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Current Affairs - 18 August 2018


SC for lower storage at Mullaperiyar
  • The Supreme Court on Friday suggested that the disaster management sub-committee, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) and the supervisory panel monitoring the Mullaperiyar dam in flood-hit Kerala hold meetings to explore ways to reduce the water level in the dam to 139 feet.
  • It said every step should be taken to give advance warning to the people living in the downstream areas before water is released from the dam. 
  • The court said Kerala should follow the instructions issued by the NCMC on rescue and rehabilitation, while Tamil Nadu should “scrupulously” comply with any instruction to bring down the water level of the dam.
  • A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was hearing a petition filed by Russel Joy, a resident of Idukki district where the dam is located. 
  • The petitioner urged the court to hand over the dam to the National Executive Committee under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to avert another tragedy.
China to invite Mamata again
  • A senior Chinese official in said on Friday that his country will again extend an invitation to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to visit China and the dates for the proposed visit were being worked out.
  • Ms. Banerjee was scheduled to visit China in June but she had cancelled it abruptly hours before starting her trip on June 22.
Aerodrome would hit Chilika’s biodiversity
  • The Airports Authority of India’s move to set up a water aerodrome in Odisha’s Chilika Lake has stirred a controversy.
  • Local politicians cutting across party lines, green activists and fishermen in Chilika have all opposed the proposal to set up an aerodrome in one of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoons, asserting that it would impact the lake’s biodiversity.
  • On August 11, Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu announced that an in-principle approval had been granted for a water aerodrome in Chilika in the first phase. 
  • Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, has accused the Centre and the State governments of tinkering with the biodiversity of the lagoon, which is designated a Ramsar site – wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
‘Probe groups linked to Amnesty-UK’
  • The Department of Revenue has received a reference from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) unit of the Central government, seeking a probe to determine whether the Indian entities linked to Amnesty International-UK violated foreign exchange rules.
  • The Enforcement Directorate is looking into the issue that pertains to the FCRA unit’s suspicion that Amnesty International-UK and other some entities based in the U.K. have infused funds into Amnesty (India) allegedly through commercial channels, in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules.
  • The entities identified by the unit were Amnesty International India Private Limited, Amnesty International South Asia Foundation, Indians For Amnesty International Trust and Amnesty International (India) Foundation.
Sterlite: SC refuses to change NGT order
  • The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order allowing mining major Vedanta access to the administrative unit of the Sterlite Copper plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.
  • A Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Indu Malhotra disposed of a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government while asking the NGT to consider whether Vedanta’s plea before the tribunal against the closure of the Sterlite plant was maintainable or not.
  • The State had contended that the NGT had no jurisdiction to hear Vedanta’s plea. It had argued that the NGT “failed to note that an order passed by the State government under Section 18 (1)(b) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, is not appealable before the NGT as per the statute”.
  • The tribunal had earlier rejected the State’s challenge to its jurisdiction, observing that it would hear the case on its merits.
  • The Tamil Nadu government had, in May, ordered the State’s Pollution Control Board to seal the mining group's copper plant following violent protests over pollution concerns. Earlier, in April, the Board had rejected Sterlite's plea to renew its Consent To Operate certification, saying the company had not complied with the stipulated conditions.
  • Following this, the government issued a permanent closure notice to the plant. Vedanta moved the NGT, seeking permission to operate the unit.


U.S. cut Army training, says Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed the suspension of a U.S. military training programme for its soldiers.
  • The training of Pakistani soldiers in the United States is the latest programme to be hurt by the cut-off of security aid to Pakistan, which was announced at the beginning of this year.
  • The United States often accuses Pakistan of harboring militant groups and providing safe havens for insurgents who carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies and says U.S. criticism is unfair.

India PC market rises 28% in April-June: IDC
  • India’s PC shipments notched a healthy 28.1% growth in April-June 2018 to 2.25 million units, buoyed by strong notebook demand, research firm IDC India said.
  • On the pecking order of vendors, IDC said, HP Inc. maintained its leadership with a market share of 31.6% during the quarter followed by Dell at the second slot (23.7%) and Lenovo at the third position (18%).
  • Notebooks contributed to 61% of the overall India personal computer market with 45.2% year-on-year growth bolstered by demand across consumer and commercial segments.
Safecrop to buy Star Health for $1 bn
  • Safecrop Holdings Pvt. Ltd. is set to buy city-based Star Health & Allied Insurance Company Ltd., the country’s first standalone health insurance firm, for about $1 billion, according to sources.
  • V. Jagannathan, chairman and managing director, Star Health, said the transaction was between shareholders and the buyer and hence, no money would accrue to the company.
Microsoft, Apollo Hospitals unveil AI to predict cardiovascular disease risk
  • Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals on Friday said they had unveiled the ‘first-ever’ artificial intelligence-powered cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk score API (application program interface), designed to predict the risk of CVD in the Indian population. 
  • This would also enable doctors across the Apollo network of hospitals to drive preventive cardiac care across the country.
  • Part of Microsoft’s AI Network for Healthcare, the API is built on the software firm’s cloud computing platform Azure and aims to determine a more accurate CVD risk score for the Indian population. It has been developed using a combination of applied AI and clinical expertise on a large sample of retrospective data on health checks and coronary events.


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