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24 July Current Affairs

Govt. promulgates ordinance in place of new Act

In News:

The Telangana Municipalities Act, 2019, that was passed by the Telangana Legislature apparently did not get the assent of Governor as he was believed to have raised some objections to certain provisions.

Details:

According to sources, the State government had since addressed the issues raised by the Governor and promulgated an ordinance. However, no word was out why the Governor refused to give his assent nor the fresh ordinance issued by the government was made public.

Key Points of the New Municipal Act:

  • Earlier, there were six municipal corporations in the state, and now the number has increased to 13 with the implementation of seven new municipal corporations in the areas include Badungpet, Bandlaguda, Peerzadiguda, Jawaharnagar, Meerpet, Boduppal and Nizampet.
  • A total of 10% green budget is given from the municipal budget to improve plantation, and the ward members are responsible to see the survival of these plants.
  • The Chairperson, Commissioner and ward members check the particular municipalities and ensure to provide sanitation, hygiene, effective garbage disposal, greenery, maintenance of roads and drainage.
  • The state has given more power to the District Collectors; as they can cancel any resolution passed by a civic body and can even suspend chairpersons, and hold control over Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The ministers cannot stay the orders given by the Collectors.
  • The builder has to upload construction progress reports in the prescribed site so the investors can know the detailed information of the project. If the builder fails to furnish the correct information, they have to pay a high amount of penalty.
  • The persons under the supervision of district collectors will check the authenticity of the claims made by the landlords.
  • The individual who have the plots less than 500 sq.mts. can get self-certification for paying property tax online.
  • The Government would undertake random audits and any individual found deviating from the plan given to the government would be fined heavily.
  • The individual can construct a house on a plot of less than 75 square meters without applying for permission from the municipality.
  • Such beneficiaries have to pay a house tax of Rs 100 per year and can register their property with a municipality at a nominal charge of Rs 1.00 to get the civic facilities.

73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments

73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were passed by Parliament in December, 1992. Through these amendments local self-governance was introduced in rural and urban India. The Acts came into force as the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 on April 24, 1993 and the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 on June 1, 1993. These amendments added two new parts to the Constitution, namely, 73rd Amendment added Part IX titled “The Panchayats” and 74th Amendment added Part IXA titled “The Municipalities”. The Local bodies ‘Panchayats’ and ‘Municipalities’ came under Part IX and IXA of the Constitution after 43 years of India becoming a republic.

Salient Features of the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts:

Panchayats and Municipalities will be “institutions of self-government”.

  1. Basic units of democratic system-Gram Sabhas (villages) and Ward Committees (Municipalities) comprising all the adult members registered as voters.
  2. Three-tier system of panchayats at village, intermediate block/taluk/mandal and district levels except in States with population is below 20 lakhs (Article 243B).
  3. Seats at all levels to be filled by direct elections [Article 243C (2)].
  4. Seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and chairpersons of the Panchayats at all levels also shall be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population.
  5. One-third of the total number of seats to be reserved for women. Onethird of the seats reserved for SCs and STs also reserved for women. One-third offices of chairpersons at all levels reserved for women (Article 243D).
  6. Uniform five year term and elections to constitute new bodies to be completed before the expiry of the term. In the event of dissolution, elections compulsorily within six months (Article 243E).
  7. Independent Election Commission in each State for superintendence, direction and control of the electoral rolls (Article 243K).
  8. Panchayats to prepare plans for economic development and social justice in respect of subjects as devolved by law to the various levels of Panchayats including the subjects as illustrated in Eleventh Schedule (Article 243G).
  9. 74th Amendment provides for a District Planning Committee to consolidate the plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities (Article 243ZD).
  10. Funds: Budgetary allocation from State Governments, share of revenue of certain taxes, collection and retention of the revenue it raises, Central Government programmes and grants, Union Finance Commission grants (Article 243H).
  11. Establish a Finance Commission in each State to determine the principles on the basis of which adequate financial resources would be ensured for panchayats and municipalities (Article 243I).

Expert panels to the aid of LSGIs

In News:

Technical committees comprising experts of prominent engineering colleges would come to the aid of local self-government institutions (LSGIs) for addressing complaints on safety threats posed to old and small structures due to reckless digging and piling.

Details:

There had been a surge of complaints from all over the State about the hazards thrown up to old buildings, mostly residential, in rural and urban local bodies mainly on account of piling and digging of plots for constructing huge structures.

Once a major project comes up, the relatively small and rather old structures in the neighbourhood sustain damage because they cannot bear the impact of piling and digging. Much more than in rural areas, the trend was mostly prevalent in the urban locales. Once the cities started expanding, there was an increase in complaints from the rural local bodies too.

Building rules:

The Kerala panchayat and municipal building rules were armed with adequate provisions to ensure the safety as well as conservation of such buildings in all areas.

It had laid down guidelines on safety norms and also for awarding compensation for those sustaining any loss.

Each local body had a panel with the secretary concerned as convener and an engineer, a structural engineer and a geo technical engineering expert as members to handle complaints about safety threats.

Suggestions:

The reports suggested expansion of technical committees comprising the local body secretary and the district town planner and proposed to include experts of prominent institutions.

UN climate envoy meets Javadekar

In News:

The United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change, Luis Alfonso de Alba, met Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar and discussed India’s initiatives to meet its climate commitments.

Details:

United Nations Climate Summit in New York in September, Mr. de Alba, appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as his climate envoy.

The Secretary-General is exhorting countries and leaders to come with concrete plans at the meeting and not mere policy statements. We need to be getting into a trajectory to achieve emission cuts to cap warming at 1.5°C.

This implies countries enhancing their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

The UN also announced a ‘Clean Air Initiative’ that calls on governments to achieve air quality that is safe for citizens and to align climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.

The climate crisis and the air pollution crisis are driven by the same factors and must be tackled by joint action. Governments at all levels must have both an urgent need and huge opportunity to address it.

India’s initiatives:

India had created 80,000 MW of renewable power and set a target of achieving 175,000 MW by 2022; reduced energy intensity by 21%, was increasing forest cover and that the distribution of 70 million gas cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme had helped save trees, reduce pollution and improve health.

Clean Air Initiative

In News:

The Union Environment Minister launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The programme aims to tackle the challenge of increasing pollution in the cities and towns.

Features of the Programme:

The important features of the programme are:

  • It is a five-year action plan with a tentative target of 20-30% reduction in concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 by 2024, with 2017 as the base year.
  • The plan covers 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • The centre plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India under the programme.
  • Studies would be conducted across 102 non-attainment cities to ascertain pollution sources and the extent of their contribution.
  • The Apex committee in the Ministry of Environment would periodically review the progress of these components on the basis of appropriate indicators, which will be evolved.
  • Each city would be asked to develop its own action plan for implementation based on sources of pollution.
  • A three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards are proposed under the plan.
  • State-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries are proposed part of the plan.
  • The plan document is not binding on the states since the document is not a legal document.
  • The Environmentalists criticised the plan for not making it legally binding. The Environmentalists demand a more stringent action to ensure the safety and well being of millions of lives risk because of the continuously growing air pollution crisis.

Andhra Pradesh Employment Of Local Candidates In Industries/Factories Act, 2019

In News:

Andhra Pradesh became the first state to reserve jobs for locals in all private industrial units and factories, irrespective of whether the companies get financial or any other help from the government.

About: 

The assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries /Factories Act, 2019.

Key features:

It reserves 75% private jobs across all categories in industrial units, factories, joint ventures and projects in public-private partnership mode.

If locals with necessary skills are not available, then companies must train them in association with the state government and hire them.

Only those units that are listed in the first schedule of the Factories Act will be exempted from the Act, after the government approval. These are mostly hazardous industries like petroleum, pharmaceuticals, coal, fertilisers and cement, among others.

Companies will have to comply with these provisions within three years of the commencement of the Act.

Scenario in other states: 

Although many states have repeatedly spoken about reserving a big chunk of private jobs for locals, none has implemented it as yet.

Madhya Pradesh had on July 9 said it would bring a law to reserve 70% of private sector jobs for locals.

The demand has existed in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra as well.

Paid News

In News:

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar informed Rajya Sabha about the steps being taken by the Government to curb the menace of Paid News.

About: 

Meaning: Paid news is defined as any news or analysis appearing in print or electronic media for consideration in cash or kind. Manifestations of paid news are:

  • Advertisements camouflaged as news,
  • Denial of coverage to select electoral candidates,
  • Exchanging of advertisement space for equity stakes between media houses and corporate.

Recent trend in Paid News: 

The Press Council of India has received 58 cases of paid news during 2018-19 from the Election Commission and others.

No specific instance of paid news in electronic media (Private Satellite TV Channels) has been brought to the notice of his ministry.

Steps recommended to counter paid news:

The Press Council of India has recommended amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 in order to make the incidence of paid news a punishable electoral malpractice.

The Election Commission has also recommended for including paid news in the category of corrupt practices or electoral offences.

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