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24th October Current Affairs

Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act

In News:

President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the amended Disturbed Areas Act passed by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly last year.

Background:

The bill was brought last year to amend the ”The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act”, 1991, commonly referred to as the Disturbed Areas Act.

The government had added some stringent provisions amid complaints from people that the current act was unable to curb the illegal sale or transfer of their properties in such notified disturbed areas.

What is the Disturbed Areas Act?

Under the Disturbed Areas Act, a district Collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”. This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area.

Following this notification, the transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property.

In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that she/he has sold the property of her/his free volition, and that she/he has got a fair market price.

Latest Amendments:

The amended law would stop polarisation and keep a check on attempts to cause any “demographic imbalance”.

The Act bans sale of property by members of one religious community to those from another community without the prior approval of the district collector in areas declared as “disturbed areas”.

To stop people from acquiring properties in disturbed areas through illegal means, the act proposes imprisonment between three to five years along with a fine of Rs 1 lakh or 10 per cent of value of property, whichever is higher.

The word “transfer” now includes sale, gift, exchange, lease or taking possession of the property by way of power of attorney.

The act also empowers the state government to form a “monitoring and advisory committee” to keep a check on the demographic structure in the disturbed areas.

The government can form a special investigation team (SIT) to assist the state government in forming opinion before declaring any area to be a disturbed one.

Role of Collector:

The collector can now check if there is any “likelihood of polarisation”, “disturbance in demographic equilibrium” or any “likelihood of improper clustering of persons of a community” if the transfer takes place.

The collector can reject the application of transfer after making assessment on these grounds. The aggrieved person can now file an appeal with the state government against the collector”s order.

Fly Ash

In News:

NTPC Ltd. under Ministry of Power, has started to collaborate with cement manufacturers across the country to supply fly ash as part of its endeavour to achieve 100% utilisation of the by-product produced during power generation.

What is Fly Ash?

Popularly known as Flue ash or pulverised fuel ash, it is a coal combustion product.

Composition:

Composed of the particulates that are driven out of coal-fired boilers together with the flue gases.

Depending upon the source and composition of the coal being burned, the components of fly ash vary considerably, but all fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide (SiO2), aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO), the main mineral compounds in coal-bearing rock strata.

Minor constituents include: arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with very small concentrations of dioxins and PAH compounds. It also has unburnt carbon.

Health and environmental hazards:

Toxic heavy metals present: All the heavy metals found in fly ash nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, etc—are toxic in nature. They are minute, poisonous particles accumulate in the respiratory tract, and cause gradual poisoning.

Radiation: For an equal amount of electricity generated, fly ash contains a hundred times more radiation than nuclear waste secured via dry cask or water storage.

Water pollution: The breaching of ash dykes and consequent ash spills occur frequently in India, polluting a large number of water bodies.

Effects on environment: The destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater in the Rann of Kutch from the ash sludge of adjoining Coal power plants has been well documented.

However, fly ash can be used in the following ways:

  • Concrete production, as a substitute material for Portland cement, sand.
  • Fly-ash pellets which can replace normal aggregate in concrete mixture.
  • Embankments and other structural fills.
  • Cement clinker production – (as a substitute material for clay).
  • Stabilization of soft soils.
  • Road subbase construction.
  • As aggregate substitute material (e.g. for brick production).
  • Agricultural uses: soil amendment, fertilizer, cattle feeders, soil stabilization in stock feed yards, and agricultural stakes.
  • Loose application on rivers to melt ice.
  • Loose application on roads and parking lots for ice control.

Third Assembly of ISA

In News:

Recently, India and France have been re-elected as the President and Co-President of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) for a term of two years at the virtual third Assembly of ISA.

Details:

The first two assemblies were held in India in 2018 and 2019.

Key Points:

The Assembly approved institutionalising ISA’s engagement with the private and public corporate sector through the Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action (CSCA).

Various solar awards were conferred on countries as well as institutions.

The Visvesvaraya award recognises the countries with a maximum floating solar capacity in each of the four regions of ISA, which are:

  • Asia Pacific Region.
  • Africa Region.
  • Europe and others Region.
  • Latin America and Caribbean Region.

The Kalpana Chawla award for outstanding contribution of scientists and engineers working in the field of solar energy.

The Diwakar award recognises organisations and institutions that have been working for the benefit of differently-abled people and have maximised the use of solar energy in the host country.

The Assembly was presented the report prepared by the World Resources Institute (WRI) which identifies the sources of funds, opportunities and constraints, in scaling up solar investments and the contribution of ISA in assisting Member countries.

The ISA will work with WRI to develop a roadmap for mobilisation of USD 1 trillion by 2030.

In the wake of the global pandemic, ISA responded by setting up ISA CARES (like PM-CARES in India), an initiative dedicated to the deployment of solar energy in the healthcare sector.

The initiative aims to solarize one primary health sector in each district of the target member countries.

The ISA Secretariat has launched a Seventh Programme on Solarising Heating and Cooling systems.

Demand for cooling alone outpaced solar deployment in 2017.

Heating and cooling systems have scope to directly convert solar radiation and at higher efficiency levels.

SAARC Development Fund’s technical assistance along with the ISA Technical Assistance is proposed to be implemented jointly with the Asian Development Bank.

The ISA has recently signed a tripartite agreement with the World Bank and the Government of India and is now actively involved in preparing a vision and implementation plan for “One Sun, One World, One Grid” Initiative to harness the power of interconnected grids for enabling energy transition to a low-carbon world.

India’s Perspective and Highlights:

The President of the ISA Assembly, India’s Power and New and Renewable Energy Minister appreciated the Alliance Members coming together to work for combating climate change.

He also highlighted various activities and programmes initiated by ISA since the 2nd Assembly like the development of a pipeline of more than USD 5 billion, aggregated demand for more than 270,000 solar pumps across 22 countries, etc.

France’s Role:

France has committed 1.5 billion Euros for financing solar projects in ISA member states up until 2022.

The first project under the Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI) is being launched in Mozambique with the support of France and the European Union (EU).

SRMI will help mobilise billions in private investment to finance more than 10 GWs of solar projects.

In the frame of the ISA’s Solar Technology Application Resource Centre (Star-C) programme, the French National Institute for Solar Energy (INES) will launch a specific program for the small island states of the Pacific.