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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (1st August)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. Cities At Crossroads: Managing the run-off

  • A hotly anticipated report on ‘How to Make Drainage Work in the National Capital Territory of Delhi’, prepared by Professor A K Gosain and his group from IIT Delhi, has recently been submitted to the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control of the administration of Delhi.

Why this report?

  • A typical pattern seems to be to by all accounts first utilize the open deplete as a junk dump and afterward, with the progression of time, clear the landfill, cover the deplete and utilize the territory to build a market, a transport warehouse or some other urban comfort — along these lines relinquishing the strength of the city. A considerable measure of wrongs that have been done should be fixed.
  • The report explains what is expected to guarantee that the drainage system in Delhi to work productively.
  • This is the season when Delhites endure surges and frequently don’t comprehend what to do and who to fault, in light of the fact that the various government authorities are caught up with pointing fingers at each other.

Contributors to the study:

  • People from municipal corporations, Public Works Department (PWD), Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

Geography of Delhi and its importance:

  • There are three noteworthy major drainage basins in the NCT of Delhi — Najafgarh, Barapullah and Trans-Yamuna bowls — and, there are 22 common seepage frameworks in these basins which outfall into the Yamuna some place amid its 46 km-go through Delhi. There are 201 sub-sections of the natural drains in these systems.
  • These “channels” are really the conduits that convey the run-offs from the plains to the waterway Yamuna and furthermore energize groundwater, other than supporting biodiversity.
  • Calling them natural drains that provide safe exit to storm water including floodwaters, understates their ecological significance.

Threat to these drains:

  • Huge numbers of these channel channels have been infringed and are vanishing: 19 out of the 201 characteristic channels specified can’t be followed today.
  • Of the rest, some are loaded with strong waste and, now and again, development debris; others convey sewage and thus work as sewers.

Detailed recommendations on how to make Delhi’s drainage work:

  • City directors need to assess the street framework in the city for design flaws that may be aggravating the waterlogging issues.
  • No infringement of any storm-water drain ought to be permitted.
  • Extraordinary drives must be led to expel existing infringements.
  • General society and the media should highlight infringements when they start, to keep their fulfilment.
  • No development ought to be permitted inside any storm water channels.
  • The sewerage system ought to be completely isolated from the waste system. Just storm water and regarded sewage of satisfactory quality according to the standards of the Central Pollution Control Board ought to be permitted in the storm water channels.
On account of a decision by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2015, the Delhi Jal Board has thought of a Master Plan for interceptor sewers to trap the sewage leaving unsewered and unapproved settlements, and to take the same to the closest sewer line as opposed to dumping it in the closest storm water deplete. They are attempting to actualize the arrangement by December 2018.

Be that as it may, in the zones which are associated with a sewerage organize, the DJB has, for a considerable length of time, been following a routine with regards to puncturing sewer lines and depleting sewage into storm water depletes in case of blockage. The suggestion of the IIT group is this must be unequivocally prohibited and the DJB should utilize other accessible hardware for de-stopping up the sewer lines.

 

  • No solid waste or refuse is to be dumped into stormwater channels.
The NGT Order of March 2014 on Yamuna restoration and a policy statement by the Delhi government in light of bearings from the High Court of Delhi, particularly forbid covering any regular stormwater deplete in the city.
  • No residue from the street (previously or after street clearing — manual or something else) ought to be permitted to be dumped into chime mouths that prompt drains in favour of the street.
  • No Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste ought to be permitted to be dumped into stormwater depletes and, further, that the measure of waste from a building site ought to be evaluated ahead of time and lifted by government-delegated temporary workers for dumping at C&D handling locales.
  • At long last, passages for secured channels must be given at a suitable separation with the goal that desilting of channels can be done frequently. The greater part of the secured depletes right now don’t approach for desilting.

Challenges involved in the implementation:

  • The issue emerges in light of the fact that there are numerous government departments involved, with overlapping responsibility and no clear accountability.
  • The stormwater channels are under the purview of the diverse Municipal Corporations, Public Works Department or the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, contingent upon their size. The sewerage organizes, then again, is the obligation of DJB.

Conclusion:

  • Regardless of whether there is a solitary organization mindful and responsible for seepage administration as prescribed by the report, plainly there is a critical requirement for solid co-appointment crosswise over offices and settling responsibility at each level.
  • We likewise require a component for open oversight and incite medicinal development.
  • At long last, as weights of urbanization prompt more concretisation in our urban communities, we have to work harder to revive our urban water bodies, utilize stops and green spaces for water reaping, and furthermore utilize bioswales to oversee and channel the tempest water spillover

2. Friends or Seoul-mates?

With the U.S. and China playing power politics, South Korea looks to India as a viable alternative partner, Mr. Moon launched a foreign initiative called New Southern Policy last year that he had decided to step up Seoul’s engagement with India and the ASEAN countries.

What lies behind Seoul’s reimagined diplomatic posture towards India?

  • In recent times, South Korea has been heavily impacted by power politics between the U.S. and China. The clash between the two countries over the deployment of the U.S. Thaad missile defence system in the Korean Peninsula set off an economic retaliation by China against South Korea, whose economy is highly dependent on the Chinese market.
  • The ongoing U.S.-China trade war has heightened uncertainty surrounding South Korea’s core economic interests. This has led to Seoul reassessing risks associated with economic turbulence stemming from Chinese policies, which is a threat to the national security of South Korea in some cases.
  • To escape the power politics in Northeast Asia, South Korean policymakers believe that Seoul should diversify its relations with other major powers in the region, including India which they see as a viable alternative partner.
  • It was pointed out by South Korea that the government wished to elevate relations with India to the same level as with other major powers in the world — namely, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

The multiple dimensions that could strengthen India-South Korea strategic ties are:

  • Working together on ensuring freedom of navigation,
  • Over flight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the Indo-Pacific region
  • South Korea backing India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, especially when New Delhi has faced sustained opposition from China
  • Both nations working with third countries on a tripartite basis for regional development, exemplified by plans for capacity-building programmes in Afghanistan.
  • Given the immense potential for cooperation to bring about real change that could benefit India, South Korea and the broader region, Mr. Moon’s visit signals a deepening of bilateral ties driven by mutual strategic interest.
  • India has asserted its place as a “stakeholder” in the Korean peace process, while South Korea has for the first time shown an interest in talking about an Indo-Pacific policy.
  • In the short term, a symbolic token towards shared interests will be seen in a joint “capacity-building” programme in Afghanistan.
  • At a time when U.S. foreign policy is capricious and unpredictable, and China’s is making purposeful moves towards global domination, it is important that the South Korea-India partnership grows and consolidates, to contribute to stability in the region.

3. A fundamental error

  • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology accepted the finalised result of the deliberations of an expert committee on data protection chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna.
  • Now there are two documents: a draft bill on personal data protection and the full report of the expert committee.
  • One Year ago on August 24, the nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court gave a unanimous affirmation of the right to privacy.
  • The court imposed upon the government a clear obligation to make a law safeguarding a person’s informational privacy, commonly referred to as data protection.
  • The right to privacy judgment noted that the Union government had tasked a committee headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna to formulate such a law in July last year.
  • This committee has produced a set of recommendations that includes a draft law titled the “The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018”.

Issue areas in the Report

  • Despite being formed within the ambit of, and even being bound by, the Right to Privacy judgment, the recommendations undermine the legal principles and also re-interprets them.
  • Any bill, or other legislative recommendations, should ideally go through pre-legislative consultation as per the 2015 Pre-legislative Consultation Policy, followed by Union Cabinet review before being submitted to Parliament.
  • Srikrishna Committee’s end product is worth deeper review. Both documents are worth detailed review, particularly given that there are things written in the report which have not been included in the draft data protection bill.
  • The expert committee appears to make no mention of the history and previous work of earlier attempts to create privacy and data protection frameworks in India.
  • There appears to be no formal referencing to :
    • The recommendations issued in 2012 by the Justice AP Shah chaired expert committee on privacy to the erstwhile Planning Commission
    • The 2010 approach paper on a privacy law for India published by the Department of Personnel and Training or the draft Privacy Bill developed by them interdepartmentally across 2011-15 for the Union Government.
  • The bulk of the Srikrishna Committee report is on specifying the extent of a legal framework for data protection in India, how it can be claimed, a regulatory structure in the form of a Data Protection Authority, and the several exceptions it suggests to these rules in certain cases.

Structure of Data Protection

  • The education, policy setting, investigation, enforcement, and adjudication functions for data protection are nearly all provided to one single national regulatory agency , the Data Protection Authority of India.
  • Established by the Central Government, the DPA would be managed by a Chairperson and six members, selected by a committee composed of the Chief Justice or another Supreme Court Justice nominated by him, the Cabinet Secretary, and one “expert of repute” appointed by the judicial member of the committee in consultation with the Cabinet Secretary.

Some controversial areas of the Report

  1. Judicial members left out
  • There is no requirement in either the report or the draft bill of judicial members. This is in violation of existing Indian case law from the High Courts and Supreme Courts on the functioning of tribunals,
  • This would also likely in conflict with the Puttaswamy ruling, since in that judgment indicated that making decisions on intrusion into privacy is one that involves a judicial role.
  1. Surveillance and Communications
  • The draft bill does not propose any specific measures to more directly consolidate or update Indian law regarding surveillance and communications interception by law enforcement and intelligence organisations.
  • The expert committee report is interesting in this regard, because it acknowledges that post the Puttaswamy ruling, many existing practices and legal measures regarding surveillance in India may not match the constitutional tests outlined by the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The expert committee even lists the Telegraph Act, Telegraph Rules, Information Technology Act, and several criminal procedure related statutes as likely needed changes.
  1. On Aadhaar
  • The expert committee report did chose to provide detailed recommendations on Aadhaar.
  • Its section on Aadhaar acknowledges that several existing provisions of the Aadhaar Act required fixes and reform, ranging from legal recognition of virtual tokenised IDs in place of Aadhaar numbers to drastically reducing the legality of online authentication of Aadhaar by private players and others.

Two key points of Supreme Court Judgment

  • First, it expressly stated the primacy of the individual as the beneficiary of fundamental rights.
  • Second, it rejected the argument that the right to privacy dissolves in the face of collective notions of economic development.
  • The priorities of the Srikrishna committee stray from these two basic points.
  • Its report, titled “A Free and Fair Digital Economy: Protecting Privacy, Empowering Indians”, keeps to the apparent pecking order that its title signals: the common good and the economy come first and individuals second.

How the Report varies from Supreme Court judgement?

  • In justifying this framework, the report runs into tremendous difficulties as it attempts to put together a regulatory agenda that reconciles the expansion of the digital economy and state control with the principles of the right to privacy judgment.
  • These difficulties reveal themselves in a misunderstanding of the fundamentals of constitutional law.
  • The trouble begins with the report’s conception of the state. The state’s purpose under the Constitution, says the report, is “based on two planks”.
  • First and foremost, “the state is a facilitator of human progress” and is “commanded” by the Directive Principles of State Policy “to serve the common good”.
  • Here, Fundamental Rights, which help protect against a state “prone to excess”, come “second”.
  • This ignores the very structure of the Constitution in which the chapter guaranteeing enforceable Fundamental Rights stands on its own, preceding the one setting out unenforceable Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • In doing so, the report attempts to open the right to privacy to allow the state the most convenient means by which to realise its regulatory agenda.
  • Enabling the government’s convenience is not an objective laid out by the right to privacy judgment. Constitutional guarantees of rights do not automatically bend even to the pursuit of constitutionally legitimate aims.
  • Instead, a rigorous three-part test set out in the right to privacy judgment makes clear that it is for the government to measure and justify its actions at every point that it seeks to make inroads into our privacy.
  • To justify its priorities, the report proceeds on the premise that upends the historical consensus of what Constitutions and rights exist to do: protect every citizen of the republic against incursions into the vast repository of freedoms that exist naturally.
  • The report says that “to see the individual as an atomised unit, standing apart from the collective, neither flows from our constitutional framework nor accurately grasps the true nature of rights litigations.
  • Rights (of which the right to privacy is an example) are not deontological categories that protect interests of atomised individuals.”
  • Then, it proceeds to conclude, “Thus the construction of a right itself is not because it translates into an individual good, be it autonomy, speech, etc. but because such good creates a collective culture where certain reasons for state action are unacceptable.”
  • To the report’s view that the individual ought not to be the spotlighted while making a law, the right to privacy judgment is in stark contrast.
  • In Justice S.A. Bobde’s words, “Constitutions like our own are means by which individuals – the Preambular ‘people of India’ – create ‘the state’, a new entity to serve their interests and be accountable to them.”
  • Moreover, in Justice Chandrachud’s words: “The individual is the focal point of the Constitution because it is in the realisation of individual rights that the collective well being of the community is determined.”
  • In stating that rights are not things which are essential in themselves is an unacceptable position to take under our Constitution.
  • In fact, in the right to privacy judgment, Justice J. Chelameswar approves of the principle that liberty — which is the family to which the right to privacy belongs — is valuable in a democracy not only as a means but as an end in itself.

 

  • This is why the right to privacy judgment was celebrated last year. It signified hope that things could get better, that values of freedom, autonomy and dignity would be realised.
  • However, the Srikrishna Report shows that the danger to a high constitutional principle may more often be that it is disregarded, rather than that it is disobeyed.
  • By re-framing and re-interpreting the right to privacy, the report entrenches the positions of the two entities which already wield the most power over ordinary Indians: corporations and the government.

4. Improving state finances by reducing power losses

  1. Numbers indicate that agricultural users across the country pay only one-fourth the price for the power they consume compared to other users.
  2. India’s total energy losses came to 24% in 2015-16, significantly more than international norms.
  3. This, however, is an improvement on 2003-04 when the losses were 38%. Progress was made because of national- and state-level reforms.

Shortcomings of the state discoms

  1. Inadequate and poor-quality power supply means frequent interruptions, poor voltage levels, and dissatisfied consumers across much of the country.
  2. Other losses includes those due to energy dissipated in conductors, transformers and other equipment, along with pilferage by those who bypass meters, and losses from failure to recover the amount billed to consumers,.

India Consensus project

  1. It is commissioned by Tata Trusts and the Copenhagen Consensus for the India Consensus project to look at state-level solutions for Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  2. They unite academic research, employing cost-benefit analysis, with sector expert input, broad and inclusive stakeholder engagement, and extensive policy outreach to evaluate and prioritize the smartest interventions.
  3. The researchers looking at power distribution found the agriculture sector, one of the most inefficient electricity users.

Crippled Policy Measures

  1. In the 1960s, the rural electrification programme was introduced to enhance agricultural output using groundwater for irrigation.
  2. Due to un-metered supply and the flat-rate electricity tariff provided for irrigation, the number of pump sets increased substantially and unregulated and free water has contributed to over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  3. Subsidized power intended to benefit farmers allowed problems such as pilferage and theft, and disguised losses from the utilities, which degraded their finances.

What incurred such heavy loss?

  1. One of the major reasons for the high losses was the adoption of a low tension (LT) distribution network spread over long distances to serve dispersed, small, individual agriculture connections.
  2. This resulted not only in high technical losses, but also in theft facilitated by un-metered supply and the flat tariff.
  3. This has adversely affected farmers by making the supply and quality of power unpredictable and by providing it mainly during the night hours.
  4. This resulted in frequent failure of pump sets, forcing farmers to use inefficient motors, and keep the pump sets constantly on, wasting energy and causing overexploitation of groundwater.
  5. This is a vicious cycle in which farmers, distribution companies and state governments alike face ever-increasing losses.

Solutions over Distribution Losses

The researchers propose two solutions.

(A) The first is to introduce a high-voltage distribution system (HVDS), by upgrading the network and replacing transformers.

  • Andhra Pradesh (AP), which has already made a strong start on conversion of its LT network to HVDS, managing to reduce losses to 12%, has demonstrated that this approach works.
  • The biggest saving would come from the fact that pump sets wouldn’t fail so often.
  • Factoring in carbon savings, it will also benefit energy savings and the reduction in transformer failure.

(B)  The second solution proposed by the researchers—replacing inefficient pump sets with energy efficient ones—further enhances the return on investment.

  • We would need not only the high-voltage distribution system to be set up, but also to replace all existing pumps.
  • Yet, the total benefits would grow even more, allowing each rupee to generate ₹3 of social benefits through lower pump breakage along with energy savings and carbon savings.
  • These interventions will enable reduction in the subsidy by governments for irrigation amounting to at least ₹3,000 crore in AP and about ₹7,000 crore in Rajasthan, which could be redirected to other spending.

Way Forward

  1. This study project highlights the lasting challenges that can result from well-meaning decisions such as the low-tension distribution network.
  2. Two pronged strategy needs to be envisaged to counter losses incurred by discoms which are already under revitalisation.
  3. And on the other hand, losses incurred in agriculture needs to be curbed with the help of above mentioned strategies.

5. Rajasthan first State to implement biofuel policy

With emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds

  1. Rajasthan has become the first State in the country to implement the national policy on biofuels unveiled by the Centre in May this year.
  2. It will lay emphasis on increasing production of oilseeds and establish a Centre for Excellence in Udaipur to promote research in the fields of alternative fuels and energy resources.
  3. A biodiesel plant of the capacity of 8 tonnes a day has already been installed in the State with the financial assistance of the Indian Railways.
  4. The State government would promote marketing of biofuels and generate awareness about them.
  5. The Minister said the State Rural Livelihood Development Council would also encourage women’s self help groups to explore the scope for additional income through the supply of biodiesel.

National Biofuels Policy, 2018

  1. The Union Cabinet approved a national policy on biofuels that seeks to not only help farmers dispose of their surplus stock in an economic manner but also reduce India’s oil-import dependence.
  2. The policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing the use of sugarcane juice, sugar-containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch-containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes that are unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  3. The policy also provides for a viability gap funding scheme of ₹5,000 crore in six years for second generation (more advanced) ethanol bio-refineries in addition to tax incentives and a higher purchase price as compared to first-generation biofuels.
  4. Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase.
  5. Taking this into account, the policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

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