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August 6, 2019
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August 8, 2019
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07 August Current Affairs

Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Bill, 2019

In News:

Lok Sabha today passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019.

About: 

Definition: The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.

Prohibition against discrimination: It prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, healthcare, access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public.

Right of residence: Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.

Employment: No government or private entity can discriminate against a transgender person in employment matters, including recruitment, and promotion.

Education: Educational institutions funded or recognised by the relevant government shall provide inclusive facilities for transgender persons, without discrimination.

Health care: The government must provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.

Certificate of identity for a transgender person: A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.

Offences and penalties: The Bill imposes penalties for the offences against transgender persons like bonded labour, denial of use of public places, removal from household & village and physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.

National Council for Transgender persons (NCT): The NCT chaired by Union Minister for Social Justice, will advise the central government as well as monitor the impact of policies with respect to transgender persons. It will also redress the grievances of transgender persons.

Arctic Wildfires

In News:

Wildfires ravaging parts of the Arctic are threatening to accelerate the melting of ice and permafrost – the permanently frozen ground layer – releasing greenhouse gases stored for thousands of years.

About:

Although wildfires are frequent in the northern hemisphere between May and October, scientists estimate the magnitude of this season’s burn is higher than any other in the 16-year-record.

Fires are burning farther north, and scientists worry the forest fires are igniting peat fires. Peat stores large amounts of carbon, which is burning and releasing record amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.

As the planet warms, more and more frozen peat and permafrost has thawed, releasing large amounts of carbon. Now, fires are burning that stored carbon, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy

In News:

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has proposed a draft National Resource Efficiency Policy 2019 which aims to streamline the efficient use of these resources with minimum negative impact on environment.

Salient Features of Policy: 

Objective: The draft policy intends to minimize this inherent cost of economic growth on the natural environment y transforming country’s waste management sector into a secondary resource recovery sector.

National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA): This will be achieved by setting up a NREA with a core working group housed in the Ministry of Environment. It’s mandate will be developing and implementing resource efficient strategies for material recycling, reuse and land-filling targets for various sectors and set standards for reuse of secondary raw materials.

Inter-Ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board: NERA would be supported by an Inter-Ministerial National Resource Efficiency Board to guide on the aspects critical to its implementation.

Strategy:

It is also planned to offer tax benefits on recycled materials, green loans to small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and soft loans to construct waste disposal facilities, apart from setting up Material Recovery Facilities (MRF).

Manufacturers and service providers would be required to use more recycled or renewable materials.

CM seeks clearance for Mekedatu project DPR

In News:

The Tamil Nadu government sought the Centre’s ‘urgent’ interevention on the Mekedatu reservoir issue, saying Karnataka seeking environmental clearance for the project was in violation of an award of the Cauvery Water disputes tribunal and a Supreme Court judgment.

Details:

Palaniswami sought Modi’s “urgent personal intervention” to deny permission to the proposal of Karnataka’s Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Niyamita seeking environmental clearance for the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and Drinking water project.

The neighbouring state seeking such clearance was in “utter violation” of the final order of the Cauvery water disputes tribunal and a judgment of the apex court in February 2018.

The proposed project was not in conformity with the final order of the tribunal and the top court judgment, since it is not a designated reservoir for the release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu in terms of the tribunal’s final order as modified by the apex court.

Reason:

Cauvery being a deficit basin, construction of any such project in any place by upper riparian states would drastically affect the lower riparian states in getting due share of water.

Way forward:

The Ministry of Jal Shakthi may be directed to advise the central water commission to reject outright and return the DPR of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir project of Karnataka and also not to accord any clearance to the above project without obtaining the prior concurrence of government of Tamil Nadu and of other co-basin states.

About Mekedatu dam project:

Being set up by the Karnataka government, the project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu. Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.

Consumer Protection Bill gets RS green light

In News:

The Rajya Sabha passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 that provides for the establishment of authorities for the timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes.

Details:

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan on July 8, 2019. The Bill replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.  Key features of the Bill include:

Definition of consumer: A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.  It does not include a person who obtains a good for resale or a good or service for commercial purpose.  It covers transactions through all modes including offline, and online through electronic means, teleshopping, multi-level marketing or direct selling.

Rights of consumers: Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to: (i) be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property; (ii) be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services; (iii) be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and (iv) seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.

Central Consumer Protection Authority: The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.  It will regulate matters related to violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and misleading advertisements.  The CCPA will have an investigation wing, headed by a Director-General, which may conduct inquiry or investigation into such violations.

CCPA will carry out the following functions, including: (i) inquiring into violations of consumer rights, investigating and launching prosecution at the appropriate forum; (ii) passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services that are hazardous, reimbursement of the price paid, and discontinuation of the unfair trade practices, as defined in the Bill; (iii) issuing directions to the concerned trader/ manufacturer/ endorser/ advertiser/ publisher to either discontinue a false or misleading advertisement, or modify it; (iv) imposing penalties, and; (v) issuing safety notices to consumers against unsafe goods and services.

Penalties for misleading advertisement: The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.  In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to five years.

CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from endorsing that particular product or service for a period of up to one year. For every subsequent offence, the period of prohibition may extend to three years.  However, there are certain exceptions when an endorser will not be held liable for such a penalty.

Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.  A consumer can file a complaint with CDRCs in relation to: (i) unfair or restrictive trade practices; (ii) defective goods or services; (iii) overcharging or deceptive charging; and (iv) the offering of goods or services for sale which may be hazardous to life and safety.  Complaints against an unfair contract can be filed with only the State and National   Appeals from a District CDRC will be heard by the State CDRC.  Appeals from the State CDRC will be heard by the National CDRC.  Final appeal will lie before the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction of CDRCs: The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs one crore.  The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs one crore but does not exceed Rs 10 crore.  Complaints with value of goods and services over Rs 10 crore will be entertained by the National CDRC.

Product liability: Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.  To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.

Moon, Mercury may contain more water ice than thought

In News:

The Moon and Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought, according to a new analysis of data from NASA spacecraft.

Details:

The potential ice deposits are found in craters near the poles of both worlds, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

On the Moon, “we found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon, and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits”.

In the past, telescopic observations and orbiting spacecraft have found glacier-like ice deposits on Mercury, but as of yet not on the Moon. The new work raises the possibility that thick ice-rich deposits also exist on the Moon. The research may not only help resolve the question regarding the Moon’s apparent low ice abundance relative to Mercury, but it could also have practical applications.

Ministry of Coal Begins Auction of Coal Mines

In News:

Ministry of Coal has started the process of auction of 27 coal mines and allotment of 15 coal mines to Central PSU & State PSU’s.

Details:

As per the objective of auctioning of coal blocks, the Government is auctioning 21 coal mines for ‘End Use Non Regulated Sector’ and 6 coking coal mines for End Use Iron & Steel.  In case of allotment, 5 coal mines are for power sector, 9 for sale of coal and 1 for Iron & Steel.

At Peak Rated Capacity (PRC), these 42 coal mines will produce approximately 70 MTPA.  Notice Inviting Tender and Notice Inviting Application have been published in the newspaper on 3rd- 4th August, 2019.  The electronic bidding will be conducted on Metal Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) platform.

Kosi-Mechi Interlinking project

In News:

Union Government has approved Rs 4,900 crore Kosi-Mechi Interlinking project for interlinking of Kosi and Mechi rivers of Bihar. This is the second major river interlinking project in the country to be approved by Central Government after the Ken-Betwa project in Madhya Pradesh.

Need and significance:

The river Kosi is an international river originating from Tibet and flowing through Nepal in Himalayan Mountains and the lower portion through plains of North Bihar.

To overcome the acute problem of shifting of course of Kosi river, heavy sediment load, flooding etc. and to alleviate the severe suffering of the people of Bihar, the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and The Government of India signed an agreement on 25th April 1954 for implementation of Kosi project. The present proposal is an extension of Eastern Kosi Main Canal (EKMC) system upto river Mechi, a tributary of river Mahananda.

The aim of extension of EKMC upto Mechi river is mainly to provide irrigation benefits to the water scarce Mahananda basin command in the districts of Araria, Kishanganj, Purnea and Katihar during kharif season depending upon the pondage available in Hanuman Nagar barrage.

This intrastate link scheme will thus transfer part of surplus water of Kosi basin to Mahananda basin. In view of irrigation benefit from the link canal, the project is fully justified.