1.Affirmative vote (The Hindu)

2.Clean Ganga seems to be a distant dream (Down to Earth)

1.Affirmative vote (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the United Nation decision to reconsider US’s move for Jerusalem. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • On 6 December 2017, United States President announced that the United States would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was stated that a new building for the U.S. embassy would be built in Jerusalem.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, welcomed this decision and praised the announcement. However, the decision was criticised by the majority of international leaders, The United Nations general assembly has delivered a stinging rebuke to US, by voting a huge majority to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) Vote 

  • The vote came after a redoubling of threats by the US ambassador to the UN, who said that Washington would remember which countries “disrespected” America by voting against it. The suggestion was that the U.S. would exact its revenge by refusing to support these countries when they next need it at the UN. Israel showed deep derision for the world body.
  • Despite the warning, 128 members voted in favour of the resolution supporting the longstanding international consensus that the status of Jerusalem which is claimed as a capital by both Israel and the Palestinians, can only be settled as an agreed final issue in a peace deal. Countries which voted for the resolution included major recipients of US aid such as Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • The UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for the final settlement of Jerusalem through negotiations may have been pitched as a contest between Israel and Palestine.
  • The UN is a global collective, and it is imperative to acknowledge its mandate when such a large number of nations speak in one voice. The U.S. only recently asserted its intention to uphold the international rules-based order in its National Security Strategy document.
  • However, US cannot now just walk away from both UN resolutions and its national commitment to the Israel-Palestine peace process by unilaterally changing its stand on the status of Jerusalem, without being accused of doublespeak.

India’s decision

  • India has affirmed its traditional policy in favour of a negotiated settlement for Jerusalem as part of a larger two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. India’s support to the creation of a Palestinian state according to UN Resolution 181 (1948) was heavily underscored in the statement to the UN.
  • There had been some speculation that in the face of the U.S. threats over the resolution, as well as Mr. Netanyahu’s impending visit to India in January, India would dilute its support to those principles in favour of close strategic ties with both nations.
  • In choosing to vote for the resolution at the UNGA, India has shown clarity of purpose that also aligns with the broad global consensus.

Way ahead

  • The Jerusalem issue is easily the most contentious one between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Though there are also other issues such as borders, sharing of waters, refugees, security, and so on. But the Jerusalem problem is the most sensitive and any attempt to unilaterally change its status will kill the peace process.

Question– Critically analyse the statement- “There are strategic and diplomatic reasons why India at UN voted against the US move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

 

2.Clean Ganga seems to be a distant dream (Down to Earth)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the CAG report, which has put a question mark on the success of government’s most ambitious programme- “Clean Ganga”. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The Government of India has taken various initiatives since the mid 1980’s to address the issues affecting the River Ganga and its tributaries. Government approved ‘The Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission’ namely, ‘Namami Gange’ as an umbrella programme with the aim of integrating previous and currently ongoing initiatives by enhancing efficiency, extracting synergies and supplementing them with more comprehensive and better coordinated interventions.
  • ‘The Performance Audit of the Rejuvenation of River Ganga’ (Namami Gange) was undertaken to assess the adequacy of estimation, availability and utilisation of funds, planning and implementation of various schemes and projects, adequacy of human resources and effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

The Performance Audit of the Rejuvenation of River Ganga

  • The recently published report “Performance Audit of Rejuvenation of River Ganga” has put a question mark on the success of government’s most ambitious programme. Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) slammed the government for not performing upto the mark

Assessment

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was established in August 2011 for project planning, management and implementation of activities related to river Ganga. The CAG audit is the first attempt to assess the impact of NMCG on management of the river.
  • The report found that Rs 2500 crore sanctioned to different government organisations and public sector undertakings has not been utilised. The report highlighted delay, and non-implementation of project related to cleaning of the river, installation of sewage treatment plants, and construction of toilets in households. As noted, from the corpus of Rs 198.14 crore available in the Clean Ganga Fund, money was not utilised due to non-finalisation of action plan.
  • Only 46 per cent of the Detailed Project Reports between 2014-15 and 2016-17 were approved. So far only Uttarakhand state has undertaken initiatives to identify the River Conservation Zones.
  • There was a delay in execution of projects as land was not available or clearances could not be procured or contractors were slow. For conservation of flora and fauna and maintenance of ecological flow, no concrete steps have been taken.
  • The programme suffers from overall shortage of manpower. The monitoring meeting did not happen on prescribed frequency. The implementation of Bhuvan Ganga, a web portal which was conceptualised to enable execution and monitoring of projects was slow.
  • Along with this, the role of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in monitoring and evaluation was also ambiguous as only 7.44 per cent of the sanctioned amount has been utilised.
  • The report highlights, improper management and implementation which dilutes the concept of improving water quality. Total coliform bacteria levels in all the cities of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal ranged between 6 to 334 times higher than prescribed levels

Way ahead

  • The audit provides a set of 12 recommendations for realistic planning, better functioning of funds, strict monitoring and evaluation and management of goals to make river Ganga clean.
  • CAG says that major focus should be on the timely release of funds particularly Clean Ganga Fund. NMCG should also finalise Ganga River Basin Management Plan and implement it in a time bound manner.
  • The appraisal process should be kept smooth and proceed in time bound manner. NMCG should also identify and declare River Conservation Zones and address the capacity gaps of sewerages, in order to conserve the River Ganga from encroachment and construction activities.

Question Unused funds, the absence of a long-term plan and the lack of pollution abatement works are hampering the rejuvenation of the Ganga. Critically examine in the context of recently published “The Performance Audit of the Rejuvenation of River Ganga”.