Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 24 January 2022
- A stellar fallacy
- Side by side
A stellar fallacy
A move by the Union Environment Ministry to implement a ‘star-rating system’ has sparked controversy after one of its official communiqués became public.
GS Paper – 3: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
- Star-rating system
- What are the concerns
- Way Forward
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA):
- The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a significant process to ensure that the ecological costs of infrastructure development are minimal.
- What is the process?
- Prospective projects above a certain size and with a potential to significantly alter the natural environment must be first approved by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA).
- SEIAA comprises of State officers and independent experts.
- SEIAA projects make up the bulk of projects for approval including building and construction, small mining, small industry projects, and are considered ‘less polluting’.
- Category A Projects: Bigger projects or those involve forest land must be cleared by an expert committee formed by the Centre.
- Under this scheme, State-level environment committees that appraise industrial projects on their potential environmental risk would be incentivised with points for “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.
- This idea was recently emphasised by the Union Cabinet to facilitate the Government’s broader commitment to ‘Ease of Doing Business’.
- How does it work?
- The star rating system proposed is to “rank” and “incentivise” States on how quickly and “efficiently” they can accord environmental clearances.
- It spells out seven criteria to rate SEIAAs on “transparency, efficiency and accountability”.
- On a scale of 7, an SEIAA, for instance, gets more points for granting a clearance in less than 80 days than for within 105 days and no marks for more.
- A score of seven or more would be rated ‘five star’.
What are the concerns?
- Criticism: The States can in the quest for more stars, would logically vie for speedily clearing projects rather than ensure a thorough appraisal.
- The Environment Ministry, has said, in response to criticism, that the intention is not to hasten clearances but accelerate the pace of decision making.
- Rather than files being sent back for every query, all objections must be compiled and addressed at one go, it contends.
- Dearth of Experts:
- While quicker decision-making benefits everyone, State committees are currently hampered by having too few independent experts and decision-making being left to bureaucrats than to environment specialists.
- Environmental concerns ignored:
- Both industrialists and States gain from projects and, therefore, the tendency is always to elide environmental concerns.
- Site visits are critical to understand the potential environmental challenges. Calculating the risks and the benefits of industrial projects vis-à-vis their environmental impact is understandably hard.
- Steps needs to be taken to increase trust in the system and ensure that all States have competent experts who can conduct appraisals without fear or favour.
- A list of empty rankings is the least advisable way to bring about this.
Side by side
The Government has put out the eternal flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and merged it with an eternal flame at the National War Memorial (NWM) to honour the sacrifice of India’s soldiers.
GS Paper – 1: Post-independence Consolidation of India, Quick Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- War Memorials
- Why it is being shifted now?
- Way Forward
- National War Memorial (NWM):
- The National War Memorial includes the names of the soldiers who laid down their lives in the wars that took place after independence in 1947.
- The Amar Jawan Jyoti:
- It was set up in 1947 under the initiative of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi under the arch of India Gate.
- It seeks to commemorate those who died in the 1971 war, but their names are not inscribed on the monument.
Why it is being shifted now?
- Arguments in favor of the Shift:
- The NWM is the place where all the official functions are now held to honor the country’s soldiers. Hence it would be more appropriate to have a flame there.
- Arguments against the shift:
- Few call the decision to be divisive, and rankled the sentiments of many.
- It was not a convincing explanation for few as why the government will no longer honor Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in wars prior to 1947.
- Government’s response:
- The government as a response to the issue described that the “merging of the flames” as a “decolonising” move. However, this has only made the issue more problematic.
- It is one thing for a nation to be aware of its colonial past. But quite another for a government to use its ideological predilections to smear everything that went before as “tainted”.
- In defence of the move, some claim that the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial was inappropriate in its location at India Gate, a Lutyens’ monument and as such a colonial relic.
- This insults the sacrifice of 15,000 men who laid down their lives as part of the British Army in the two world wars, and whose names are inscribed on the arch, but not at the NWM.
- These men were no mercenaries as they are now being cast. Moreover, the present day Indian Army is a legatee of the British Indian Army, organised much along the same lines as it was 75 years ago, and cannot turn its back on its own heroes.
- One of the best solutions to the present controversy would be to leave the Amar Jawan Jyoti burning at India Gate, along with the one at the NWM.
- The India gate located in a public place gets number of visitors than the gated and more select National War Memorial. This eventually ensures that none of the India’s war heroes are forgotten
-Source: Indian Express