IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 25th August 2018
NITI Aayog on health
Part of: GS Mains II – Health issue; Social issue
- NITI Aayog has identified three major sectors — health, education and children’s health — as priority sectors for intervention.
- About 38% of children are malnourished while 50% mothers anaemic.
- NITI Aayog wants to get rid of the malnourishment and anaemia from the country.
‘The Urban Commute and How it Contributes to Pollution and Energy’ Report
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Pollution
- The report titled ‘The Urban Commute and How it Contributes to Pollution and Energy’, compiled by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), was released recently.
- An analysis of 14 Indian cities, including six megacities and eight metropolises, on how they fare when it comes to pollution and energy consumption from urban commuting.
- Kolkata – top-performing megacity.
- Bhopal leads the list on the lowest overall emissions.
- Delhi fares the worst on the two counts.
Do you know?
- Road transport was the sector showing the highest increase in emission of greenhouse gases.
- According to the report, though metropolitan cities scored better than megacities due to lower population, lower travel volume and lower vehicle numbers, they were at risk due to a much higher share of personal vehicle trips.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAF Act), 2016 and Forest Rights Act
CAF Act and FRA were in news. Just remember the following basics for now.
About CFA Act, 2016:
- The legislation provides an institutional mechanism to ensure utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. The amount is used to mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land.
About FRA, 2006:
- The law concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades.
General Studies 2
- Indian Constitution
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States,
- Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure,
- Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein
Strengthening the federal link
- State finance commission has been created to rationalise and systematise State/sub-State-level fiscal relations in India. But, there has been inadequate appreciation of the significance of this institution by the Union, States as well as the professional community
State Finance Commissions (SFC):
- The State Finance Commission (SFC) is an institution created by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. Its primary task is to rectify growing horizontal imbalances in the delivery of essential public services to citizens.
- At a regular interval of 5 years, under Article 243 I of the Constitution, State Finance Commissions are to be constituted.
- The purpose is to assign it the task of reviewing the financial position of the Panchayats and making recommendations on the sharing and the assignment of various taxes, duties etc.
- It is also to look at grants-in-aid to be given to the Panchayats from the Consolidated Fund of the State.
- The Conformity Acts of the Constitution Amendment Act are required to provide for the composition of the Commission, the qualification for its Members and the manner of their selection.
Importance of State Finance Commissions SFCs:
- The task of the SFC to correct horizontal imbalances is extremely onerous as it has to consider nearly 2.5 lakh local governments to promote minimum essential services in rural and urban areas.
- An SFC is the institutional agency to implement the golden rule of cooperative federalism that every citizen should be assured minimum public goods irrespective of her choice of residence.
- Article 280(3) has been amended to add clauses (b) and (c) in order to take measures to augment the resources of Panchayats and Municipalities on the basis of the recommendations “made by the finance commission of the state”.
- These sub-clauses affirm the organic link between local governments and SFCs to fiscal federalism.
- Articles 243G and 243W give mandate of planning “for economic development and social justice”.
- The Constitution treats a local government on a par with a State government, especially when it comes to sharing of financial resources.
Causes of financial inefficiencies at Local level
- Constitution of finance commission and irregularities
- Article 243I of the Constitution mandated the State Governor to constitute a Finance Commission within one year of the Constitutional Amendment came to force.
- That means, this is to be constituted before April 24, 1994 and thereafter every five years.
- Till date, only Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have submitted their fifth SFC reports. Many States are yet to cross the third SFC stage.
- The seriousness, regularity, acceptance of recommendations and their implementation are conspicuously absent and moreover the composition of SFCs reveals the overwhelming presence of serving and / or retired bureaucrats rather than academics.
- Problems being faced by SFCs:
- It is important to disabuse the notion among several politicians, policymakers and even experts that SFCs and the local governments they deal with have an inferior constitutional status when compared to the UFC.
- The SFC is undoubtedly modelled on the UFC created under Article 280 and exemplified in Articles 243I and 243Y.
- SFCs face a crucial problem of reliable data: Unlike the financial reporting system of the Union and States, local governments with no proper budgetary system are in deep disarray.
- Constitutional Provisions Ignored by the States:
- Articles 243G and 243W talks about planning for economic development and social justice, Article 243ZD mandates that every State constitute a District Planning Committee for spatial panning and environmental conservation at the sub-State level.
- The Constitutional Amendment left the task of adequately empowering the local Govts. to discharge constitutional obligations to the States.
- Failure of Union Finance Commissions (UFCs):
- UFCs have failed to play a hand-holding role in placing decentralised governance properly in the cooperative federal map of India.
- The hard truth is that no UFC has done its homework in reading and analysing SFC reports.
- Without presenting a consolidated account of the reality at the sub-State level or highlighting which report went wrong, where and how, no UFC can legitimately guide States or contribute to improving the goals of constitutional amendments.
- All the terms of reference of UFCs (since the 11th) iterate the need for suggesting measures to augment the resources of Panchayats and Municipalities as a core task.
- Both centre and state must sit together to make a concrete approach to redeem the situation and work towards a good local governance system.
- Their well-designed grant scheme to incentivise States was not given a fair trial.
- Till now, SFCs have not been provided with the necessary environment to play their rightful role in Indian fiscal federalism. A great opportunity to build regional equity in India should not be undermined but to enhance the opportunity towards the Fiscal and Cooperative Federalism.
Connecting the dots:
- There must be recognition of the potential of State Finance Commissions in building regional equity. Critically examine the present status of fiscal federalism at state-local government level.
General Studies 2
- Climate Change
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Trouble in the hill
- The catastrophic monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka have revived the debate on whether political expediency trumped science?
- Kerala is a part of Western Ghats, spread over 1,29,037 sq km according to the Gadgil Panel estimate and 1,64,280 sq km as per the Kasturirangan panel.
Western Ghats and reports:
- Seven years ago, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel issued recommendations for the preservation of the fragile western peninsular region.
- Madhav Gadgil, who chaired the Union Environment Ministry’s WGEEP, has said the recent havoc in Kerala is a consequence of short-sighted policymaking, and warned that Goa may also be in the line of nature’s fury.
- The State governments that are mainly responsible for the Western Ghats — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra — must pay heed to the reports of both the Gadgil Committee and the Kasturirangan Committee, which was set up to examine the WGEEP report.
- The entire system is globally acknowledged as a biodiversity hotspot. But population estimates for the sensitive zones vary greatly, based on interpretations of the ESZs.
- In Kerala, for instance, one expert assessment says 39 lakh households are in the ESZs outlined by the WGEEP, but the figure drops sharply to four lakh households for a smaller area of zones identified by the Kasturirangan panel.
- The task before western states is to initiate correctives to environmental policy decisions.
- This is not going to be easy, given the need to balance human development pressures with stronger protection of the Western Ghats ecology.
- The issue of allowing extractive industries such as quarrying and mining to operate is arguably the most contentious.
- Another issue is the calculation of what constitutes the sensitive core and what activities can be carried out there.
- The goal has to be sustainable development for the Ghats as a whole.
- The role of big hydroelectric dams, built during an era of rising power demand and deficits, must now be considered afresh and proposals for new ones dropped.
- Other low-impact forms of green energy led by solar power are available.
- A moratorium on quarrying and mining in the identified sensitive zones, in Kerala and also other States, is necessary to assess their environmental impact.
- A way out could be to create the regulatory framework that was proposed by the Gadgil panel, in the form of an apex Western Ghats Ecology Authority and the State-level units, under the Environment (Protection) Act, and to adopt the zoning system that it proposed.
- This can keep incompatible activities out of the Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs).
- Public consultation on the expert reports that includes people’s representatives will find greater resonance now, and help chart a sustainable path ahead.
Connecting the dots:
- What are Hotspots? Suggest some measures to conserve Western Ghats, in the light of Gadgil Committee report.
- Economic development and environment conservation, evaluate the Kasturirangan Committee report’s
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Which among the following constitutes Photochemical pollutants?
- Oxides of nitrogen
Select the correct code given below:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 3 and 5
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Q.2) Which of the following statement [s] is/are correct with reference to India’s Air Quality Index (AQI)?
- The index is launched under Swacch Bharat Abhiyan
- PM10 , PM 2.5 and Lead are considered in calculating the value of Air Quality Index
- Both Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Board administer National Air Monitoring Program
Choose the appropriate code
- 2 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- None of the above
Q.3) Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is constituted under the
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
Q.4) Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) have been set up under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016. The Objective of CAMPA is
- To ensure expeditious and transparent utilization of amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
- To ensure competitive market price of the forest produce to the Tribal communities.
- To relocate tribal communities to similar geographical locations and provide them constant income for sometime in case a public project has come up in the native area.
- None of the above
A blasphemous law
To plug the data spill
A feeling of homelessness