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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 26th August 2020

Contents

  1. NGT slams Ministry’s report
  2. 1st all-weather route to Ladakh
  3. China floats BRICS 5G base as India mulls ban
  4. India, Vietnam talk on China
  5. India, Bangladesh River trade route

NGT SLAMS MINISTRY’S REPORT

Focus: GS-II Governance, GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over its report on the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which proposes 20-30% reduction of air pollution by 2024.

Details

  • The NGT disapproved the submission of the MoEF that a committee, upon further deliberation, has concluded that 20-30% pollutant reduction under the NCAP seems realistic.
  • It said the MoEF’s view was against the constitutional mandate under Article 21.

Right to Life

  • Right to Clean Air stood recognised as part of Right to Life and failure to address air pollution was denial of Right to Life.
  • The tribunal said the enforcement of ‘Sustainable Development’ principle and ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ required stern measures to be adopted to give effect to the mandate of international obligations for which the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and other laws had been enacted.
  • Under the NCAP, the target was to achieve norms in 10 years and reduce load to the extent of 35% in first three years with further reduction of pollution later.
  • It meant for 10 years pollution would remain unaddressed which was too long period of tolerating violations when clean air was Right to Life.
  • The Tribunal also said that Non-Attainment Cities (NACs) cover cities where standards were not consecutively met for five years.

No data

  • There is no data how much pollution has been reduced in the last two years – 2018-2020.
  • The tribunal said the NCAP for reduction of air pollution did not fully meet the mandate of sustainable development.
  • Violation of laid down air pollution levels resulting in large number of deaths and diseases needed to be addressed expeditiously.
  • Targeted time of reduction of pollution loads needed to be reduced and planned steps needed to be sternly implemented on the ground. The MoEF might take further action as per law, the Bench said.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The Central Government has launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution.
  • NCAP is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
  • India has an overall target to reduce hazardous PM levels by 20-30% by 2024 from their 2017 levels in 122 cities under the NCAP which was launched in 2019.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), as a nodal central and apex agency, will have to flex its authority to ensure all NCAP indicators are integrated with multi-sector and inter-ministerial programmes to align with the air quality target and objectives.
  • The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
  • Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
  • As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India.

Objectives of NCAP

  1. To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring network across the country for ensuring comprehensive and reliable database
  2. To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanism for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution and for inclusive public participation in both planning and implementation of the programmes and policies of government on air pollution
  3. To have feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

Approach of NCAP

Collaborative, Multi-scale and Cross-Sectoral Coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Government and local bodies.

Focus on no Regret Measures, Participatory and Disciplined approach.

-Source: The Hindu


1ST ALL-WEATHER ROUTE TO LADAKH

Focus: Prelims, GS-I Geography, GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

India’s national security planners are pushing hard to complete an all-weather strategic route to Ladakh that will link Darcha in Himachal Pradesh to Nimu via Padum in Kargil’s Zanskar valley.

Details

  • Senior military commanders said the third route to connect Ladakh by road is urgently needed given Pakistan and its all-weather friend, China’s interest in the Siachen Glacier and Daulat Beg Oldie.
  • This will be the first all-weather route to Ladakh which is already connected by two other routes; the first via Zoji La in Jammu and Kashmir and the second, via Himachal’s Manali-Upshi-Leh axis.
  • The Atal tunnel at Rohtang La, which will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km, is set to become operational soon.
  • Apart from keeping supply lines open for the military guarding Siachen, Kargil and DBO sectors, the Darcha-Nimu route will also develop the new union territory of Ladakh to match the aspirations of its people.

Important Passes in relation

The four passes that would require tunnels on the existing Manali-Leh route are at higher altitudes:

  1. Baralacha La (16,500 feet),
  2. Nakee La (15,547 feet),
  3. Lachung La (16,616 feet), and
  4. Tanglang La (17,480 feet).

Darcha-Padum-Nimu route requires only a tunnel through:

Shingo La (16,570 feet).

-Source: Hindustan Times


CHINA FLOATS BRICS 5G BASE AS INDIA MULLS BAN

Focus: GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

China has proposed the creation of what it calls a ‘BRICS innovation base’ to take forward 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) cooperation among the five countries.

Details

  • China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology urged fellow nations, including India, to boost cooperation in areas including 5G and AI.
  • Chinese media said that China was actively considering the establishment of a BRICS innovation base in China, in order to strengthen practical cooperation with the BRICS.
  • The move could pose an awkward question for India, which is the only country in the grouping that is leaning towards excluding Chinese participation in the roll-out of its national 5G network.
  • Russia has said it would work with China on 5G, and added that they were open to working with Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, which has been largely banned by the United States.

India’s Concerns

  • India is unlikely to allow Chinese participation in 5G, particularly in the wake of recent moves to tighten investment from China and to ban 59 Chinese apps, citing national security concerns.
  • Indian intelligence assessments have also expressed concerns on the possible direct or indirect links of several Chinese companies, including Huawei, with the Chinese military.

South Africa, Brazil

  • In South Africa, Huawei is providing services to three of its telecom operators in the roll-out of their 5G networks.
  • Brazil has allowed participation in trials but is yet to take a final call.

Click Here to read more about BRICS

-Source: The Hindu


INDIA, VIETNAM TALK ON CHINA

Focus: GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

China’s destabilising actions in the region figured at a meeting of the India-Vietnam joint commission on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation, during which the two countries agreed to work more closely together in the Indo-Pacific.

Details

  • During the virtual meeting, co-chaired by the Indian external affairs minister and his Vietnamese counterpart, the two sides agreed to add new momentum to their economic and defence engagements and to explore closer cooperation in emerging areas such as civil nuclear energy, space, marine sciences and new technologies.
  • China’s actions in the South China Sea and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) figured in the discussions, with both sides briefing each other on the latest developments.
  • India and Vietnam agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in line with New Delhi’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and Asean’s outlook on Indo-Pacific to “achieve shared security, prosperity and growth for all in the region”.

Recent developments

  • In recent years, Vietnam has often turned to India for support over China’s increasing activities within its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
  • India is one of only three countries with which Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership and state-owned ONGC Videsh is engaged in energy production in Vietnamese waters that have witnessed intrusions by Chinese vessels over the past year.
  • India and Vietnam also agreed to coordinate closely at multilateral forums, including the UN Security Council, where both countries will concurrently serve as non-permanent members in 2021, and at regional forums under the Asean framework.

-Source: Hindustan Times


INDIA, BANGLADESH RIVER TRADE ROUTE

Focus: GS-III International Relations

Why in news?

India and Bangladesh are set to operationalise a new riverine trade route connecting Sonamura in Tripura to Daudkandi in Bangladesh.

Details

  • The route is being operationalised under an agreement signed by the two sides to boost riverine trade by adding two new routes and five more ports in order to improve connectivity to India’s northeastern states and reduce transportation costs.
  • The new route will facilitate bilateral trade with improved reliability and cost effectiveness for the business community.
  • India and Bangladesh signed the Protocol for Inland Water Trade and Transit in 1972 for inland waterways connectivity between the two sides for bilateral trade and to improve connectivity to India’s northeastern states.
  • The other new route – Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi – will help augment infrastructure in Bangladesh and reduce the cost of transporting goods such as stone chips to northern Bangladesh. It is also expected to decongest land customs stations on both sides.
  • The new riverine trade route is being operationalised against the backdrop of India’s concerted efforts to boost economic aid and connectivity with key neighbours amid the border standoff with China.

Recently in news

India handed over 10 railway locomotives to Bangladesh, reflecting a renewed focus on its “neighbourhood first” policy.

Bangladesh–India relations

  • Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours and Diplomatic Relations between the two countries was followed by the visit of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972 where there she had signed the Indo-Bangladesh Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Peace Relations, popularly known as the ‘Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1972, with then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • The relations between the two countries have usually been friendly, although sometimes there are border disputes.
  • They are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the Commonwealth.
  • The two countries share many cultural ties. In particular, Bangladesh and the east Indian state of West Bengal are Bengali-speaking.
  • In 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out between East Pakistan and West Pakistan; India intervened in December 1971 on behalf of East Pakistan and helped secure East Pakistan’s independence from Pakistan as the country of Bangladesh.

-Source: Hindustan Times

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