Sewage treatment plant near Rushikulya
- Wildlife activists have expressed apprehension over the construction a sewage treatment plant at Palibandh, near the Rushikulya river estuary in Odisha’s Ganjam district, the site of India’s second-largest rookery of Olive Ridley turtles.
- The plant, if constructed, will spell doom for the turtles
- Every year, millions of Olive Ridleys gather on a five-km-long sandy stretch of beach from Purunababdh to Podampeta, for mass nesting known as ‘arribada’.
- Rushikulya is the second biggest mass nesting site of Olive Ridleys in India after Gahiramatha in Kendrapara district of Odisha.
Construction of new Sewage plant
- The Notified Area Council (NAC) Ganjam has started to construct its proposed Rs two-crore sewage treatment plant in a 1.50-acre plot of land near the river mouth.
- The proposed plant will create obstacles for the Olive Ridley turtles to visit the area
- The construction of the proposed plant will also violate Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, which prohibit any construction work within 500 metres from the beach
Atma Nirbhar in fertilizer
- India is committed to reduce dependency on fertilizer imports and to gain ‘AatmaNirbharta’ in all fertilizers.
- In order to achieve the goal of ‘AatmaNirbharta’ in fertilizer production, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers is working continuously and exploring newer avenues
- Currently we are dependent on other countries for raw materials to produce DAP and SSP primarily. India of the 21st century needs to reduce its dependencies on import.
- In order to achieve that goal, India need to explore indigenous deposits of Phosphatic rock and Potash and make it available to indigenous industries to produce DAP, SSP, NPK and MOP to cater the needs of Indian farmers.
- It is pertinent to mention that Rock Phosphate is the key raw material for DAP and NPK fertilizers.
- Currently India is 90% dependent on imports for this raw material. Volatility in international prices affects domestic prices of fertilizers.
- It hinders the progress and development of the agriculture sector in the country and puts extra pressure on our farmers
Importance of commercial exploration of Phosphorite deposits
- Need to take steps for ramping up the production in the existing 30 lakh MT of Phosphorite deposits.
- The Union Government has handed over fertilizer mineral resource bearing GRs to the tune of 536 million tonnes to various states.
- These deposits are available in Rajasthan, central part of peninsular India, Hirapur (Madhya Pradesh), Lalitpur(Uttar Pradesh), Mussoorie syncline, Cuddapah basin (Andhra Pradesh). It was further decided that the Department of Mining and Geological Survey of India is going to expedite the exploration in the potential potassic ore resources in Rajasthan’s Satipura, Bharusari & Lakhasar and Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka.
- A recent study suggests that both hydropower projects and afforestation efforts, carried out as compensation for the forest land diverted for hydropower projects in the name of ‘mitigation’, have altered landuse and are negatively impacting the forest ecosystems.
- Construction activities for hydropower projects impacted existing landuse, disturbed forest biodiversity and fragmented the forest landscape, but the related compensatory afforestation plantations are also ridden with problems.
- These include abysmally low presence of surviving saplings [up to 10%], inter-species conflict, infringement on local land usage and damage by wildfires and landslips,”
- Mega hydropower, which Himachal Pradesh is working to tap as a significant source of “green” power that substitutes energy from fossil fuels, could alter several aspects of ecology, rendering it vulnerable to the effects of extreme events such as cloudbursts, flash floods, landslides and earthquakes.
- The parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy during 2018-19 noted that the State could more than double its existing harnessed hydropower potential of 10,547 MW.
- Kinnaur is a focus point for such development, centred around the potential of the glacially-fed Sutlej valley
- Other researchers, studying the 2015 Nepal earthquake, point to high seismicity causing fatal landslides and severe damage to hydropower structures in the Himalayas
- tunnelling in mountain areas will result in the risk of more landslips as large amounts of water percolate into surfaces.
- “The use of dynamite for blasting through the surfaces and underground components of the projects disturb existing slopes and the fragile geology.”
India and Taliban
- India is engaging all stakeholders in Afghanistan, including some parts of the Taliban, as part of a “multi-track” strategy necessitated by the advance of the Taliban militants on the ground.
- According to the government’s latest assessment, the Taliban is attempting to acquire territory to the south and border posts of Afghanistan, and will accelerate its efforts to take major cities once the U.S. completes its pull-out of troops at the end of August.
- In particular, the sources cited recent reports from international news agencies and videos that showed Taliban fighters being treated in Pakistani hospitals
- it is far from clear how much the U.S. will be willing to criticise Pakistan publicly, given that it is deeply engaged with its military and political leadership on pushing the Taliban towards some sort of a “face-saving” peace agreement before the U.S. pulls out all its troops
- India, unlike the other members, is the only continental Asian power in the Quad, which shares a contested land border with China and is vulnerable to the geopolitical changes in the Eurasian landmass.
- The U.S. may have retreated from Afghanistan as part of a grand strategy to take on China in maritime Asia, in which it needs India’s involvement, and India might find it tempting to join the ranks, especially after China’s aggression on the Line of Actual Control last year.
- But the irony is that the American withdrawal and the vacuum it leaves in Afghanistan and continental Asia in general — which is being filled by China and Russia — is reinforcing India’s identity as a continental Asian power.
- It has made huge investments and commitments ever since, which run into over $3 billion, and cultivated strong economic and defence ties with the Afghan government
- At this point, talking to the Taliban looks inevitable. But India should not overlook the deep ties between Pakistan’s security establishment and the Haqqani Network, a major faction within the Taliban that’s driving the successful campaigns on the battlefield.
- The Afghan military has some 200,000 battle-hardened soldiers, including the highly trained special forces
- India should urgently step up training Afghan forces and provide military hardware, intelligence and logistical and financial support so that Kabul can continue to defend the cities.
- There is a convergence of interests between India and three key regional players — China, Russia and Iran — in seeing a political settlement in Afghanistan. These three countries have already opened public, direct talks with the Taliban.
- But these contacts are largely tactical in nature. For China, whose restive Xinjiang province shares a border with Afghanistan, a jihadist-oriented Taliban regime would not serve its internal interests.
- Russia, which fears that instability would spill over into the former Soviet Republics, has already moved to secure its Central Asian perimeter.
- For the Shia theocratic Iran, a Sunni Deobandi Taliban with which it had almost gone to war in 1998, will continue to remain an ideological, sectarian and strategic challenge.
- India, under pressure from the U.S., slowed down on the Chabahar connectivity projects, which finally prompted Iran to drop India and go ahead. Building strategic ties with Iran, irrespective of the U.S.’s policy towards the Islamic Republic, is essential for India’s Afghan bets.
- Finally, India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan
Emigration bill 2021
- Ministry of External Affairs invited public inputs to the Emigration Bill 2021
- migrant worker conditions have underlined serious exploitative practices which include large recruitment charges, contract substitution, deception, retention of passports, non-payment or underpayment of wages, poor living conditions, discrimination and other forms of ill-treatment
- Labour migration is governed by the Emigration Act, 1983 which sets up a mechanism for hiring through government-certified recruiting agents — individuals or public or private agencies.
- It outlines obligations for agents to conduct due diligence of prospective employers, sets up a cap on service fees, and establishes a government review of worker travel and employment documents (known as emigration clearances) to 18 countries mainly in West Asian states and South-East Asian countries
- The Emigration Bill 2021 is an improvement over the 1983 Act.
- It launches a new emigration policy division, establishes help desks and welfare committees, requires manpower agencies to conduct pre-departure briefings for migrants, and increases accountability of brokers and other intermediaries who are also involved in labour hiring.
- First, the 2021 Bill’s purpose “to consolidate and amend the law relating to emigration of citizens of India”, lacks a human rights framework aimed at securing the rights of migrants and their families
- Bill permits manpower agencies to charge workers’ service fees, and even allows agents to set their own limits.
- International labour standards such as International Labour Organization (ILO) Private Employment Agencies Convention No. 181 and the ILO general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment recognises that it is employers, not workers who should bear recruitment payments including the costs of their visas, air travel, medical exams, and service charges to recruiters
- It permits government authorities to punish workers by cancelling or suspending their passports and imposing fines up to ₹ 50,000 for violating any of the Bill’s provisions.
- When enforced, it can be used as a tool to crackdown on workers who migrate through unregistered brokers or via irregular arrangements such as on tourist visas
- The Bill also provides limited space for worker representation or civil society engagement in the policy and welfare bodies that it sets up.