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Insights Daily Current Events, 20 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 20 July 2015

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‘Changes in law needed to ban eucalyptus plantations’

In reply to a petition, the Karnataka Forest Department recently said that it would be impossible to ban eucalyptus plantations across the State without changes in the legal framework to allow for Forest Department to crackdown on planting of trees in private land.

  • The Forest Department has prohibited the planting of the high-water-consuming tree in forest land since 2011, but not in private land.

Background:

  • The Karnataka High Court had asked the forest department to consider banning eucalyptus plantations across the State.
  • The move came after a petitioner said the non-native eucalyptus tree was responsible for the lowering groundwater levels in the region.

Some facts:

  • A eucalyptus tree consumes 90 litres of water a day
  • During summers and times of drought, its roots can go down up to 30ft
  • It was introduced in Karnataka in 1960s. In the 1970’s, eucalyptus plantations were spread across 2.1 lakh hectares. Now, after reduction of use by the Forest Department, it is on around 70,000 hectares
  • 90% of plantations are in Kolar, Chickballapur and Bengaluru Rural in Karnataka.
  • There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and most of them are native to Australia.

Previous legal action:

  • On February 27, 2014: Madras High Court (Madurai) Bench orders the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to take action to “annihilate” eucalyptus plantations along the Western Ghats.
  • February 2011: Karnataka Forest Department bans plantation of eucalyptus in Western Ghats and surrounding districts.

Sources: The Hindu.

New fish species discovered in Kerala

A new cyprinid fish, Puntius dolichopterus has been discovered in Kerala’s Kayamkulam city.

Details:

  • The fish is characterised by the longer pectoral fin, shorter dorsal fin, unusually elongated dorsal spine, longer head, lesser number of lateral line scales and pre-dorsal scales.
  • It can be further differentiated from its relative species in having 3-4 longitudinal lines present below lateral line.
  • The name of the new fish “dolichopterus” has been coined from two Greek words ‘dolikhos’ meaning elongated and ‘pteron’ meaning wing or fin, as refers to elongated pectoral fin.

Puntius Dolichopterus

  • The body of the fish is silvery, dorsal fin is light orange red, pectoral and anal fin greenish yellow, ventral fin yellow, caudal fin dusky and an inconspicuous dusky spot present on 21 and 22 scales.
  • The spine of dorsal fin in this fish is rigid, strong and long. They have a pair of small barbels. They are between 7.3 and 8.7 cm in length.
  • The fish, found in small and shallow water channels, is edible and can be utilised as ornamental fish. The fish is included in the fish family Cyprinidae.
  • Its congeners (relative species) are Puntius nigronotus, Puntius viridis, Puntius nelsoni and Puntius parrah found in Kerala, Puntius dorsalis found in Chennai and Puntius chola and Puntius sophore residing in the water bodies of the Ganga river.

Sources: The Hindu.

GSLV Mk III engine completes ‘full endurance test’

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully conducted the much-awaited ‘full endurance test’ of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III’s indigenous cryogenic CE-20 engine recently.

  • The CE-20 was ignited and tested for 800 seconds to study the performance of the engine though the actual required duration was only 635 seconds.
  • During the actual flight of the GSLV, the engine will be ignited for only 635 seconds.
  • The successful conduct of ‘full endurance test’ is being termed as another milestone in developing a bigger and more powerful indigenously built high thrust cryogenic upper stage for the 43-metre-tall GSLV Mk III that would position heavier payloads (satellites weighing about 4,000 kg) in the geostationary orbit.
evolution-of-launch-vehicle-till-GSLV-3-1024x682
Source: Offoindia

About GSLV Mk III:

  • The GSLV-III or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, is a launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organization.
  • GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500 to 5000 kg.
  • It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. The vehicle envisages multi-mission launch capability for GTO, LEO, Polar and intermediate circular orbits.
  • GSLV-Mk III is designed to be a three stage vehicle, with 42.4 m tall with a lift off weight of 630 tonnes. First stage comprises two identical S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonne solid propellant, that are strapped on to the second stage, the L110 re-startable liquid stage. The third stage is the C25 LOX/LH2 cryo stage. The large payload fairing measures 5 m in diameter and can accommodate a payload volume of 100 cu m.
  • The GSLV-III features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV.

Sources: The Hindu, ISRO.

Child labour Bill likely this session

The government will push a Bill amending the law on child labour in the coming session of Parliament. It was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in December 2012 and then sent to a standing committee for scrutiny. The final shape was cleared by the Cabinet in May.

Details of the Bill:

  • The new bill proposes a full ban on employment of children below 14 years of age across all industries and processes. However, a child will be allowed to “help” her family in their own businesses after school hours or during vacations, and also work as a child artist. Ban on children working in a circus will continue.
  • According to the provisions of the bill the district magistrate will be made responsible for enforcement of the law. At present, state or central governments can appoint inspectors. However, if a district magistrate is empowered, the quality of enforcement will improve dramatically.
  • The bill also proposes for the constitution of a child and adolescent labour rehabilitation fund. For every rescued child or adolescent, state governments will contribute Rs 15,000 towards the fund. Apart from this, fine collections from an employer will be added.
  • Offenders would face imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 for an offence under the new law. Parents or guardians would not be punished for the first offence. The penalty would be a maximum of Rs 10,000 for second and subsequent offences.
  • To bring the child labour law in tune with international standards, the government has also defined ‘adolescents’ in the new Bill. Children in the age group of 14-18 years will be prohibited from work in hazardous occupations and processes. International Labour Organization conventions prohibit employment of persons below 18 years in work likely to harm health, safety and morals.

Present Laws:

The present law — Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 — prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 years in 18 occupations and 65 processes. These include working in an automobile workshop, restaurants, hotels, ports, a circus and some other industrial activities.

Current scenario:

In India, there are an estimated 4.3 million children working in factories or processes, according to the Census of 2011. However, this has declined sharply from 12.6 million employed as labourers in 2001.

Sources: The Hindu, pib.

Centre yet to notify crucial FEMA amendments

The Union government has not yet notified the amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) that were incorporated into the legislation after President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent in May.

  • The delay may have implications for the pending cases of foreign exchange violations, including those allegedly involving the former IPL chief, Lalit Modi.

Background:

In March, the government proposed amendments to the FEMA and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The Special Investigation Team on black money had also come up with similar suggestions. After being passed by Parliament, the Finance Act received the President’s assent on May 14. However, as provided in the law itself, the amendments to the FEMA do not come into force automatically.

Details of the amendments:

  • The amendments have been made to Sections 2, 6, 13, 18, 46, and 47 and introduction of Section 37A of the FEMA. An important introduction is that of Section 37A, which empowers an authorised officer to seize assets equivalent in value to the foreign exchange, foreign security or immovable property held abroad in violation of the law.
  • The amended Section 13 empowers the investigation agency to levy a penalty of up to three times the sum involved in contravention of the law and confiscate property equivalent to the assets created abroad. The adjudicating authority may recommend prosecution against the accused in fit cases.
  • Under the above provision, the Enforcement Director may also, after recording reasons, order prosecution by filing a criminal complaint against the guilty person. In case of violation, the guilty can be, in addition to the penalty, punished with imprisonment of up to five years and a fine.

Sources: The Hindu.

Experts bat for space law

Indian space industry experts recently opined that there is a need to have a space law to protect sovereign, public or commercial interests in India.

Why such a law is needed?

To ensure that space assets and applications are used for the right causes.

Current scenario:

  • Currently, space activities are guided by a handful of international space agreements, the Constitution, national laws, the Satellite Communications (SatCom) Policy of 2000 and the revised Remote sensing policy or 2011.
  • India is among the five countries that do not have a space law; while 15 others including the US, Russia, Japan, China, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, have laws based broadly on the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

Provisions related to space in the Indian constitution:

Space and space-related matters in India are regulated by legal rules belonging to different areas of the Indian domestic law, since there is no special space legislation. The legal position of the space industry is largely determined by the Constitution of India. The constitutional provisions relating to general international law are also relevant to the aerospace law.

They include the following:

  • Article 51 of the Constitution imposes on the state the obligation to strive for the promotion of international peace and security, including maintaining just and honourable relations between nations, respect for international law and treaty obligations, and settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
  • Under Article 73 the executive power of the Union extends (a) to the matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws, and (b) to the exercise of such rights, authority and jurisdiction as are exercisable by the government of India by virtue of any treaty or agreement.
  • Article 245 empowers Parliament and state legislatures to enact laws. The Constitution enumerates three lists of subjects – the Union list, the State list and the Concurrent list – in respect of which the legislative power may be exercised, provided that the legislative power of Parliament overrides that of the state legislature in respect of the concurrent list.
    • The “space” as a subject is not mentioned in the Union List. The reason was that the Constitution was adopted in 1950, but the space activities started in India in the early Sixties; a number of items on the Union list related to the aerospace activities in India.
    • They include the items relating to defence and armed forces of India; foreign affairs, UNO; participation in international conferences, associations and other bodies and implementing decisions made thereat; entering into treaties and agreements with foreign countries and implementing of treaties, agreements and conventions with foreign countries etc.
    • By virtue of item 97 read with article 248, Parliament retains residuary legislative power in respect of “any matter not enumerated” in any of the three lists.
  • Article 253 empowers Parliament to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing treaties, international agreements and conventions. It enables the Government of India to implement all international obligations and commitments. Following the commonwealth practice treaties are not required to be ratified by Parliament in India. They are, however, not self-executory. Parliamentary legislation is necessary for implementing the provisions of a treaty within the country. Parliament has passed many Acts to implement international treaties and conventions (including environment civil aviation etc.) but not in outer space activities.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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