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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 22nd May, 2017

  • May 23, 2017
  • 2
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs May 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 22nd May 2017

Archives

ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 3

  • Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
  • Water Pollution, Wastewater management.

Consider wastewater as an asset rather than burden

Overview:

March 22nd is celebrated as World Water Day every year to spread awareness among the general public and focus on its importance in sustainable development.

Each year a specific aspect of water is highlighted while observing International World Water Day. This year, 24th World Water Day is celebrated with the theme ‘Wastewater’.

Definition of wastewater:

“Wastewater” is defined as any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influences and as a result of domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural activities.

Why “wastewater”?

It is easily observed that in any discourse about water, wastewater is less talked about as against normal water supply. Though waste water is the one that is generally wasted, it is an important resource too.

In recent decades, population growth, accelerated urbanisation and economic development have resulted in an increase in the quantity of wastewater and the overall pollution load being generated. Most of our freshwater sources are under threat.

The victims are generally the poor or socially vulnerable communities, and the end result is a high financial burden on the community and government.

Wastewater as a resource in an economy requires safe management as it is an efficient investment in human health and the ecosystem.

The opportunities for exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials. The benefits to our health, and in terms of economic development and environmental sustainability, business opportunities and ‘green’ jobs far outweigh the costs of wastewater management.

Once treated, it can be recycled and/or reused for drinking purposes, in industry, in the artificial recharge of aquifers, in agriculture, in the rehabilitation of natural ecosystems etc.

Water facts

  • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated goes back to the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
  • Another fact is that, around 1.8 billion people use drinking water contaminated with faeces which increases their risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Also, 663 million people still lack access to improved drinking water sources.
  • In India, about 69% India’s water is untreated and 39% of actual operating capacity does not meet the regulatory standards (CPCB 2009).
  • By 2030, the global demand for water is expected to grow by 50%. Most of this demand will be in cities.

In low-income areas of cities/towns within developing countries, a large proportion of wastewater is discharged directly into the surface water drain, without or with limited treatment.

In India, major share of waste water is generated from metro cities, class-I cities and class-II towns.  The industrial sector in India also discharges large amount of effluents, without proper treatment, into waterbodies. Unfortunately, most common effluent treatment plants are not performing satisfactorily due to improper operations and maintenance. Run-off from agriculture fields is another major source of pollution.

Past experience shows that significant progress has not been achieved despite legislative and policy measures being introduced with huge budgets to solve water pollution issues. Water pollution is not a major topic of political debate as yet.

The way ahead:

Water pollution problem, though complex, is solvable. While it is not realistic to aim for zero water pollution, a level of socially acceptable pollution, respecting the integrity of ecosystems and service provision, can be reached.

  1. Nearly 39 percent of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) are not conforming to the general standards prescribed under the Environmental (Protection) Rules for discharge into streams. In a number of cities, the existing treatment capacity remains underutilized while a lot of sewage is discharged without treatment in the same city.
  2. If India deploys adequate treatment technology, the country would be able to significantly expand its available water supply, both for potable and non-potable use. Our economy, industry and most importantly, our people, would reap the benefits.
  3. At the national and regional levels, water pollution prevention policies should be integrated into non-water policies that have implications on water quality such as agriculture and land use management, trade, industry, energy, and urban development.
  4. Various policies, plans and strategies to protect water resources should be made participatory, allowing for consultation between government, industry and the public. At the local level, capacity building enables the community to make decisions and disseminate them to the appropriate authorities, thus influencing political processes.
  5. Market-based strategies such as environmental taxes, pollution levies and tradable permit systems should be implemented, that can be used to fight against water pollution. Incentive mechanisms such as subsidies, soft loans, tax relaxation should be included in installing pollution management devices.
  6. The application of eco-friendly inputs such as biofertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and the use of natural dyes in textile industries, industrial pollution management, and technological attempts should be made through cleaner production technology; these can reduce the pollution load considerably.

Fresh water is increasingly getting scarce; the wastewater generated in urban areas can be very effectively use for sub-urban agriculture, industry, and even sanitation and certain domestic applications after treatment.

There is need of deploying adequate technology to treat water in India, it could significantly expand its water supply and better water means better public health and economic development.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is waste water? What are different means to recycle it? Critically examine India’s waste water management plans.
  • Critically analyse the role of grey water model in sustainable development. Elaborate on the benefits of the same.

 

NATIONAL/ECONOMY

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Governance issues.

General Studies 3

  • Environment versus development.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Loopholes in Coastal Regulation Zone Rules

Introduction:

India has a significantly large coastline measuring close to 7,517km, covering large swathes of territory across nine states and four union territories.

It is generally agreed that a key element in the transformation of India is the creation of a large number of good jobs. While micro and small enterprises provide lots of jobs, consistent with their low productivity, they pay relatively low wages.

Coastal zones in this context holds great opportunities to provide high-paying export oriented jobs as well as several marine resource dependent opportunities. However, CRZ Notification tends to put an obstacle in this regard.

Burdensome laws, accompanied by the onerous rules and regulations they impose, restrict economic activity in the entire country. However, the coastal regions suffer from the additional liability of having to comply with far-fetched coast protection norms originating under the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA).

Coastal waters provide a source of primary livelihood to 7 million households. Our marine ecosystems are a treasure trove of biodiversity, which we are only beginning to discover and catalogue. Thus, our coastline is both a precious natural resource and an important economic asset, and we need a robust progressive framework to regulate our coast.

Coastal Regulation Zone notification

In 1991, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (“MOEF”) issued a notification under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986, seeking to regulate development activity on India’s coastline. The approach adopted by the first notification was to define the ‘High Tide Line’ (“HTL”) and ‘Coastal Regulation Zone’ (“CRZ”) and thereafter specify the activities permitted and restricted in the vicinity of the CRZ. This regulated zone was further divided into four categories (CRZ I-IV) as per permitted land use.

As per the norms created by the Central government, a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) is the land area from the high-tide line to 500m inland. There is a long list of prohibited activities within this zone, such as the setting up of new industries, expansion of existing industries, establishment of fish processing units, warehouses, land reclamation, etc.

Concern: Although the norms carve out exceptions within these prohibited activities for certain undertakings, such as building ports or reconstructing dwelling units for local communities. The regulation is replete with such curious exceptions to some specific cases (for ex – green signal for development of a greenfield airport proposed at Navi Mumbai), which raise questions pertaining to the criteria that was followed to determine permissible and non-permissible activities.

Flaws in the present CRZ rules

The peculiarity of the CRZ directives is evidenced from the universal allowance granted to areas adjoining bays, estuaries, backwaters, lagoons and other tidal-influenced water bodies. For areas falling under this category, the regulated zone extends only 100m inland from the high-tide line.

As a result, many developers, entrepreneurs and builders have been asking the coastal zone management authorities to declare the water around the coastal land area within their project plans as bays or tidal-influenced water bodies.

Some have approached several high courts for such declaration to avail the benefits of a smaller regulated zone.

The multiplicity of definitions, exceptions, permissible and impermissible activities not only lead to high regulatory and legal expenditure in obtaining project clearances, there is all-round confusion in implementation as well. The execution of the CRZ rules falls within the domain of several coastal zone management authorities created by the state governments for this purpose

Way ahead

The CRZ norms are another example of a top-down, heavy-handed, legislative diktat from Delhi that ignores local dynamics and the diverse needs and realities of states. Regulations like CRZ create significant entry barriers for firms unable to negotiate the myriad, complex guidelines or lobby for rent-seeking special concessions from the government.

The authorities have to prepare coastal zone management plans based on the complicated regulation which also lists the guidelines that the authorities must follow in preparation of the plans. Most authorities are themselves unaware of the implementation scheme and a significant number of cases concerning clearances and bay designation are sent to the Central government for clarification. This not only creates uncertainty, it also increases the time taken for permissions, burdening the firms with high compliance outlays.

Connecting the dots:

  • Coastal Regulation Zone norms are an example of a top-down, heavy-handed, legislative diktat from Delhi that ignores local dynamics. Do you agree? Elucidate.
  • Write a note on structure, functioning and performance of Coastal Zone Management Authorities (CZMAs).
  • Explain the role of Coastal Regulatory Zone/Authorities (CRZ) in protecting Environment.

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