Current Affairs – August, 2019

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India’s forex reserves at new life-time high of $430.57 bn

According to latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, India’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves surged to new life-time high of US $430.572 billion in week to August 9, 2019. It was on account of rise in foreign currency assets, the major component of the overall reserves. In the previous reporting week ended on August 2, 2019 forex reserves had declined by US $697.2 million to US $428.952 billion.

Various components of Forex reserves (in reporting week)

Foreign currency assets (FCA): It increased by US $15.2 million to US $398.739 billion.

It is expressed in dollar terms and includes effect of depreciation/appreciation of non-US currency units (US Dollar) like euro, pound and yen held in reserves.

Gold reserves: It surged by US $1.591 billion to US $26.754 billion.

Special drawing rights (SDR) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF): Increased US $6.7 million to US $1.441 billion.

Reserve position with IMF: It rose by US $7 million to US $3.636 billion.

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SC clears Chardham highway project connecting 4 holy places in Uttarakhand

Supreme Court has cleared decks for Chardham highway project, which will connect four holy places of Uttarakhand through 900 km all-weather roads. The apex court had also directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form high-powered committee by 22 August 2019 so as to look into environmental concerns.

High-Powered Committee

A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Surya Kant modified an earlier order of National Green Tribunal by constituting a fresh high-powered committee to look into environmental concern.

Supreme Court added representatives from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Physical Research Laboratory under government’s space department and Ministry of Defence to new high powered committee and asked committee to submit its recommendations within 4 months.

As per SC, committee shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.

It shall consider cumulative and independent impact of Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.

Committee will also suggest areas in which afforestation should be taken and kind of saplings to be planted. SC directed that in case of non-survival of any sapling, further plantation should be done and compensatory afforestation should be 10 times number of trees cut.

About Char Dham Highway

It is a proposed two-lane (in each direction) express National Highway in state of Uttarakhand.  The two lane highway will have a minimum width of 10 metre.

The proposed Char Dham Expressway National Highway project will connect 4 holy places in Uttarakhand states viz.- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri

Project includes 900 km national highways which will connect whole of Uttarakhand state.

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