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PIB 25th May

Contents

  1. Vice President on drinking water project for Udayagiri
  2. Advisory by NPPA: Prices of N-95 Masks reduced

VICE PRESIDENT ON DRINKING WATER PROJECT FOR UDAYAGIRI

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • The Vice President of India held a meeting with CEO of NITI Aayog and Jal Shakti Ministry amongst others to discuss various possible ways in which drinking water and irrigation needs of the drought-prone Udayagiri area in Andhra Pradesh can be met.
  • Ground water levels in the area have depleted considerably, most of the tanks/borewells have dried up and various water supply schemes are not serving the water needs to the fullest – and to make the situation worse this is the 7th consecutive year where there are no adequate rains.
  • The Vice President advised Secretary, Water Resources to discuss with Central Water Commission and find out about the technical feasibility.

NITI Aayog

  • The NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.
  • It is NEITHER a Constitutional Body nor a Statutory Body.
  • The NITI Aayog council comprises all the state Chief Ministers, along with the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Puducherry, the Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and a vice-chairman nominated by the Prime Minister who is the Chairman.
  • In addition, temporary members are selected from leading universities and research institutions.

How the NITI Aayog came to be?

  • Planning Commission was initially set up in 1950 as an agency to direct investment activity in a country.
  • Planning Commission of India had two key duties to perform i.e.; to implement five-year plan and second was to provide the finances to the state.
  • The disenchantment with the Planning Commission could be traced on two important fronts:
    • the perception that it was not able to capture the new realities of macro-economic management at the national level,
    • it had not been conducive to sound fiscal relations between the Union and the States.
  • This did not fit well with the imperative for an inclusive and equitable path of economic development in India.
  • In this context, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) was constituted in 2015 as a think tank and advisory body of the government.

Central Water Commission (CWC)

  • Central Water Commission is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources and is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
  • CWC has the responsibility of initiation and coordination of schemes introduced by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development. It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.
  • The CWC is headed by a Chairman, with the status of Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India.
  • With the financial assistance from the World Bank, the Central Water Commission is managing Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) to rehabilitate about 225 dams in India.
  • The work of the Commission is divided among 3 wings namely, Designs and Research (D&R) Wing, River Management (RM) Wing and Water Planning and Projects (WP&P) Wing.

ADVISORY BY NPPA: PRICES OF N-95 MASKS REDUCED

Focus: GS-II Governance, Prelims

Why in news?

Grievances have been received regarding hoarding, black-marketing and differential higher pricing of N-95 Masks in the country.

In this context, NPPA has directed State Drug Controllers/Food & Drug Administrations of all State/ UT Governments to take appropriate actions.

Background: Steps to secure PPEs

  • The Government had notified N-95 Masks as an essential commodity under Essential Commodities Act, 1955, on March 13th.
  • NPPA, in exercise of the powers conferred under National Disaster Management Act, 2005 had directed all States/ UT Governments to ensure sufficient availability of PPEs and sanitizers at prices not exceeding the Maximum Retail Price.
  • As reported, raids have been conducted by few SDCs/ FDAs and appropriate action is being taken against the hoarders and black-marketers of the essential commodity.
  • Government is procuring largest chunk of the N-95 Masks directly from the manufacturers/ importers/ suppliers at bulk rates.
  • In order to ensure availability of N-95 Masks at affordable prices in the country, NPPA issued an Advisory on 21st May 2020 to all the manufacturers/ importers/ suppliers of the N-95 Masks to maintain parity in prices for non-government procurements and to make available the same at reasonable prices.

Essential Commodities Act, 1955

  • The Essential Commodities Act (ECA) is an act which was established to ensure the delivery of certain commodities or products, the supply of which if obstructed owing to hoarding or black-marketing would affect the normal life of the people.
  • The ECA was enacted in 1955. This includes foodstuff, drugs, fuel (petroleum products) etc.
  • It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
  • Additionally, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.
  • The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilizers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
  • The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.

How does addition of Essential Commodities work?

  • If the Centre finds that a certain commodity is in short supply and its price is spiking, it can notify stock-holding limits on it for a specified period.
  • The States act on this notification to specify limits and take steps to ensure that these are adhered to.
  • Anybody trading or dealing in the commodity, be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.
  • A State can, however, choose not to impose any restrictions. But once it does, traders have to immediately sell into the market any stocks held beyond the mandated quantity. This improves supplies and brings down prices.
  • As not all shopkeepers and traders comply, State agencies conduct raids to get everyone to toe the line and the errant are punished. The excess stocks are auctioned or sold through fair price shops.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)

  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is a government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India.
  • National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was constituted by Government of India Resolution dated 29th August, 1997.
  • NPPA is Neither a Statutory nor a Constitutional Body.
  • NPPA acts as an attached office of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers as an independent Regulator for pricing of drugs and to ensure availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
  • The NPPA regularly publishes lists of medicines and their maximum ceiling prices (Drug Price Control Orders DPCO).
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