19th November Current Affairs
November 19, 2020
21st November Current Affairs
November 21, 2020
Show all

20th November Current Affairs

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project

In News:

Cabinet approves Externally Aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project – Phase II and Phase III.

 Key points:

Financial Assistance is being provided by the World Bank (WB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Project will be implemented over a period of 10 years duration in two Phases, each of six years duration with two years overlapping from April, 2021 to March, 2031.

DRIP Phase II & Phase III envisages the following objectives:

To improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner.

To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.

To explore the alternative incidental means at few of selected dams to generate the incidental revenue for sustainable operation and maintenance of dams.

Need for the Scheme:

India ranks third globally after China and the United States of America, with 5334 large dams in operation. In addition, about 411 dams are under construction at present. There are also several thousand smaller dams.

Indian dams and reservoirs play an important role in the economic and agricultural growth of our country by storing approximately 300 billion cubic meter of water annually.

These dams present a major responsibility in terms of asset management and safety.

The consequences of dam failure can be catastrophic, in terms of loss of human life and property, and damage to ecology.

About DRIP:

The project was launched in 2012 by Central Water Commission (CWC) with assistance from World Bank.

The objectives of DRIP:

To improve the safety and operational performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and

To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup of participating States / Implementing Agencies.

Phase 1 of the Project:

The first phase of the DRIP programme covered 223 dams in 7 states.

Facts for Prelims:

DHARMA (Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring) is a system to monitor the health of dams. At present, it is being used by 18 states.

A seismic hazard analysis information system (SHAISYS) has also been developed.

Ordinance for setting up commission to manage NCR air quality

In News:

President signs ordinance for setting up commission to manage NCR air quality.

Details:

The ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’ was introduced by the Centre.

The proposed Commission:

Composition:

Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

It will be a permanent body and will have over 20 members.

Members include:

A representative of the Secretary of the MoEF, five Secretary level officers who will be ex officio members, and two joint secretary level officers who will be full-time members.

Representatives of the CPCB, ISRO, air pollution experts, and three representatives of non-government organisations (NGOs).

As associate members, the Commission will have representatives from various other Ministries including the Ministries of Agriculture, Petroleum, Power, Road Transport and Highways, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Commerce and Industry.

Key points:

The Commission will be a statutory authority.

The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.

It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.

Jurisdiction:

Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.

Will this new body also have penal powers?

Yes, the Commission will have some teeth. If its directions are contravened, through say, the setting up of an industrial unit in a restricted area, the Commission will have the power to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

We already had EPCA, was it not sufficient?

The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) was not a statutory body but drew legitimacy from the Supreme Court, which has been looking at cases of air pollution as part of the judgment in M C Mehta vs Union of India (1988).

The EPCA was not, however, supported by a legal framework in the form of a law.

It did have the authority to issue fines or directions and guidelines to the governments in other states.

It had no state representatives, just two permanent members.

Criticisms and concerns associated with this move:

The multiplicity of laws and institutions will create more confusion on the one hand and friction on the other. For eg, we already have EPCA, NGT, CPCB and SPCB no one is clear as to what needs to be done.

The lack of law is not a problem in India, whether it is about paddy stubble burning, providing subsidies or penalising the polluter. The problem lies in the fact that political will is missing when it comes to implementation.

What needs to be done?

If the government is keen to resolve the issue, it must:

Undertake a thorough review of the various laws and institutions in order to look at their efficacy and utility.

Have detailed consultation with all relevant stakeholders, especially those outside Delhi, which includes farmers’ groups and small scale industries and the public at large.”

Draft a Bill and it should be put up for public comments.

Who is a star campaigner?

What?

Status of Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath as a star campaigner for the party revoked.

Who?

The status has been revoked by the Election Commission.

Why?

For “repeated violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and for completely disregarding the advisory issued to him”.

Implications:

Now, the entire expenditure on any campaigning by Mr. Nath for the November 3 by-election would be borne by the candidate in whose constituency he campaigns.

Who are star campaigners?

They can be described as persons who are nominated by parties to campaign in a given set of Constituencies. These persons are, in almost all cases, prominent and popular faces within the Party. However, there are no specific definitions according to law or the Election Commission of India.

Benefits:

The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate. However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.

Recently, the Election Commission has revised norms for star campaigners for polls during the pandemic. As per the revised norms:

Maximum number of star campaigners reduced from 40 to 30 for a recognised party.

For unrecognised registered parties, the number of star campaigners has been reduced from 20 to 15.

Besides, they now require permission from the district election official 48 hours prior to campaigning.