • The Finance Ministry is likely to grant a fresh infusion of only Rs. 5,000 crore in the upcoming financial year out of the initial proposed corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore.
  • About Rs. 10,000 crore will be earmarked from the Central Road Fund (CRF) that is collected by levying a cess on diesel and petrol at present for safety-related work.
  • Railways may now be asked to fund the remaining Rs. 5,000 crore for the initial corpus from its own resources.
  • For this Indian Railway’s may either have to bring back a cess on rail tickets to finance its share of Rail Safety Fund or look to fund it from non-budgetary resources. 
Background

The Railway Ministry had requested the Union Finance Ministry to create ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh’, a ‘non-lapsable’ safety fund of Rs. 20,000 crore over five years. Its request was based on the recommendations of a high-level safety review committee headed by Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman Atomic Energy Commission.  The Committee, in its report submitted in 2012, had projected an investment requirement of Rs. 1 lakh crore on safety over five years.

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