National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal has direct LG Polymers India to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 crore for the damage caused by the gas leak at its plant in Visakhapatnam, which left at least 11 people dead and affected several others.
About National Green Tribunal –
- The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
- The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
- The Tribunal has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” (i.e. a community at large is affected, damage to public health at broader level) & “damage to environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution). However there is no specific method is defined in Law for determining “substantial” damage to environment, property or public health.
- The powers of tribunal related to an award are equivalent to Civil court and tribunal may transmit any order/award to civil court have local jurisdiction. The Act specifies that an application for dispute related to environment can be filled within six months only when first time dispute arose (provided tribunal can accept application after 60 days if it is satisfied that appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filling the application).
- Also Tribunal is competent to hear cases for several acts such as Forest (Conservation) Act, Biological Diversity Act, Environment (Protection) Act, Water & Air (Prevention & control of Pollution) Acts etc. and also have appellate jurisdiction related to above acts after establishment of Tribunal within a period of 30 days of award or order received by aggrieved party.
- The Act says that decision taken by majority of members shall be binding and every order of Tribunal shall be final. Any person aggrieved by an award, decision, or order of the Tribunal may appeal to the Supreme Court within 90 days of commencement of award but Supreme Court can entertain appeal even after 90 days if appellant satisfied SC by giving sufficient reasons.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has dedicated to the nation a new 80-km road in Uttarakhand, which connects close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and opens up a new route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Lipulekh Pass, significantly reducing the travel time.
- The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar yatra route.
- With the completion of this road link, the yatra could be completed in one week, compared to 2-3 week it took earlier.
- Except for a 5-k trek on the Chinese side across the Lipulekh Pass, the travel will now be on vehicles.
About Lipulekh Pass –
- Lipulekh Pass also known as Lipu-Lekh Pass/Qiangla or Tri-Corner is a high altitude mountain pass situated in the western Himalayas with a height of 5,334 metre or 17,500 feet.
- It is an International mountain pass between India, China and Nepal.
About Kailash Mansarovar Yatra –
- To Hindus it is the earthly embodiment of the dominant mountain of heaven, Meru, and the residence of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati.
- The Kailash range’s supreme peak lies in the Chinese-occupied Tibet at the height of 6,675 meters.
- The pilgrimage to Kailash and to the sacred Mansarover lake that lies 30 km to its south, is run exclusively by a government organisation, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN). It works in collaboration with the Government of India and Government of China.
Factories Act 1948
The Odisha government has temporarily changed the daily eight-hour shift to 12 hours by tweaking the Factories Act, 1948, amid opposition from labour organisation.
In exercise of power conferred by Section 5 and 65 of the Factories Act, 1948, the Government of Odisha hereby directs that all the factories registered under the said Act will be exempted from provisions relating to weekly, daily hours and interval of rest of adult workers under Section 51, 54, 55 and 56 for a period of three months and a 12-hour shift is allowed in the period.
About Factories Act, 1948 –
- The Factories Act is a legislation that deals with safety, health and welfare of workers. The present Factories Act, 1948 applies to establishments with 10 or more workers, (if the premise is using power) and to the establishments with 20 or more workers (without electricity connection).
- The main objectives of the Indian Factories Act, 1948 are to regulate the working conditions in factories, to regulate health, safety welfare, and annual leave and enact special provision in respect of young persons, women and children who work in the factories.
- According to the provision of working hours of adults, no adult worker shall be required or allowed to work in a factory for more than 48 hours in a week. There should be a weekly holiday.
Sal Forest Tortoise
According to the authors of the study published in the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology, over 90% of the potential distribution of the species falls outside current protected area’s network. Also, in northeast India, the representation of the species in protected areas is least, and there is little to no connectivity among most of the protected areas where the species is present.
About Sal Forest Tortoise –
- The sal forest tortoise is widely distributed over eastern and northern India and Southeast Asia. However, it is not common in any of this terrain.
- In fact, 23 of the 29 species of freshwater turtle and tortoise species found in India come under the threatened category in the IUCN red list and are under severe existential threat due to human activities.
- Also known as the elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata), the sal forest tortoise, recently assessed as critically endangered, is heavily hunted for food.
- It is collected both for local use, such as decorative masks, and international wildlife trade.
- According to the IUCN the population of the species may have fallen by about 80% in the last three generations (90 years).
While locusts are seen in India as well, that is normally only during July-October and mostly as solitary insects or in small isolated groups. Their being spotted along the India-Pakistan border before mid-April this time — and coming after the damage they caused to the growing rabi crops along western Rajasthan and parts of northern Gujarat during December-January — has raised the alarm bells.
What are locusts?
- The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper that is innocuous while it is in a “solitary phase” and moving about independently.
- These winged insects differ from normal hoppers, and become dangerous only when their populations build up rapidly and the close physical contact in crowded conditions triggers behavioural changes.
- They, then, enter the “gregarious phase”, by grouping into bands and forming swarms that can travel great distances (up to 150 km daily), while eating up every bit of vegetation on the way.
- If not controlled at the right time, these insect swarms can threaten the food security of countries.
How did they reach India?
- The genesis of current outbreak of locusts lie in the Mekunu and Luban cyclonic storms of May and October 2018 that struck Oman and Yemen, respectively.
- These turned large desert areas in remote parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula into lakes, which allowed the insects to breed undetected across multiple generations.
- The swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations from November onwards, while building up since the start of this year in southern Iran and Pakistan (Balochistan and parts of the Indus Valley and Punjab).
- Widespread rains in East Africa in late March and April have enabled further breeding.
What needs to be done?
- Local authorities in Rajasthan and Gujarat have treated over 4.30 lakh hectares of infested areas in the past with sprayers mounted on tractors and other vehicles.
- Old generation organophosphate insecticides such as Malathion (96% ultra-low volume aerial application) are effective against locusts. About one litre of the chemical is necessary to treat a hectare of their breeding areas, including trees where they halt for the night.
- Control operations also require procurement of equipment, training of field teams, prepositioning of supplies in key breeding areas and updating contingency plans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Maharana Partap on his birth anniversary.
About Maharana Pratap –
- Maharana Pratap was a king of Mewar, a region in the present day state of Rajasthan. He was the eldest son of Udai Singh II (founder of city of Udaipur).
- Battle of Haldighati – It was fought on 18 June 1576 between the forces Maharana Pratap; and the Mughal emperor Akbar’s forces, led by Man Singh I of Amber. The Mughals were the victors but failed to capture Pratap, who escaped.
- Resurgence – Mughal pressure on Mewar relaxed after 1579 following rebellions in Bengal and Bihar. Taking advantage of the situation, Pratap recovered Western Mewar including Kumbhalgarh, Udaipur and Gogunda. During this period, he also built a new capital, Chavand, near modern Dungarpur.
- Chetak – Chetak is the name given in traditional literature to the horse ridden by Maharana Pratap at the Battle of Haldighati. However, some Historians debate it. According to tradition, Chetak, although wounded, carried Pratap safely away from the battle, but then died of his wounds.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Freedom Fighter and social reformer Gopal Krishna Gokhale on his birth anniversary.
About Gopal Krishna Gokhale –
- Gokhale became a member of the Indian National Congress in 1889. He was the leader of the moderate faction of the Congress party. In 1905, he was elected president of the Indian National Congress (Benaras Session).
- In 1899, Gokhale was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council and in 1901 he was elected to the Imperial Council of the Governor-General of India.
- It was formed by him in Pune (Maharashtra) in 1905 to further the expansion of education in India. The Society organised mobile libraries, founded schools, and provided night classes for factory workers.
- In 1908, he founded the ‘Ranade Institute of Economics’.
- He launched the English weekly newspaper named The Hitavad (The people’s paper) in 1911.
- Gokhale visited South Africa at Gandhi’s invitation. He received personal guidance from Gokhale, including a knowledge and understanding of India and the issues confronting common Indians.