Current Affairs Current Affairs - 14 November 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 14 November 2018

General Affairs 

ISRO's 'Geo-Eye' To Monitor India, Offer Web Access To Remote Locations
  • The countdown for the lift off of India's heaviest rocket, referred to as Baahubali, has begun at Sriharikota, India's rocket port in Andhra Pradesh on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
    And if cyclone Gaja does not play spoilsport, Indian space agency ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) - on its second developmental flight - will haul the sophisticated communications satellite GSAT-29 into space tomorrow morning.

    The countdown began at 2:50 pm today; the launch is scheduled for 5:08 pm tomorrow. This will be the 67th launch from Sriharikota and the GSAT-29 is the 33rd communications satellite made by India.

    The advanced communications satellite weighs 3,423 kg and will help provide internet connectivity, especially to remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir and North-eastern India, says ISRO chairman K Sivan.

    This experimental satellite carries on-board 'a unique high-resolution camera - a so called 'GEO-EYE' to specifically aid the strategic community by tracking enemy ships in the Indian Ocean.

    Air Marshall (retd) KK Nohwar, former Vice-Chief of the Indian Air Force and the current Director General Center for Air Power Studies, New Delhi, says "This is very welcome and necessary development by ISRO."

    Mr Nowhar added, "This 'Geo-Eye' will be of significant strategic if not tactical importance."

    The satellite also carries a unique laser based optical communication that ISRO is testing for the first time.

    GSAT-29 is the 33rd communications satellite made by India

    The GSLV Mk- III weighs 641 tons, which is equal to the weight of five fully loaded passenger planes. At 43 meters tall, it is higher than a 13-story building. Interestingly, while it is the heaviest among India's operational launch vehicle, it is also the shortest.

    It has taken 15 years to make the new rocket and each launch is expected to cost upwards of Rs. 300 crores.

    "If this launch succeeds then India's Baahubali or the GSLV Mk-III will be declared operational," Mr Sivan added.

    Further, the GSLV Mk-III will be used to launch India's Chandrayaan-2 early next year and Gaganyaan before 2022.

    The GSLV Mk-III uses an Indian cryogenic engine that has been made in India and uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants. The rocket is capable of launching 4-ton class of communication satellites, pushing India into the big boys space club. 

Railways Asks 75 Stations To Install 100-Feet Tall National Flags
  • The Indian Railways has decided to install at least 100-feet tall national flags on the premises of 75 of the busiest stations in the country, including seven in Mumbai, by the end of this year.
    The Railway Board issued the order on October 22, which has been forwarded to all the zonal railways.

    The authorities concerned have been asked to complete the flag installation work by the end of December.

    The order issued by Vivek Saxena, Railway Board executive director (station development), says, "The Board has decided to provide monumental flag (of at least 100-ft height) at all the erstwhile 'A1' class railway stations. The work should be completed by December 2018."

    The cost of the work will be charged under umbrella work of 'Soft upgrades improvement at stations', it said.

    "The flag should be provided in circulating areas of the stations and at a suitable place. It should be provided with focused lights. The security and safety of the flag shall rest with Railway Protection Force (RPF)," the order said.

    A senior official said they have received the communication and places to install the flags are being identified.

    Chief spokesperson of the Western Railway Ravinder Bhakar said, "The Railway Board's order will be followed in letter and spirit and our team will do our best to complete the installation work within the deadline."

    Passenger representatives, however, expressed reservations over the move.

    Ratan Poddar, a member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee panel, said: "The priority of the Railways should be upgrading the passenger amenities and installation of flags is certainly not related to that. I don't think mere installation of flags will instill a sense of patriotism in people." 

Milk In India "Largely Safe", Quality Issue Remains: Food Security Body
  • Milk in India is largely safe, even though quality issues persist, an interim report released by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said today.
    The report of the National Milk Quality Survey, 2018, FSSAI said is by far the largest systematic study of milk, both in terms of sample size (6,432 samples) and number of parameters.

    The study found that little less than 10 per cent samples (638) had contaminants (mainly from poor farm practices and quality of feed) that make milk unsafe for consumption, while over 90 per cent of samples were found safe, said FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal while releasing the interim survey.

    "Milk in India is largely free from adulterants which render it unsafe for consumption. Merely 12 out of total 6,432 samples had adulterants that affect the safety of milk," he said.

    The occurrence of such adulterants is statistically insignificant considering the sample size in the survey, he added.

    The survey tested for 13 adulterants including vegetable oil, detergents, glucose, urea and ammonium sulphate.

    Milk samples were also tested to check level of contaminants like antibiotic residue, pesticide residue and aflatoxin M1.

    The FSSAI official, however, did not specify which part of the country the samples containing adulterants were from.

    He said the findings will be shared with stakeholders and state governments, and then preventive and corrective action would be taken to further improve the quality of milk in the country.

    Mr Agarwal said there is "no concern" at all due to pesticides residues. Only 1.2 per cent of the samples failed on account of antibiotics residues above tolerance level and it was mainly due to oxy-tetracycline used to treat animals with bovine mastitis.

    The survey found that non-compliance on fat and SNF (solid non fat) quality parameters is higher in raw milk (sourced directly from milkman) than in processed milk.

    "Non-compliance on quality parameters in processed milk is quite large, even though it is lower than raw milk. This is a matter of concern and needs to be addressed through various measures," Mr Agarwal said.

    He, however, added that high percentage of non-compliance samples does not suggest that proportionate volume of processed milk is non-compliant.

    He said that the survey provides solid baseline data and a robust framework for continuous monitoring of safety and quality of milk.

    "Whereas there should be zero-tolerance to adulteration in milk, concerns of quality due to contaminants need to be addressed over a period of time by taking large scale awareness drive and public education," he said.

    In 2011, FSSAI had conducted a quick survey of adulteration of milk through its regional offices. Another milk survey was attempted in 2016 through state food authorities.

    Mr Agarwal said that the 2011 survey suffered from several drawbacks. It was based on 1,791 samples and focused mainly on quality parameters rather than safety concerns. Only qualitative analysis was done and the survey did not include parameters related to contaminants.

    The 'National Milk Quality Survey, 2018' panned 29 states, 7 union territories and 1,100 towns. A population of over 50,000 was covered. It was conducted over about six months (May-October).

    Only about 20 per cent of the milk sold in the country is processed milk.

    Of the total 6,432, 41 per cent samples were from processed milk.

    The milk was tested for residues of 18 pesticides in the survey, and only in one case, the pesticide level exceeded the minimum residue level permitted by FSSAI.

    Also, ammonium sulphate was detected in 195 or 3 per cent of the samples. Currently, FSSAI regulations do not prescribe any limits for ammonium sulphate in milk.

Faizabad Renamed To "Ayodhya", Says UP Minister After Cabinet Meeting
  •  Faizabad will now be called Ayodhya, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna said today after an Uttar Pradesh cabinet meeting approved the renaming.
    Earlier, Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj, which was also approved by the cabinet meeting.

    The state cabinet meeting was presided over by chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

    Yogi Adityanath had announced days ago that the historic Uttar Pradesh city would become "Prayagraj" as it was what people "wished".

    Prayagraj division will comprise Prayagraj, Kaushambi, Fatehpur and Pratapgarh districts, while Ayodhya division will include Ayodhya, Ambedkarnagar, Sultanpur, Amethi and Barabanki districts, Mr Khanna said.

    The decision came a day after the Allahabad High Court asked the Centre and the state government to file counter affidavits within a week on a petition challenging the decision to rename Allahabad as Prayagraj.

    The renaming spree has had mixed reactions; the opposition has criticised the move. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav blamed the chief minister for taking credit by just renaming cities.

    The Congress, too, had hit out at the rechristening of Allahabad, with a party leader saying that changing the name of the historic city to 'Prayagraj' is an attempt to toy with the history of the nation.

    The ruling BJP has, however, justified the name changes across Uttar Pradesh, saying they are merely restoring older names and correcting historical distortions.

    Prayag was the original name of Allahabad, one of the oldest cities of UP. It was named "Illahabad" or "abode of God" by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1575.

    The UP government has also renamed the Mughalsarai Railway station, another historic spot, to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.

Kashmir Jawans In Forward Posts To Get Anti-Mine Boots, Says Top Officer
  • The Army has procured special anti-mine boots for troops deployed along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir with twin aims of facilitating domination of the landmine-infested forward areas and hot pursuit of terrorists if necessary, a top Army officer said.
    As part of the counter-infiltration grid, the soldiers have to get into forward areas for domination and some times even undertake hot pursuit of the terrorists and subversive elements, General Officer Commanding of the Army's Jammu-based XVI Corps Lt. General Paramjit Singh told PTI in an interview on Sunday.

    "We have purchased equipment such as anti-mine boots and deep search metal detectors out of the special funds to facilitate these operations and at the same time ensure the safety of our soldiers," he said.

    He said the forward areas along the LoC under XVI Corps -- a length of nearly 250 kilometres of rugged terrain and dense bushes -- have inherent landmine dangers but all preparations, including safety precautions, have been taken for carrying out the operations.

    "Some of the mines, laid as part of the counter-infiltration measures, drift from their original place due to rain and snowfall. Sometimes accidents happen," he said.

    He was replying to a question about activation of landmines near the anti-infiltration obstacle system and subsequent casualties in which a Lt. Colonel and a jawan were injured on October 28.

    Referring to recent incidents of two soldiers, including an officer, getting injured in anti-personnel mine blasts, Lt. Gen Singh said in both the cases, they had stepped on drifted mines.

    "Fortunately, they were wearing the anti-mine boots which limited the damage to their feet and the limbs were saved," he added.

    The Corps commander said the Army envisages that the terrorists will attempt to infiltrate into the state even after the snowfall this winter through non-traditional routes and areas.

    "We are prepared to take on this challenge. Contingencies have been prepared and coordination done while some more steps are in progress. Police and civil administrations are seriously addressing surveillance and control of highways," he added.

    Lt. Gen Singh said a robust anti-infiltration grid was in place as troops equipped with latest gadgets such as night vision devices are deployed to ensure that the ultras do not reach the hinterland.

    "The deployment of Army and other sister agencies is in tiers. Even if the terrorists manage to get past the first tier, they are trapped in the depth," he said.

Business Affairs

Tata Sons conducts due diligence to buy controlling stake in Jet Airways: Report
  • Jet Airways, which reported its third consecutive quarterly losses for the quarter ending September, appears to not have scared away its suitor, the Tata Group. Last Monday, shares of the cash-strapped airline had soared 9.5% on reports of initiation of a second round of talks with the salt to software conglomerate for a deal.

    The latest buzz is that the Tata Group has started its due diligence process in order to pick up a controlling stake in the airline. "An in-house team of Tata Sons is currently conducting due diligence on Jet Airways, which is expected to continue for the next few weeks," a source directly aware of the development told Mint, adding that the conglomerate is also keen to acquire Jet's stake in its loyalty programme, Jet Privilege. Saurabh Agarwal, chief financial officer of Tata Sons Ltd, is leading the discussions while Jet Airways is represented by its chairman Naresh Goyal.

    The daily had previously reported that Goyal had approached potential investors, including the Tata Group, Reliance Industries' chairman Mukesh Ambani and international airlines, late last month for a stake sale. The Tata Group had shown interest, but the deal was contingent on Goyal relinquishing operational control.

    "Things have moved at a fast pace since then and Goyal has in principle agreed to cede control to Tatas, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions," said another source. "Such a condition includes how much premium the Tata Group is willing to pay for Goyal to give up control and whether he [Goyal] will continue in some capacity if the talks are successful."

    The stake purchase, if it goes through, is expected to make Tata Group the second biggest airline operator in the country after IndiGo in terms of market share, and third-largest in terms of fleet size. The Group already owns substantial stake in two carriers - 51% in Vistara and 49% in AirAsia India. With Jet under its fold, the Tata Group-owned airlines would have a combined market share of 23.6%, up from 8.2% as of September, as compared to 43.2% for IndiGo.

    However, last week, when asked to clarify news reports of a second round of talks with the Tatas, Jet Airways had informed the exchanges that the news was "speculative in nature". It had added that "there was no discussion or decision in the Board which would require a disclosure" under SEBI norms. The exchange has sought a clarification on the latest buzz about the ongoing due diligence, too, but a response is still awaited.

Stunned by uncorroborated allegations; challenging times for family, says Binny Bansal
  • Binny Bansal, who has quit as Flipkart Group CEO over the allegations of serious personal misconduct, has said that he is stunned by uncorroborated allegations levelled against him, and that these have been challenging times for him and his family. Here's the full text of his final letter to the Flipkart employees after his resignation.

    Since co-founding Flipkart with modest resources in 2007, the journey we have embarked on together has been arduous and rewarding, culminating with the fantastic news of our partnership with Walmart earlier this year. They have been great partners and I am optimistic about our future together.

    For some time, I have been mulling over the right time to step away from an operating role at Flipkart Group. My plan was to continue in my current role for a few more quarters to continue the transition after closing the deal with Walmart. However, my decision to step down has been accelerated by certain personal events that have taken place in the recent past.

    These events relate to a claim of serious personal misconduct made against me, which was uncorroborated after a thorough investigation completed by an independent law firm. The allegations left me stunned and I strongly deny them.

    The investigation, however, did bring to light lapses in judgment, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how I responded to the situation. These have been challenging times for my family and me. I am concerned that this may become a distraction for the company and the team. In light of these circumstances, I feel it is best to step away as Chairman and Group CEO.

    I will continue to be a large shareholder in the company and will continue to serve as a member of the Board of Directors. I am convinced that the company is in great hands with our experienced leaders - Kalyan, Ananth and Sameer. They have done an exceptional job running the businesses for many years now and with the support of Walmart that I have experienced, will continue to lead the company to even greater successes in the future.

    Thank you for all the goodwill that you've shown towards me over the years.

    I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to help get us to where we are today. I look forward to seeing Flipkart scale greater heights in the coming years.

Apollo Tyres promoters Neeraj Kanwar, Onkar S Kanwar to take 30% cut in compensation
  • After the Board of Directors of Apollo Tyres Ltd approved Ernst & Young's report on benchmarking its managing directors' compensation structures, its promoters, Neeraj Kanwar and Onkar S Kanwar, have agreed to take around 30 per cent cut in their overall compensation for FY19. The E&Y report has also suggested some changes in promoter compensation, performance-based remuneration and annual increments to the company's Nominations & Remuneration Committee (NRC), and these proposals have been approved by the company board.

    "Following on from its last meeting on October 1, where the matter of re-appointment of Neeraj Kanwar as Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the company was discussed, the Nominations & Remuneration Committee (NRC) of the Board of Directors of Apollo Tyres Ltd. engaged with a range of institutional shareholders to take their views into consideration, and commissioned an independent report from Ernst & Young (EY) to benchmark Managing Directors' compensation structures and amounts," Apollo Tyres said in a statement.

    After consultation, the NRC has proposed to renew Neeraj Kanwar's compensation package from May 2019. "The revised proposal would result in a reduction of approximately 30 per cent in overall compensation for both the promoters, Neeraj Kanwar and Onkar S Kanwar," said the company.

    The company also said that both Onkar and Neeraj have voluntarily agreed to reduce their compensation for FY19 with immediate effect to fall in line with the new recommendations.

    Meanwhile, there are three substantive changes that the board now recommends to shareholders for approval.

    A cap on total promoter compensation is set at 7.5 per cent of Profit Before Tax (PBT)
    Performance-based remuneration will be targeted at approximately 70 per cent of the total compensation
    Annual increments for the fixed portion of promoter compensation will be in line with that of the senior professionals of the company
    The NRC has also said the proposed cap of 7.5 of Profit Before Tax be further reduced over a period of time. The committee proposed these changes after taking into account the feedback received from institutional shareholders. It said these proposals are in line with the independent external bench-marking study.

    Neeraj Kanwar earned an annual compensation of Rs 42.8 crore in 2017, a 43 per cent hike over his take-home of Rs 30 crore in 2016. For the financial year 2017-18, the combined annual compensation of Onkar Singh Kanwar and his son Neeraj Kanwar stood at Rs 87.74 crore, a little less than a 10 per cent of the consolidated net profit for the year. The maximum salary cap for the promoters in 2017-18 stood at Rs 99.18 crore.

Govt masterstroke! 14 mega employment zones expected to create 10 million jobs
  • The Modi government has long been criticised for jobless growth, especially after making it a key electoral promise back in 2014. But it hopes to address the issue with its ambitious plans for 14 mega national employment zones, which has finally moved a step forward.

    The project appraisal and management division of think tank NITI Aayog has given its go-ahead to the Rs 1 lakh crore proposal of the shipping ministry that is expected to provide direct and indirect jobs to one crore youth over the next five years, The Economic Times reported. The proposal envisages setting up 14 national employment zones in the coastal states under the special purpose vehicle route, and is expected to be rolled out ahead of general elections next year, when employment generation is sure to emerge as a key issue.

    The project will now be taken up by the Cabinet for consideration, following which bids will be invited from manufacturers to set up bases in the one-of-its-kind mega zones.

    The employment zones will reportedly enjoy fiscal and non-fiscal incentives like tax holidays, capital subsidy and single-window clearance among others, linked directly to the number of jobs created by firms willing to set up manufacturing bases in these zones.

    "These zones will have 35 industrial clusters across sectors like food, cement, furniture and electronics besides traditional labour intensive sectors like garments, leather and gems and jewellery," a source told the daily previously.

    As per initial estimates, setting up the requisite infrastructure in these zones would require an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore, which will be shared by the Centre and states. In addition, the identified coastal states will reportedly provide at least 2,000 acres of contiguous land for setting up the employment zones. Going forward, India may also seek funding from multilateral agencies for this massive project since the zones are expected to attract an investment of up to Rs 4 lakh crore.

    The 14 proposed sites include Kachchh and Suryapur in Gujarat, Malabar in Kerala, Dakshin Kanara in Karnataka, Kalinga in Odisha, Gaud in West Bengal, and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu.

    An important advantage of locating the zones near the coast is that they are likely to attract large firms interested in serving the export markets. Granting infrastructure status to these employment zones will further help companies flocking in get long-term easy finance, including cheaper foreign currency funding, to set up bases and expand their operations.

    In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in February, Union Minister of State for Shipping and Finance Pon. Radhakrishnan, had said that 14 Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) had been identified as part of the National Perspective Plan under the Sagarmala Programme. The idea was to promote port-led industrialisation, thereby giving a boost to the Make in India initiative. Incidentally, a significant improvement in the parameters of 'trading across borders' under the government's Sagarmala programme helped India take a huge leap of 23 ranks in the World Bank's latest 'Ease of Doing Business' report, climbing the charts to the 77th spot.

Sensex rebounds 332 points as energy, banking stocks rally
  • The equity benchmark Sensex Tuesday recouped nearly 332 points following robust buying in energy, infra and banking stocks amid easing crude oil prices and strong recovery in the rupee. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty jumped over 100 points to cross the key 10,500 level.

    However, most Asian markets ended lower after a rout in tech stocks, tracking a hefty sell-off on Wall Street, while the dollar hit a 16-month peak on safe haven bets amid China-US trade war worries.

    Concerns about a slowdown in China and the Asian region due to US tariffs on Chinese goods spooked investors, sparking the largest monthly foreign fund outflows from Asia last month since August 2011.

    However, investor sentiments in domestic markets remained upbeat due to fresh foreign fund inflows and the rupee gains.

    The domestic currency on Tuesday staged a strong comeback by strengthening 37 paise to 72.52 (intra-day) against the American currency.

    Besides, the global benchmark Brent crude trading 0.98 per cent lower at USD 69.43 per barrel helped ease concerns on the country's current account deficit front.

    "Despite volatility in global markets, Nifty gained nearly 1 per cent supported by sharp fall in oil prices. Softening of CPI inflation to 3.31 per cent, India's stable industrial production and gains in INR added to the positives. Decline in oil prices below USD 70/barrel is likely to invoke positive sentiments for domestic market in the near term," Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services, said.

    The BSE 30-share Sensex after resuming a tad higher at 34,846.90 quickly slipped into the negative zone to touch a low of 34,672.20, largely in sync with global sell-off.

    However, hectic buying in late afternoon trade reversed the day's losses and helped the Sensex hit a high of 35,185.17 before settling 331.50 points, or 0.95 per cent, higher at 35,144.49.

    The gauge had lost 425 points in the previous two sessions.

    The broader NSE Nifty after shuttling between 10,451.90 and 10,595.75 finally concluded 100.30 points, or 0.96 per cent, higher at 10,582.50.

    Domestic market sentiments were upbeat about the fall in consumer inflation data for October.

    Retail inflation fell to a one-year low of 3.31 per cent in October on the back of cheaper kitchen staples, fruits and protein-rich items, official data released Monday showed.

    Industrial production, however, grew at the slowest pace in four months at 4.5 per cent in September.

    On a net basis, Foreign institutional Investors (FIIs) bought shares worth Rs 832.15 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold shares of Rs 1,073.84 crore Monday, provisional data showed.

    Among the Sensex constituents, ICICI Bank emerged as the best performer, surging by 2.44 per cent, followed by NTPC at 2.36 per cent.

    Shares of Coal India, the country's largest miner, climbed 0.51 per cent after it posted an over eight-fold rise in consolidated net profit to Rs 3,085 crore for the quarter to September 2018.

    Other big gainers were Axis Bank 2.05 per cent, RIL 1.93 per cent, L&T 1.77 per cent, HDFC Ltd 1.62 per cent, Adani Ports 1.49 per cent, M&M 1.39 per cent, Yes Bank 1.28 per cent, Hero MotoCorp 1.27 per cent, Vedanta 1.18 per cent, ITC Ltd 1.11 per cent, HUL 1.11 per cent, Tata Steel 1.07 per cent, TCS 1.04 per cent, Maruti Suzuki 1.02 per cent, Asian Paint 0.73 per cent, Bharti Airtel 0.71 per cent and Wipro 0.69 per cent.

    Kotak Bank, Bajaj Auto, ONGC, HDFC Bank, Bharti Airtel, Infosys and SBI too ended higher with gains up to 0.61 per cent.

    Tata Motors, PowerGrid and IndusInd Bank also retreated up to 3.31 per cent.

    Shares of oil marketing companies and aviation operators were back in better shape after the global benchmark Brent crude slipped below the the USD 70-mark.

    State-run IOC, BPCL and HPCL recorded gains up to 4.47 per cent.

    In the aviation space, shares of Jet Airways and Interglobe gained up to 5.21 per cent.

    In sector terms, the BSE energy index surged the most by gaining 1.80 per cent, followed by infrastructure 1.37 per cent, capital goods 1.25 per cent, bankex 1.01 per cent, auto 0.93 per cent, metal 0.77 per cent, PSU 0.75 per cent, power 0.75 per cent, FMCG 0.72 per cent, IT 0.39 per cent and teck 0.37 per cent.

    Healthcare and realty sectoral indices ended in the red, falling up to 0.81 per cent.

    Towards the broader market, the small-cap and mid-cap indices ended higher by 0.50 per cent and 0.46 per cent respectively.

    In Asian, Japan's Nikkei plugned 2.06 per cent, Korea's KOSPI fell 0.44 per cent and Taiwan Index fell 0.56 per cent. Hang Seng, however, rose 0.25 per cent while Shanghai Composite Index advanced0.93 per cent.

    Key indices in european markets such as Paris CAC 40 was up 0.49 per cent, while Frankfurt's DAX gained 0.51 per cent in their late morning deals. London's FTSE too rose 0.34 per cent.

General Awareness

    National Green Tribunal (NGT)
    • What to study?

      For Prelims: All about NGT.
      For Mains: Pollution in Delhi, how staple burning is related to this event?, what needs to be done now?

      Context: Stating that State governments had failed to curb stubble burning, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to draw up a plan to provide economic incentives and disincentives to farmers.

      What’s the issue?

      Stubble burning is adversely affecting environment and public health. The problem has not been fully tackled and the adverse impacts on the air quality and consequent impacts on the citizens’ health and lives are undisputed.

      What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?

      The problem is required to be resolved by taking all such measures as are possible in the interest of public health and environment protection.
      Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice.
      The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue.
      Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has also been directed to be present to “find a lasting solution.”
      The Central government should convene a meeting with the States.

      About the National Green Tribunal (NGT):

      What is it? NGT 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.

      Ambit: The tribunal deals with matters relating to the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.


      Sanctioned strength: currently, 10 expert members and 10 judicial members (although the act allows for up to 20 of each).
      Chairman: is the administrative head of the tribunal, also serves as a judicial member and is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
      Selection: 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 facts:

      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.
      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.

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