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Insights Daily Current Events, 24 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 24 May 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

‘Adopting BS-VI norms will make diesel vehicles costlier’

According to a statement issued by ICRA Ratings, “Indian government’s decision to leapfrog the Bharat Stage (BS)-V Emission Standards and implement the BS-VI norms by April 2020, four years ahead of the earlier schedule, will make diesel vehicles costlier by Rs.70,000 to Rs.1,50,000.”

  • The diesel segment is likely to witness a sizeable price increase due to introduction of additional components. However, the cost of petrol passenger vehicles may increase by 20,000-30,000 per vehicle.   
  • Also, as diesel vehicles would require significant technology changes, the cost differential between petrol and diesel passenger vehicles would expand further.

Background:

In a bid to curb vehicular pollution, the government, in January 2016 decided to implement stricter emission norms of Bharat Stage (BS) VI from April 1, 2020 by skipping BS-V altogether.

  • At present, BS-IV auto fuels are being supplied in whole of northern India covering J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, parts of Rajasthan and western UP. The rest of the country has BS-III grade fuel.

BS-IV to BS-VI

 

What are BS norms?

Bharat Stage emission standards, introduced in 2000, are emission standards that have been set up by the Central government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

  • The different norms are brought into force in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
  • The Bharat Stage norms are based on European regulations. In 13 major cities, Bharat Stage IV emission standards were put in place in April 2010. BS-IV norms were supposed to come into effect nationwide from April 2017.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

States told to withdraw tobacco packs without 85 p.c. pictorial warning

 

The Centre has set May 31 deadline for the States and Union Territories to withdraw from the market tobacco products whose 85% packaging space is not covered with pictorial warning. It has also requested the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to take steps for strict enforcement of the new rules on pictorial warnings.

Background:

The Pictorial Warning Rules under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003 had come into force from April 1, 2016. It prescribed larger pictorial petitions, covering 85% of the size of the packets of tobacco products, including cigarettes and beedis.

The Supreme Court too, in May 2016, had directed all tobacco companies to implement the rule mandating 85% pictorial warnings on packets of tobacco products.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

GM seeds key to food security

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the use of genetically modified (GM) technology for seeds is important for improving agricultural productivity and food security.

  • He said 18 field trials, testing various kinds of GM seeds, were under way but the government would take a considered view on releasing genetically modified mustard.

Background:

GM mustard, likely to be the first food-related transgenic crop and developed as part of a research collaboration involving scientists at Delhi University, sits at an inflexion point with critics alleging that such technologies are unfit for human consumption and proponents arguing that such technology is critical for India’s future.

The Environment Ministry had also constituted a Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee comprising biotechnologists, ecologists and sociologists to take a call on GM mustard.

What is a GM crop?

gmo-infographic

A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

  • For example, a GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination.
  • The resulting plant is said to be “genetically modified” although in reality all crops have been “genetically modified” from their original wild state by domestication, selection, and controlled breeding over long periods of time.

Potential benefits of GM plants:

  • Higher crop yields.
  • Reduced farm costs.
  • Increased farm profit.
  • Improvement in health and the environment.

Potential risks:

  • The danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.
  • The likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into wild relatives.
  • The potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops.
  • The risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: pollution.

 

Diesel Cars Older Than 10 Years Can’t Run In Kerala, Rules Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) bench in Kerala’s Kochi district has ordered all diesel vehicles older than 10 years in six major cities of the state to be taken off the roads in the next 30 days. Six cities are- Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur.

  • Also, no new permits for vehicles with more than 2000 cc engine capacity except public transport will be given and violators will be fined Rs. 5000.

Implications of this order:

Estimates suggest that the NGT’s order could well paralyse the existing transport system but some say it is a step necessary to check increasing pollution levels. 40,000 heavy motor vehicles and 98000 light motor vehicles – the second category mostly owned by the common man – are likely to be affected by the new order.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

Members:

  • The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
  • Every bench of the tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews.
  • The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts. Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.

Other notable facts:

  • The Tribunal has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” (i.e. a community at large is affected, damage to public health at broader level) & “damage to environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution). However there is no specific method is defined in Law for determining “substantial” damage to environment, property or public health.
  • The powers of tribunal related to an award are equivalent to Civil court and tribunal may transmit any order/award to civil court have local jurisdiction.
  • Also Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as Forest (Conservation) Act, Biological Diversity Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts etc. and also have appellate jurisdiction related to above acts after establishment of Tribunal within a period of 30 days of award or order received by aggrieved party.
  • The NGT Act says that decision taken by majority of members shall be binding and every order of Tribunal shall be final. Any person aggrieved by an award, decision, or order of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days of commencement of award but Supreme Court can entertain appeal even after 90 days if appellant satisfied SC by giving sufficient reasons.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

  • U.S. President Barack Obama has lifted a decades-old arms export embargo on Vietnam during his first visit to the communist country. The removal of the ban on lethal weapons is part of deeper defense cooperation between the two countries. Arms sales ban was a product of the Cold War.

 

  • Kashmiri writers and poets are up in the arms. They say a proposal of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to introduce Devnagri as alternate script for Kashmiri language is dangerous and will divide the society. Presently Kashmiri is written in Nastaliq or Perso-Arabic script and has been approved by state legislative assembly six decades ago.

 

  • The Navy has commissioned INS Tarmugli, the highly manoeuvrable fast attack craft, at the Eastern Naval Command (ENC). It will be deployed for coastal patrol and surveillance operations along the eastern coast. INS Tarmugli is the first Follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC), built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE). The ship is an improved version of WJFAC, earlier constructed by GRSE. Named after an island in the Andaman group, the 320-tonne ship, measuring 48 metres can achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots.