Daily Current Affairs Gk Today in Short: 25 March 2021
India halts big exports of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as infections surge
•India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet demand at home in the wake of a surge in infections.
•The move will impact the supplies to COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses.
•The GAVI and WHO-led COVAX facility has so far received 17.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. India has shipped a total of 60.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to many countries relying on it for their vaccination program.
•However, as per reports, there will be no more exports till the situation in India stabilizes. While around 5 crore people have been vaccinated in India, a majority still need to be vaccinated.
NHAI to develop world-class ‘Wayside Amenities’ at more than 600 locations
•The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to develop world class ‘Wayside Amenities’ at more than 600 locations across 22 states in the next 5 years. The move aims to improve commuters’ experience on National Highways for both passengers and truckers.
•Around 130 of these 600 locations are expected to be developed in 2021-2022 period. The NHAI has already invited bids to develop 120 such wayside amenities.
•The wayside amenities will be developed every 30 to 50 kilometers along the current and upcoming Highways and Expressways.
•The amenities will include several facilities for passengers including ATM, Toilets with shower facility, Clinic, Electric Charging Facilities, Playing Area for Children, Fuel Station, Food Court, Retail Shops, and Village Haat for local handicrafts.
•Besides this, the separate ‘Truckers Blocks’ will be developed keeping in mind the specific requirements of truckers, which will include Truck and Trailer Parking, Truckers Dormitory, Auto Workshop, Toilets with showers, Cooking and Washing area, Eateries, Clinic, and Retail Shops.
Centre to introduce GPS based toll collection system
•The central government is planning to roll out a GPS-based toll collection system. It also plans to introduce an E-highway from Delhi to Mumbai in the upcoming months.
•This was informed by Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari during the Lok Sabha before it was adjourned sine die. He also noted that toll collection through the fast tag has reached 93 percent across the country, resulting in Rs 10,000 crore more toll collection in comparison to the previous year.
•The use of fast tag has also reduced the waiting time at toll booths, informed the Minister. The introduction of the GPS-based toll collection system will further enable smooth movement of traffic and bring transparency to the system.
Parliament’s budget session concludes, both Houses adjourn sine die
•Parliament’s Budget Session came to an end on March 25, 2021 and both the Houses were adjourned sine die ahead of their schedule. The second half of the budget session was originally supposed to conclude on April 8th. The session had begun on January 29th and was held in two parts.
•Many members of the Parliament had requested to curtail the session due to the upcoming state assembly elections.
•Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu during his remarks said that 19 Bills were passed during the Budget Session which includes Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020, National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill 2021 and Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 among others.
•The overall productivity of the upper house of the parliament stood at 90 percent during the session, while the productivity of the Lok Sabha stood at 114 percent.
North Korea test-fires missiles in the first challenge to Biden administration
•North Korea test-fired several missiles, two of which were fired on March 21st, confirmed by the White House on March 23, 2021. The missile tests come days after a visit to the region by the top US defense and diplomatic officials.
•The tests are the first by North Korea after Joe Biden took over the President of the United States in January 2021. It is being seen as North Korea’s first challenge to the Biden administration.
•The missiles that were test-fired were short-range, non-ballistic missile systems that do not fall under UN security council resolutions banning more threatening weapons.