Saturday, 21 July 2018

21st July 2018 | Daily current affairs for APSC

At least 15 major new line projects having an aggregate length of 1,395 km at a cost of Rs 55,206 crore have been taken up in the North Eastern Region. 

  • An expenditure of Rs 18,477 crore has been incurred on these projects up to March.
  • In a Rajya Sabha reply, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said that an outlay of Rs 4,430 crore has been provided for 2018-19 for these projects and residual liabilities of some completed projects.
  • Completion of projects depends on many factors like availability of funds, land acquisition, forestry and wildlife clearances, shifting of services, working season, geographical conditions, law-and-order situation, among others.

The State Revenue Department has sanctioned an amount of Rs 18 crore for procuring the dredger and other equipment under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for the scheme titled Procurement of fleet of machineries for dredging/excavation in the tributaries of rivers Brahmaputra and Barak.

  • The previous two tenders were floated in the financial year of 2017-18. Only one firm took part in the bidding and it also failed to meet the specifications sought for by the advisory committee of the State Government. 
  • The State Government set up the advisory committee with experts from the IIT-Guwahati, Assam Engineering College, State Inland Water Transport Department (IWT), the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the WRD.
  • The Central sector Water and Power Consultancy Services Ltd (WAPCOS) has submitted a techno-commercial proposal to the Central Water Commission (CWC) on matters related to dredging of the bed of the Brahmaputra to improve the carrying capacity of its channel and also to build two express highways along its banks.
  • The WAPCOS has been engaged by the Union Government to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) in these respects. After completion of the DPR, the exact picture concerning the amount of money needed to execute dredging and other related works would become clear.
  • The State Government has by this time submitted a report of the survey carried out by the WRD on the proposed express highways along the banks of the Brahmaputra and the concept note it has prepared on the above topics to the Union Government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Urja Ganga Gas Pipeline Project

  • A joint venture (JV) agreement was signed today among the five petroleum and natural gas PSUs – IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL and NRL – at the NRL Corporate Office here for implementing the North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid Project.
  • The business of the JV company will be to develop, build, operate and maintain the Natural Gas Pipeline Grid connecting Guwahati to the major North Eastern cities and major load centres like Numaligarh Refinery, etc., including integrating it with gas producing fields, wherever feasible, in North East India. The estimated length of the proposed North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid is around 1,500 km and is expected to cost Rs 6,000 crore. The tentative time schedule for commissioning the North East Pipeline Grid is four years, which includes one year of pre-project activities.
  • The JV company will have equal equity contribution from all the partners for development of the Natural Gas Pipeline Project.
  • The Gas Grid Project will connect the State capitals of all the eight North Eastern States namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. The Gas Grid Project will connect all NE States to the National Gas Grid through the Barauni-Guwahati Gas Pipeline being laid by GAIL. From Guwahati, the pipeline will extend to Numaligarh, Dimapur, Kohima and Imphal in one direction; Shillong, Silchar, Aizawl and Agartala in the second direction and to Itanagar in the third direction. Gangtok will be connected from Siliguri from the gas pipeline of GAIL coming from Barauni to Guwahati.

The US State Department has expressed concern over the participation of Lashkar-e-Taiba-affiliated (LeT) individuals in the upcoming elections in Pakistan

  • The Pakistan Election Commission had rejected the registration of Milli Muslim League (MML) in June, citing its linkages to LeT, an internationally-sanctioned terrorist organisation
  • The US State Department said it has also amended its Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation of LeT in April to add the MML as a "Lashkar alias"
  • The European Union, in a statement, also urged Islamabad to ensure that electoral activities in all parts of Pakistan continued in "safe and secure conditions".

Facebook has now suspended Boston-based data analytics company Crimson Hexagon over concerns that it harvested users' data.

  • Crimson Hexagon has reportedly collected more than 1 trillion public social media posts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and other online sources. The company has had contracts in recent years to analyse public Facebook data for third-party clients
  • It was co-founded by Harvard professor Gary King in 2007 who now leads Facebook's independent research initiative titled "Social Science One" which is focused on preventing election interference
  • Facebook, however, said the firm didn't inappropriately obtain any Facebook or Instagram user data, adding that using the data for surveillance is a violation of the company's policies.
  • We do not collect private data from social media providers or anyone else," Crimson Hexagon's Chief Technology Officer Chris Bingham said in a blog post.
  • "Crimson Hexagon only allows government customers to use the platform for specific approved use cases; and under no circumstances is surveillance a permitted use case," Bringham wrote.
  • According to Crimson Hexagon, it uses technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help clients get insights and shape marketing campaigns and develop new products.
  • In April this year, Facebook had warned investors that more users' data scandals in the future may adversely affect the social networking giant's reputation and brand image.

4,000 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras at strategic locations in Guwahati, including those meant to track down hit-and-run cases.

  • As per the Union Government, the total proposed cost for the Guwahati Smart City project is estimated at Rs 2,296 crore, including area-based development cost of Rs 1,579 crore (approx) and pan city cost of around Rs 622 crore (approx).
  • Ironically, Guwahati at present has only 350-odd CCTV cameras installed, including those maintained by private parties.
  • Of the 4,000 cameras, nearly 800 would be dedicated for monitoring vehicular traffic, especially road mishaps and hit-and-run cases.


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