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GS Paper II- Constitution, Polity.

Constitution 123rd Amendment Bill And National Commission For Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 Passed With Amendment In Rajya Sabha.

Background

  • The Rajya Sabha, on 31st July, 2017 saw high drama and embarrassment for the government as a Constitution amendment bill on backward classes was changed after some amendments moved by the Opposition were passed by the House. The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, providing for setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes, was passed after dropping Clause 3, to which four amendments was approved by the House earlier.
  • The dropped clause pertains to the insertion of a new article 338B about the constitution and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

Key Points Of The Development-

  • The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, for setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes, was eventually passed after dropping an important Clause 3.
  • The amended bill will now go back to the Lok Sabha which had passed it earlier. The Lower House will reject the changes created by the Opposition’s amendments and come back to the Rajya Sabha to undo the changes.
  • Days after the Select Committee submitted its report, the Rajya Sabha took up the Constituent amendment bill on 31st July, 2017. While the clauses of the bill were being put to vote, Congress members Digvijaya Singh, B K Hariprasad and Hussain Dalvai moved a number of amendments to clause 3.
  • The constitutional amendment to provide statutory status to the new commission needed two-third majority of the present and voting MPs in the 245-member House.
  • One amendment sought increase in the number of members of the proposed commission from three to five with reservation for a member from a minority community and another for women. Another amendment spoke about protecting the rights of states by making their recommendations binding.
  • After a lot of haggling the bill was put to vote and Clause 3 was dropped. The related bill to end the existing backward commission via the legislative route – The National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 – could not be taken up.
  • The new Commission for backward classes that will be set up after the promulgation of the law passed today will have constitutional powers as enjoyed by the SC and ST Commissions.

Sources- Financial Express, India Today.

 

GS Paper IV- Ethics.

Supreme Court Bans Use Of Heavy Metals In Firecrackers To Prevent Air Pollution.

Background

  • The Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the use of five harmful heavy metals like lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacturing of firecrackers as they cause air and noise pollution.
  • The Supreme Court order came on a 2015 petition filed by three Delhi children who had requested the court to intervene to regulate the use of crackers and fireworks during festivals like Diwali.

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What Does The Order Say-

  • The Supreme Court maintained that it is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance of ban order to ensure compliance of ban order particularly in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu where there are a large number of firecracker manufacturers.
  • The court also asked CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and PESO to make collaborative efforts for setting up standards with regards to air pollution caused by the bursting of fire crackers.

About Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)-

  • PESO is a topmost department that controls and administers manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gasses and other hazardous substances in India.
  • It functions under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • It is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives and is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Other Key Points Of The Order-

  • The apex court had also expressed concern over air pollution in Delhi-NCR, especially from crackers during the festive season of Diwali and Dussehra, and said that authorities have to take steps to regulate firecracker industries.
  • The apex court had said it wanted to know from these bodies as to what would be the impact on environment from pollution caused by firecrackers, how it could change the quality of air and also about the safety standards.
  • The apex court had earlier refused to modify its order banning the sale and stockpiling of firecrackers in Delhi and the national capital region.
  • It had refused to revoke the suspension of licences of traders dealing in such explosive material.
  • The apex court had directed CPCB to prepare an inventory of existing firecrackers with the traders and suggest measures for their disposal.

Sources- PTI, Indiatoday.

 

GS Paper III- Economic Development/ GS Paper II- Governance.

LPG Prices To Be Hiked By Rs 4/Month, Subsidy To End By March, 2018.

Background

  • The government has ordered state-run oil companies to raise subsidised cooking gas (LPG) prices by Rs 4 per cylinder every month to eliminate all the subsidies by March next year (2018), Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on 31st July, 2017.
  • The government had previously asked Indian Oil (IOC), Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) to raise rates of subsidised domestic LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) by Rs 2 per 14.2-kg cylinder per month (excluding VAT).
  • Now, the quantum has been doubled so as to bring down the subsidy to nil.

 

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Highlights Of The Development-

  • Every household is entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rates in a year. Any requirement beyond that is to be purchased at market price. Public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) were authorised to increase price of subsidised domestic LPG cylinder by Rs 2 per cylinder (14.2-kg) per month (excluding VAT) with effect from July 1, 2016.
  • Oil companies had hiked LPG rates on 10 occasions since that go-ahead.
  • The government vide its order dated May 30, 2017, has again authorised OMCs to continue to increase the effective price of subsidised domestic LPG by Rs 4 per cylinder effective June 1, 2017, per month (excluding VAT) till the reduction of government subsidy to ‘nil’, or till March 2018, or till further orders, whichever is earliest.
  • Subsidised LPG now costs Rs 477.46 per 14.2-kg cylinder in Delhi. It was priced at Rs 419.18 in June last year(2016).
  • The rate of non-subsidised LPG, which consumers pay after exhausting their quota of below-market priced bottles, costs Rs 564.
  • The price for the other subsidised cylinders (i.e. 5 kg) would be increased proportionately by the OMCs. The subsidy on LPG was Rs 86.54 per cylinder for July, 2017.
  • There are as many as 18.11 crore customers of subsidised LPG in the country. These include 2.5 crore poor women who were given free connections during the last one year under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna. There are another 2.66 crore users of non-subsidised cooking gas.
  • Meanwhile Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Bannerjee have criticised the decision by the Union to government.

Sources- Firstpost.