Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2018

Government launches Sand Mining Framework to check illegal extraction

The Union Ministry of Mines has launched Sand Mining Framework to help states deal with the sand mining issues, including demand supply deficit and illegal extraction. It was launched at the third National Conclave on Mines & Minerals held in New Delhi.

Key Facts

The main objective of framework is to assist states in arriving at best possible options before them. It also seeks to addresses issues of state objectives, demand-supply assessment and measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and monitoring mechanism. Besides, it also includes suggestions for faster clearances and approvals and using its interventions in complete process chain of sand mining. It also lays emphasis on alternatives of sand i.e. manufactured sand, import of sand etc.

Need for framework

Sand is an important component for housing, infrastructure projects and construction activities. There have been various issues across the country in mining activities related to sand like non availability of sand, environmental degradation, high sand prices, illegalities in sand mining etc. The natural endowment of sand across many states is unable to meet the demand and is coupled with unease of extraction issues, pricing and illegalities in mining. So there was need of uniform framework to help states to frame their policies, taking into consideration their objectives, endowments and state deployment of resources.


UGC grants full autonomy to 62 higher educational institutes

The University Grants Commission (UGC) approved proposal to grant full autonomy to 62 higher educational institutions which have maintained high standards of excellence under Autonomous Colleges Regulation. These 62 higher educational institutions include 5 central universities, 21 state universities, 26 private universities and 10 other colleges.

Key Facts

The complete autonomy will allow these higher educational institutions to start new courses, new departments, new programmes, skill courses, off campuses, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, take foreign students, offer variable incentive packages and introduce online distance learning.

They can also get into academic collaboration with top five hundred universities of the world. They can also decide their admission procedure, fee structure and curriculum, among others. They will not have to come to UGC again and again for seeking permission as they maintained quality and achieved a benchmark of 3.26 and above NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) ranking.

The 10 colleges which have been granted autonomy will have full freedom but not degree awarding powers. These colleges will be free to conduct admissions, decide curriculum, conduct exams on their own and evaluate them and declare results. However, degrees awarded will have university name along with theirs.

University Grants Commission (UGC)

The UGC is statutory body set up by Union government in accordance to the UGC Act 1956. It functions under Ministry of Human Resource Development. It is mandated to initiate important decisions and dialogues which have important bearing on the entire student population of the country.

The three primary functions of UGC include overseeing distribution of grants to universities and colleges in India, providing scholarships and fellowships to beneficiaries and monitoring conformity to its regulations by universities and colleges.