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Paper 3-GS-II, Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government

Judicial performance index proposed 

You should know:

  • The NITI Aayog has proposed the introduction of a judicial performance index to reduce delays and the outsourcing of non-core functions of the police to private agencies or other government departments, in a bid to fix justice system that is in ‘dire need of reform.’
  • The government’s think tank has also mooted changes in criminal justice and procedural laws, a repeal of all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reforms in land ownership laws — which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits.
  • The creation of a judicial performance index that could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay, should be ‘the first step’ in judicial system reforms, the Aayog has said in its draft 3 year action plan discussed with Chief Ministers.
  • The performance index for courts will entail fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases to benchmark when a case has been delayed.’
  • The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.’
  • Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States.

How to improve situation:

  • To improve the quality of policing, the think tank has asked the Home Ministry to create a task force to identify ‘non-core functions’ that can be outsourced to private agents or government departments in order to reduce the workload of the police.
  • Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and address verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced…
  • India’s police to population ratio should reach the United Nations norms of 222 per lakh population, over the next seven years, from the current level of 137.
  • Citing inordinate delays in India’s judicial system and its low rank on enforcing contracts in the World Bank’s ease of doing business report for 2017, the think tank has also called for streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases.

Source: Indian Express

Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Revival of fertilizer plants can make India an exporter’

Details to know:

  • The Centre’s revival of four fertiliser plants at a total cost of ₹50,000 crore has the potential to turn India into a fertiliser exporting country from an importing one.
  • When all these plants (at Barauni, Singhri, Gorakhpur, and Talcher) start, they will add about 75 lakh metric tonnes to the output, taking the total capacity to about 320 lakh metric tones.
  • From a fertiliser importing country, we will be capable of exporting.

Existing progress:

  • The expenditure and the construction activities for all four plants will begin in calendar year 2017 after the monsoon.
  • The government will be investing ₹8,000 crore in the Talcher fertilizer plant in Odisha through a consortium comprising Fertilizer Corporation of India, Gas Authority of India Limited, Rashtriya Chemical and Fertilizer Limited, and Coal India Limited.

Improvement:

  • The Talcher facility will also be the first plant to deploy a coal gasification system.
  • The capacity of the existing fertiliser plants has already improved from 225 lakh metric tonnes to 245 lakh metric tonnes at no additional cost.
  • With neem coating, every granule of fertiliser has higher efficiency, and so we have reduced our fertiliser demand by 10% and increased agriculture output by 10%.

Source: The Hindu

Paper 4-GS-III, Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.

Himalayan rocks may up flood risk, finds study

To be noted:

  • Earthquakes and landslides in the Himalayas can increase flood risk up to hundreds of kilometres downstream, potentially affecting millions of people in India and neighbouring countries, a new study warns.
  • Earthquakes and landslides that lead to large volume of hard rocks being dumped into rivers.
  • The findings could help researchers improve flood risk maps for the Ganga Plain, a low-lying region covering parts of India, Nepal and Pakistan — one of Earth’s most densely populated areas.

To known:

  • Scientists have traced the path of rocks washed down from the Himalayan mountains onto the Ganga Plain.
  • They found that large landslides in the southern, lower elevation ranges of the Himalayas are more likely to increase flood risk than those in the high mountains further north.
  • Rocks in the south are extremely hard and travel only a short distance — less than 20 km — to reach the Plain.

  • This means much of quartzite reaches the Ganga Plain as gravel or pebbles, which can build up in rivers, altering the natural path of the water, the research team said.

  • Rocks from more northerly regions of the Himalayas tend to be softer, and the team found they often travel at least 100 km to reach the plain.
  • These types of rock, including limestone and gneiss, are gradually broken down into sand which, unlike gravel and pebbles, is dispersed widely as it travels downstream.

Source: Hindustan Times