Current Affairs 15th Dec 2017

1 . BJD to raise Mahanadi, Polavaram issue in Parliament
  • The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha on Thursday announced its decision to raise the Mahanadi water dispute, the Polavaram project row and other pressing issues facing the State during the winter session of Parliament.
  • According to the state government the Centre is favouring Chhattisgarh over Odisha by not constituting an inter-State tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi dispute .
  • Similarly the Odisha government had been opposing the Polavaram dam project on the Godavari as it could lead to the submergence of a vast tract of land in the State.

What  is  the  Mahanadi  Dispute ?

It is an issue relating to the sharing of the Mahanadi river water between Odisha and Chhattisgarh . Odisha has been demanding formation of a tribunal for a long time. It has argued that Chhattisgarh has been constructing dams and weirs (small dams) upstream, affecting the flow of the Mahanadi river considered as the “lifeline” on its territory. The construction would affect drinking water supply and irrigation facilities in the state.

What  is  the  Polavaram project issue ?

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The Odisha government has reportedly asserted that the project should adhere to the Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal award as well as the agreement signed between concerned government&’s in 1978. The project as per its present design violates the Tribunal award as well as the 1978 agreement.It also alleges that the project will displace more than 6000 tribals in Odisha’s Malkangiri district. Gram sabhas were not held, the forest rights act ( forest land has to be acquired) and other laws governing environment were violated.It may be noted here that Odisha has been objecting to the Polavaram project since long. It has also moved the apex court.


2 . SC nod for Special Courts on Tainted politicians
  • The Supreme Court has ordered that immediately after the allocation of funds by the Centre, the State Governments in consultation with the High Courts should set up the Fast Track Courts to hear cases on tainted politicians.
  • The SC has asked to ensure that the Courts start functioning from 01.03.2018.
  • The court said the scheme proposes to club the cases of several politicians together and have one court hear them. This way a special court could finish at least 100 cases a year.
  • The SC directed the High Courts, acting through the various trial courts, to trace out from the case records the criminal cases pending against politicians and transfer them to the special courts.


3 . NGT clarifies on Amarnath – maintain silence not a silent zone

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  • The National Green Tribunal on Thursday clarified its orders on ‘maintaining silence’ around the Amarnath shrine and said that its previous order had not been “correctly reported at different quarters”.
  • A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said that the order passed by the Tribunal on Wednesday, had “neither intended nor actually declared the entire area falling under the Amarnath Ji Shrine Board as a silence zone”.
  • “The only restriction that the Tribunal had placed and which is now reiterated to provide complete clarity is that the devotee or anyone standing in front of the Amarnath shivling shall maintain silence,” said the green panel Bench.
  • Further, the Bench said that the restrictions had been imposed keeping in mind the adverse effects that noise, heat and vibration can have on the natural formation.
  • The restriction was not applicable to the daily rituals that were performed.


4 .  INS Kalvari commissioned
  • The first of six Scorpene diesel-electric submarines was formally commissioned into the Navy on Thursday.
  • This is the Navy’s first modern conventional submarine in almost two decades since the INS Sindhushastra was procured from Russia in July 2000.


1. The diesel-electric submarine is designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS.
2. The 1,565-tonne submarine is named after the dreaded tiger shark, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean.
3. The submarine boasts of superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, hydro-dynamically optimised shape and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons.
4. The submarine, which has a speed of 20 knots, is equipped with sea-skimming SM-39 Exocet missiles and heavy-weight wire-guided surface and underwater target torpedoes.

5. The submarine was handed over to the Indian Navy by MDL in September this year. It underwent around 120 days of extensive sea trials and tests for various equipment.
6. This is first of the six Scorpene-class submarines handed over by MDL in Mumbai.
7. The six submarines are being built as part of the Rs 23,652 crore “Project-75” of the Indian Navy.

8. The second one INS Khanderi is expected to be commissioned by mid-2018, with the third INS Karanj following by early-2019. All the six are to be inducted by 2020-2021.

9. Kalvari will be the first conventional submarine to be commissioned in 17 years. The first-ever submarine was inducted into the Indian Navy from Russia in 1967.

10. Currently, the naval fleet has only 13 ageing conventional submarines in its arsenal.


5 . WTO meet ends without gains
  •  The December 10-13 meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s highest decision-making body in Buenos Aires ended becalmed with the WTO’s 164 members unable to reach a consensus on substantive issues such as the food security right of developing countries and the centrality of development in multilateral trade negotiations.
  • However, the Ministerial Conference managed to salvage a commitment from member nations to secure a deal by 2019 on banning certain forms of fisheries’ subsidies.
  • During hectic parleys, the U.S. blocked the demands of more than a 100 developing nations, including India and China, to implement their food security programmes without onerous conditions.
  • Since all major decisions in the WTO need to be taken by ‘the membership as a whole’, even a single country can end up being the deal-breaker.


India, for its part, thwarted attempts by several countries, both developed and developing, to initiate binding discussions on what they called the 21st century challenges to trade — including e-commerce, investment facilitation and proposed norms for small firms.

This it did by refusing to budge from its position that members should first resolve outstanding issues (such as food sovereignty) of the ongoing Doha Round negotiations that began in 2001 with a ‘development agenda’ (for improving the trading prospects of developing nations), before considering ‘new issues’.