Mitras Analysis of News : 22-04-2017

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1.India’s initiative to save Mother Earth (Mother Earth day- March 22)

2.Initiating Energy efficiency in India (Geography n You)

3.Need of an efficient Lokpal (The Hindu)

4.WaPOR open-access database (Down to Earth)

 

1.India’s initiative to save Mother Earth (Mother Earth day- March 22)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the Earth Day and India’s initiative to save mother earth. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • With temperatures rising across the Northern Hemisphere, it is imperative that each of us do our bit to save our planet. According to IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) India is most vulnerable to the impact of climate change adversely impacting the health, economic development and food security. Earth Day is an opportunity, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Earth day

  • Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The day, marked on April 22, is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects.
  • The idea for Earth Day was proposed by Gaylord Nelson.
  • The theme for 2017 is to create “Environment and Climate Literacy” to empower the knowledge base of common people towards the issue and inspiring them towards actions to defend the Mother Earth.

The first earth day (background)

  • On 22nd April 1970, about 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment, fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
  • Started as a grassroots movement, Earth Day created public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and several other environmental laws.
  • In 1990, a group of environmental leaders organize another big campaign to make Earth Day global, lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • 2020 will marks the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day.

India’s initiative to save mother earth

  • In order to address the challenges face by climate change, India has evolved a comprehensive plan ‘India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): Working towards Climate Justice’. While implementing these intended actions, it calls for the right of developing countries for an equitable carbon space to achieve sustainable development and eradication of poverty.

The INDC proposals are on the following:

  • Sustainable Lifestyles
  • Cleaner Economic Development
  • Reduce Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Increase the Share of Non Fossil Fuel Based Electricity
  • Enhancing Carbon Sink (Forests)
  • Adaptation
  • Mobilizing Finance
  • Technology Transfer and Capacity Building
  • The formation of ‘National Adaptation Fund’ will initiate policies towards renewable energy through multiple initiatives to achieve the target of reducing carbon emissions by 33% to 35% by 2030.
  • India is revisiting on the National Missions under National Action for Climate Change (NAPCC) with additional missions on wind, health, water and redesigning missions on sustainable agriculture.
  • The adaptation strategy is directed towards sustainable use of land and water resources. The implementation of soil heath cards across the country, watershed and use of water efficient irrigation programme will pave way towards risk proofing agriculture.
  • The mitigation strategies involve generation of clean and green energy by increasing renewable energy capacity form 35 GW to 175 GW by 2022. In addition to the National Solar Mission that targets fivefold increase in solar power to 1000GW, it also aims to develop smart power grids to enhance the efficiency of power transmission and distribution across the country. 4
  • The ministry of Renewable Energy has launched UJALA scheme in which 22.66crore LED bulbs are distributed that will save Rs 11776crores while reducing carbon emission up to 24 Metric tons per year. Similarly under the ministry of Petroleum free LPG connections are given to women holding BPL cards, this move will direct impact on rural women empowering them by providing easy access to clean energy source that improves their health and reducing the pressure on forest resources as well as reducing the carbon emissions.
  • The Swachch Bharat Mission is another strategy under which there are initiatives to create energy form the waste in urban areas. Similarly recycling and reuse of waste water is another initiative for sewage treatment plants across the country.
  • Green India Mission is another initiative to reforest barren land with the annual target of increasing the forest quality and cover in 5million hectares will sequester 100 million tons of carbon annually.

Way ahead

  • The traditional Indian culture emphasized the need for harmonious co-existence between man and nature. With the concept of “Basudaiv Kutumbakam” all life forms on the Earth is considered as one family and reinforces the concept of interdependence.
  • We must look for changes in our lifestyles that would make us less dependent on energy and more sustainable in our consumption. It is equally critical to launch a global education programme that prepares our next generation to protect and conserve mother earth.
  • It is only through creation of environment and climate literacy that will result in global action of changing the life styles that leads to reduction in the carbon emission that we can save Mother Earth.

Question: Mother Earth Day can be an event to reflect the impact of human beings on the Earth. What moral and environmental message should be disseminated on this event?

 

2.Initiating Energy efficiency in India (Geography n You)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the need to conserve energy rather than just increasing the generation.(GS paper III)

Overview

  • The importance of energy efficiency has emerged from the various supply scenarios and is further underlined by rising energy prices.
  • It may be noted that a unit of energy saved by a user is greater than a unit produced as it saves on production, transmission and distribution losses. Hence, greater energy can ensure the all round development.

Energy scenario in India

  • The primary energy demand in India has grown from about 450 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) in 2000 to about 770 million toe in 2012. This is expected to increase to about 1250 to 1500 million toe in 2030.
  • This growth is also reflective of the current very low level of energy supply in India: the average annual energy supply in India in 2011 was only 0.6 toe per capita; whereas the global average was 1.88 toe per capita. It may also be noted that no country in the world has been able to achieve a Human Development Index of 0.9 or more without an annual energy supply of at least 4 toe per capita.
  • Since energy efficiency schemes are often cost effective, it seems superfluous to create policy interventions to actually realise this saving potential.  But it may be noted that in actual practice there are several barriers that constrain the adoption of energy efficiency schemes including high transaction costs, lack of incentives to utilities who perceive energy efficiency schemes as a loss of market base, inadequate awareness.
  • Policy interventions are thus imperative to address these barriers. To promote energy efficiency and conservation we need to create an appropriate set of incentives through pricing and other policy measures.

Government’s efforts at energy efficiency

  • The 8thFive Year Plan made a provision of INR 1,000 crores for energy efficiency to provide targeted energy savings of 5,000 MW and 6 Mt in the electricity and petroleum sectors, respectively. There is no clear quantification of the actual costs and savings achieved.
  • The 9thFive Year Plan proposed the passing of the Energy Conservation Act and the setting up of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)
  • The 10thFive Year Plan proposes benchmarking of the hydrocarbon sector against the rest in the world. The target for energy savings in the 10th Plan was 95,000 million units which was about 13 per cent of the estimated demand of 7,19,000 million units in the terminal year of the 10th
  • The target for energy savings in the 12thPlan was 1,50,000 million units.
  • However, a study by Asian Development Bank (ADB, 2003) estimated an immediate market potential for energy saving of 54,500 million units.

 Institutional framework 

  • Government of India has undertaken a two pronged approach to cater to the energy demand of its citizens while ensuring minimum growth in CO2 emissions.
  • On one hand, in the generation side, the Government is promoting greater use of renewable in the energy mix mainly through solar and wind and at the same time shifting towards supercritical technologies for coal based power plants.
  • On the other side, efforts are being made to efficiently use the energy in the demand side through various innovative policy measures under the overall ambit of Energy Conservation Act 2001.
  • The Energy Conservation Act (EC Act) was enacted in 2001 with the goal of reducing energy intensity of Indian economy. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was set up as the statutory body in 2002 at the central level to facilitate the implementation of the EC Act.

What more needs to be done?

  1. BEE should be an autonomous statutory body under the Energy Conservation Act and be independent of all the energy ministries. It should be funded by the Central Government.
  2. National Building Codes should be revised to facilitate and encourage energy efficient buildings.
  3. Large scope exists to make buildings energy efficient. Construction materials are energy intensive and the use of appropriate materials and design can save energy also during use by occupants. Innovative and energy efficient building technologies should be widely publicised through an annual prize
  4. Existing national energy efficiency organisations like the PCRA should be merged with BEE. This will ensure that BEE is responsible for energy efficiency for all sectors and end uses.
  5. Truthful labelling must be enforced with major financial repercussions if equipment fails to deliver stated efficiencies. In extreme cases, one can resort to black listing errant suppliers at consumer information web sites and on government procurement rosters.
  6. Improving the efficiency of industrial, municipal and agricultural water pumping along with the adoption of shifting pumping load to off-peak hours can amply serve to save energy.
  7. Instituting an efficient motors programme is an initiative that focusses on manufacturers/rewinding shops and target market transformation, by providing incentives to supply energy efficient motors
  8. Reaping daylight savings by introducing two time zones in the country can save a lot of energy.
  9. Promote urban mass transport by providing quality services which may be partially financed by imposing congestion, pollution and parking charges on those who use personalised motor transport.
  10. Promote waterways as water transport is energy efficient. Make investment to provide the needed infrastructure to facilitate water transport
  11. Increasing efficiency of coal based power plants require NTPC and SEBs to acquire technology to enhance the fuel conversion efficiency of the existing thermal power stations from an average of 30 to 35 per cent. No new thermal power plant should be allowed without a certified fuel conversion efficiency of at least 38 to 40 per cent.

Way ahead

  • India faces an enormous challenge if it is to meet the energy requirement over the coming 25 years. This challenge can be met with a coherent approach which develops all available energy resources.
  • The path to sustainable energy security needs a broad policy framework and development of thrust areas to create a roadmap for implementations.
  • An aggressive campaign by roping in a dozen public heroes must be undertaken to drive the message home that there is no alternative to being energy efficient.

Question: Energy efficiency is even more sustainable and far reaching than creation of energy. Suggest the environmental implications of energy efficiency?

 

3.Need for an efficient Lokpal (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of amendment to the Lokpal Act and consequent dilution of the act.(GS paper II)

Overview

  • In order to spearhead the drive for corruption free India, the institution of lokpal had to be efficient and empowered. However, various amendments have rendered the body tooth-less.

Lokpal Act, 2013

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.

 Composition of Lokpal

 The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing. Lokpal is a multimember body, made up of one chairperson and maximum of 8 members.

Who can become the Chairperson?

 The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either of the following:

  • Either the former Chief Justice of India
  • Or the former Judge of Supreme Court
  • Or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

 Who can become a member?

 Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members. Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC / ST / OBC / Minorities and women.

 Judicial Member 

The judicial member of the Lokpal should be

  • either a former Judge of the Supreme Court
  • or a former Chief Justice of a High Court

Why lokpal is not functional till now?

  • Government has not recognised anyone as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) after the general election in 2014, the appointment of the Lokpal became an immediate victim as the selection committee of the Lokpal includes the recognised LoP (without LoP, lokpal cannot be selected)
  • In order to operationalise the law, the government had its task cut out — introduce a Lokpal amendment Bill in Parliament substituting the recognised LoP in the selection committee with the leader of the single largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
  • The bill is now referred to parliamentary standing committee due to some of controversial provisions in the bill. The Bill continues to languish in Parliament.

Critical Analysis

  • The Lokpal Act stipulated that by July 31, 2016, Section 44 related to disclosure of assets of public servants was to be operationalised irrespective of appointment of the Lokpal. To prevent the asset disclosure provision from taking effect, the government introduced another amendment Bill. The law was thus diluted even before it could be operationalised.
  • The Lokpal Amendment Act, 2016, did away with the statutory requirement of public servants to disclose the assets of their spouses and dependent children provided for under the original law.
  • It also dispensed with the need for public disclosure of these statements and empowered the Central government to prescribe the form and manner of asset disclosure. This was a critical blow as the Lokpal was established to act on complaints under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA); one of the grounds of criminal misconduct under the PCA relates to a public servant or any person on his/her behalf being in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to known sources of income
  • In order to prosecute government officials, prior sanction of government is needed. However, experience in India has shown that the requirement for seeking prior sanction from the government for prosecuting government officials is a critical bottleneck and results not only in huge delays but also, and often, in the accused never being prosecuted.
  • To address this problem, the Lokpal Act vests the power of granting sanction for prosecution in the independent institution of the Lokpal. Instead of reinforcing this provision, which insulates the prosecution process from government influence, the PCA amendments strengthen the requirement to seek the government’s permission before prosecuting a public servant by increasing cover to even retired public officials.

Way ahead

  • Lokpal was supposed to be a potent body which can come heavy handed in the cases of official abuse of power and authority. However, the recent amendments defeat the entire purpose of the institution. It should be given more teeth to sack the entire hierarchy of office bearers who abuse their position.

Question: Do you think that Lokpal in its present form can usher an era of transparency and corruption free India? Critically evaluate.

 

4.WaPOR open-access database (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the new tool created by FAO which can measure the efficiency of water in agriculture (GS paper III)

Overview

  • Water is turning to be a most critical resource and its efficient use is imperative to the existence of human being.
  • Agriculture sector should also account for water efficiency as its also one major sector which uses water in huge quantity. WaPOR open-access database can provide solutions in this regard.

WaPOR database

  • There is a direct relationship between water and food security. In order to be sustainable, agriculture must adapt to the impacts of climate change and grow food with less water.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed a tool that now makes it possible to measure water efficiency in the agriculture sector.
  • The programme (WaPOR) aims at increasing water productivity in agriculture. It starts with monitoring water, but it will also identify suitable options for closing productivity gaps, and explore possibilities for yield increases and reduction of non-beneficial water consumption. It will help farmers to optimise irrigation in water-scarce countries.

How it works?

  • WaPOR measures evapotranspiration, a key phase in the natural water cycle. It measures water consumption by a crop during a growing season, and when related to the biomass and harvestable crop yield, allows for calculating crop water productivity.
  • For the time being, the database is only available at 250 metres resolution, which is often not enough for providing field level estimates, but it will grow during the course of 2017 to include spatially disaggregated information at 100 metres and 30 metres resolution.
  • Currently, the tool will provide useful information for farmers and water user associations with regard to water consumption and yield.

Way ahead

  • India’s agriculture is often associated with unsustainable water usage and the issues such as very poor water efficiency. Moreover, water table is declining day by day due to absence of any measure to evaluate the efficiency of water in agriculture sector (since groundwater is used abundantly in agriculture and without any measure, policy interventions cannot take place). Hence, such a novel database can assist the dream of sustainable yet productive agriculture in the country.

Question: How the WaPOR database created by FAO can usher an era of sustainable agriculture?

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