Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016
GS Paper 2: Government policies and intervention
Prelims exam: Provision of Amended Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016
Mains exam: Growth in Telecom sector
Why in news
Union Minister of Communications, Electronics & IT and Railways released amendment in the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016 to facilitate faster and easier deployment of Telecom Infrastructure and launched a new 5G RoW application ‘form’ on GatiShakti Sanchar Portal to enable faster 5G roll-out in India.
5G Development in India
• There are 4 basic ingredients for ensuring faster rollout of 5G services across the country, which are:
o allocation of spectrum
o reforms in the processing of RoW permission
o co-operative federalism
o rollout of services.
Spectrum allocation and harmonisation has been completed successfully.
• GatiSakti Sanchar Portal was launched by DoT in May, 2022 for the development of infrastructure services in an integrated manner.
o The IT systems of all States/UTs and major infrastructure central ministries such as Railway, Highways have been integrated with the portal to make India ready for 5G launch.
• 13 States/UTs have implemented deemed approval clauses in their RoW Policies ensuring speedy approvals.
• These measures have resulted in major reduction in average time for approval of RoW applications, from 435 days in 2019 to 16 days in July, 2022.
The salient features of the amendments are as follows:
• Expansion of telecom infrastructure:
o To facilitate faster 5G roll-out, RoW application procedures for small cells have now been simplified.
o To facilitate faster fiberisation, street infrastructure may be utilised at a nominal cost of Rs. 100/annum to install overground optical fibre.
o The amendments create distinction between ‘poles’ and ‘mobile towers’.
Overground infrastructure of height up to 8 meters shall be treated as poles and will need minimal regulatory permissions for deployment.
• Improving ease of doing business:
o The amendments provide for a single window clearance system for RoW applications.
Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal of Ministry of Communications will be the single window portal for all telecom related RoW applications.
Single window clearance will reduce multiplicity of compliance and facilitate easier approvals.
Rationalisation of fees/charges.
• Telecom infrastructure over private property:
o For installing telecom infrastructure on private property, Telecom licensees may enter into agreement with private property owners and they will not require any permission from any government authority.
o In such cases, Telecom licensees shall be required to give only prior intimation along with structural suitability certificate.
These measures are expected to facilitate rapid expansion and upgradation of telecom networks and therefore improvement in the quality of services.
GS Paper 2: Relations between India and African countries
Prelims exam: Use of lithium
Mains exam: Importance of critical minerals and India’s relation with African countries
Why in news
In a massive boost to its efforts to secure critical mineral supplies, India has been approached by several African nations with offers to service part of their development loans by giving access to Indian companies in their mining operations and allowing exports of highly prized lithium and cobalt.
Aid to African countries from India
• India extends development assistance through concessional LoC under the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme (IDEAS).
o Under it, India extends concessional funds to overseas financial institutions, regional development banks, governments and other entities to help finance development and infrastructure projects or to import goods and services from India, all on deferred credit terms.
• LoCs(Line of Credits) are extended through the Exim Bank of India, and each LoC can have several projects under it.
o Several countries have offered to repay Exim Bank credit through output generated by a certain project or other minerals that India needs to support Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.
Importance of Lithium
• The most important use of lithium is in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles. Lithium is also used in some non-rechargeable batteries for things like heart pacemakers, toys and clocks.
• Lithium metal is made into alloys with aluminium and magnesium, improving their strength and making them lighter.
o A magnesium-lithium alloy is used for armour plating.
o Aluminium-lithium alloys are used in aircraft, bicycle frames and high-speed trains.
• Lithium oxide is used in special glasses and glass ceramics.
• Lithium chloride is one of the most hygroscopic materials known, and is used in air conditioning and industrial drying systems (as is lithium bromide).
• Lithium stearate is used as an all-purpose and high-temperature lubricant.
• Lithium carbonate is used in drugs to treat manic depression, although its action on the brain is still not fully understood.
• Lithium hydride is used as a means of storing hydrogen for use as a fuel.
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988
GS Paper 2: Government policies and intervention
Prelims exam: Provision of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988
Why in news
The Supreme Court of India (SC) ruled that an amendment to the Benami Act that came into effect on November 1, 2016, cannot be applied retrospectively to the transactions between September 5, 1988, and October 25, 2016.
About Benami Law
• The act was Introduced in 1988, the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act prohibits Benami transactions and gives the government the right to recover Benami property.
• Benami transaction: Where a property is transferred to or is held by, a person, and the consideration for such property has been provided, or paid by, another person. It also includes transactions where “the property is held for the immediate or future benefit, direct or indirect, of the person who has provided the consideration.”
o However, when the property is held by a member of a Hindu undivided family (HUF) on behalf of the HUF, or on behalf of his spouse or children, it cannot be considered Benami.
o Also, if the property is held in a fiduciary capacity, it does not come under the ambit of the law.
• According to the law, the Centre can confiscate any property that has been tagged as a Benami property.
• Cash and sensitive information can also be termed as ‘property’ under the act.
Amendments in the act in 2016
• The amendment that came into effect on November 1, 2016, inserted a sub-section 2 in section 3 of part 3 of the act.
• It specified that whoever enters a Benami transaction shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to three years or a fine or both.
• The new punishment was also being applied retrospectively to the transactions that took place before 2016.
Supreme Court’s Decision
• Court declared Sections 3(2) and 5 introduced through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act of 2016.
• The Chief Justice of India said that the provision violated Article 20(1) of the Constitution.
o Article 20(1) mandates that no person should be convicted of an offence which was not in force “at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence”.
• Section 5 of the 2016 Amendment Act said that “any property which is subject matter of a benami transaction shall be liable to be confiscated by the Central Government.” The court held that this provision cannot be applied retrospectively.
• Court dismissed the government’s version that forfeiture, acquisition, and confiscation of property under the 2016 Act was not in the nature of prosecution and cannot be restricted under Article 20.
• Rem forfeiture: The court observed that the 2016 Act condemned not only transactions which were traditionally denominated as “benami” but rather a “new class of fictitious and sham transactions”.
o The court said the intention of Parliament was to condemn property acquired from ill-gotten wealth.
o Court noted that these proceedings cannot be equated as enforcing civil obligations.
o The court explained that the 2016 Act contemplated an “in rem forfeiture”, by which the taint of entering into a benami transaction is transposed to the asset itself”.
• Excessive powers: The court also noted that the Act also granted extensive powers of discovery, inspection, compelling attendance, and compelling production of documents to officials. It also empowered authorities to seek the assistance of police officers, customs officers, income tax officers, etc., for furnishing information.
• The court dismissed the government’s contentions that the 2016 Act was merely procedural in nature. On the other hand, it said the provisions were substantive.
Effect of this decision
Authorities concerned cannot initiate or continue criminal prosecution or confiscation proceedings for transactions entered into prior to the coming into force of the 2016 Act, viz., October 25, 2016. As a consequence, all such prosecutions or confiscation proceedings shall stand quashed.
Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022
GS Paper 3: Environmental pollution and degradation
Prelims exam: Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022
Mains exam: E-waste management
Why in news
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has published the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 to ensure environmentally sound management of waste batteries.
Key points of new rules
• New rules will replace Batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001.
• The rules cover all types of batteries, viz. Electric Vehicle batteries, portable batteries, automotive batteries and industrial batteries.
• The rules function based on the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
• Under EPR the producers (including importers) of batteries are responsible for collection and recycling/refurbishment of waste batteries and use of recovered materials from wastes into new batteries.
• EPR mandates that all waste batteries to be collected and sent for recycling/refurbishment, and it prohibits disposal in landfills and incineration.
• To meet the EPR obligations, producers may engage themselves or authorise any other entity for collection, recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries.
• The rules will enable setting up a mechanism and centralised online portal for exchange of EPR certificates between producers and recyclers/refurbishers to fulfil the obligations of producers.
• The rules promote setting up of new industries and entrepreneurship in collection and recycling/refurbishment of waste batteries.
• Mandating the minimum percentage of recovery of materials from waste batteries under the rules will bring new technologies and investment in the recycling and refurbishment industry and create new business opportunities.
• Prescribing the use of a certain amount of recycled materials in making of new batteries will reduce the dependency on new raw materials and save natural resources.
• Online registration & reporting, auditing, and a committee for monitoring the implementation of rules and to take measures required for removal of difficulties are salient features of rules for ensuring effective
implementation and compliance.
• On the principle of Polluter Pays Principle, environmental compensation will be imposed for non-fulfilment of Extended Producer Responsibility targets, responsibilities and obligations set out in the rules.
o The funds collected under environmental compensation shall be utilised in collection and refurbishing or recycling of uncollected and non-recycled waste batteries.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]