News in numbers, Apr 11, 2016: Kollam temple fire accident, Pak’s infiltration attempts…

> 100

What is it? The number of people killed by fire and explosions caused by fireworks at Puttingal Temple in Kollam district of Kerala.

Why is it important? Though Kerala temples have seen fire accidents in the past, the scale of Sunday’s disaster is one of the largest. Rules are often flouted or ignored during such festivals. The Puttingal temple authorities did not have permission for any kind of fireworks, not even to store them. As many as 20,377 fire accident cases killed 19,513 people in 2014.

Tell me more: The Puttingal Temple accident has injured nearly 400 people. A judicial enquiry was set up on Sunday to investigate why the temple authorities went ahead with the fireworks when there was no permission granted.  

Rs 12,230 crore

What is it? The amount the central government has released to the states for rural employment guarantee programme, MGNREGA.

Why is it important? This is likely to provide some respite to people in rural areas at a time when nearly half of India’s 676 districts are facing drought. The move comes after the Supreme Court pulled up the government last week for not releasing adequate funds on time for the MGNREGA scheme.

Tell me more: The government has also reduced the estimated number of person-days by 220 million in 2016-17 from 2,391 million person-days the previous year. This means fewer people would get work or there would be lesser work for those who apply for the scheme, which is supposed to be demand-driven.

$20 billion

What is it? India’s proposed investments in oil and gas, petrochemical and fertiliser projects in Iran.

Why is it important? If this goes through, India could get access to cheaper gas in addition to land for various projects and Iran could increase its crude oil exports to the levels that existed before Western sanctions. The likely deals would help revive Indo-Iranian relations, which had gone downhill after India shied away from investments in Iran due to the sanctions.

Tell me more: Iraq replaced Iran as India’s second largest crude supplier after the Western sanctions were imposed. Currently, Iran is India’s fifth largest crude supplier.

Rs 3,500 crore

What is it? Bharti Airtel’s investment to acquire 4G spectrum from Aircel in eight telecom zones.

Why is it important? This makes Bharti Airtel the first telecom operator to have 4G services across the country, strengthening its position ahead of the likely 4G war. Reliance Jio, which has spectrum access in all the 22 circles, would launch by the end of the year.

Tell me more: Sunil Bharti Mittal’s firm would acquire 4G spectrum in Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, the North-East, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. This spectrum is valid up to September 20, 2030. Last month, Bharti Airtel bought Videocon’s entire spectrum (in six circles) for Rs 4,428 crore.


What is it? The number of infiltration attempts from Pakistan into India in 2015 (against 222 in 2014).

Why is it important? The Indian government has approved a five-layer plan to stop infiltration on India’s 2,900-km western border shared with Pakistan. At a reported cost of Rs 1 crore per kilometre, the security upgrade would help in preventing incidents such as the Pathankot attacks and smuggling.

Tell me more: The five-layer plan includes the multiple use of technologies such as CCTV cameras, thermal image devices, night vision devices and laser barriers, and a control room set up at every 5-6 km of the stretch. Two pilot projects in 5-km stretches each in Punjab and Jammu commenced two weeks ago.

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