Daily Current Affairs : 3rd December 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. MGNREGA Protocol to prioritise payment to Mates.  
  2. Facts for Prelims

1 . MGNREGA Protocol to Prioritise payment to Mates

Context: Heeding to persistent complaints from Mates or site supervisors that their wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) are inordinately delayed, the Union Rural Development Ministry has devised a protocol to prioritise payment to Mates. 

Who are the mates and what is the issue?

  • Mates are the frontline supervisors of the programmes who are listed as semi-skilled workers because of the specialist nature of their job.
  • Their wages come from the material component, 60% of which is paid by the Union government.
  • This component is now being released erratically, caught up in bureaucratic delays and chronic fund crunch.
  • Owing to the delay, in many States, the Mates have started listing themselves as unskilled workers to get the wages on time.
  • The difference in wages as compared to the unskilled workers is usually minor and they can beat the delay in the payments for semi-skilled workers which can go up to a year.

New protocol to solve the issue

The Ministry, to resolve this bind, has streamlined the process by which the attendance and wages of the Mates are recorded.

  • The muster roll for Mates must be issued soon after generating muster roll for unskilled workers.
  • In the software, all other options will be disabled till this is done.
  • It is also proposed that reports on day-wise pendency in payment to Mates may be generated.

How will the streamlining help?

  • Since Mate payments are made under the ‘material component’, often State governments clear the vendor bills related to supply of raw material for the construction before clearing Mates’ payments.
  • The main intervention is that the States will have to clear the payments for the Mates, before they can distribute the funds to the vendors.

Why are states calling it a ‘half-measure’?

  • Ideally the Mates’ wages should be completely delinked with the material component.
  • Even with the new system states will have to wait for funds for the material component.

2 . Facts for Prelims

Silchar-Sylhet Festival

  • Southern Assam’s Silchar town is hosting the two-day Silchar-Sylhet Festival that coincides with the 75th year of India’s independence and the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.
  • It is the first festival celebrating the linguistic and cultural ties between the Barak Valley region of Assam and the Sylhet segment of Bangladesh.
  • It has been organised by the India Foundation.
  • The festival underlines the commonalities between India and Bangladesh, specifically the Sylheti variant of the Bengali language and the Sylheti culture.
  • The festival will showcase tribal culture, cuisine, arts, crafts and local produce, entertainment and bring together eminent people from both sides to discuss and deliberate on issues of mutual growth and opportunity.
  • In addition, the festival will provide a platform to explore multi-disciplinary trade opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, tourism, education and digital infrastructure.
  • The event has been supported by the Union Ministry of Culture and the Assam government in association with the Bangladesh India Friendship Society and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Flue Gas desulfurization Technology

  • Flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) is a set of technologies used to remove sulfur dioxide (SO2) from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants, and from the emissions of other sulfur oxide emitting processes such as waste incineration.
  • For a typical coal-fired power station, flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) may remove 90 percent or more of the SO2 in the flue gases.
  • The Centre had initially set a 2017 deadline for thermal power plants to comply with emissions standards for installing Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of toxic sulphur dioxide.
    • The deadline was later changed to varying deadlines for different regions, ending in 2022, and further extended to a period ending in 2025.
  • Now, the power plants will be forcibly retired if they do not comply with norms on sulphur emissions by end-2027.

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