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AGENTS OF CHANGE

Strategically Important Atal Tunnel In Rohtang Open Now

It is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres.

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MANALI (Himachal Pradesh): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the strategically important all-weather Atal Tunnel at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh. PM Modi was accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, Chief of Defence Staff, CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane.

Earlier CDS General Rawat and Army Chief General Naravane received the Prime Minister at the South Portal of Atal Tunnel of Rohtang. Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jai Ram Thakur received the PM at Sase Helipad at Manali.

Atal Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in the world was built by the Border Roads Organisation. The tunnel reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours. The 9.02-km tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year, the valley was earlier cut off for about six months every year due to heavy snowfall.


The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had taken the decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass on June 3, 2000, and the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.

In December 2019, the Government decided to name the Rohtang Tunnel as Atal Tunnel in honour of the former Prime Minister and scholar Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had passed away the previous year.

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Highlights:

  1. The Atal Tunnel is constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 3500-4000 crores.
  2. It reduces the distance between Leh and Manali by 46 km, the tunnel will bring down the driving time by around 4 hours.
  3. The BRO built this tunnel in the shape of a horseshoe.
  4. It is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres.
  5. It is a 10.5-metre wide single tube bi-lane tunnel with a fireproof emergency egress tunnel built into the main tunnel itself.
  6. With the help of this tunnel, connectivity to the remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh will easily be possible, regardless of the weather conditions.
  7. The opening of the Atal Tunnel will bring a boost in tourism activities in the Lahaul-Spiti region and will also simultaneously create more employment opportunities for locals in the area.
  8. The tunnel also provides a telephone facility on every 150 meters, a fire hydrant on every 60 meters, an emergency exit on every 500 meters, a turning cavern on every 2.2 km, an air quality monitoring on every 1 km, a broadcasting system, and an automatic incident detection system with CCTV cameras on every 250 meters.
  9. The construction of this tunnel consumed 14,508 metric tonnes of steel, 2,37,596 metric tonnes of cement, and 14 lakh cubic meters of soil and rocks.
  10. This tunnel is unique in its own way as it is India’s first tunnel to have an escape tunnel within the main tunnel due to the topography. It is also the first tunnel to deploy the Rowa flyer technology, which allows engineers to work at inverted levels.
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AGENTS OF CHANGE

World Cotton Day: Smriti Irani Launches First-Ever Brand Logo For Indian Cotton

India’s premium Cotton would now be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton trade.

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NEW DELHI: Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development launched the 1st ever Brand & Logo for Indian Cotton on 2nd World Cotton Day on October 7, 2020, through Video Conferencing.

India’s premium Cotton would now be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton trade.

The Kasturi Cotton brand will represent Whiteness, Brightness, Softness, Purity, Luster, Uniqueness and Indianness.

Speaking on this occasion, Irani said that this is a much-awaited moment that TODAY the Indian Cotton has been endowed with a Brand and Logo. This event becomes more important as the 2nd World Cotton Day is being celebrated world over today.


The Minister recounted the importance of Cotton in the Indian economy:

Cotton is one of the principal commercial crops of India and it provides livelihood to about 6o lakh cotton farmers.

India is the 2nd largest cotton producer and the largest consumer of cotton in the world.


India produces about 6.00 million tons of cotton every year which is about 23% of the world cotton.

India produces about 51% of the total organic cotton production of the world, which demonstrates India’s effort towards sustainability.

Smt. Irani said that to ensure sustainability, integrity and end-to-end traceability of the organic products, a certification system based on comparable international standards verified through an internationally acceptable institutional system is required to be put in place.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Textiles through APEDA under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has prescribed a certification system for organic Cotton which will be introduced in phases in the entire textile value chain.

Similarly, prescribing a certification system for non-organic Cotton has also been taken up with APEDA so that usages of cotton can be suitably augmented.


The Minister stated that Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) made ever highest Minimum Support Price (MSP) operation of cotton and hopeful that during the new cotton season, the procurement under MSP will be increased.

CCI has opened 430 procurement centres in all cotton-growing states and payments are being made digitally to farmers’ account within 72 hours.

Further, leveraging the technology, a mobile app, “Cott-Ally” has been developed by CCI for providing latest news regarding weather condition, Crop situation and best farm practices.

A discount of Rs.300/- per candy is being offered by CCI in its regular sale to MSME mills, Khadi and Village industry, Cooperative sector mills to enhance their competitiveness and efficiency.

It was also stated that cotton may be used across all dimension of Technical Textiles.

Further, Irani intimated that the government has passed bills for the welfare of the farmers, which also be beneficial to the industries.

The minister also attended the inaugural session of the webinar organised by TEXPROCIL and CITI on the theme of “NEW-LOOK COTTON” to facilitate the exchange of ideas on the emerging scenarios in cotton usage and application.

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AGENTS OF CHANGE

Railways Generates 10 Lakh Man-Days Of Employment Under Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan

Rs 2190.7 crores have been released to the contractors for the projects being implemented.

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NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has generated 10,66,246 man-days of work till September 25, 2020, under Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan in 6 States viz. Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry is closely monitoring the progress made in these projects and generation of work opportunities for the migrant labours of these states under this scheme. Around 164 Railway infrastructure projects are being executed in these states.

Till September 25, 2020, 12,276 workers have been engaged in this Abhiyaan and the payment of Rs 2190.7 crores has been released to the contractors for the projects being implemented.


Railway has appointed nodal officers in each district as well as in the States so that close coordination is established with the State Government.

Railway has identified no. of Railway works which are being executed under this scheme. The works are related to

(i) construction and maintenance of approach roads for level crossings
(ii) development & cleaning of silted waterways, trenches and drains along the track
(iii) construction and maintenance of approach road to railway stations
(iv) repair and widening of existing railway embankments/cuttings
(v) plantation of trees at the extreme boundary of railway land
(vi) protection works of existing embankments/ cuttings/bridges


It may be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched massive employment-cum-rural public works campaign named Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan to empower and provide livelihood opportunities in areas/villages witnessing a large number of returnee migrant workers affected by the devastating COVID-19 on June 20, 2020.

The PM announced that an amount of Rs 50,000 crores would be spent for building durable rural infrastructure under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan.

This Abhiyaan of 125 days, is being undertaken in mission mode and involves focused implementation of 25 categories of works/ activities in 116 districts, each with a large concentration of returnee migrant workers in 6 states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Public works are being undertaken during this campaign will have a resource envelope of Rs. 50,000 crores.

The Abhiyaan is a convergent effort between 12 different Ministries/Departments, namely; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment, Railways, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy, Border Roads, Telecom and Agriculture, to expedite implementation of 25 public infrastructure works and works relating to augmentation of livelihood opportunities.


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AGENTS OF CHANGE

Farmers Rejoice As Govt Raises Minimum Support Price For Crops

MSP increased by Rs. 50 to Rs. 300 per quintal. APMC Mandis will also continue to function.

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NEW DELHI: A month ahead of last year’s schedule, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22. This increase in MSP is in line with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

The government said that the hike is proof that procurement at MSP and the APMC Mandis will continue to function, however, the farmer will be free to sell his produce outside these systems anywhere throughout the country to get remunerative prices.

The hike came after assurances by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers that the MSP will not be scrapped. PM Modi called the hike “another historic decision”.


The highest increase in MSP has been announced for lentil (Rs. 300 per quintal) followed by gram and rapeseed and mustard (Rs. 225 per quintal each) and safflower (Rs. 112 per quintal). For barley and wheat, an increase of Rs. 75 per quintal and Rs 50 per quintal respectively has been announced. The differential remuneration is aimed at encouraging crop diversification.

The MSP hike announced today covered wheat, the key crop in Punjab and Haryana, where the farmers’ protest has been loudest. The MSP of wheat has been increased by ₹ 50 a quintal and will be ₹ 1975 per quintal this season. The other big crop in the area, mustard, will now fetch ₹ 4,650 a quintal — a jump of ₹ 225 a quintal.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other state agencies will continue to purchase farm produce at MSP as before. Hon’ble Prime Minister has always given assurance that procurement at MSP will continue, and the mandi system will also continue.


The announcement of the MSP before the start of the Rabi season will help the farmers in deciding on their crop structure. The MSP for pulses (lentil) and oilseeds has been increased to boost production of these crops so that import of these items can be reduced.

During 2009-2014, 1.52 LMT pulses was procured by the government. During 2014-2019, 76.85 LMT pulses have been procured which is an increase of 4962 per cent. The payment made at MSP rates in the last 6 years is Rs. 7 lakh crore which is double that made by the previous government.

MSP rates fixed in line with Swaminathan Commission recommendation:

The Committee headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan had recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the average production cost. The present Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

The increase in MSP for Rabi Crops for marketing season 2021-22 is in line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the All-India weighted average Cost of Production as announced in Union Budget 2018-19.


The expected returns to farmers over their cost of production are estimated to be highest in case of Wheat (106%) followed by rapeseed & mustard (93%), gram and lentil (78%).

For barley, return to farmers over their cost of production is estimated at 65% and for safflower, it is 50%. Presently MSP is fixed for 22 agricultural crops.

Support is in the form of MSP as well as procurement. In the case of cereals, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other designated State Agencies would continue to provide price support to the farmers. Government has set up a buffer stock of pulses and domestic procurement of pulses is also being done under the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF).

The Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA), comprising Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS), and pilot Scheme of Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPSS) will aid in the procurement of pulses and oilseeds.

Minimum Support Prices for all Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22

Crops MSP for RMS 2020-21

(Rs/quintal)

MSP for RMS 2021-22

(Rs/quintal)

Cost* of production 2021-22 (Rs/quintal) Increase in MSP

(Rs/quintal)

Return over cost (in per cent)
Wheat 1925 1975 960 50 106
Barley 1525 1600 971 75 65
Gram 4875 5100 2866 225 78
Lentil (Masur) 4800 5100 2864 300 78
Rapeseed &

Mustard

4425 4650 2415 225 93
Safflower 5215 5327 3551 112 50

Annual Increase in MSP since last six years (In Rs. per quintal)

Commodity 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
Wheat 1400 1450 1525 1625 1735 1840 1925 1975
Barley 1100 1150 1225 1325 1410 1440 1525 1600
Gram 3100 3175 3500 4000 4400 4620 4875 5100
Lentil (Masur) 2950 3075 3400 3950 4250 4475 4800 5100
Rapeseed & Mustard 3050 3100 3350 3700 4000 4200 4425 4650
Safflower 3000 3050 3300 3700 4100 4945 5215 5327
The Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri AnnadataAaySanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA), comprising Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS), and pilot Scheme of Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPSS) will aid in the procurement of pulses and oilseeds.

Despite global COVID-19 pandemic and consequent nationwide lockdown, timely intervention made by Government has led to an all-time record procurement of wheat at about 39 million tonnes for RMS 2020-21. Around 43 lakh farmers benefitted under procurement operations period which is 22 per cent higher than the RMS 2019-20.

In 2019-20, 390 lakh tonnes of wheat is estimated to be procured, while in 2014-15, 280 lakh tonnes was procured. In 2019-20, 15 lakh metric tonnes of pulses is estimated to be procured, while in 2014-15, 3 lakh tonnes was procured. In 2019-20, 18 lakh metric tonnes of oilseeds is estimated to be procured, while in 2014-15, 12 thousand metric tonnes was procured.

In the current situation of health pandemic, all concerted efforts are being made by the Government to alleviate the problems faced by the farmers, various steps taken by the Government are as follows:

  • Along with an increase in MSP, the procurement process has been strengthened so that maximum number of farmers may get its benefit.
  • Procurement centres for wheat and for pulses-oilseeds are increased by 1.5 times and 3 times respectively during COVID pandemic.
  • During pandemic 390 lakh tons of wheat has been procured at a cost of Rs.75,000 crore which is 15 per cent more than the last year.
  • With the initiation of PM KISAN SAMMAN NIDHI YOJANA around 10 crore farmers have benefitted. The total disbursed amount is around Rs.93,000 crore
  • Nearly 9 crore farmers have received around Rs.38000 crore during COVID pandemic under PM-KISAN.
  • 1.25 Crore new KCCs have been issued in the last 6 months.
  • Summer Season sowing is 57 lakh hectare, which is 16 lakh hectare more than the last year. Kharif sowing is also 5 per cent higher than that of last year.
  • Number of E-NAM markets has increased from 585 to 1000 during Covid pandemic. Last year, e-platform witnessed a trade of Rs. 35000 crore.
  • Rs. 6850 crore will be spent for creation of 10,000 FPOs over a period of five years.
  • In the last 4 years under FASAL BIMA YOJANA, farmers received a claim of Rs.77,000 crore against the paid premium of Rs. 17500 Crore.
  • FASAL BIMA YOJANA is made voluntary.
  • Kisan Rail has been started.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 have been promulgated so as to provide alternative channels for farmers to sell their produce outside traditional APMC mandi system and to encourage private participation in agribusiness. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 has been promulgated to build efficient agri-food supply chains and attract more private sector investment in value-addition, scientific storage, warehousing and marketing infrastructure.

Under the Scheme for Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Rs 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by the banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) for loans up to Rs. 2 Crore. The scheme will support farmers, PACS, FPOs, agri-entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure.

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