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In a bid to provide close connectivity between the three states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has dedicated the first cable-stayed bridge of north India in Kathua district on river Ravi at Basholi situated on Dunera-Basohli-Bhadharwah road in Jammu & Kashmir to the nation.
- The Basohli Bridge is 4th of its kind in India. The other three cable-stayed bridges are Hooghly Bridge at Kolkata, Naini Bridge in Allahabad and Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.
- The bridge has been designed by Canadian Company Infinity Engineers & IIT New Delhi had approved its design.
- It is a joint venture of IRCON a Railway Company and SP Singla Construction group.
- It is being constructed by Border Roads Organization (BRO).
- Project outlay – Rs 145 crore
- 300 tonnes of specially designed cables are being procured from Japan and Spain.
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its approval for investment of Rs.5, 000 crore by Oil and Natural Gas Company Limited (ONGC) in the equity share capital of ONGC Videsh by conversion of existing loan of equivalent amount into equity.
- Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) had extended a loan of Rs 6,000 crore to its overseas investment arm to meet its acquisitions requirements. Of this, Rs 5,000 crore is being converted into equity.
- With this, the equity base of OVL will rise to Rs 15,000 crore. The entire loan ONGC had given to OVL was at zero interest.
Bihar Government banned 15-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on Patna roads
The Bihar government has banned 15-year-old diesel vehicles from this capital’s road in a bid to control air pollution.
- The decision comes after an advisory issued by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) showing air quality in Patna was “very poor” on 20 days and “severe” on nine days of November 2015.
“Severe” means particulate matter-2.5 (or PM-2.5) is over 400 and can affect healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases. “Very poor” means PM-2.5 is between 301 and 400 and can cause respiratory illness on prolonged exposure.
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has listed Patna as a “non-attainment city” with PM-10 and PM-2.5 levels persistently exceeding national ambient air quality standards.
Indian Navy conducts large scale fleet exercise on eastern seaboard
The Indian Navy has been conducted large scale Fleet exercise on the eastern seaboard to maintain high levels of combat readiness and counter emerging threats.
- The exercises were conducted across a vast geographical area, extending from the Northern Bay of Bengal to the Andaman Sea.
- 24 ships, 2 submarines and over 10 aircraft participated in the exercise, which included the nuclear submarine Chakra as well as units from the Andaman-Nicobar Command.
- A ship from the Western Naval Command with the Kamov 31 Air Early Warning helicopter was also deployed for the exercise.
- To refine war fighting skills and concepts, various aspects of maritime warfare were introduced into the exercise.
- A wide range of weapons, including Surface to Surface missiles (SSMs), Surface to Air missiles (SAMs) and Land Attack Missiles (LAMs) were fired from various platforms.
- The Hawk Fighter aircraft and P8I Long Range Maritime reconnaissance aircraft were also integrated into the exercise.
It was conducted as there have been increased sightings of Chinese submarines in the region, including a nuclear attack boat.
Policy Intiative Development of Industrial / Economic
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman has announced that the GOI has adopted the strategy of developing integrated industrial/economic corridors in partnership with State Governments for boosting industrial development.
- National Industrial Corridor Development Authority (NICDA) has not been constituted yet.
The 5 industrial/economic corridors are as follows:
- Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC): The project spans the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra along the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) of the railways. Initially, 8 nodes/cities in the six DMIC states have been taken up for development.
- Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC): Master Planning of Ponneri (Tamil Nadu), Tumkur (Karnataka) and Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) has been completed.
- Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC): The Dharwad (Karnataka) has been identified for master planning
- Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC): Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Srikalahasti-Yerpedu (Andhra Pradesh) have been identified for master planning.
- Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC): Feasibility study with respect to the Inception Report has been completed.
Union Ministry of Environment notified norms for Coal-based Thermal Power Plants
In a bid to cope with pollution the Union environment ministry has notified revised norms of emission standards for coal-based thermal power plants in the country and made it mandatory for the existing plants to meet those parameters within two years.
Key Provisions of revised norms
- The new power plants (to be commissioned from January 1, 2017 onwards) will have to achieve “zero waste water discharge”.
- The new standards are aimed at reducing emission of PM10 (particulate matter), Sulphur Dioxide and Oxide of Nitrogen, which will improve the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) in and around thermal power plants & will control the mercury emission (at about 70-90%).
- In case of PM10, the new plants will have to restrict the emission to 30 mg per cubic meter as compared to 100 mg per cubic meter in older plants.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has released the 2015 OPEC World Oil Outlook (WOO).
- OPEC’s WOO is a means to highlight and further the understanding of the many possible future challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the oil industry.
- It is also a channel to encourage dialogue, cooperation and transparency between OPEC and other stakeholders within the industry.
China builds 3rd largest hydropower station on Yangtze River
China started construction of its third largest hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
Project oultay – 100 billion yuan (USD 15.4 billion)
- The project has a designed capacity of 10.2 Gigawatt and will be able to generate 9 billion kwh of electricity per year after its 12 generating units start operation first unit is expected to start operating in 2020.
- The project’s construction will require more than 16,000 workers in the next few years.
United Nations adopted resolution to observe November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day
- United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution recognizing November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day.
- The proposal regarding the World Tsunami Awareness Day was suggested by Japanese Government after the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March 2015.
- The day will be observed in order to reduce human and economic losses due to natural disasters.
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI extends deadline to exchange pre-2005 notes to June 30
- Reserve Bank today extended the deadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes of various denominations, including Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, by another six months to June 30, 2016.
- The Reserve Bank had, in June 2015, set the last date for public to exchange pre-2005 banknotes notes as December 31, 2015.
- RBI, on a review, decided to extend the date for the public to exchange their pre-2005 banknotes till June 30, 2016
Zimbabwe to adopt China’s currency the yuan
- Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on 21 December 2015 announced that the country has planned to adopt the Chinese Yuan as legal tender. It will be done in return for debt cancellation worth 40 million dollars in the second week of December 2015.
- As per the decision, Yuan will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe.
- China has become the largest investor in Zimbabwe, which has been shunned by the West over its human rights record and is struggling to emerge from a deep 1999-2008 recession that forced the government to ditch its own currency in 2009.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
A 36-year-old Indian-American doctor has been named the first Poet Laureate by the U.S. State of Ohio for showcasing a variety of styles in his poetry.
- Amit Majmudar, a diagnostic nuclear radiologist, was named to the two-year honorary position by Governor John Kasich who created the honour.
- He was recommended for the position by the Ohio Poet Laureate Selection Committee, following an extensive state-wide nomination and review process.
Dr. Rakesh K. Jain selected for 2015 National Medal of Science
Indian American professor Dr. Rakesh K. Jain has been selected for 2015 National Medal of Science of the United States.
- He will be presented this top award along with 16 other winners by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony in January 2016.
- All of them were chosen for this award for their individual achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology
About Dr. Rakesh K. Jain
- Rakesh K. Jain is currently working as professor at Harvard Medical School and also is the director of tumour biology laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
- He is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumour micro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveries in tumor biology, in vivo imaging, bioengineering, drug delivery and bench-to-bedside translation.
About National Medal of Science
- It is an annual award established in 1959 by United States Government. It is bestowed by the US President to individuals in science and engineering.
- These individuals must have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioural and social sciences, chemistry, engineering, biology, mathematics and physics.
Guinea PM steps down after prez Conde re-elected
Guinea’s prime minister Mohamed Said Fofana’s stepped down in order to make way for a new administration after President Alpha Conde was sworn in for a controversial second five-year term.
- While accepting Fofana’s resignation, Mr. Conde asked the government to continue exercising its functions until a new cabinet is formed.
- Conde (77) was re-elected in controversial October polls and sworn in for a second term.
- The constitutional court last month formally confirmed Conde’s re-election with 57.8% of the vote, dismissing opposition claims of vote rigging and fraud.
SRK is brand ambassador of Reliance Jio
Shah Rukh Khan is expected to be the brand ambassador for Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Jio. ET reported earlier that Reliance Jio Infocomm will launch its much-delayed but eagerly awaited 4G services on December 27, but only for group employees.
- Earlier SRK was brand ambassador for telecom major
- Musician A R Rahman too is expected to perform in the event.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Jaguar Land Rover India announces InControl apps
Jaguar Land Rover India announced the launch of its innovative new smartphone integration platform InControl Apps, which has been developed in conjunction with Bosch.
About InControl Apps :
- The InControl Apps platform transfers the interface from the phone to the in-car infotainment touch-screen, to allow users access to popular apps, thus significantly enhancing user experience.
- It enable access to an initial suite of Android and iOS compatible applications.
- InControl Apps are available on Land Rover Models: Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery Sport (2016 Model Year).
Union Government launches two mobile apps for farmers
Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh launched two mobile apps ‘Crop Insurance’ and ‘AgriMarket’ for farmers. Launching of these mobile apps is the part of the week-long celebrations of Kisan Jai Vigyan Week.
- The government would launch a new crop insurance scheme next month, which would aim speedy disposal of claims with very less premiums.
Crop Insurance: It would help the farmers not only to find out complete details about insurance cover available in their area
AgriMarket: It could be used by the farmers to get the prices of crops in the market (mandi) within 50 km radius of the device and other mandis in the country,.
- The Ministry was organising “Kisan Jai Vigyan Week” to celebrate birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Ch. Charan Singh, starting ensuing December 25.
Idea became third mobile operator to launch 4G services in India
The country’s third largest mobile operator by revenues and subscriber base, the Aditya Birla group’s, Idea Cellular launched high-speed 4G services across 750 towns in the five southern states of Andhra Pradesh & Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
- Idea Cellular currently holds 1800 MHz 4G spectrum in these 10 circles .By June 2016, Idea’s 4G footprint will cover 750 cities across 10 telecom circles.
- Idea have started 4G services ahead of the launch of such services by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm.
Managing Director, Idea Cellular: Himanshu Kapania
International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced the winners of 2015 World Champions. The awards were conferred on the basis of players’ performance in the 2015 season.
- The ITF also announced American Serena Williams and Serbian Novak Djokovic as the 2015 ITF World champions.
- Serena is named women’s World champion for the 6th time, while this is the 5th occasion that Djokovic has received the honour.
Senior Telugu actor Chilukoti Kashi Viswanath passed away
Senior Telugu actor and dialogue writer Chilukoti Kashi Viswanath passed away on 22 December 2015 following a massive cardiac stroke while travelling in Lokmanya Tilak Express from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam. He was 69.
National Consumer Day – 24th December
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution, Government of India is celebrating the National Consumer Day 2015 in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.
Theme: “Safe & Healthy Food: Combating Food Adulteration.”
- The programme w inaugurated and presided over by Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- The day is being observed on 24 December, since the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted on this day in 1986.