Mitras Analysis of News : 22-05-2017

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  1. Rights, not religion (Indian Express)
  1. Opportunity Being Drained Away (The Hindu)
  1. Is Coastal Regulation Zone hindering growth? (A critical appraisal) (Live Mint)
  1. Explained: Implication of new tax regime on Unhealthy aerated drinks

 

Rights, not religion (Indian Express)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the move to grant citizenship rights to Hajong and Chakma tribals which will considerably emancipate their plight. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • THE CENTRE is all set to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees, who have been based in Arunachal Pradesh for over 50 years.
  • The Supreme Court has earlier directed the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh government to grant citizenship within to Chakma and Hajong tribals who had migrated from Bangladesh in 1964-69, saying they cannot be discriminated in any manner.

Who are Hajong and Chakma tribals (a brief background)?

  • They were inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who had to flee as their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam in the 1960s. Chakmas are Buddhist, Hajongs Hindu and they also faced religious persecution in East Pakistan. Most of those who came were Chakmas; only about 2,000 were Hajong. They entered India through what was then the Lushai Hills district of Assam (today’s Mizoram). While some stayed back with Chakmas already living in the Lushai Hills, the Indian government moved a majority of the refugees to present-day Arunachal Pradesh.
  • While they were originally treated as refugees, New Delhi decided to grant them citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act following a joint statement by the PMs of India and Bangladesh in 1972. The NEFA/Arunachal government opposed this, and continues to do so. The state told the Supreme Court that it could not permit “outsiders” to settle in its territory they would affect its demography, and stretch its limited resources.
  • In 2015, the Centre was given a deadline by the Supreme Court to confer citizenship to these refugees within three months. The Arunachal government approached the apex court in appeal against the order but in vain. It was then that consultations started in earnest between the state and the Centre on the issue.

Implications of the decision to grant citizenship

  • The Centre and the Arunachal Pradesh government are in talks to accord citizenship to them, though without extending the rights available to Scheduled Tribes in the state. This is a step in the right direction since this is the third generation of the refugees, first settled in the region in the early 1960s, currently seeking recognition as Indian citizens.
  • The move, however, has political implications for Arunachal Pradesh. Since the 1980s, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has spearheaded a mass movement against granting citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs. The AAPSU fears that the refugees could soon outnumber the indigenous population and influence electoral outcomes.
  • Politicians in Arunachal Pradesh argue they had no elected government — it was NEFA (North East Frontier Agency), administered by the Centre — when the Centre settled the refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Way ahead

  • Immigration is a polarising issue in the Northeast. Hence, it is necessary that the Centre and the Arunachal government remove the fears of the indigenous population on the citizenship issue. It is also important that the refugee question is not seen through the prism of religion. The movement of people across borders in the Subcontinent is a legacy of Partition.

Question What are the implications of granting citizenship to Chakma and Hajong tribals? Will it fuel further unrest in North-East?

 

Opportunity Being Drained Away (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on issue of growing water scarcity and need of waste water treatment. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • The world is not running out of water. The real challenge is to provide enough clean water to a rapidly growing global population and the attendant demands that come with growth, more energy, more food, more industry and more consumption. Increasingly irregular weather patterns and natural disasters only exacerbate the situation.
  • The theme for International World Water Day (March 22), this year was “wastewater”, which is defined as any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influences and as a result of domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural activities.
  • There is need of sound policies on wastewater treatment and use are vital to sustainable development

 Waste water globally

  • Over 80% of the wastewater generated goes back to the ecosystem without being treated or reused. There are major share of people, who use drinking water contaminated with faeces which increases their risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Also millions of people still lack access to improved drinking water sources.
  • By 2030, the global demand for water is expected to grow by 50%. Most of this demand will be in cities. In low-income areas of cities within developing countries, a large proportion of wastewater is discharged directly into the surface water drain, without or with limited treatment.

Vulnerability

  • All regions of the world are grappling with often severe cases of water scarcity, but in developing countries that lack basic infrastructure, inadequate financial resources combine with rapid urbanisation and increased industrialisation to create crisis.
  • Most of our freshwater sources are under threat, public awareness of pollution is limited, and the cost of pollution to our health and the ecosystem is huge. The victims are generally the poor or socially vulnerable communities and the end result is a high financial burden on the community and government.

Sources of water pollution in India

  • A Yale University study, ranked India 124th out of 178 countries on the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in terms of access to water and sanitation.
  • In India most of the waste water is generated from class-I cities and class-II towns, out of which about 45% is generated from metro cities alone. According to India’s Central Pollution Control Board, the country has an installed capacity to treat only about 30% of the household waste it generates; the rest is released into open drains or straight into the ground.
  • Due to improper design, poor maintenance, frequent electricity break downs and lack of technical manpower, the facilities constructed to treat wastewater do not function properly and remain closed most of the time
  • There is a huge gap between wastewater generation and its treatment in India. Even the existing treatment capacity is also not effectively utilized due to inefficient operation and maintenance of existing plants and sewage pumping stations.
  • Industrial water consumption accounts for 22% of the global water used. The industrial sector in India discharges around 30 million cubic metres of effluents, without proper treatment, into water bodies. Unfortunately, most common effluent treatment plants are not performing satisfactorily due to improper operations and maintenance.
  • Run-off from agriculture fields is another major source of pollution in India, widely use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides has been further aggravated the situation of run of water pollution.

 Mitigation measures

  • Nearly 39 percent of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) are not conforming to the general standards prescribed under the Environmental (Protection) Rules for discharge into streams. In a number of cities, the existing treatment capacity remains underutilized while a lot of sewage is discharged without treatment in the same city.
  • If India deploys adequate treatment technology, the country would be able to significantly expand its available water supply, both for potable and non-potable use. Our economy, industry and most importantly, our people, would reap the benefits.
  • At the national and regional levels, water pollution prevention policies should be integrated into non-water policies that have implications on water quality such as agriculture and land use management, trade, industry, energy, and urban development.
  • Various policies, plans and strategies to protect water resources should be made participatory, allowing for consultation between government, industry and the public. At the local level, capacity building enables the community to make decisions and disseminate them to the appropriate authorities, thus influencing political processes.
  • Market-based strategies such as environmental taxes, pollution levies and tradable permit systems should be implemented, that can be used to fight against water pollution. Incentive mechanisms such as subsidies, soft loans, tax relaxation should be included in installing pollution management devices.
  • The application of eco-friendly inputs such as biofertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and the use of natural dyes in textile industries, industrial pollution management, and technological attempts should be made through cleaner production technology; these can reduce the pollution load considerably.

Solution

  • The conventional wastewater treatment processes are expensive and require complex operations and maintenance. The sludge removal, treatment and handling have been the most neglected areas in the operation of the STPs in India.
  • Conventional wastewater treatment consists of a combination of physical, chemical, and biological processes and operations to remove solids, organic matter and sometimes, nutrients from wastewater. New generation of sewage treatment technologies such as membrane bioreactor (MBR) can treat the wastewater almost to the quality of river water.
  • The treatment methods adapted to treat industrial wastewater are dissolved air floatation, dual media filter, activated carbon filter, sand filtration and tank stabilization, flash mixer and sludge drying beds, etc. Coarse material and settable solids are removed during primary treatments by screening, grit removal and sedimentation.  

Way ahead

  • Fresh water is increasingly getting scarce; the wastewater generated in urban areas can be very effectively use for sub-urban agriculture, industry, and even sanitation and certain domestic applications after treatment.
  • There is need of deploying adequate technology to treat water in India, it could significantly expand its water supply and better water means better public health and economic development.

Question: What is the grey water model? What are its prospects in India?

 

Is Coastal Regulation Zone hindering growth? (A critical appraisal) (Live Mint)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the loopholes in the present Coastal Regulation Zone notification. (GS paper III)

Overview

  • It is generally agreed that a key element in the transformation of India is the creation of a large number of good jobs. While micro and small enterprises provide lots of jobs, consistent with their low productivity, they pay relatively low wages.
  • Coastal zones in this context holds great opportunities to provide high-paying export oriented jobs as well as several marine resource dependent opportunities. However, CRZ Notification tends to put an obstacle in this regard.

What is Coastal Regulation Zone?

  • India has a long coastline of 7516 km, ranging from Gujarat to West Bengal, and two island archipelagos (Andaman Island and Lakshadweep). Our coastal ecosystems provide protection from natural disasters such as floods and tsunamis to the 250 million people who live in our coastal areas. Coastal waters provide a source of primary livelihood to 7 million households.
  • Our marine ecosystems are a treasure trove of biodiversity, which we are only beginning to discover and catalogue. Thus, our coastline is both a precious natural resource and an important economic asset, and we need a robust progressive framework to regulate our coast.
  • In 1991, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (“MOEF”) issued a notification under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986, seeking to regulate development activity on India’s coastline. The approach adopted by the first notification was to define the ‘High Tide Line’ (“HTL”) and ‘Coastal Regulation Zone’ (“CRZ”) and thereafter specify the activities permitted and restricted in the vicinity of the CRZ. This regulated zone was further divided into four categories (CRZ I-IV) as per permitted land use.
  • CRZ is the land area from the high-tide line to 500m inland. There is a long list of prohibited activities within this zone, such as the setting up of new industries, expansion of existing industries, establishment of fish processing units, warehouses, land reclamation, etc.
  • Although the norms carve out exceptions within these prohibited activities for certain undertakings, such as building ports or reconstructing dwelling units for local communities. The regulation is replete with such curious exceptions to some specific cases, which raise questions pertaining to the criteria that was followed to determine permissible and non-permissible activities.

Loopholes in CRZ?

  • The peculiarity of the CRZ directives is evidenced from the universal allowance granted to areas adjoining bays, estuaries, backwaters, lagoons and other tidal-influenced water bodies. For areas falling under this category, the regulated zone extends only 100m inland from the high-tide line.
  • As a result, many developers, entrepreneurs and builders have been asking the coastal zone management authorities to declare the water around the coastal land area within their project plans as bays or tidal-influenced water bodies.
  • Some have approached several high courts for such declaration to avail the benefits of a smaller regulated zone.
  • The multiplicity of definitions, exceptions, permissible and impermissible activities not only lead to high regulatory and legal expenditure in obtaining project clearances, there is all-round confusion in implementation as well. The execution of the CRZ rules falls within the domain of several coastal zone management authorities created by the state governments for this purpose

Way ahead

  • The CRZ norms are another example of a top-down, heavy-handed, legislative diktat from Delhi that ignores local dynamics and the diverse needs and realities of states. Regulations like CRZ create significant entry barriers for firms unable to negotiate the myriad, complex guidelines or lobby for rent-seeking special concessions from the government.
  • The authorities have to prepare coastal zone management plans based on the complicated regulation which also lists the guidelines that the authorities must follow in preparation of the plans. Most authorities are themselves unaware of the implementation scheme and a significant number of cases concerning clearances and bay designation are sent to the Central government for clarification. This not only creates uncertainty, it also increases the time taken for permissions, burdening the firms with high compliance outlays.

Question:  How India should leverage its coastal economy to become a blue economy?

 

Explained

Implication of new tax regime on Unhealthy aerated drinks (GS paper III)

Introduction

  • There have been many studies that have looked at the links between various types of cancer and fizzy drink consumption. They suggest:
  1. Drinking just two sugary soft drinks a week increases the amount of insulin the pancreas produces and can double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
  2. Drinking just one fizzy drink a day could increase a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer by around 40 per cent.
  3. Drinking just one-and-a-half cans a day can increase a girl’s breast cancer risk by per cent.
  4. Some chemicals that are used to colour soft drinks cancause cancer.
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) council agreed on May 18 to fix the compensation cess rate at 12 per cent for aerated beverages. As they are in the category of demerit goods or sin goods and luxury goods, they come under the highest GST slab of 28 per cent. It means, aerated beverages will attract a total tax of 40 per cent (28+12).

Implications over sin goods

  • Taxation is used to discourage or encourage certain classification of goods based on the need and requirement of the society. In view of public health interest and the ongoing debate against junk food, aerated beverages were kept in the category of sin goods to discourage its consumption by the government.
  • The changed tax structure is likely to have an incremental impact on the price of aerated beverages overall in the country. Impact will vary from one state to another on account of difference in the prevailing tax structure in the states.
  • In the existing tax regime, two taxes: central excise (central tax) and VAT, which is specific to the state, are levied. The GST is a tax levied across goods and services to subsume indirect taxes such as sales tax and service tax. The new tax has been upsetting for the industry body, Indian Beverage Association (IBA), which has urged the government to reconsider the new rate.
  • Increasing the tax on aerated beverages is a significant move to discourage its consumption in India. As per the statistics of Neilson India Pvt Ltd for 2016, the soft drink industry has seen a value growth of 11 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and a volume growth of five per cent CAGR over the past two years. It states that about 1.25 billion people in India drink 5.9 billion litres of soft drinks in a year.

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Way ahead

  • Increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with risks of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. “Although GST aims at making goods available to all at reasonable prices, aerated beverages, being unhealthy, should be treated no less than tobacco and cigarettes with high tax. This is a welcome move by the government to discourage the consumption of these drinks which are nothing but caffeinated water with sugar
  • High tax imposition on aerated beverages has been recognised as a public health intervention internationally that has led to a decline in consumer purchases. A study in Mexico released early this year found that purchases of taxed beverages decreased by an average of six per cent in 2014 and registered a 12 per cent decline by December 2014.

Question Introduction of Sin tax is a novel and noble move in India’s taxation regime. Critically discuss.

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