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Implement Cauvery draft scheme before rains: Supreme Court

News:

  1. The Supreme Court has ordered the Central government to implement its draft Cauvery Management Scheme before the monsoon.

Important facts:

  1. The Supreme Court said that the draft scheme was in accordance with the Cauvery Water Tribunal award which was modified by the court on February and was also in conformity with the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956.
  2. The court also found the draft scheme is in conformity with Section 6A of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act.
  3. The Supreme Court has  dismissed objections raised by Kerala and Karnataka that the scheme encroached upon the States’ authority to conserve and use the waters under the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

A chance in Srinagar

News:

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Srinagar

Important facts:

  1. The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister has informed the Centre regarding the suspension of ceasefire operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramzan.

3.Earlier, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has also announced the Ceasefire in 2000 during Ramazan.

  1. The announcement restricts the security forces from launching any operations in the State during of Ramzan.

5.Limitations:

  • The security forces are given the right to retaliate if they are attacked or if it is essential to protect the lives of innocent people is needed to maintenance law and in state.
  1. The announcement will bring respite to the Valley after two years of escalated violence, since the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016.
  2. Current situation
  • A large number of young Kashmiris have taken up arms.
  •  According to the latest data from the State police, local youth have joined militancy recently

8. Conclusion

  • The temporary halt to security operations in the state is not enough to maintain the peace process.
  • The government should follow a broader framework to figure out halted difficulties and provide a holistic formula to ensure peace in the state.
  • A firm political outreach is needed to provide unconditional support to people of state.

EU moves to save Iran nuclear deal

News:

  1. European Union has initiated the ‘Blocking Statute’ to save the Iran Nuclear Deal as it had pledged to stick to the deal if Iran respects its terms.

Important Facts:

  1. The “Blocking Statute” was made in 1996 to circumvent Washington’s trade sanctions on Cuba. But, the statute never came into effect as the Cuba row was settled politically.
  2. The statute has the following provisions:
  • It prohibits EU companies and courts from complying with specific foreign sanction laws.
  • It allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them.
  1. 28 EU member states and the European Parliament have to sign the statute.
  2. EU has updated the list of U.S. sanctions on Iran falling within its scope.
  3. It is expected that the statute will be in force before August 6 when the first batch of reimposed U.S. sanctions take effect.
  4. The Statute’s will be more effective as a bargaining chip with USA.
  5. The European Commission also took steps allow the European Investment Bank to support EU investment in Iran,” particularly involving small and medium-sized companies.
  6. As part of “Confidence-building measures” the Commission would take steps to help Iran’s energy sector and small and medium-sized companies.
  7. China and Russia have also stepped up efforts to save the deal.
  8. Iran has warned that it would begin “industrial-scale” uranium enrichment if Europe cannot provide solid guarantees to preserve Iran’s economic benefits given in the deal.

Governor’s discretion has its limits

News:

1.The Supreme Court has observed that the appointment of K.G. Bopaiah as a pro tem speaker  by Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala is an arbitrary use of governor discretion.

Important facts:

  1. The Supreme Court has ordered the Karnataka Governor to appoint a pro tem Speaker to conduct a floor test to decide the majority in the Karnataka Assembly.
  2.  Article 180 (1) of the Constitution empowers the Governor to appoint a pro tem Speaker.
  3. The Article says that if the chair of the Speaker falls vacant and there is no Deputy Speaker to fill the position, the duties of the office shall be performed “by such member of the Assembly as the Governor may appoint for the purpose”.
  4. The BJP defends the Governor decision of appointing Pro tem speaker by quoting that Article 163 (2) of the Constitution mandates the “the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion”.
  5. Some other Supreme Court judgment on discretionary power of Governor.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that a Governor’s choice of action must not be arbitrary or fanciful. The Court ruled that Article 163 does not give Governors a “general discretionary power” and exercise of his Governor’s discretion is limited.
  • In Rebia Nabam case the Governor of the Arunachal Pradesh has advanced the date for the sixth Assembly session
  • Supreme Court judgment in Rameshwar Prasad case, 2006 held that the “immunity granted to the Governor under Article 361 (1) does not affect the power of the Court to judicially scrutinize.
  • 7. Recent cases of discretionary power of the Governor has raised the Concern for judicial review by the Supreme Court.

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Nine years after
News:

  1. It is the ninth anniversary of the end of civil war in Sri Lanka


Important Facts:

2.According to UN estimates, around 40,000 people died in the war which came to an end on May 18, 2009.

3.While the tamils look at the anniversary as a day to remember their loved ones, the southern Sinhalese political leadership celebrate the war heroes, the soldiers who sacrificed their lives.

4.The civilians who suffered because of the war have not been adequately taken care off by the government.

5.The present government led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power in 2015 promising,a political solution to Sri Lanka’s national question.

6.It initiated the drafting of a constitution that would potentially devolve more powers to all provinces, including the Tamil-majority north and east.

7.The government started framing a constitution which would devolve powers to all province. But it has not been able to make much progress due to tensions within the ruling coalition and political instability..

8.The efforts of the government such as release of military occupied land or efforts to probe cases of enforced disappearance will not produce intended results in the backdrop of political tensions.

9.The other countries of the world hope that if not in the political front, Sri Lanka would take efforts in other domains. But the efforts to revive the economy have not been promising.

  1. Problems plaguing the civilians:
  • Almost every family in the north and east are in debt.
  • Young people are desperate for employment.  

Death by slow poisoning

News:

1.An estimated 10 million people in nine districts of West Bengal drink arsenic-laden groundwater.

Important Facts:

2.Today, around 10 million people in nine districts in West Bengal and 40 million in Bangladesh drink arsenic laden ground water.

3.The source of the arsenic contamination can be traced back to the following geological processes:

  • Around 18,000 and 6,000 years ago, small Himalayan rock particles, coated with iron oxide, entered the Ganga river delta.
  • On the way, these particles absorbed the tiny amounts of arsenic in the river water, like a sponge soaking liquid.
  • These particles were then deposited in layers of sediment, over thousands of years, in what is now West Bengal and Bangladesh.
  • Decaying organic matter or peat acted on these rocks. These organic matter used up the oxygen from the iron oxide present in the rocks for their own metabolism. In the process,
  • Around 18,000 and 6,000 years ago, small Himalayan rock particles, coated with iron oxide, entered the Ganga river delta.
  • On the way, these particles absorbed the tiny amounts of arsenic in the river water, like a sponge soaking liquid.
  • These particles were then deposited in layers of sediment, over thousands of years, in what is now West Bengal and Bangladesh.
  • Decaying organic matter or peat acted on these rocks. These organic matter used up the oxygen from the iron oxide present in the rocks for their own metabolism. In the process, iron and arsenic was set free.
  • This increased the concentration of both iron and arsenic in the groundwater.
  • In 1970’s tube wells were dug out due to increased surface water contamination.This unleashed the underground arsenic.4.Shallow tube wells, less than 150 meters deep, are the worst affected, because they contain arsenic-rich sediments from the Holocene era, when the arsenic arrived in the delta.5.Can Deep aquifers be the solutions?
    • Deep aquifers, more than 150 meters underground, are unaffected because they tap into the older Pleistocene sediments. Bangladesh has been using deep tubewells for accessing safe water.
    • But even deep aquifers can become contaminated with the overuse of groundwater as it disturbs the clay separating the deep and shallow aquifers.For example, North 24 Parganas, deep tube wells which were uncontaminated initially saw arsenic levels rise in about five years.
    • Thus the initial strategy of the government of digging deeper wells to replace the shallow ones was not feasible.

    6.Effect on people:

    • On the Skin:

     (i)The most visible symptom in early years is a classic blotchy pattern on the skin, a condition called raindrop pigmentation.

    (ii)Next they develop hyperkeratosis — dark crusts on their palms and soles.

    (iii)Skin can turn cancerous. E.g., Bowen’s Carcinoma.

    • It can also destroy the kidneys and liver tissue, cause conjunctivitis and affect the lungs causing arsenicosis.
    • It is a silent killer, it can take years for keratosis to show in adults and even longer in children.
    • Arsenic contaminated children have lower IQ.
    • Social stigma attached to it affects the livelihood of the person.

    7.This problem of arsenic contamination has been compared with the Chernobyl disaster.

    8.Steps taken by the Government and NGOs and reasons for its failure:

    • A water treatment plant was installed in Madhusudhankati by thefarmer’s cooperative society with the help of Sulabh International.

     Reason for failure: despite the availability of safe water, people drank contaminated water.

    • The government appointed committees in 1983,1988,1992 and 1993 to look into the problem of arsenic contamination but no proper follow up action was taken.
    • By 2007, the government tested over 1 lakh wells for contamination.

    Reason for failure: The contaminated wells were not marked making the whole exercise futile.

    • UNICEF and other NGOs focus was on public outreach. They held door-to-door campaigns, street plays, distributed flyers.

      Reason for failure: It could not cover enough areas to make a significant change.

    • The campaign needed dedicated communication experts which the Government did not have.

A household filter was developed by SOES with two components:

    •     (i)A tablet made of iron salt, an oxidizer and activated charcoal. The tablet reacts with arsenic and turns it into a filtrable floc.    (ii)A fly ash filter to filter the floc.

       Reason for failure:

      People did not know how to use them.

      People would use multiple tablets instead of just one.

      Tablets would be exposed to sunlight and dried out by mistake

      Toxic arsenic sludge was disposed of unsafely releasing back into the ground.

      • Treatment plants have been installed in many locations:

      Reasons for failure: Arsenic removal technologies are still emerging.

      Plants are operating at low efficiencies because of maintenance issues.

      9.Steps to be taken: Challenges:

    •  (i)Technical challenges in laying such long pipelines.(ii)Total estimated cost is Rs 1 lakh crore.10.Efforts currently underway
      • Short term strategy: Provide Hooghly water to half the contaminated villages and community arsenic treatment plants for the other half.
      • Commissioning 170 community arsenic treatment plants.

Online resource for academicians soon

News:

  1. The National Institute of Educational Research and Planning (NIEPA) is planning to roll out an online National resource centre, an initiative under Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Training (PMMMNMTT).

Important facts:

  1. The National Resource Centre portal will be a one-stop point for Indian academicians to enhance their research and teaching skills.
  2. National Resource Centre portal’s vision is for developing teachers by helping them to enhance their potential and push the frontiers of knowledge through research, networking and sharing of existing resources in the competitive knowledge world.
  3. The portal will be launched with detailed information on resources in subjects like: History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. Education and Management will also feature among the chosen disciplines.
  4. College and university teachers will be able to access a detailed database of academic resources, including lists of books, top journals and subject experts in their area of interest.
  5. The centre will suggest a mechanism to allow higher education institutions to assess students’ satisfaction with teaching and research in the institutions.

7.This would help faculty to figure out what students think about their college/university and suggest further improvements.

  1. NIEPA will hold a series of intensive workshops with experts in various disciplines.

 

  • ‘India’s freshwater stocks in danger’ 
  • News:
    1. According to a study published in the journal Nature,India’s fresh water stocks are in danger.

    Important facts:

    1. The study was conducted using an array of NASA earth observation satellites.
    2. NASA tracked the global hydrological changes.
    3. The study, has observed the following:
    4. wetter parts of the earth’s were getting wetter and dry areas getting drier due to a variety of factors including human water use, climate change and natural cycles.
    •  The areas in northern and eastern India, West Asia, California and Australia are among the hotspots where overuse of water resources has caused a serious decline in the availability of freshwater.
    •  The northern India groundwater extraction for irrigation of wheat and rice crops has led to depletion of water, despite rainfall being normal throughout the period.
    • NASA scientist has reported the major hydrological change and also pointed out the Water loss in some regions like the melting ice sheets and alpine glaciers is clearly effects of warming climate.

     

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