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Odisha’s Chilika Lake Now the World’s Largest Home of Irrawaddy Dolphins



The Chilika lake in Odisha has emerged as the single largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins in the world with the spotting of 155 such animals, a Chilika Development Authority (CDA) official said.

The finding is based on the preliminary report of the first ever ‘Annual Monitoring’ of the lake held on Saturday, CDA Chief Executive Susanta Nanda said. The ‘Annual Monitoring’ was conducted by the CDA to count the number of the marine mammals and to study the hydrological impacts of removal of pen culture (locally known as ‘gherries‘), he said on Monday.

The number is more compared to the last year’s figure of around 100 dolphins during the annual census, Nanda said.

Stating that the results of the monitoring are being analysed by plotting the locational GPS, Nanda said the finer details were likely to take some time. “The dolphins are now seen in different sectors of the lake where they were not seen before due to the removal of obstruction for their migration,” Nanda said.

While dolphins are seen in different parts of the lake has raised the hope of eco-tourism, Nanda said a high degree of cautions was necessary to preserve them by taking up responsible tourism. The monitoring also revealed that the lake houses around 0.9 million birds which are similar to the trend of the population over the years. No new species is identified during the monitoring, he said.

However, it has been observed that the birds, mainly the migratory ducks, have started colonising new areas previously covered by pen culture as their new habitat, he said.

The CDA official said Barunakuda and Krushnaprasad offered tremendous opportunity for eco-tourism due to the congregation of the winter birds along these new areas. Some waders have already started leaving the lake, but other migratory birds have prolonged their stay mainly because of cool nights and increased available food in the lagoon, the preliminary report said.

The seagrass bed which was reduced to 86 square km in 2016 has now shown a marked improvement and with ground trothing standing at 135 sq km indicating an improved hydrological condition of the lake, it said. “This will provide ample opportunity for the mud crabs to grow,” the report said adding that Spongillaalba species was identified by the monitoring team in certain locations.

The presence of Sponge, which was found by the ZSI in the lake before 1985 and had disappeared thereafter, have made their appearance indicating a clean and healthy eco-system.

The use of zero nets for fishing has also been reduced significantly, but they still pose the maximum threats to the eco-system of the lake as they increase siltation. All the three channels and the Palur canal are free from obstruction. But, the number of nets used in the outer channel for fishing is silting up the channel at a very fast pace, it said. Nanda said this problem was needed to be discussed with the fishermen of these localities to prolong the life of the lagoon by promoting responsible fishery and adhering to certain self-restrictions to reduce the siltation.

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Digital Transactions in India to Cross $1 Trillion a Year by 2025



Demonetisation and cashless drive has pushed the growth trajectory of digital payments in India significantly, and by 2025, digital transactions in the country could be worth USD 1 trillion annually, says a report.

According to a white paper by ACI Worldwide along with AGS Transact Technologies (AGSTTL), digital transactions in India could be worth USD 1 trillion annually by 2025, with four out of every five transactions being made digitally.

“The user base for digital transactions in India is currently close to 90 million, but could triple to 300 million by 2020 as new users from rural and semi-urban areas enter the market”.

“Flexible, scalable and reliable technology will be critical to the future of payments in India as the market continues to experience incredible growth,” said Manish Patel, Vice President, ACI Worldwide.

Meanwhile, with the rise in digital payments, cybersecurity costs for companies in India is also rising.

Mahesh Patel, Group Chief Technology Officer, AGS Transact Technologies said, “we understand that rapid rise in internet users nationwide is spurring an increase in digital transactions. However, the Indian market unlike many western nations is still to mature and remains threatened due to lower awareness levels”.

As per the report, Cyber attacks cost India an estimated USD 4 billion annually and could rise to USD 20 billion by 2025, with the digitisation of payments presenting new challenges for cybersecurity.

“It is necessary that the rise in digital transactions remain holistic thereby supporting growth with scalable processing platform. Also, it should be accompanied by allied precautionary measures such as cybersecurity and fraud prevention,” Patel said.

Mass adoption of e-payments and a thriving fintech scene, combined with regulatory policy, are set to propel India into a leading position in the global payments landscape, it said adding unified payments interface (UPI) transactions are a key driver of greater financial inclusion.

The white paper titled “Transactions 2025” noted that India’s smartphone user base is likely to double to 500 million by 2020 as affordable devices and data will spur safe, fraud-resistant digital transactions based on biometrics and multi-factor authorisation.

ACI Worldwide is a global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, while AGS Transact Technologies (AGSTTL), is an end-to-end payment solutions company.

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‘Citizen Services’ App Launched to Link Citizens with Police

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day and released “Citizen Services” Mobile App.



The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day and released “Citizen Services” Mobile App.

The App is a bouquet of 9 police related services, for the citizen.  These services will provide a smooth interface between citizens and police. States/UTs upon customization can host this App on their CCTNS platform through which citizens can register police complaint, and can check the Status of their complaint.

Another feature of the App also enables a complainant to download FIR (except those categorized as “Sensitive”).

Clicking SOS button on the App automatically sends an emergency SMS to friends and family with user’s current location. Locate Police Station feature helps a citizen to locate nearby police station details and route to approach using GPS technology.

Emergency Contact List provides helpline numbers, which are useful during an emergency or regular services like Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Medical Emergency, Women Helpline, Railway Helpline and Child Helpline.

Any citizen can anonymously inform Police about any suspicious/anti-social activities using Citizen Tip feature. Using Telephone Directory feature, Citizen can view detail of any police station in a district for particular State.

Vahan Samanvay stolen vehicle Registration feature is helpful to the public, Road Transport Authorities, and Insurance agencies, to verify the status of stolen/recovered vehicles, before purchase, re-registration, claim settlement etc.

Talash/ Missing Person (Lost person Registration) a web link in the App to provide a link to NCRB website displaying missing persons/ unidentified dead bodies and unidentified persons.

The App is developed by an in-house team of NCRB and as per the compliance of MeitY directions, the Mobile App was tested & certified by CERT-In empanelled Company. The App is being released to States/UTs for utilization at field levels.

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In a Major Push, 63,000 Crore Spent on Tribal Sub Plan in Three Years



Allocation and expenditure under the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP), now called Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) has been going up in successive years. A total of 35 various Union Ministries and departments utilised Rs. 62947.82 crore during last three years 2014-15 to 2016-17.

During 2014-2015, Rs. 19920.72 crore was spent while in 2015-2016, Rs.21216.54 crore and during 2016-2017, Rs. 21810.56 crore spent. During 2014-2015, the School Education and Literacy department has utilised Rs. 4707.15 crore which is highest amongst the various stakeholders followed by Tribal Affairs Rs 3832.20 and Rural Development Rs.3314.27.

During 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, Ministry of Tribal Affairs has spent highest amount of Rs. 4472.26 core and 4793.96 crores respectively followed by School Education and Literacy Department (4287.24 crores and 4343.98 crores respectively) in TSP.

Allocation of Business Rules (ABR) has been amended in January 2017 whereby Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has been given mandate for monitoring of Scheduled Tribal Component (STC) funds of Central Ministries based on the framework and mechanism designed by NITI Aayog.

An online monitoring system has been put in place by the Ministry since 2017. The framework envisages monitoring of allocations for welfare of STs under the schemes, monitoring of expenditure vis-à-vis allocations, monitoring of physical performance and outcome monitoring.

Further, nodal officer has been nominated in the line Ministries / Departments for coordination and monitoring. Ministry / Department-wise performance shall be reviewed jointly by MoTA and NITI Aayog.

Implementation of Schemes under Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) is the sole responsibility of the respective Central Ministries / Departments and State Government.

This information was given by Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Shri Jaswantsinh Bhabhor in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

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