FINS Bulletin June 16, 2017

CRPF recruits 743 youths from Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region to fight Naxals

743 candidates, including 242 women, have been recruited by the CRPF from the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh for an ‘all-tribal battalion’ being raised to fight Maoists. The youths have been recruited for the post of constable in the CRPF from tribal-dominated Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts and will join the ‘Bastariya’ battalion.
“743 scheduled tribes candidates, including 242 women, have been recruited,” a Home Ministry official said. Bastar region comprises Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts of Chhattisgarh. The ‘Bastariya’ battalion in CRPF is a unique initiative to enhance local representation in security forces and also provide employment to youths, the official said.

Source: Indian Express, June 8, 2017

Nepal, China sign deal to build mega 1,200MW hydro project

Nepal government has sealed a major deal with a Chinese company for development of a mega hydroelectric project, which could resolve perennial power crisis in the country and lay the groundwork to establish Nepal as an electricity exporter. 
The Ministry of Energy on Sunday signed a MoU with China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) for the development of 1,200MW Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project, the biggest hydro project set to be built in Nepal.
The signing of MoU has formalised the Cabinet’s recent decision to award the project to the Chinese developer without conducting international bidding. As per the agreement, the storage project would be built under engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model. Under this model, CGGC will help arrange funds required to develop the project.
The funds will be mobilised in the form of soft loan or commercial loan from Chinese financial institutions on terms and conditions acceptable to the Nepal government. CGGC will also undertake the overall responsibility of executing the project. The Chinese developer, according to the MoU, will also conduct additional studies and investigations on the project if required. 
The MoU has given one year’s period to the Chinese developer to conduct assessment of the hydropower project and arrange necessary funds for its development. 
This understanding, according to Energy Ministry officials, will not bind the government legally or financially to hand over the project to the Chinese company for construction, as the final agreement is yet to be signed. “We will enter into a separate agreement if the financial proposal presented by the Chinese developer is agreeable to us,” said the source.
The Chinese government was very keen on having a Chinese company develop the project, and had inquired about it with PM Dahal during his recent visit to China. Chinese officials had even pledged to provide a soft loan via the Export Import Bank of China to the Chinese company to build the project. Subsequently, PM Dahal initiated the process to engage CGGC in development of the Budhigandaki Hydroelectric Project, one the most strategic hydropower projects in the country. 
CGGC is currently building 30MW Chameliya Hydropower Project in the far west and 60MW Upper Trishuli 3A Hydropower Project in the central region. The Budhigandaki Project has been touted as a key project to resolve the perennial power crisis in the country.

The government has allocated a budget of Rs5.33 billion for the project’s development in the current fiscal year. The government has been raising infrastructure tax of Rs5 from sales of every litre of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel to collect funds to build the project. The project is presently acquiring land from locals of Dhading and Gorkha districts.

Source: Kathmandu Post, June 5, 2017

Cyclone Mora batters Bangladesh coastline

Cyclone Mora that lashed Bangladesh’s coastlines, forcing the evacuation of millions of people and shutting the country’s main port and river transport, killed at least six people in Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati before moving to India’s north-east.
The cyclone, which lashed the coastal belt with a wind speed of 128 kmph and made landfall at around 6:00 am on Tuesday, cut off Kutubdia, Moheshkhali and Teknaf from other parts of the country. Road transportation was affected, phone lines were disrupted, more than 20,000 houses destroyed and hundreds of trees were uprooted.
The Disaster Management Ministry said that it moved to safety more than 2.5 million people in 10 coastal districts which were most vulnerable to the tropical storm as the Met Office upgraded the cyclone warning to Great Danger No. 10, the highest level. About 18 million people live in 19 coastal districts, 10 of them located in high-risk areas.
The country’s main seaport, Chittagong, suspended container handling. All flights from Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport were cancelled from Tuesday morning to this afternoon. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority or BIWTA has suspended the operations of all river transports.
Over 15,000 homes were damaged in Cox’s Bazar alone, said local administration officials.
Nearly 70% homes have been damaged on the Saint Martin’s island, some 9 km south of the tip of the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf peninsula and the southernmost part of Bangladesh. However, no casualty has been reported so far in the area, as residents have already been moved to shelters.
The Cox’s Bazar district’s disaster management office said that more than 200,000 people were moved to the 538 cyclone shelters. The local administration said 88 medical units, 6,010 local volunteers and 15,000 Red Crescent volunteers were kept on standby.

Source: The Hindu, May 31, 2017

Foreign aid arrives as Sri Lanka flood toll exceeds 200

International aid arrived into Sri Lanka on Wednesday as the death toll from the island’s worst floods and landslides in well over a decade climbed to 202. Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake said 16 countries had rushed relief supplies and medicine to assist more than 600,000 people driven from their homes following Friday’s monsoon deluge.
The Disaster Management Centre confirmed the death toll rose to 202 after the discovery of more landslide victims beneath tonnes of mud in Sri Lanka’s hard-hit southwest.
Another 96 people were listed as still missing.

Source: Times of India, May 31, 2017


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