- NGT: LG Polymers India to deposit Rs. 50 crores, cites obsolete law
- Suspend labour laws for 2-3 years: Employers’ associations
- Phase-2 trial with three drugs offers hope
- China, U.S. commit to implement trade deal
- Europe, US mark 75 years since end of WWII
- Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles: Rushikulya rookery
- New road to Kailash Mansarovar
NGT: LG POLYMERS INDIA TO DEPOSIT RS. 50 CRORES, CITES OBSOLETE LAW
Focus: GS-III Disaster Management
Why in news?
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on 8th May 2020 directed LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of Rs. 50 crore for the damage caused by the gas leak in Visakhapatnam.
- NGT’s Order found LG Polymers prima facie liable under the 19th century English law principle of “strict liability”, which was made redundant in India by the Supreme Court in 1986. Lawyers say the term “absolute liability” should have been used instead.
- The directions came after the green panel took suo motu cognisance of the gas leak incident that left at least 11 people dead and affected several others.
What actions did NGT take?
- Apart from the order against LG Polymers India to pay Rs. 50 Crores:
- The green panel also constituted a five-member fact-finding committee, to be headed by a former A.P. High Court judge, to probe the incident and furnish a report to the tribunal.
- A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also issued notice to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board and the Union Environment Ministry, seeking their response on the incident by May 18.
Strict Liability Principle
- Under the “strict liability principle”, a party is not liable and need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes his premises by accident or by an “act of God’” among other circumstances.
- The Supreme Court, while deciding the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi, found strict liability woefully inadequate to protect citizens’ rights in an industrialised economy like India and replaced it with the ‘absolute liability principle’.
Supreme Court on Absolute Liability Principle
- The country was then reeling under the shock of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
- The court under then Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati wanted corporations to be made fully liable for future “undeserved suffering of thousands of innocent citizens”.
- So, under the absolute liability principle, the apex court held that a company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption.
- It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence.
- The court said a hazardous enterprise has an “absolute non-delegable duty to the community”.
- If any harm results on account of such activity, the enterprise must be absolutely liable to compensate for such harm irrespective of the fact that the enterprise had taken all reasonable care and that the harm occurred without any negligence on its part.
- The court found that strict liability, evolved in an 1868 Oleum gas leak judgment, provided companies with several exemptions from assuming liability.
- Absolute liability, on the other hand, provided them with no defence or exemptions. The principle of absolute liability is part of Article 21.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
- The NGT was established on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government.
- National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.
- NGT Act draws inspiration from the India’s constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
- The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.
Structure of National Green Tribunal
- Following the enactment of the said law, the Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench). Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region.
- The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi.
- Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
- Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years’ experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
Powers of NGT
The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
- The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
- The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
- The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
This means that any violations pertaining ONLY to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
Importantly, the NGT has NOT been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.
SUSPEND LABOUR LAWS FOR 2-3 YEARS: EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATIONS
Focus: GS-II Social Justice, GS-III Indian Economy
Why in news?
- The Representatives of 12 employers’ associations and industry bodies on 9th May asked the government to suspend labour laws for the next two to three years to help industry come out of the present crisis.
- The Labour and Employment Ministry will handle by being sympathetic to the requirements of the industry and would try to provide all possible help for revival of industry and reopening of the economy.
- This discussion comes in the wake of some State governments amending labour laws or suspending them altogether.
Highlights of the Suggestions and Conclusion
Among the suggestions given by the employers’ associations were relaxation of the Industrial Disputes Act in order to:
- treat the lockdown period as lay-off,
- treating wages paid during this period as corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding,
- increasing the maximum workforce to 50% from 33% upon reopening and suspending labour laws, except those governing minimum wages, bonus and statutory dues for two to three years.
- The employers’ representatives also said working hours should be increased to 12 hours a day and the industries be given an appropriate package to ensure no job losses.
- Concluding the discussions, the Labour Secretary, welcomed the suggestions given by the representatives of the employers’ organisations.
- The focus should now be on reviving the industry and opening of economy, to fully revive the economic activities and employment opportunities.
PHASE-2 TRIAL WITH THREE DRUGS OFFERS HOPE
Focus: GS-III Science and Technology
Why in news?
A phase-2 trial involving participants with mild to moderate coronavirus (COVID-19) illness found no detectable virus within an average seven days of starting treatment with a three-drug regimen compared with 12 days in people in the control group.
- Lopinavir-ritonavir is used for treating HIV, ribavirin for treating chronic hepatitis C virus, and injectable interferon beta-1b is used by multiple sclerosis patients.
- The researchers had earlier demonstrated that a combination of lopinavir–ritonavir and ribavirin significantly reduced mortality and respiratory failure in patients during the 2003 SARS outbreak. And interferon beta-1b has previously been shown to reduce viral load and improve lung problems in animal studies of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus infection.
- Clinical improvement was also significantly better in those who received the three-drug regimen.
- Complete alleviation of symptoms was achieved in four days in the intervention group and eight days in the control group.
- The three-drug regimen was found to be safe.
CHINA, U.S. COMMIT TO IMPLEMENT TRADE DEAL
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
Chinese and U.S. trade representatives agreed on 8th May to “create favourable conditions” for the phase one trade deal signed in January 2020, officials said, despite recent tensions over the coronavirus pandemic.
- Both sides said they should strengthen macroeconomic and public health cooperation, strive to create a favourable atmosphere and conditions for the implementation of the phase one U.S.-China economic and trade agreement, promoting positive results.
- U.S. officials said after the call that both parties agreed “good progress” is being made on creating the governmental infrastructures needed to make the agreement a success.
- They also agreed that in spite of the current global health emergency, both countries fully expect to meet their obligations under the agreement in a timely manner.
- The countries have also agreed to maintain communication and coordination.
Learn about the U.S. China Trade War in the past with the help of this infographic :https://www.legacyias.com/trade-war-implications-for-india/
What this U.S. – China Trade deal means for India?
- In most cases, the impact on China’s trade partners, including India, will be negative. But smart Indian companies can take advantage of some aspects of the deal, especially what they failed to cover, such as the technology sector.
- The deal gives Indian companies and institutions an opportunity. They can join hands with Chinese counterparts, who are desperately looking for alternatives to US institutions.
- The deal can open new possibilities of Indian companies and research and development (R&D) institutions to find Chinese financiers and collaborators.
- India can offer more than any Southeast Asian country is its huge market and trained manpower. It is to be seen whether Indian companies and government agencies would respond to the new situation as smartly and creatively as it is necessary to monetise opportunities.
EUROPE, US MARK 75 YEARS SINCE END OF WWII
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
Europe and the United States mark 75 years since the end of World War II on 8th May 2020.
Second World War (1939-1945)
- It was the most destructive war observed by the world which started in earnest on September 1, 1939 with the attack of Poland by Nazi Germany, and concluded on September 2, 1945, with the official surrender of the last Axis nation, Japan.
- War was fought between:
- Axis nations – Nazi Germany, Facist Italy, Imperial Japan and their smaller allies
- Allied nations, led by Britain (and its Commonwealth nations), the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. (Allied Nations were Victors, but in such a destructive war, nobody really wins except death and destruction).
- Two world power, the USA and USSR, arisen from World War II to instigate a Cold War with each other that would define much of the rest of the century.
- The world must draw lessons from the past and work together to beat the coronavirus pandemic.
MASS HATCHING OF OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLES: RUSHIKULYA ROOKERY
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles began at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery, a major nesting site of these marine turtles, on 7th May night.
- Thousands of hatchlings came out of the nests buried in sand to crawl towards the sea to start their long journey. On an average 80 to 100 turtles hatch from each nest.
- They hatch in 45 to 60 days, depending on the temperature of the sand and atmosphere during the incubation period.
- To protect the eggs from predators and humans, the Forest department had put up metal net fencing over 5 km from Gokharkuda to Bateswar, and the area was divided into 50 segments for regular watching.
- Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee (RSTPC), an organisation of villagers living near the rookery involved in protection of Olive Ridleys, says this year there was minimal human intervention during the mass nesting, incubation period and continuing hatching process.
- A rookery is a colony of breeding animals and Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district is one of the main Olive Ridley Nesting sites in Odisha.
Read More about the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle at: https://www.legacyias.com/undisturbed-mass-nesting-of-olive-ridleys-at-rushikulya-2/
NEW ROAD TO KAILASH MANSAROVAR
Focus: GS-I Geography, GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday dedicated to the nation a new 80-km road in Uttarakhand which connects close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and opens a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra via Lipulekh Pass, significantly reducing the travel time for yatris.
Read More about the new Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route at: https://www.legacyias.com/pib-8th-may/
(First Article in Today’s PIB Summary)