Polity & Governance
- All states gain if rivers linked through waterways: Expert
- Uttarakhand to bring special heritage law
- Govt launches online facility to resolve foreign trade issues
- Bharat Petroleum set to get Maharatna status
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- CPCB issues guidelines to manage odour at urban solid waste landfills
Defence & Security Issues
- DRDO successfully test fires ‘Fire and Forget’ Nag missile
- Refugees go to SC against Article 35A
- Navika Sagar Parikrama
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Polity & Governance
All states gain if rivers linked through waterways: Expert
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the idea of interlinking of rivers was first mooted during the tenure of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
- The project which has undergone several transformations since then is yet to take shape on ground, with states perennially bickering over their share of water.
- Recently, few experts have come out with an alternative method of linking rivers which can be adopted with far better results and zero disputes over the share of water.
- The new method envisages a way in which the two rivers can be linked through a waterway built on an even plane enabling two-way flow between the rivers. It is also known as Smart Waterways.
Benefits of this method:
Linking through waterways will grant several benefits over the traditional interlinking of rivers.
- It will enable the government to irrigate almost double the size of fields as compared to traditional interlinking.
- Unlike the traditional interlinking of rivers which involves pumping of water using a lot of electricity, this technology uses only the “excess flood water that goes to seas un-utilised” without any pumping.
- The new and unique proposal only harnesses the excess flood water that goes to sea unutilised, that too just 25% of flood water and 7% of water still goes to sea.
- Bi-directional flow of water, zero pumping, enabling of 15,000 km of navigation, reduction of land acquisition from eight per cent to two per cent, and 40 per cent flood control against four per cent possible under the traditional method are a few other advantages.
Uttarakhand to bring special heritage law
Uttarakhand government is planning to bring a special legislation to cover unprotected heritage in the state.
- The aim of the plan is to preserve buildings and sites of historic, aesthetic, cultural or environmental value which are not protected by the central law of the Archaeological Survey of India or any other existing government policies.
- The Uttarakhand Heritage Act seeks to conserve landmarks such as the Almora Jail, where Pt Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned, the colonial-era Raj Bhawan in Nainital, historic precincts and trees, groves and natural fields of environmental significance.
- The statute would also cover natural features of environmental significance and sites of scenic beauty and provide for conservation and protection of areas which are environmentally sensitive.
- The far-reaching legislation will also cover streetscapes and artefacts, besides protecting the sacred groves, mountains, traditional bridle paths, wetlands and wooded areas.
- The heritage authority would have the State Chief Secretary as its chairman and other key officials, along with experts such as an architect, a structural engineer, a historian and an environmentalist, as members.
- Around 71 monuments in Uttarakhand are protected by the State government under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.
- Another 40 archaeological sites are covered by the Central government, through the ASI, under the same.
Govt launches online facility to resolve foreign trade issues
The Union government has set up an online service facility, Contact@DGFT, which can be used by importers and exporters to resolve all foreign trade-related issues.
- The facility was activated on Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) website.
- It will enable traders to raise all trade related matters to Directorate or other agencies of Centre and States.
- To ensure systematic monitoring and effective resolution of issues, DGFT has requested exporters and importers to not to send their queries through social media platforms and use Contact@DGFT service instead.
About Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
- The DGFT is nodal agency responsible for execution of import and export Policies of India.
- It is entrusted with responsibilities for formulating and implementing foreign trade policy with main objective of promoting India’s exports.
- It comes under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
Bharat Petroleum set to get Maharatna status
State-run oil marketing company Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) is all set to become a Maharatna company.
- The decision to elevate BPCL to Maharatna status was taken by a panel headed by the Cabinet secretary.
- BPCL is at present a Navratna firm.
Benefits of becoming Maharatna:
- After becoming a Maharatna firm, the board of BPCL will get enhanced powers which will help in expansion of operations, both in India and abroad.
Eligibility for Maharatna status
Under government rules, a firm is eligible for Maharatna status if
- It is already a listed Navratna firm,
- It has an average turnover, net worth and annual net profit after tax of at least Rs 25,000 crore, Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 5,000 crore, respectively, in the last three years.
- The company should have significant global operations.
At present, how many Maharatna companies are there?
At present, there are seven Maharatna companies —
- Bharat Heavy Electricals,
- Coal India,
- GAIL (India),
- Indian Oil Corporation (IOC),
- National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC),
- Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and
- Steel Authority of India (SAIL)
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
CPCB issues guidelines to manage odour at urban solid waste landfills
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has come out with detailed guidelines for proper monitoring and management of odour at urban municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.
- The guidelines suggest a series of preventive and remedial measures to tackle the issue.
- As per official estimates, at present around 62 million tonnes of solid waste is generated every year and it is expected to reach 165 million tonnes in 2030.
- Of the 62 million, only 43 million tonnes is collected and only 12 millions tonnes is treated.
- The Solid waste Management Rules 2016, identified odour as a public nuisance.
Odour and health effects:
- “Odour regulation” is still in nascent stage in India. Odorous compounds may have a direct effect on human health. It generally leads to vomiting, headaches, nausea, stress, anxiety, frustration, restriction in outdoor activities, children unable to sleep, and discomfort for elderly people and others.
- CPCB suggested a green belt around landfill sites and advocated for selection of “appropriate plant species for vegetation cover” to assist in reducing odours.
- MSW Landfill system be designed for tapping LFG (landfill gases) efficiently to mitigate fugitive odorous emissions
- The guidelines also batted for initiating legislative norms for creating baseline data on odour
- Need for gradual shift for installation of Continuous Odour Measurement Systems (sensor based) for getting real-time data.
- It also outlined challenges to odour monitoring like lack of source-based database on odour levels, low awareness on odour (public nuisance) and lack of legislative obligations
- It stated that the selection and number of landfill sites for a city should be based on factors like requirement of land for the disposal site by considering the present population and projected growth over the next 20 years at least.
- Other factors include whether the selected site is free from the influence of other odorous sources and the topography of the site (slope, proximity to water sources like river and natural springs).
- Selection of landfill site should be integrated with the urban development planning so that even expansions of city in next two or three decades are not encompassing the selected MSW site
- Guidelines have been prepared keeping in view the various mandatory and statutory provisions and the climatic conditions that accelerate biodegradation of organic wastes.
Defence & Security Issues
DRDO successfully test fires ‘Fire and Forget’ Nag missile
In a boost to Indian Armed Forces, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently successfully tested Nag, the 3rd generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).
- With these two successful trials and earlier test conducted in June 2017, complete functionality of Nag ATGM along with launcher system NAMICA has been established. It marks successful completion of development trials of Nag Missile.
- Nag is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile.
- It is developed by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army.
- The missile incorporates an advanced passive homing guidance system and possesses high single-shot kill probability.
- It is designed to destroy modern main battle tanks and other heavily armoured targets.
- Nag can be launched from land and air-based platforms.
- The land version is currently available for integration on the Nag missile carrier (NAMICA), which is derived from a BMP-2 tracked infantry combat vehicle.
- The Nag missile was indigenously developed under the Indian Ministry of Defence’s integrated guided missile development programme (IGMDP), which also involved the development of four other missiles that are Agni, Akash, Trishul and Prithvi.
Refugees go to SC against Article 35A
Some refugees from West Pakistan, who had migrated to India during Partition, have moved the Supreme Court challenging Article 35A of the Constitution relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
What’s the issue?
- Nearly 1.25 lakh WPRs, who migrated from the then West Pakistan after partition of the country in 1947 to settle in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts of the state, are seeking citizenship rights, employment rights and right to vote and contest the state assembly polls for the past 70 years.
- According to official data 5,764 families comprising 47,915 persons had migrated from West Pakistan in 1947 and settled in the three districts of the state. Today their population increased to nearly 1.25 lakh.
- These refugees are not considered permanent residents of the state, cannot vote in assembly polls and cannot do state government jobs even though they are living in the state for generations. However, they can vote in parliamentary elections.
What is Article 35A?
- Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
- It was added by a 1954 presidential order issued under Article 370, the constitutional provision that mediates the relationship between the Union of India and Kashmir.
- Article 35A also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution.
What are the concerns?
- Attempts to undo Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would strike a fatal blow to the nationalists in the state.
- There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Article, which prevents non-J&K state subjects from settling and buying property in the state.
- However, Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley.
- The J&K government is also concerned at the reluctance of the Union government to file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court. Against the backdrop of the escalating protests in Kashmir, this issue could potentially be explosive.
Navika Sagar Parikrama
Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman recently flagged-off all-women crew of Navika Sagar Parikrama at the INS Mandovi naval training base near Panaji.
- The crew of the ‘Sagar Parikrama’ comprises of six-member all women team on board the sailing vessel INSV Tarini. INSV Tarini is the sister vessel of INSV Mhadei.
- They will circumnavigate the globe in approximately 165 days and is expected to return to Goa in April 2018.
- This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew. The project is considered essential towards promoting Ocean Sailing activities in the Navy while depicting Government of India’s thrust for ‘Nari Shakti’.
- Navika Sagar Parikrama would cover the expedition in five legs with stop-overs at four ports (Fremantle, Australia; Lyttleton, New Zealand; Port Stanley, the Falklands; and Cape town, South Africa) for replenishment of ration and repairs as necessary, before returning to Goa in April 2018.
Additional aims of the Expedition are as follows:
- In consonance with the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential, the expedition aims to showcase ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform.
- This would also help to discard the societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India by raising visibility of participation by women in challenging environment.
Environment and Climate Change:
- Sailing encourages the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources which affects the life of women.
- The expedition thereby aims at harnessing the energy to optimise the livelihood of the women onboard.
Make in India:
- The voyage also aims to show case the ‘Make in India’ initiative by sailing onboard the indigenously built INSV Tarini.
Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave Data Observation:
- The crew would also collate and update Meteorological/ Ocean/ Wave data on a daily basis for subsequent analysis by research and development organisations.
- The crew would monitor and report marine pollution on the high seas.