Invoke NSA in abduction, murder case, says Yogi

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has asked officials to consider evoking the National Security Act against a person involved in murder and making a ransom call for ₹20 lakh to his family.

 What is National Security Act (NSA):

  • NSA is a preventive detention law. The NSA empowers the Centre or a State government to detain a person to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to national security.
  • The government can also detain a person to prevent him from disrupting public order or for the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.

It is a stringent law that allows preventive detention for months, if authorities are satisfied that a person is a threat to national security or law and order. It was promulgated in 1980, by the Indira Gandhi government and its purpose is “to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith “.

As per the National Security Act, the grounds for preventive detention of a person include:

  • Acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
  • Regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India.
  • Preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the communityit is necessary so to do.

The order can be issued by the District Magistrate or a Commissioner of Police under their respective jurisdictions, but the detention should be reported to the State Government along with the grounds on which the order has been made.

How does it work?

  • Under the National Security Act, an individual can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months; the state government needs to be intimated that a person has been detained under the NSA.
  • A person detained under the National Security Act can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them.
  • The detained person can appeal before a high court advisory boardbut they are not allowed a lawyer during the trial.

Concerns

  • One must note that preventive detention was a tactic of the colonial order to suppress the activities of nationalists fighting for freedom.
  • A detainee under preventive detention doesn’t enjoy any of the personal liberties granted by Articles 19 or 21of the Indian Constitution.
  • In the normal course, if a person is arrested, he or she is guaranteed certain basic rights.
  • These include the right to be informed of the reason for the arrest. Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) mandates that the person arrested has to be informed of the grounds of arrest, and the right to bail.
  • Sections 56 and 76 of the Cr. PCalso provides that a person has to be produced before a court within 24 hours of arrest.
  • Additionally, Article 22(1) of the Constitution says an arrested person cannot be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. But none of these rights are available to a person detained under the NSA.
  • The Act crushes dissenting voices and targets “political activists and trade unionists”.
  • Even when providing the grounds for arrest, the government can withhold informationwhich it considers to be against the public interest to disclose.

It is being used by our democratic government against the people who fight for their right to live a life free from pollution, e.g.: anti-Sterlite protests in Tuticorin.


Centre unable to pay States’ GST dues: official

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news:

Finance Secretary has informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that the government is in no position to pay the GST share of States as per the current revenue sharing formula.

Key Details:

  • The Finance Ministry recently said that the Centre had released the final instalment of ₹13,806 crore of GST compensation for the financial year 2019-20.
  • the Centre made up a 42% shortfall in Goods and Services Tax compensation cess collection in 2019-20 by using balance of cess from previous years, plus a transfer from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • The final instalment of GST compensation for the year has been released to the States. This completes the delayed compensation payments for the financial year.
  • GST revenue fell 41% in the first quarter of 2020-21, indicating that the shortfall in cess collections and likely delays in payments to States is likely to continue in the current financial year.
  • The GST regime, introduced in 2017, promised that the Centre would pay States full revenue compensation for the first five years, calculated using 2015-16 as the base year, assuming a 14% annual growth rate in a State’s revenue.

Way forward:

  • In its stimulus package, in May 2020, the Centre enhanced States’ power to borrow, but only part of that was completely unconditional, and a large chunk was contingent on States undertaking specified reforms. These reforms may be long-pursued ideals, but whether this is the right time for prioritizing them has been questioned.
  • Considering the extent of economic damage as well as the States’ fiscal positions, there is an urgent need to finalize the way forward for paying States the compensation.
  • With any further delay in arriving at a plan, the Centre-State ties could turn more fractious, especially in the GST Council where things have usually evolved with consensus so far.
  • One of the ideas on the table is to raise loans against future GST cess accruals in order to recompense States.

Working with India to make clean power accessible: U.K. Minister

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News:

U.K. Minister of State (Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth) was on a virtual visit to India.

India – UK partnership:

  • The U.K. had recently contributed analysis and market simulations for India’s Real-Time Power Market which was launched on June 1 2020, to get more renewables on the national grid at more competitive rates.
  • It has been announced that the U.K. would strengthen its collaboration, in areas such as increased use of renewable energy by Indian Railways to help it become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030.
  • Britain is also working with Indian partners on a clean energy transition.
  • UKRI research partnerships would help develop the next generation of solar buildings and through the Newton–Bhabha Fund, Catapult innovation centers are partnering institutions in Bangalore to develop electric mobility and air pollution solutions.
  • UK is working together with India through the MGNREGA to build climate-resilient livelihoods.
  • This focused on drought-proofing, flood defenses and river structures for aquifer replenishment.
  • The Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth (ICRG) has invested in climate-resilient livelihood strategies in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.
  • Also, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences was collaborating to harness land, sea and atmospheric data to aid monsoon forecasting.
  • The Green Growth Equity Fund’s (GGEF) first investment in India had gone to Ayana Renewable Power, with a target of 6 GW in 5 years.
  • It aims to leverage private sector investment from the City of London to invest in Green Infrastructure Projects in India.
  • The Fund has also invested in e-mobility and integrated waste management.
  • India is demonstrating leadership with the International Solar Alliance and the U.K. is working with it and other countries to mobilize more than $1 trillion of investments in solar energy by 2030.
  • Separately, the U.K. is supporting a £40 million Programme for technology advancement and market development of electric cooking, using solar and other energy sources.
  • This Programme, in operation in 15 ISA member-countries, is now establishing itself in India.
  • The minister opined that India has a lot of expertise on solar energy and the UK on wind energy and that the relationship with India is a pivotal one.
  • The United Kingdom holds the Presidency of the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, that is planned for 2020.

At 2,967 tigers, India’s capacity at peak

Paper:

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released an updated report on India’s Tiger Survey from 2018.
  • Released ahead of the International Tiger Day that is observed every year on 29 July, the report assesses the status of tigers in terms of spatial occupancy and density of individual populations across India.

Key Details:

  • India hosts 70% of the world’s tigers.
  • The Tiger Survey 2018 had put India’s tiger population at 2,367 — unchanged from the government’s estimate last year.
  • With the increasing tiger population, India is a global exemplar in tiger conservation.
  • According to the report on the condition of all 50 tiger reserves, Madhya Pradesh has the maximum number of tigers followed by Karnataka.

Concerns:

  • At 2,967, experts say, India may slowly be approaching its peak carrying capacity of tigers.
  • The study reveals that nearly a third of India’s tigers are living outside tiger reserves and nearly 17 of the 50 reserves are approaching the peak of their capacity at sustaining their populations.

Source and Sinks:

  • The reserves, by definition, are a source and suitable for nourishing a growing tiger population because of prey availability and territory.
  • When reserves get too crowded, tigers venture out further from sources and form “sinks”.
  • Much of wildlife population dynamics is about understanding this source-sink relationship.
  • Generally, there’s a 60-40 split in tigers from source-sink, but this varies.

Way forward:

  • For the first time, there is an attempt to segregate how many tigers are largely present within the reserves and how many flitted in and out and were dependent on the core reserve for sustenance. This was to guide conservation policy.
  • With many Tiger Reserves approaching the maximum capacity, the focus should be on developing under-utilized reserves and not over-nourish those that have a good population.
  • The Ministry is also working on a Programme in which efforts would be made to provide water and fodder to animals in the forest itself to deal with the challenge of human-animal conflict which is causing deaths of animals.

Conclusion

  • India counts its tigers once in four years with forest officials and scientists trekking across half a million square kilometers looking for evidence of the elusive feline. The recent one was released in 2019.
  • The status report recently released today is based on surveys conducted since 2006.
  • There are currently 13 tiger range countries — India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Baghjan blowout: panel faults OIL on safety

Paper:

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

A committee that was formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has noted that there was a mismatch between planning and execution by Oil India Limited (OIL), leading to a well blowout in eastern Assam’s Baghjan.

Background:

  • Recently, there was a continuous flow out of gas in Baghjan gas well in Tinsukia district of Assam, following a blowout.
  • The Baghjan well is a purely gas-producing well in Tinsukia district.
  • Since 2006, the gas well is being drilled by Oil India Limited (OIL).
  • It underwent a blowout – uncontrolled escape of gas at tremendous velocity – on May 27, 2020 and has been burning since bursting into flames on June 9.
  • There were reports of death of a river dolphin.
  • Locals complained of symptoms such as burning of eyes, headache, etc.
  • As many as 1,610 families with 2,500-3,000 people were evacuated to relief camps.
  • It is at an aerial distance of 900 meters from the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
  • Also close to it is the Maguri-Motapung wetland —an Important Bird Area notified by the Bombay Natural History Society.

Natural Gas:

  • Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel among the available fossil fuels.
  • It is used as a feedstock in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals as well as used as a fuel for electricity generation, heating purpose in industrial and commercial units.
  • Natural gas is also used for cooking in domestic households and as a transportation fuel for vehicles.

Why do blowouts happen?

  • Sometimes, the pressure balance in a well may be disturbed leading to ‘kicks’ or changes in pressure. If these are not controlled in time, the ‘kicks can turn into a sudden blowout.

Similar events in the past:

In the past, two comparable blowouts have happened in Assam:

  • At an OIL-owned oil well in Dikhom (Dibrugarh) in 2005.
  • At an ONGC-owned oil well in Rudrasagar in the 1970s. This took three months to contain. 

What are the possible reasons for the blow out?

  • Possible reasons behind blowouts range from simple lack of attention, poor workmanship, bad maintenance, old age, sabotage to morpho-tectonic factors.
  • A device called a blowout preventer is usually installed in wells.
  • The gas well at Baghjan was being serviced, and a new sand was being tested at another depth in the same well. The blowout preventer was also removed and suddenly, gas started to ooze out of the exposed well. 

Why is it so difficult to control?

  • The control of a blowout depends on two things: the size of the reservoir and the pressure at which the gas/oil is flowing out.
  • While many blowouts automatically collapse on their own, it can take up to months.
  • To control a blowout, the first step is to pump in water, so that the gas does not catch fire.
  • This reservoir was particularly difficult to control since it was a gas well and ran the risk of catching fire at any point.

What is being done?

  • A preliminary assessment by TERI team is in progress at the site for studying air quality and noise level.
  • Bioremediation of sludge is being done using a technology developed in-house by OIL’s research and development wing.
  • Bioremediation is the cleaning of polluted sites through naturally occurring or introduced microorganisms for breaking down environmental pollutants.
  • OIL also updated the efforts to kill the well fire before capping the blowout. Certain steps such as erection of heat shield have been completed.

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park:

  • Dibru-Saikhowa is a National Park as well as a Biosphere Reserve situated on the south bank of the river Brahmaputra in Assam.
  • It is an identified Important Bird Area (IBA) notified by the Bombay Natural History Society.

‘Notification on 74% FDI in defence soon’

Paper:

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in News:

The government is soon going to come out with a notification on 74% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence.

Key Details:

  • In May 2020, as a part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan economic stimulus package, the government announced a series of measures to promote domestic defence manufacturing. These include:
  • A negative import lists
  • Separate budgetary allocation for domestic procurements
  • Indigenization of spares and components
  • Raising the FDI cap through automatic route from 49% to 74%
  • Also, the second draft of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2020, now renamed as the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 has been put out in the public domain for comments.

Concerns:

  • There are concerns that the current set of announcements was more of industrial reforms than an economic stimulus.
  • The sectors covered are of strategic importance and would involve a long time period. They would not be able to help revive the economy as it comes out of the lockdown.
  • The only direct budgetary cost in the new announcement is the 8,100 crore rupees to be provided as a hiked 30% viability gap funding to boost private investment in social sector infrastructure.
  • Some sections have alleged that the government has used the crisis time to utilize the ordinance route or other ways to fast-track industrial reforms, which would have faced resistance otherwise.
  • Labour unions have expressed concerns with regard to the reform measures over concerns of privatization of important sector.