- Beating Retreat ceremony
- The United Nations and the crisis in Yemen
- ‘Inaccuracies, procedural violations’ in Great Nicobar EIA report
- SC seeks EC, govt. response on ‘irrational’ freebies
- NGO and Foreign funding
- National Green Tribunal (NGT)
Beating Retreat Ceremony
This year’s Republic Day parade on January 26 and the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29 have generated a lot of attention and discussion for a variety of reasons.
- This year, the hymn ‘Abide With Me’ has been dropped and replaced with a popular Indian tune ‘Ae mera watan ke logon’.
GS II- Polity and Governance
Dimensions of this article:
- What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?
- How has the ceremony evolved?
What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?
- Beating Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition going back to the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. As soon as the buglers sounded the ‘retreat’, troops ceased fighting and withdrew from the battlefield.
- It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of the ‘retreat’ has been retained to this day.
- The ceremony is conducted every year on January 29 at Vijay Chowk to mark the formal conclusion of the Republic Day celebrations.
- The ceremony is graced by the President of India as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
- It is marked by the lowering of flags at dusk.
- A series of lights illuminate the outlines of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block and Parliament House.
- It is an event much awaited by the public and always inspires awe.
How has the ceremony evolved?
- For a long time, it was only the Services bands that took part in the ceremony in line with military traditions.
- Recently that the musical bands of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the Delhi Police were included.
- Until last year the ceremony came to a close with ‘Abide With Me’, the popular 19th century Christian hymn, followed by the ever-popular tune ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’, which was played as the bands marched out.
- Abide With Me was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal favourites.
- The Father of the Nation first heard the piece played by Mysore Palace Band, and could not forget its tenderness and serenity.
- However, this year ‘Abide With Me’ has been dropped and a popular Indian tune ‘Ae mera watan ke logon’, which was composed by C. Ramachandra for which Kavi Pradeep provided lyrics, has been included.
- Also, all the tunes this year are Indian to coincide with the 75th year of Independence.
- In the last few years, in addition to military instruments like pipes and drums, traditional Indian musical instruments have also been included.
- This year, 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters and 75 drummers will enthral the audience during the Beating Retreat.
- In a first this year, there is a drone show with over 1,000 drones built by an Indian start-up as well as a laser projection.
-Source: The Hindu
The United Nations and the crisis in Yemen
A suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), caused multiple explosions in which three people were killed —two Indians and one Pakistani. The Shia Houthi rebels of Yemen, who have been controlling the northern parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, for almost seven years, have claimed responsibility for the attack.
GS II- International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- Who are the Houthis?
- What led to the Houthis’ rise?
- Role of the UN Special Envoy on Yemen
- UNSC stand:
- How is the UN tackling the humanitarian crisis?
- The crisis in Yemen has steadily escalated in recent weeks with the Houthi missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the retaliatory air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on the Houthi-held territories in Yemen.
- The worsening crisis with wider geopolitical implications for the Gulf region has raised questions on what the international community, especially the UN, has done to resolve the issue.
- While the UN has failed to find a lasting ceasefire, let alone a settlement to the conflict, its different agencies have been working in Yemen since the crisis broke out in early 2011.
- It has established the Office of the Special Envoy to the Secretary-General on Yemen (OSESGY) to engage with all Yemeni political groupings and the Security Council (UNSC), has adopted many resolutions concerning Yemen, calling on all parties to respect the ceasefires.
- UN agencies are also in the forefront of providing humanitarian relief to the country.
Who are the Houthis?
- The roots of the Houthi movement can be traced to “Believing Youth” (Muntada al-Shahabal-Mu’min), a Zaydi revivalist group founded by Hussein al-Houthi and his father, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, in the early 1990s.
- Badr al-Din was an influential Zaydi cleric in northern Yemen. Inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the rise of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in the 1980s, Badr al-Din and his sons started building vast social and religious networks among the Zaydis of Yemen, who make up roughly one-third of the Sunni-majority country’s population.
- For centuries, the Zaydis were a powerful sect within Yemen. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Zaydis would establish a monarchy (the Mutawakkilite Kingdom) in the country.
- But their dominance would come to an end in 1962 when the Egypt-backed republicans overthrew the monarchy.
- When Badr al-Din al-Houthi and his son Hussein launched the Believing Youth, the plan was to reorganise the Zaydi minority.
- But when the movement turned political and started attacking the “corrupt” regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh and his support for the U.S.’s war on terror, it became a thorn on Saleh’s side.
- They called themselves Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), mobilised tribesmen in the north against the Government and chanted “Death to America”.
- In 2004, Saleh’s government issued an arrest warrant against Hussein al-Houthi. He resisted the arrest, starting an insurgency.
- In September, the Government troops attacked the rebels and killed Hussein. Since then, the Government launched multiple military campaigns in Sa’dah, the Zaydi stronghold, to end the resistance, which was locally called the Houthis movement, after their “martyred” leader.
- But it only strengthened the Houthis, who, by 2010, when a ceasefire was reached, had captured Sa’dah from the Government troops.
What led to the Houthis’ rise?
- When protests broke out in Yemen in 2011 as part of the Arab Spring protests that felled Tunisian and Egyptian dictators, the Houthis, now confident from their military victories and the support they enjoyed in Sadah,backed the agitation.
- President Saleh, a Zaydi who was in power for 33 years, resigned in November, handing the reins to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Saudi-backed Sunni.
- Yemen, under the tutelage of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, started a national dialogue to resolve internal differences.
- The Houthis were part of the dialogue. But they fell out with the transitional Government of Mr. Hadi, claiming that the proposed federal solution, which sought to divide the Zaydi-dominated north into two land-locked provinces, was intended to weaken the movement.
- They soon got back to insurgency. Saleh, who was sidelined by the interim government and its backers, joined hands with his former rivals and launched a joint military operation.
- By January 2015, the Houthi-Saleh alliance had captured Sana’a and much of northern Yemen, including the vital Red Sea coast. (Later the Houthis turned against Saleh and killed him in December 2017).
Role of the UN Special Envoy on Yemen
2011: the UN appointed a Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Yemen.
- The Special Advisor played a critical role in mediating the early negotiations between warring parties in the southern Arabian country.
- He met with Yemeni leaders, foreign diplomats and the Yemenis demonstrating in squares around Sana’a. These negotiations later facilitated the signing of the first political transition agreement, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, in November 2011.
2012: the UN formed a special political mission for Yemen by establishing the Office of the Special Envoy to the Secretary-General on Yemen.
- The Special Envoy is responsible for engaging with all sides in Yemen, including the Government, political parties, civil societies and working closely with other regional and international actors to facilitate the political transition on behalf of the UN Secretary-General.
- The Special Envoy briefs the Security Council regularly on the peace process and the situation in Yemen.
- Negotiations led by the Office of the Special Envoy enabled the Yemenis to conclude a National Dialogue Conference
2014: The Office of the Special Envoy’
- Provided diplomatic, political, technical, logistical and financial support for the national dialogue process.
- It also facilitated dozens of Dialogue sessions at the interlocutors’ request.
Since 2015: The Office has mediated four rounds of talks between’
- Yemeni warring factions in Geneva (June 2015),
- Bienne (December 2015),
- Kuwait (April to August 2016) and
- Stockholm (December 2018).
The Special Envoy played a crucial role in facilitating the Stockholm Agreement that agreed to a ceasefire (Hodeidah Agreement), opening humanitarian corridors (Taiz understanding) and a prisoner swap.
- Since 2011, the UNSC has adopted 18 Resolutions regarding the various facets of the crisis in Yemen, some of which imposed targeted arms embargo, travel ban, and assets freeze.
- On December 21, 2018, Resolution 2451 endorsed the Stockholm agreement, called on all parties to fully respect the ceasefire in Hodeidah, and authorised the Secretary-General to establish and deploy a UN monitoring team in Yemen.
- Subsequently, Resolution 2452 established a Special Political Mission to support Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA).
- Most recently, Resolution 2586 has extended its mandate until July 15, 2022.
- The Security Council also addressed the role of the Special Envoy in its resolutions 2451 (2018) and 2452 (2019).
- In its latest statement issued on January 14, 2022, the Security Council condemned the Houthi seizure and detention of a UAE-flagged vessel off the Yemeni coast.
How is the UN tackling the humanitarian crisis?
- Yemen faces the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than half the population are at risk of famine, and 80% of the people require some form of humanitarian assistance.
- According to the UN, in 2021, a Yemeni child under the age of five died every nine minutes because of the conflict.
- The UN and its agencies have been delivering humanitarian aid in Yemen from the beginning of the crisis.
- UN’s World Food Programme (WFP):
- Distributes 100,000 tonnes of food commodities monthly, reaching more than 13 million people.
- The WFP also delivered nutritional support to 3.3 million pregnant and nursing women and children under five.
- UN Population Fund (UNFPA): reached nearly 2 million people with reproductive health services.
- UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF): helping treat severe acute malnutrition in children by providing essential therapeutic food and medical supplies.
- UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): Works closely with the Government and humanitarian agencies at all levels to enhance humanitarian coordination.
- UN’s World Food Programme (WFP):
-Source: The Hindu
‘Inaccuracies, Procedural violations’ in Great Nicobar EIA report
The details of the recently released draft environment impact assessment (EIA) report for the mega development project in the Great Nicobar Island have raised serious questions related to submission of incorrect or incomplete information, scientific inaccuracy and failure to follow appropriate procedure.
GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation and Protection measures, Environmental Impact Assessment)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Great Nicobar EIA report
- What is Environment Impact Assessment?
- Stages of Environment Impact Assessment:
- Importance of Environment Impact Assessment:
- Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)
Great Nicobar EIA report
- The matter is related to the NITI Aayog-piloted ₹72,000-crore integrated project in Great Nicobar that includes construction of a mega port, an airport complex, a township spread over 130 sq. km of pristine forest and a solar and gas-based power plant.
- The Andaman & Nicobar administration published an EIA for a port, an airport, a township and a gas-cum-solar power plant, all on Great Nicobar, on December 29.
- But the “comprehensive” EIA is short, incomplete, cherry-picks data from biodiversity surveys and ignores existing information about the island’s biodiversity.
- The project is certain to adversely affect the local ecology, and the mitigation measures the ZSI and the WII have suggested aren’t likely to suffice.
- The Andaman & Nicobar administration has scheduled the public hearing for the project on January 27, 2022.
What is Environment Impact Assessment?
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
- UNEP defines Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a tool used to identify the environmental, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision-making.
- It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, find ways and means to reduce adverse impacts, shape projects to suit the local environment and present the predictions and options to decision-makers.
- Environment Impact Assessment in India is statutorily backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986 which contains various provisions on EIA methodology and process.
Stages of Environment Impact Assessment:
- Project screening: This entails the application of EIA to those projects that may have significant environmental impacts.
- Scoping: This step seeks to identify, at an early stage, the key, significant environmental issues from among a host of possible impacts of a project and all the available alternatives.
- Consideration of alternatives
- Description of the project/development action: This step seeks to clarify the purpose and rationale of the project and understand its various characteristics, including the stages of development, location and processes.
- Description of the environmental baseline: This includes the establishment of both the present and future state of the environment, in the absence of the project, taking into account the changes resulting from natural events and from other human activities.
- The prediction of impacts: This step aims to identify the likely magnitude of the change (i.e., impact) in the environment when the project is implemented in comparison with the situation when the project is not carried out.
- Evaluation and assessment of significance: This seeks to assess the relative significance of the predicted impacts to allow a focus on key adverse impacts.
- Mitigation: This involves the introduction of measures to avoid, reduce, remedy or compensate for any significant adverse impacts.
- Public consultation and participation: This aims to assure the quality, comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the EIA, as well as to ensure that the public’s views are adequately taken into consideration in the decision-making process.
- EIS presentation: This is a vital step in the process. If done badly, much good work in the EIA may be negated.
- Review: This involves a systematic appraisal of the quality of the EIS, as a contribution to the decision-making process.
- Post-decision monitoring: This involves the recording of outcomes associated with development impacts, after the decision to proceed with the project.
Importance of Environment Impact Assessment:
- Reduced cost and time of project implementation and design,
- Avoided treatment/clean-up costs and impacts of laws and regulations.
- Lays base for environmentally sound projects;
- Greater awareness of environmental legislation;
- Protection of Environment
- Optimum utilization of resources (balance between development and Environmental protection)
Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)
- The EAC is a multidisciplinary sectoral appraisal committee comprising of various subject matter experts for appraisal of sector-specific projects. The EAC is the recommendatory body. Based on the recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee, environmental clearance is accorded or rejected to the project by MoEF&CC.
- After 2006 Amendment the EIA cycle comprises of four stages:
- Public hearing
- Category A projects require mandatory environmental clearance and thus they do not undergo the screening process.
- Category B projects undergoes screening process and they are classified into two types.
- Category B1 projects (Mandatorily requires EIA).
- Category B2 projects (Do not require EIA).
Thus, Category A projects and Category B, projects undergo the complete EIA process whereas Category B2 projects are excluded from complete EIA process.
-Source: The Hindu
SC seeks EC, govt. response on ‘irrational’ freebies
Coming down heavily on the Election Commission and the Centre, the Supreme Court asserted that the promise of freebies before assembly elections is a ‘serious issue’.
GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Constitutional Bodies)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Election Commission of India
- Structure of the Election Commission
- Issues with ECI
- Supreme Court’s views on Election Commission’s independence
- The court made the observations while hearing a PIL seeking a direction to seize the election symbol and de-register the political party that promises or distributes irrational freebies from public funds before elections.
- Promise/distribution of irrational freebies from public fund before election unduly influences the voters, shakes the roots of free-fair election, disturbs level playing field, vitiates the purity of election process and also violates Articles 14, 162, 266(3) and 282.
About Election Commission of India
- The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- It is the Commission that decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, whether general elections or by-elections.
- ECI decides on the location of polling stations, assignment of voters to the polling stations, location of counting centers, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and counting centres and all allied matters.
- In the performance of its functions, the Election Commission is insulated from executive interference.
- Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
- The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950, hence it is a constitutional body. Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc., of the commission and the member.
Litigations against EC
- The decisions of the Commission can be challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court of India by appropriate petitions.
- By long-standing convention and several judicial pronouncements, once the actual process of elections has started, the judiciary does not intervene in the actual conduct of the polls.
Structure of the Election Commission
- Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
- The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
- The secretariat of the commission is located in New Delhi.
- At the state level election commission is helped by Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.
- The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
- They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.
Issues with ECI
- Flaws in the composition: The Constitution doesn’t prescribe qualifications for members of the EC. They are not debarred from future appointments after retiring or resigning.
- No security of tenure: Election commissioners aren’t constitutionally protected with security of tenure.
- Partisan role: The EC has come under the scanner like never before, with increasing incidents of breach of the Model Code of Conduct in the 2019 general elections.
- Political favor: The opposition alleged that the ECI was favoring the ruling party by giving clean chit to the model code of conduct violations made by the PM.
- Non-competence: Increased violence and electoral malpractices under influence of money have resulted in political criminalization, which ECI is unable to arrest.
Supreme Court’s views on Election Commission’s independence
- The independence of the Commission from the executive has been reiterated by the top court in its 1995 judgment in the TN Seshan v Union of India and Ors, wherein it observed that:
- It is inherent in a democratic set-up that the agency which is entrusted the task of holding elections to the legislatures should be fully insulated from the party in power or executive of the day. This objective is achieved by the setting up of an Election Commission, a permanent body, under Article 324 (1) of the Constitution.
-Source: The Hindu
NGO and Foreign funding
The Supreme Court asked 6,000-odd NGOs to go back to the government for redressal of their grievances on non-renewal of their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration. NGO Global Peace Initiative had petitioned the court that the NGOs should be allowed to continue receiving and utilising foreign funds until the pandemic is over.
GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies & Interventions, Non-Governmental Organisations -NGOs), GS-III: Indian Economy (External Sector, Mobilization of Resources)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020
- Issues Related to FCRA
- Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India
- Why have NGOs been controversial recently?
- MHA guidelines regarding FCRA and NGOs
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
The Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act, 2010 is a consolidating act whose scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Key Points regarding FCRA
- Foreign funding of voluntary organizations in India is regulated under FCRA act and is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- The FCRA regulates the receipt of funding from sources outside of India to NGOs working in India.
- It prohibits the receipt of foreign contribution “for any activities detrimental to the national interest”.
- The Act held that the government can refuse permission if it believes that the donation to the NGO will adversely affect “public interest” or the “economic interest of the state”. However, there is no clear guidance on what constitutes “public interest”.
- The Acts ensures that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.
- Under the Act, organisations require to register themselves every five years.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020
- The Act bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions. Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
- The Act prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person not registered to accept foreign contributions.
- The Act makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document.
- The Act states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
- The Act proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
- The Act allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.
Issues Related to FCRA
- The Act also held that the government can refuse permission if it believes that the donation to the NGO will adversely affect “public interest” or the “economic interest of the state” – however, there is no clear guidance on what constitutes “public interest”.
- By allowing only some political groups to receive foreign donations and disallowing some others, can induce biases in favour of the government. NGOs need to tread carefully when they criticise the regime, knowing that too much criticism could cost their survival. FCRA norms can reduce critical voices by declaring them to be against the public interest – Hence, it can be said that FCRA restrictions have serious consequences on both the rights to free speech and freedom of association under Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(c) of the Constitution.
- In 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association undertook a legal analysis of the FCRA and stated that restrictions in the name of “public interest” and “economic interest” failed the test of “legitimate restrictions” as they were too vague and gave the state excessive discretionary powers to apply the provision in an arbitrary manner.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India
- Worldwide, the term ‘NGO’ is used to describe a body that is neither part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business organisation.
- NGOs are groups of ordinary citizens that are involved in a wide range of activities that may have charitable, social, political, religious or other interests.
- In India, NGOs can be registered under a plethora of Acts such as the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, Religious Endowments Act,1863, Indian Trusts Act, etc.
- India has possibly the largest number of active NGOs in the world.
- Ministries such as Health and Family Welfare, Human Resource Department, etc., provide funding to NGOs, but only a handful of NGOs get hefty government funds.
- NGOs also receive funds from abroad, if they are registered with the Home Ministry under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). There are more than 22,500 FCRA-registered NGOs.
- Registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution under five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.
Why have NGOs been controversial recently?
- An Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, submitted to the PMO and National Security Adviser in 2019, alleged that several foreign-funded NGOs were stalling India’s economic growth by their obstructionist activism.
- In 2015, the Home Ministry had cancelled the FCRA licences of 10,000 organisations.
- The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution are being not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under amended provisions of the FCRA 2010.
- Recently, the Union Home Ministry has suspended licenses of the six (NGOs) who were alleged to have used foreign contributions for religious conversion.
- Recently the National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against a foreign based group that provides funds for secessionist and pro-Khalistani activities in India.
MHA guidelines regarding FCRA and NGOs
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new regulating guidelines to banks under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. It states that the donations received in Indian rupees by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and associations from any foreign source (even if that source is located in India at the time of such donation) should be treated as foreign contribution.
- Under the issued regulations, donations given in Indian rupees (INR) by any foreigner/foreign source including foreigners of Indian origin like Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) or Person of India Origin (PIO) cardholders should also be treated as foreign contribution.
- The guidelines mandate that good practices should be followed by NGOs in accordance with standards of global financial watchdog- Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- MHA asked NGOs to inform the Ministry about “suspicious activities” of any donor or recipient and “take due diligence of its employees at the time of recruitment.”
Examples of action taken by MHA against NGOs according to 2020 amendment to FCRA
- The FCRA registration of Vadodara-based NGO was cancelled because it was accused of illegally converting members of the Hindu community, funding the anti-CAA protests and for criminal activities to strengthen Islam.
- The FCRA registration of two other Christian NGOs — the New Hope Foundation, based in Tamil Nadu, and Holy Spirit Ministries from Karnataka were also cancelled.
- The FCRA registration of AFMI Charitable Trust was cancelled by the MHA for violating the provisions of the Act.
- With more than 22,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act (FCRA), experts are saying that if the government follows a tough line – at least 10-15% of the groups that have applied for renewal are likely to be denied permissions, and stopped from accessing funding from abroad.
- NGOs fill the gaps where the government fails to do their jobs – hence, excessive regulation on foreign contribution will affect working of the NGOs which are helpful in implementing government schemes at the grassroots.
- Sharing of resources across national boundaries, which is essential to the functioning of a global community, should not be discouraged unless there is reason to believe the funds are being used to aid illegal activities.
-Source: Indian Express
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered 15 chemical industrial units in Haryana to remain shut for flouting green norms. The companies were manufacturing formaldehyde without environmental clearance (EC) and requisite safeguards.
GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Statutory Bodies, Important Judgements), GS-III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- National Green Tribunal (NGT)
- Structure of National Green Tribunal
- Powers of NGT
- Challenges related to the NGT
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.
Challenges related to the NGT
- Two important acts – Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.
- Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.
- The absence of a formula-based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.
- The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases – which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.
-Source: Down to earth