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30 September Current Affairs

Mekedatu issue

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

In News:

Facing strong objection from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry, the Cauvery Water Management Authority’s (CWMA) had urged Karnataka to promptly deliver the balance quantum of water owed to Tamil Nadu, whilst dropping debate on the Mekedatu project.

The release should be as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s decision of 2007, which was modified by the Supreme Court in 2018.

What was the issue?

Tamil Nadu noted that Karnataka had only provided 85.8 TMC water instead of 119.5 TMC water until September 26. Tamil Nadu contended that Karnataka should indeed be ordered to deliver the surplus as well as the quota for the month of October promptly so that paddy planting in the Delta region may be protected.

About CWMA:

It has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme earlier framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.

Composition and Powers of CMA:

The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.

Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side.

Rest four will be part time members from states.

Functions:

The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.

CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency.

It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.

The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.

About the Mekedatu Project:

Mekedatu is a multipurpose (drinking and power) project.

It involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district in Karnataka.

The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighboring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.

Why is Tamil Nadu against this project?

It says, the CWDT and the SC have found that the existing storage facilities available in the Cauvery basin were adequate for storing and distributing water so Karnataka’s proposal is ex-facie (on the face of it) untenable and should be rejected outright.

It has also held that the reservoir is not just for drinking water alone, but to increase the extent of irrigation, which is in clear violation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Award.

Award by the tribunal and the Supreme Court:

The tribunal was set up in 1990 and made its final award in 2007, granting 419 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmcft to Karnataka, 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. The tribunal ordered that in rain-scarcity years, the allocation for all would stand reduced.

However, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka expressed unhappiness over the allocation and there were protests and violence in both states over water-sharing. That saw the Supreme Court take up the matter and, in a 2018 judgment, it apportioned 14.75 tmcft from Tamil Nadu’s earlier share to Karnataka.

The new allocation thus stood at 404.25 tmcft for Tamil Nadu while Karnataka’s share went up to 284.75 tmcft. The share for Kerala and Puducherry remained unchanged.

Antimalarial drug resistance

(GS-III: Biotechnology)

In News:

In recent years there is increasing evidence for the failure of artemisinin-based combination therapy for falciparum malaria either alone or with partner drugs.

A recent study has described the presence of two mutations responsible for artemisinin resistance in Northern Uganda.

The current report of artemisinin resistance in East Africa is a matter of great concern as this is the only drug that has saved several lives across the globe.

Why is there an increase in Antimalarial drug resistance?

In most malaria-endemic countries including India, Artemisinin-based antimalarial drugs are the first-line choice for malaria treatment especially against Plasmodium falciparum parasite which is responsible for almost all malaria-related deaths in the world. Overuse has led to mutations in P. falciparum cases treated with artemisinin.

What needs to be done?

The time has come to carry out Molecular Malaria Surveillance to find out the drug-resistant variants so that corrective measures can be undertaken in time to avert any consequences.

Some experts even advocate using triple artemisinin-based combination therapies where the partner drug is less effective.

PLI scheme for textiles works

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

In News:

The Government has launched the  Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the textiles sector worth Rs 10,683 crore.

This is part of a larger PLI scheme for 13 sectors, with a total budgetary outlay of 1.97 lakh crore.

Focus areas?

The PLI scheme for textiles aims to promote the production of high value Man-Made Fibre (MMF) fabrics, garments and technical textiles.

Eligibility:

Any person or company willing to invest a minimum of Rs 300 crore in plant, machinery, equipment and civil works (excluding land and administrative building cost) to produce products of MMF fabrics, garments and products of technical textiles will be eligible to participate in the first part of the scheme.

Investors willing to spend a minimum of Rs 100 crore under the same conditions shall be eligible to apply in the second part of the scheme.

Incentives:

Under PLI, the Centre will subsidise eligible manufacturers by paying incentives on incremental production.

Companies investing over Rs 300 crore in plant, machinery, equipment and civil works to produce the identified products will get an incentive of 15 percent of their turnover, which needs to be Rs 600 crore in the third year.

The companies investing between Rs 100 crore and Rs 300 crore will also be eligible to receive duty refunds and incentives (lower than 15 percent of their turnover).

The government expects to achieve “fresh investment of over Rs 19,000 crore and a cumulative turnover of more than Rs 3 lakh crore”.

Significance:

The PLI scheme will provide an immense boost to domestic manufacturing, and prepare the industry for making a big impact in global markets in sync with the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat. It will also help attract more investment into this sector.

Need for:

Two-thirds of international trade in textiles is of man-made and technical textiles. This scheme has been approved so India can also contribute to the ecosystem of fabrics and garments made of MMF.

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act

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

In News:

The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to consider as representation a petition seeking to remove provisions from the statute such as Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, which have already been declared unconstitutional.

What’s the issue?

There are several criminal law sections that were struck down by the Supreme Court but continue to be used by police officers. In some cases, trial courts went ahead with framing charges under the defunct IT Act provision, even after taking cognisance of the Supreme Court’s 2015 judgment.

What is Section 66A?

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet.

A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.

It empowered police to make arrests over what policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing” or for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience, etc.

Shreya Singhal case:

The Supreme Court had in its judgment in the Shreya Singhal case struck down Section 66A.

Why did SC strike down section 66A?

The SC had noted that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech, under article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right and the definition of offences under the provision was open-ended and undefined.

Recent observations made by the Court:

On July 5, the Supreme Court had expressed shock and dismay over police continuing to register cases under section 66A despite it being quashed six years ago.

As of March 2021, a total of 745 cases are still pending and active before the district courts in 11 states, wherein the accused persons are being prosecuted for offences under Section 66A of the IT Act.