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26th August Current Affairs

India’s new drone rules

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The central government has notified the Drone Rules 2021, a much more liberalised regime for unmanned aircraft systems than what existed previously.

Key changes:

Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.

No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.

No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organisations.

No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.

Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.

No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.

No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.

Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg.  This will cover drone taxis also.

Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.

Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.

Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.

Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.

Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.

Significance of the new rules:

It highlights the government’s intent to allow the use of drones while at the same time ensuring security from rogue drones through the anti-rogue drone framework that was announced in 2019.

The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification.

The Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation & business.

It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology & engineering to make India a drone hub.

Need for stricter rules and regulations:

Recently, Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.

Over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory.

According to government figures, 167 drone sightings were recorded along the border with Pakistan in 2019, and in 2020, there were 77 such sightings.

With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.

Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.

Issues surrounding Haryana’s new land law

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Haryana Amendment), Bill, 2021 was recently passed by Haryana Assembly.

Details:

It seeks to expedite development projects by simplifying the procedure for acquisition of land.

However, the Bill has been criticised for allegedly being “anti-farmer” and promoting “crony capitalism”.

Controversial provisions in the new Bill:

It has brought Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects to the ‘exempt’ category, for which Social Impact Assessment (SIA)/ consent of landowners is not rerequired.

This goes against the Central Land Acquisition Act of 2013 under which Social Impact Assessment (SIA)/ consent of landowners is a must.

The Bill seeks to do away with the condition of 48-hour prior notice to the occupants of an acquired building to evacuate. Occupants would be liable to vacate the building immediately after the Collector announces the award.

This is extremely draconian and arbitrary. The state machinery shall be armed with powers to throw out the belongings of an affected person even at midnight without any notice or redress.

The amendments also do away with the provision to give the evicted people plots of land in addition to monetary compensation.

The Collector can determine the fair compensation and make the award without further enquiry if he is satisfied that all persons interested in the land have consented to the terms and conditions of their free will.

In such a situation, tenants and poor persons who may have non-proprietary rights on the land are likely to lose out.

Also, the share of female heirs is often not recorded in rural areas.

And persons with right of access, such as among the co-sharers of a Khewat, and usufructuary rights as in a mortgage or easement rights of an owner, are not duly recorded in official records.

Exempted projects include:

  • Projects vital to national security or defence of India;
  • rural infrastructure including electrification;
  • affordable housing, housing for the poor and for rehabilitation of persons displaced due to land acquisition or a natural calamity;
  • industrial corridors set up by the state government or its undertakings wherein land up to 2 km on either side of the designated railway lines or roads can be acquired;
  • infrastructure projects relating to health and education, PPP projects wherein the ownership of land continues to vest with the state government, and urban Metro and rapid rail projects.

About the Land Acquisition Act of 2013:

The 2013 Act replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1894 Act) and provides for higher compensation to those deprived of land by the government for both public and private sector projects.

Acquiring land: For private project, 80% affected families must agree. For PPP project, 70% affected families must agree. Only then land can be acquired.

Social impact assessment: Under Social impact assessment (SIA) even need to obtain consent of the affected artisans, labourers, share-croppers, tenant farmers etc whose (sustainable) livelihood will be affected because of the given project.

Compensation: Compensation proportion to market rates. 4 times the market rate in rural area. 2 times in urban area. Affected artisans, small traders, fishermen etc. will be given one-time payment, even if they don’t own any land.

To ensure food security: Fertile, irrigated, multi-cropped farmland can be acquired only in last resort. If such fertile land is acquired, then Government will have to develop equal size of wasteland for agriculture purpose.

Private entities: If Government acquires the lands for private company- the said private company will be responsible for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people. Additional rehabilitation package for SC/ST owners.

Safeguards: State Governments have to setup dispute settlement Chairman must be a district judge or lawyer for 7 years.

Accountability: Head of the department will be made responsible, for any offense from Government’s side. If project doesn’t start in 5 years, land has to be returned to the original owner or the land bank. Establishment of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority for speedy disposal of disputes.

Who was Hari Singh Nalwa, the Sikh warrior who won many battles against Afghans?

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

Afghanistan, which has earned the name of graveyard of the empires, could not be controlled by anyone completely. But Hari Singh Nalwa, a legendary Sikh commander, tamed the turbulent forces at play in Afghanistan and earned the reputation of the most feared Sikh warrior there.

Who was Hari Singh Nalwa?

He was a commander in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s force.

He remained Governor of Kashmir, Hazara and Peshawar.

He defeated various Afghans and established control over various regions along the boundary of Afghanistan.

He, thus, prevented Afghans from entering Punjab through Khyber pass, which was the main route to enter India by the foreign invaders from 1000 AD till early 19th century.

Legacy:

Afghanistan was called the unconquered region and it was Hari Singh Nalwa who prevented Afghans from ravaging the North-West Frontier for the first time by taking control over several regions along the Afghanistan border and Khyber pass.

He had defeated thousands of Hazars, a tribe of Afghanistan, with less than three times their strength.

For his bravery and ferocity, the government of India released a stamp on the name of Nalwa in 2013.

Battles in which he participated:

1807 Battle of Kasur (now in Pakistan): He defeated Afghani ruler Kutab-ud-din Khan.

Battle of Attock (in 1813) Nalwa along with other commanders won against Azim Khan and his brother Dost Mohammad Khan, who fought on behalf of Shah Mahmud of Kabul and this was the first major victory of the Sikhs over the Durrani Pathans.

1818 Battle of Peshawar: Nalwa took control over Jamrud in 1837, a fort at the entryway to Afghanistan through Khyber Pass.

What difference did these victories against Afghans make for India?

Historians maintain that if Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his commander Hari Singh Nalwa would have not won Peshawar and the North West Frontier, which is part of Pakistan now, then this area could have been part of Afghanistan and the invasions of Afghans into Punjab and Delhi would have never stopped.