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9th November Current Affairs

Kaleshwaram eco-clearance violates law: NGT

In News:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has held that environmental clearance (EC) to the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) was granted ex post facto, after completion of substantial work, by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) “in violation of law”.

What needs to be done now?

Fix accountability needs and take remedial measures.

For that purpose, it has directed the MoEF&CC to constitute a seven-member expert committee preferably out of expert appraisal committee (EAC) members with relevant sectorial expertise to go into the matter in light of the observations in the present case.

Terms of reference:

The expert committee could assess the extent of damage caused in going ahead with the project without EC — the period from 2008 to 2017 — and identify the necessary restoration measures.

It could look into relief and rehabilitation measures adopted and required to be further adopted, examine effective implementation of the environmental management plan submitted by the project proponent.

Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project:

Originally called Pranahita-Chevella project in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, it was redesigned, extended and renamed as Kaleshwaram project in Telangana in 2014.

It is aimed to make Telangana drought proof by harnessing the flood waters of the Godavari.

The project is an under-construction multi-purpose irrigation project on the Godavari River in Kaleshwaram, Bhoopalpally, Telangana.

The project starts at the confluence point of Pranahita River and Godavari River.

Why is it significant?

Waters of the Godavari will be tapped by reverse pumping and storage, thereby facilitating agriculture on over 38 lakh acres, helping rejuvenate thousands of tanks, providing water for industries, and supplying drinking water to Hyderabad and Secunderabad by creating a series of storage tanks and a network of pipelines.

The project will also support Mission Kakatiya and Mission Bhagiratha schemes designed to provide drinking water to many villages and improve the capacities of tanks.

When completed, it will be the world’s largest irrigation and drinking water system.

Azad Hind Government

In News:

77th anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government on 21st October, 2020.

About Azad Hind Government:

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had announced the establishment of the provisional government of Azad Hind in occupied Singapore in 1943.

Known as Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind, it was supported by the Axis powers of Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Italian Social Republic, and their allies.

The provisional government was also formed in the Japanese-occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The islands were reoccupied by the British in 1945.

Why was it set up?

Bose was convinced that armed struggle was the only way to achieve independence for India.

It drew ex- prisoners and thousands of civilian volunteers from the Indian expatriate population in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) and Burma (now Myanmar).

Key features:

The Azad Hind government had its own court, civil code and currency.

Its provisional capital was Port Blair, while its capital-in-exile was Rangoon and Singapore.

Under the provisional government:

  • Bose was the head of the state, the prime minister and the minister for war and foreign affairs.
  • Captain Lakshmi headed the women’s organisation.
  • S A Ayer headed the publicity and propaganda wing.
  • Rash Behari Bose was designated as the supreme advisor.

How it came to an end?

Bose’s death was seen as the end to the Azad Hind movement. The Second World War, also ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers.

State Election Commissions

In News:

The State Election Commission (SEC) has filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking a direction to the government to provide budget and release funds as and when a request is made by it for conducting elections.

The SEC also prayed for assistance from the government in holding the civic polls.

About the State Election Commission:

The Constitution of India vests in the State Election Commission, consisting of a State Election Commissioner, the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and the Municipalities (Articles 243K, 243ZA).

The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.

As per article 243(C3) the Governor, when so requested by the State Election Commission, make available to the State Election Commission such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the SEC.

The ECI and SECs have a similar mandate; do they also have similar powers?

The provisions of Article 243K of the Constitution, which provides for setting up of SECs, are almost identical to those of Article 324 related to the EC. In other words, the SECs enjoy the same status as the EC.

In Kishan Singh Tomar vs Municipal Corporation of the City of Ahmedabad case, the Supreme Court directed that state governments should abide by orders of the SECs during the conduct of the panchayat and municipal elections, just like they follow the instructions of the EC during Assembly and Parliament polls.

How far can courts intervene?

Courts cannot interfere in the conduct of polls to local bodies and self-government institutions once the electoral process has been set in motion.

Article 243-O of the Constitution bars interference in poll matters set in motion by the SECs; Article 329 bars interference in such matters set in motion by the EC.

Only after the polls are over can the SECs’ decisions or conduct be questioned through an election petition.

These powers enjoyed by the SECs are the same as those by the EC.

District Development Councils (DDC)

In News:

The Centre on October 17 amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, to facilitate the setting up of District Development Councils (DDC).

A legislation to this effect was brought in by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

What are DDCs? What are their functions?

This system effectively replaces the District Planning and Development Boards in all districts.

They will prepare and approve district plans and capital expenditure.

The term of the DDC will be five years.

The council will hold at least four “general meetings” in a year, one in each quarter.

Structure:

Their number has been specified at 14 elected members per district representing its rural areas, alongside the Members of Legislative Assembly chairpersons of all Block Development Councils within the district.

The electoral process will allow for reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.

The Additional District Development Commissioner (or the Additional DC) of the district shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the District Development Council.

Who will elect the members of DDC?

They will be directly elected by voters in the Union Territory.