Conservation, environmental Pollution and Degradation
- COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality
- The Paris Agreement
- Country’s first solar-based Integrated Multi-Village Water Supply Project
- Ministry of Shipping has been changed to “Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways
General Studies- 2
- Haryana’s move to reserve 75% private jobs
1) COVID-19, climate and carbon neutrality:
- History is divided into two periods: Before the Common Era or BCE and Common Era or CE.
- But given our experience this year, BCE could well stand for Before the COVID-19 Epidemic and CE for the COVID-19 Epidemic.
- To say that 2020 has been cataclysmic is to state the obvious and actually make an understatement. Our lives have been turned upside down.
- The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath can be seen either as a longish pause on the button of economic growth or as an opportunity for reset recalibration and rethink.
- COVID-19 is undoubtedly a public health catastrophe and certainly calls for enhanced investments in research and development that impinges directly on public health.
- The pandemic reflects fundamental ecological disequilibrium. Evidence has accumulated that loss of biodiversity and ever-increasing human incursions into the natural world have contributed heavily to the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases.
- Understanding the three Es — evolution, ecology and the environment — will be key to identifying potential pandemics.
- COVID-19 also reinforces the need to pay far greater attention to the biosciences that underpin agriculture, health and the environment that are going to be profoundly impacted by the current pandemic.
There is robust scientific evidence to show, for instance, how air pollution exacerbates the impacts of COVID-19.
- Public health science and environmental science are two sides of the same coin.
- In fact, I have been saying for over a decade now that our environmental problems — such as air pollution, water pollution, chemical contamination, deforestation, waste generation and accumulation, land degradation and excessive use of pesticides — all have profound public health consequences both in terms of morbidity and mortality and hence demand urgent actions.
- The traditional ‘grow now, pay later’ model is not only unsustainable in the medium- to long-term but also dangerous to public health in the short term.
We live in a world where climate change is a reality.
- No longer can we argue about uncertainties in the monsoon, the frequency of extreme events, the retreat of the Himalayan glaciers and the increase in mean sea levels.
- The report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’ is an excellent and up-to-date analysis that deserves wider debate and discussion.
- Understanding of the impacts of climate change caused by continued emissions of greenhouse gases.
- This scientific understanding is essential for what may be a solution at one point of time but becomes a problem at another point and may even become a threat in a different context.
- Take the example of HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, that were at one time seen as the panacea to fix the depletion of the ozone layer.
- The depletion of the ozone layer has been fixed more or less, but HFCs are a potent threat from a climate change perspective since their global warming potential is a thousand times that of carbon dioxide.
Carbon neutrality targets of the world
- In September 2018, the American State of California — the world’s fifth largest economy in itself — was the first to commit itself to carbon neutrality.
- The aim was to achieve this by 2045.
- In December 2019, a few weeks before the world became aware of the COVID-19 catastrophe, the European Union followed California’s example but with the year 2050 in mind.
- In September 2020, China stunned the world by declaring its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. And just a few weeks ago, Japan and South Korea joined the club by announcing their intention to do so by 2050, like the EU.
India’s Climate Reduction Targets
- At the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, we committed to having 40% of our electricity-generating capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030.
Carbon emissions are equal to absorptions in carbon sinks, of which forests are one.
- Both sides of the equation are important and have to be addressed simultaneously.
- At Paris in December 2015, we made a commitment on carbon sequestration through forests but I have serious doubts on its credibility.
- To my mind, this is a matter of overriding priority. We will definitely become a $5 trillion economy in a few years.
- Carbon neutrality, on the other hand, is a far bolder and worthwhile goal, the attainment of which has to be consciously engineered.
- It will involve massive scientific invention and technological innovation especially when it comes to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- Of course, renewables are an integral part of the solutions we seek but they have to be seen as more than just devices
- They open up avenues for re-architect ring systems as a whole. This has happened, for instance, in the German electricity sector over the past decade and a half.
- The post-COVID-19 world is an opportunity for us to switch gears and make a radical departure from the past to make economic growth ecologically sustainable.
- GDP growth must, without doubt, revive and get back to a steady 7%-8% growth path.
- However, in this post-COVID-19 world, we should make efforts to ensure that the ‘G’ in GDP is not ‘Gross’ but ‘Green’.
- One of the world’s greatest environmental economists had prepared a fairly detailed framework for this.
India can and should show to the world how the measurement of economic growth can take place while taking into account both ecological pluses and minuses.
The Paris Agreement-Essential elements
- The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.
- As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.
- The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Nationally determined contributions
- The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
- This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
- In 2018, Parties will take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of NDCs.
- There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.
- Lower emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030
- Increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil free energy sources to 40% by 2030
- Create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.
2) Haryana’s move to reserve 75% private jobs:
Why in news?
- On the lines of Andhra Pradesh government, Haryana too has announced that it wants 75 per cent of private sector jobs in the state, till a certain salary slab, reserved for local candidates.
- The state Assembly has passed the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 paving way for more employment opportunities for locals in private sector.
Provisions of the bill?
- All the companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms and any person employing 10 or more persons and an entity, as may be notified by the government from time to time shall come under the ambit of this Act.
- The definition of “employer” given in the Bill means a Company registered under the Companies Act, 2013 (Central Act 18 of 2013) or a Society registered under the Haryana Registration and Regulation of Societies Act,2012or a Limited Liability Partnership Firm as defined under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 (Central Act 6 of 2009) or a Trust defined under the Indian Trust Act, 1882 or a Partnership Firm as defined under Indian Partnership Act, 1932 or any person employing 10 or more persons on salary, wages or other remuneration for the purpose of manufacturing or providing any service or such entity, as may be notified by the government from time to time.
- It shall not include the central government or state government or any organization owned by the central or state government.
What does the “local candidate” mean?
- A candidate “who is domiciled in State of Haryana” is called a local candidate.
- The candidate will also mandatorily have to register himself/herself on a designated portal while seeking benefit under this reservation.
- Employer too will have to make recruitments through this portal, only.
Does it mean 75% of total work force of an employer will be from Haryana only?
- No. Every employer shall be required to employ 75 per cent local candidates for the posts where the gross monthly salary or wages are not more than Rs. 50,000 or as notified by the government from time to time.
- It will, however, be also the employer’s discretion if he wants to recruit above 10 per cent employees from a particular district.
Can an employer also claim exemption from this 75% recruitment restriction?
- Yes, but only after going through a long procedure and only if the government appointed officers believe that the employer’s request seeking exemption holds merit.
- The employer may claim exemption where adequate number of local candidates of a desired skill, qualification or proficiency is not available.
- The Designated Officer may accept/ reject the claim of the employer seeking exemption.
- The Designated Officer may also direct the employer to train local candidates to achieve the desired skill, qualification or proficiency.
How will government keep a check if employers are abiding by 75% reservation rule?
- Every employer will have to furnish a quarterly report on the designated portal and mention details about local candidates employed and appointed during that period.
- The reports furnished by the employer will be scrutinized by the authorized officers not below the rank of Sub-Divisional Officers.
- These officers shall have the powers to call for any record, information or document in possession of any employer for the purposes of verifying the report furnished by them.
Will the employer be penalized for not following provisions of this Act?
- Yes, the employer can be fined with a minimum Rs. 10,000 to a maximum Rs. 2 lakh once it is established that the employer has committed a violation of provisions of the Act.
- If the employer continues to commit the violation even after conviction, a penalty of Rs. 1,000 per day till the violation continues shall be imposed.
- A penalty of Rs. 50,000 shall be levied on the employer who produces false records or counterfeits or knowingly makes/ produces a false statement.
- The penalty, on a subsequent offence, shall not be less than Rs. 2 lakh but may even extend to Rs. 5 lakh.
Why is Industry not impressed with the move?
- Several top industrialists in Haryana have the time and again apprised concerned authorities and government functionaries that the move of restricting employment for Haryana’s candidates may not be in the interest of industry.
Is this reservation Bill violative of Article 16 of the Constitution of India?
- Andhra Pradesh’s decision of introducing 75 per cent reservation for local candidates was challenged in the Andhra Pradesh High Court which observed that “it may be unconstitutional”.
- The Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked state government to inform if the quota-law was enacted as per the Constitution.
- Similar concerns were raised in Haryana Vidhan Sabha by Congress legislator BB Batra, who called the Bill a violation of Article 16 of the Constitution of India.
- However, Haryana government claims that while Article 16 talks about the “public employment”, the Bill only pertains to “private sector employment”
3) Country’s first solar-based Integrated Multi-Village Water Supply Project:
Why in news?
- Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat launched the country’s first solar-based Integrated Multi-Village Water Supply Project (IMVWSP) in Arunachal Pradesh.
- While dedicating the project, Shekhawat said that the project is as per the vision of PM Modi for the utilization of multiple resources.
- This is a state-government programme to supplement Jal Jeevan Mission.
First Solar-based Integrated Multi-Village Water Supply Project (IMVWSP)
- This water supply project for 39 villages of Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh has been commissioned at a cost of Rs 28.50 crore.
- The project is said to provide drinking water to 17,480 people and is being seen as project that will combine elements of green energy and tourism along with the drinking water.
- Khandu said that this is the first of kind water project in the state that uses green energy-solar grid, pre-fabricated zinc alum storage tank, SCADA automation system, and High-density polyethylene (HDPE) conduit (preferred material for protecting electrical power) for mains, sub-mains and network distribution system and also amusement park.
- CM also appreciated the initiative by the local people for making the project sustainable wherein the Village Water and Sanitation Committee through Gram Sabha have decided to raise minimum water tariff.
- Khandu also said that the project will increase tourism in the area by improving the standard of living of people and boosting rural economy.
4) Ministry of Shipping has been changed to “Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways:
Why in news?
- On 8 November, 2020; the name of “Ministry of Shipping” has been changed to “Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways”
PM Modi announced the renaming of the ministry at the inaugural virtual event of Ro-Pax terminal at Surat’s Hazira.
- He also flagged-off the Ro-Pax ferry service between Hazira and Ghogha in Gujarat in the event.
- This ferry service between Hazira and Ghogha will reduce the distance of 370 km to 90 km by seat route.
- Also, the journey time is now reduced to 3-4 hours from 10-12 hours earlier