Rs. 1,500-cr. nuclear insurance pool set up

The Union government has launched an insurance pool of Rs. 1,500 crore, mandatory under the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act to offset the financial burden on foreign nuclear suppliers in case of an accident.

  • With this, several projects such as the long-pending Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna held up in the absence of the pool are now expected to move forward.

About the Indian Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP):

The pool has been set up by General Insurance Corporation of India and 11 other non-life insurers, including New India, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance, from the public sector, apart from private insurance companies.

  • Under the pool, nuclear operators’ liability and suppliers’ special contingency insurance policies will be offered.
  • With this launch, India has joined an exclusive list of countries having nuclear pools and the INIP will be 27th nuclear insurance pool in the world managing nuclear liabilities.
  • The pool will address third party liability insurance under Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) 2010 to begin with and later expand into property and other hot zone risk for which it will work in close co-ordination with nuclear power industry.
  • This pool will provide the risk transfer mechanism to the operators and suppliers to meet their obligations under the CLND Act. At a later stage, this pool also looks to provide reinsurance support to other such international pools.

Background:

The idea of forming a pool was mooted in early 2013 and got stuck due to differences among stakeholders on certain clauses. In 2010, Parliament passed the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act, which creates a liability cap for nuclear plant operators for economic damage in the event of an accident.

  • The CLND Act provides for Rs 1,500 crore as maximum liability for nuclear damage.
  • Clauses in the Act, which give the operator the right to legal recourse and allow it to sue the suppliers in case of any accident, were seen as being a major hindrance to the growth of the nuclear industry. These concerns led to the formation of the Indian nuclear insurance pool.
  • The CLND Act also provides for state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India, which operates all atomic power plants in India, to seek compensation from suppliers in an accident due to faulty equipment.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, BS, TOI.

OROP : Ex-servicemen to intensify stir

Continuing their pressure on the government over the delay in implementing the long-pending One-Rank, One-Pension (OROP) scheme, ex-servicemen recently took out a massive rally in the national capital and across the country to express their displeasure.

  • They have also announced to carry out indefinite relay hunger strike.
  • The rally comes after several rounds of official and backchannel talks failed to make any headway. The veterans had been demanding that the government announce a timeline for implementation of OROP.

One-rank one-pension scheme:

This is a scheme which will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date. In simple words, it demands equal pensions for those who have retired in one particular year, as those who retire in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered.

  • The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.
  • So far, there was no such rule. While every pay commission bumps the salaries of government servants, pensions of ex-servicemen remain the same.

The implementation of one rank, one pension is also expected to push up the Centre’s defence pension payments by a record 40%, posing fresh challenges to keep the Centre’s fiscal deficit within the budgetary target of 4.1% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

INS Vikrant undocked at Cochin shipyard

The maiden indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was undocked recently at the State-owned Cochin shipyard. The undocking is part of the second phase of work on the carrier, which is expected to be over by 2017.

INS Vikrant:

  • The basic design of the indigenous aircraft carrier was done by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, which was developed into detailed design by the design team of CSL.
  • It will be India’s largest aircraft carrier after induction.
  • The successful completion of the aircraft carrier puts India in the elite group of four nations – the US, Russia, the UK and France – in the world capable of designing and constructing aircraft carriers.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Cyclone Ashobaa: Weather department issues warning to fishermen in Gujarat

The deep depression over east- central Arabian Sea has further intensified into a cyclonic storm “Ashobaa“. The weather department has issued a warning to fishermen along the Gujarat coast, which is expected to receive heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours.

  • The depression is at about 590 km west-southwest of Mumbai.
  • The cyclone is gradually moving away towards Oman. Thus, it won’t have much impact on India. However, strong winds and heavy rainfall would make the sea conditions very rough.

Naming of Cyclones:

The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are being named since October 2004. The region, comprising Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, each of them suggest seven names. The names given by the countries are used alphabetically one after the another.

  • The name Ashobaa was given by Sri Lanka.
  • The name of the cyclone that comes after Ashobaa, whenever that happens, will be Komen, and this name has been given by Thailand.
  • The last cyclone ‘Nilofar‘ was suggested by Pakistan.

Sources: The Hindu, skymetweather.

R.C.Tayal appointed NSG chief

Senior IPS officer R. C. Tayal has been appointed the new chief of the elite National Security Guard.

About NSG:

A concern for us,we are trying to find out how it happened(soldiers clothes found thrown) : RC Tayal,Acting-DG CRPF http://t.co/MKv98cHWd0

  • It is a security force of India constituted “for combating terrorist activities with a view to protect States against internal disturbances“.
  • It was set up in 1984 as a Federal Contingency Deployment Force to tackle all facets of terrorism in the country.
  • It is under the authority Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The force is a unique combination of personnel on deputation from Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces.
  • The two components of NSG are the Special Action Group (SAG), which consists entirely of Indian Army personnel; and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG), which comprises personnel drawn from Central Armed Police Forces and State Police Forces.
  • The chief of the force designated as a Director General is an officer from the Indian Police Service.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

No date set to roll out one-rank one-pension

Union Defence Minister recently said that he could not fix a date for the implementation of the One-Rank One-Pension (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen. However, he also made it clear that the government will soon put in place the Scheme.

One-rank one-pension scheme:

This is a scheme which will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date. In simple words, it demands equal pensions for those who have retired in one particular year, as those who retire in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered.

  • The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.
  • So far, there was no such rule. While every pay commission bumps the salaries of government servants, pensions of ex-servicemen remain the same.

The implementation of one rank, one pension is also expected to push up the Centre’s defence pension payments by a record 40%, posing fresh challenges to keep the Centre’s fiscal deficit within the budgetary target of 4.1% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB

Tripura withdraws AFSPA, says insurgency on the wane

The Tripura government has revoked the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) as insurgency is on the wane in the State.

  • The repeal of the Act, which has been in force in the State since February 1997, came less than a month after the election to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.
  • The AFSPA had been in force in the State’s 26 police station areas. In four police station limits, the Act was partially enforced.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act:

It is an Act empowering armed forces to deal effectively in ‘Disturbed Areas’. Any area which is declared ‘Disturbed’ under the disturbed areas act enables armed forces to resort to the provisions of AFSPA.

Who declares an area as disturbed?

  • The choice of declaring any area as ‘disturbed’ vests both with state and central government.

Special powers provided to armed forces:

After an area comes under the ambit of AFSPA, any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or another person of equivalent rank can use force for a variety of reasons while still being immune to the prosecution.

Ambit:

  • The act was passed on 11 September 1958 by the parliament of India to provide special legal security to the armed forces carrying out operations in the troubled areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura (seven sisters).
  • In 1990 the act was extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir to confront the rising insurgency in the area.
  • In Manipur, despite opposition from the Central government, state government withdrew the Act in some parts in Aug, 2004.

The government can declare AFSPA in the following conditions:

  • When the local administration fails to deal with local issues and the police proves inefficient to cope with them.
  • When the scale of unrest or instability in the state is too large for the police to handle.

Legal provisions of AFSPA:

In an area declared, “disturbed” an army officer is legally free to carry out following operations:

  • Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law” against “assembly of five or more persons” or possession of deadly weapons.
  • Destroy any shelter (private or govt.) from which armed attacks are made or likely to be made or attempted to be made.
  • Arrest any person without warrant who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence.
  • Enter and search, without warrant, any premises for purpose of arrest or to recover any person, arms, explosives.
  • To search and seize any vehicle suspected to be carrying an offender or any person against whom any reasonable suspicion exists that he has or is about to commit an offence.
  • To provide legal immunity to the army personnel found involved in any violation or ethical breach i.e., they cannot be sued or prosecuted.

The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law.

In 2005 the Jeevan Reddy Commission said that AFSPA should be repealed and the clauses that are required should be included in other Acts.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, ET, NDTV.