NGT, NITI Aayog

#GS2 #Governance

  • The NITI Aayog has commissioned a study that seeks to examine the “unintended economic consequences” of judicial decisions that have hindered and stalled big-ticket projects on environmental grounds.
  • It intends to examine five major projects that have been “impacted” by judicial decisions of the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal.

What is National Green Tribunal 

  • NGT is a statutory body formed under the purview of National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • New Delhi is the primary place of sitting for NGT. Apart from that, it has offices in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai.
  • Setting up NGT made India the third country in the world to set up an exclusive environmental tribunal. 

NGT’s structure

  • The Tribunal consists of: 
  1. Chairperson, 
  2. the Judicial Members and 
  3. Expert Members
  • Term of office for the members is five years. They are not eligible for reappointment thereafter.
  • The Chairperson can be appointed in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI). He/she is appointed by the Central Government. 
  • A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members. 
  • There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.

Powers & Jurisdiction

  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
  • Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
  • The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of 'natural justice'.
  • While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.

NGT by an order, can provide

  1. relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance),
  2. for restitution of property damaged, and
  3. for restitution of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.

An order/decision/award of Tribunal is executable as a decree of a civil court.

The NGT Act also provides a procedure for a penalty for non-compliance:

  1. Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years,
  2. Fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, and
  3. Both fine and imprisonment.

An appeal against order/decision/ award of the NGT lies to the Supreme Court, generally within ninety days from the date of communication.

The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include:

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
  • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.

Landmark Judgements of NGT

  • In 2012, POSCO a steelmaker company signed a MoU with the Odisha government to set up steel project. NGT suspended order and this was considered a radical step in favour of the local communities and forests.
  • In 2012 Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India case, NGT gave judgment of complete prohibition on open burning of waste on lands, including landfills – regarded as the single biggest landmark case dealing with the issue of solid waste management in India.
  • In 2013 in Uttarakhand floods case, the Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. was ordered to compensate to the petitioner – here, the NGT directly relied on the principle of ‘polluter pays’.
  • In 2015, the NGT ordered that all diesel vehicles over 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
  • In 2017, the Art of Living Festival on Yamuna Food Plain was declared violating the environmental norms, the NGT panel imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 Crore.
  • The NGT, in 2017, imposed an interim ban on plastic bags of less than 50-micron thickness in Delhi because “they were causing animal deaths, clogging sewers and harming the environment”.

NITI Aayog

  • NITI Aayog is the principal policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India. 

They lay out: 

  1. directional and policy inputs. 
  2. strategic and long term policies and programs for the Government of India
  3. relevant technical advice to the Centre and States.

Governing Council

  1. Chairman: Prime Minister 
  2. Chief Ministers of all states and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
  • Regional Council: Deals with regional issues, consists of Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors Chaired by Prime Minister or his nominee.
  • Ad-hoc Members: 2 members from premier Research institutions on rotational basis. 
  • Ex-Officio membership: Four members from Union council of ministers to be nominated by Prime minister.
  • Chief Executive Officer: Appointed by Prime-minister for a fixed tenure, in rank of Secretary to Government of India.
  • Special Invitees: Experts nominated by Prime-minister with subject knowledge.

 

 

FSSAI caps TFAs

#GS2 #Health

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has amended its rules to cap trans-fatty acids (TFAs) in food products, just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats. 
  • According to the updated regulation, Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial trans-fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from 1st January, 2022. 

TFA

  • Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on a human body than any other dietary constituent.
  • These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus, in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
  • Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
  • trans fats are considered harmful as they clog arteries and result in hypertension, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular issues.
  • They are found in baked and fried foods as well as adulterated ghee, which become solid at room temperature.
  • Artificial Trans-fats are harmful. They causes cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death globally.
  • The WHO estimates that over 5 lakh people with cardiovascular issues die globally every year due to the consumption of industrially produced TFAs. 
  • As per FSSAI, about 77,000 deaths take place annually in India due to TFAs.

FSSAI

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous statutory body founded under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).
  • Comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
  • HQ: Delhi.

 

 

India now pharmacy of world

#GS2 #InternationalRelations #Health

  • External Affairs has said the Indian economy is poised to grow by about 11% despite the COVID-19 crisis.
  • While according priority to the infrastructure, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, efforts are on to increase investments in the agriculture sector and giving the much-needed push to liquidity, productivity, and credit flow where needed. 
  • Bad banks would take care of the non-performing assets that pushed some banks into an existential crisis. 
  • By converting the crisis into an opportunity India became the “pharmacy of the world” by supplying medicines such as paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to countries across the globe. 
  • Besides, the number of manufacturers of ventilators had increased to 25 and there were 16,000 COVID treatment centres. Thousands of industrial units were making masks and personal protection equipment.

India enjoys an important position in the global pharmaceuticals sector, as India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally.

  • The Indian pharmaceutical industry meets over 50% of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the U.S. and 25% of all medicine in the U.K.
  • Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

In 2020, India is expected to be amongst the top three pharmaceutical markets in terms of incremental growth.

  • The Indian pharmaceuticals market is the world’s third-largest in terms of volume and thirteenth-largest in terms of value. It has established itself as a global manufacturing and research hub.
  • India has one of the lowest manufacturing costs in the world – lower than that of the U.S. and almost half of the cost in Europe.

 

 

Ka-226T Helicopter

#PrelimsFacts

  • The total indigenous content of the Ka-226T utility helicopters, to be jointly manufactured locally by India and Russia with Transfer of Technology (ToT), is between 27%-33%, said Chairman and MD of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) R. Madhavan. 
  • The final deal is held up as the Russian proposal of 62% indigenous content in assembled helicopters falls short of the tender requirement of 70%. 

Ka-226T

  • The Ka-226T is a Russian design armed forces.
  • India Russia Helicopters Limited (IRHL) is a joint venture which has been set up between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russian Helicopters (RH) which will assemble the helicopters in India. 
  • The Ka-226T is meant to replace the ageing and obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleet of the Army and Air Force and the total technical life of these will start finishing from 2023 onwards.

Special Features:

  • The Ka-226T uses coaxial rotors, that is, it has two sets of rotors mounted one on top of the other and typically no tail rotor.
  • Coaxial rotors give a helicopter improvement in lift and payload capacity over conventional choppers. This is especially advantageous in high-altitude environments where an aircraft's performance at take-off tends to diminish due to the lower air density.
  • The Ka-226T also has a unique, detachable 'mission' compartment instead of a conventional cabin. This allows the helicopter to be adapted for different roles such as surveillance and cargo delivery.
  • Ka-226T is a light helicopter, with a maximum take-off weight of over 3.5 tonnes and can carry a payload of up to 1 tonne.

 

 

Currency Swap Arrangement

#GS3 #Economy

  • Sri Lanka settles $400 mn currency swap with India. 

Currency Swap Arrangement

  • The word swap means exchange. A currency swap between the two countries is an agreement or contract to exchange currencies with predetermined terms and conditions.
  • Central banks and Governments engage in currency swaps with foreign counterparts to meet short term foreign exchange liquidity requirements or to ensure adequate foreign currency to avoid Balance of Payments (BOP) crisis till longer arrangements can be made.

Example: 

  • India and Japan in the year 2018 signed a bilateral currency swap agreement.
  • RBI will get certain amount of yen and the Bank of Japan will get an equivalent amount in Indian rupees on a decided swap rate.
  • After a specified period, both the countries will repay the amount at the same swap rate.

 

 

Water scarcity in the Himalayan catchment

#GS3 #Environment

Excerpts from new paper published last month

  • The snowpack and glaciers of the Himalayas are important sources of water for about a billion people who live in the basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. 
  • With rising global temperatures, these highly sensitive snowpack and glaciers, are adversely affected. This, in turn, affects the Himalayan hydrology. 
  • India, Nepal, Pakistan and China hugely depend on these Himalayan rivers for their daily needs and energy production.

Himalayan rivers are affected by: 

  • rainfall-runoff 
  • snow-melt 
  • glacier-melt 
  • If drier and warmer scenarios continue in the near future (2031–2050), we are more likely to face water stress in these catchment areas. 
  • If there is increased rainfall, this could lead to a water surplus situation too. 
  • The currently used land surface model (even by the Ministry of Earth Sciences), does not take into account glacier melt. This could lead to serious errors in the study of north-Indian rivers. 
  • Though snow is lower density and will melt easily in a warming climate, the reduced snowfall will in turn reduce the amount of snow-melt. 
  • Though glacier melt will increase initially, they will shrink in size quickly and the amount of glacier melt will also decline in the latter end of the century. 
  • The team notes that proper water-management and governance are urgently required.
  • Changing patterns of the Indian Summer Monsoon and Western Disturbances are crucial for the future situation of water resources in Himalayan catchments.