CCEA approves Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarkhand
• Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the construction of 4.531 km long 2-Lane Bi-Directional Silkyara Bend - Barkot Tunnel in Uttarakhand.
• The project will be falling along NH-134 (old NH-94) and will be built under Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Mode.
• It will be funded under NH (O) Scheme of Ministry of RT&H and forms part of Chardham Plan.
• The construction period of the project is 4 years.
• The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways through National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL)
CCEA approves opening up of commercial coal mining to private firms
• CCEA approved the methodology for auction of coal mines for sale of coal under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
• It also allowed private companies to mine the fossil fuel for commercial use, ending the monopoly of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), which is a major reform in the coal sector since its nationalisation in 1973.
• Currently, private sector is allowed coal mining for captive use only.
UNICEF issues Blank Statement on Syria, says it has run out of words
• UNICEF issued a blank statement on February 20, 2018 to express its outrage at mass casualties among Syrian children in the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta and neighboring Damascus.
• There were 10 empty lines with quote marks indicating missing text and an explanatory footnote, indicating its incapability to describe children’s suffering and its outrage.
• Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been besieging almost 400000 civilians trapped inside Eastern Ghouta for years.
• This siege has tightened this year and attacks on the enclave have intensified.
India not among top 20 coffee drinking countries
• In a survey published by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), India is not among the top 20 coffee drinking countries of the world.
• Finland took the top spot, consuming about 12 kg of coffee per year.
• Norway, Iceland and Denmark occupied the second, third and fourth spots respectively.
• India, which did not figure in the top 20, is the seventh largest exporter of coffee.
Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh
• Saudi Arabia will host its first-ever Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh in March 2018.
• The move is another step towards opening up of the country under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious transformation programme.
• The Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council said the fashion week will be held in Riyadh from March 26 to March 31, with a second edition already scheduled for October.
• The first Arab Fashion Week is expected to play the role of a catalyst through which the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade.
• This is the latest move by the Kingdom to affirm its vision to transform the fashion and retail sector in Saudi Arabia into both a regional and global destination by encouraging trade exchange and global business in line with the Vision 2030.