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17 Jul, 2021

34 Min Read

Initiatives for Energy Efficiency in India

GS-III : Economic Issues Energy crisis & security

Initiatives for Energy Efficiency in India

  • The Ministry of Power is implementing measures to save energy with an objective to reduce CO2 emission levels in the environment from industries, establishments and by using equipment/ appliances.
  • In this regard, Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme is a key programme for large industries and establishments.

Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme

  • This scheme aims to enhance the cost-effectiveness of energy savings by upgrading technologies or by taking in-house actions to minimize energy consumption.
  • The scheme provides mandatory targets for the identified Large Units and the excess energy saved by them is issued as Energy Saving Certificate, which are tradable instruments.
  • The different industries and establishments are assigned separate energy efficiency targets based on their levels of energy consumption and the potential for energy savings.
  • By the year 2020, the scheme coverage has been extended to the 13 most energy-intensive sectors in the country including Cement, Iron and Steel, Fertilizer, Thermal Power Plants, Refineries, Petrochemicals, and Railways and others.
  • This initiative is currently leading to energy savings of about 17 MTOE (Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) and has resulted in mitigation of about 87 million tonnes of CO2, per year, a figure close to the total CO2 emissions of countries like Bangladesh.

Standards and Labeling (S&L) Program

Appliances are the main points for electricity consumption at the household level or at office and commercial establishments. In view of the rapid growth in high-energy consumer goods, the demand for electrical energy has been increasing every year. This rising demand can be optimized, if the consumers prefer high-efficiency appliances.

  • To enable the market transformation of efficient products, the Standards and Labeling (S&L) Program was introduced by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).
  • The objective of S&L is to provide the consumers, an informed choice about the energy savings potential and thereby the cost saving due to the products available in the market.
  • The scheme includes a display of energy performance labels on key energy-consuming equipment & appliances, with stipulations for minimum energy performance standards.
  • The scheme has now included 28 appliances till March 2021 and over 15000 models of energy-efficient products have been awarded Star labels, a popular symbol among the consumers for endorsing energy savings.
  • The impact of using a huge number of efficient products by the citizens has resulted in an estimated electricity savings of 56 Billion Units during 2020-21, worth over Rs. 30000 crores.
  • This initiative has been effective in reducing the CO2 emissions of approx. 46 Million Tonnes every year.
  • Such steps have become very effective and a simplified approach is considered more useful to promote energy efficiency globally.
  • Many countries have followed this labelling programme, thereby reaping the benefits of energy savings and also in reducing CO2 emissions.

About Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)

  • The Government of India has set up the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) on 1st March 2002 under the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • The mission of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is to assist in developing policies and strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy within the overall framework of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
  • This will be achieved with active participation and collaboration of all stakeholders, resulting in accelerated and sustained adoption of energy efficiency in all sectors.
  • BEE’s span of Energy Conservation and Efficiency efforts covers areas such as appliances, Buildings, Transport, key Demand Side Management programs in Agriculture and Municipalities and the Industry and other Establishments.

What is the news?

The initiatives launched today on Aiming for Sustainable Habitat: New Initiatives in Building Energy Efficiency 2021 included:

  • Specifying code compliance approaches and minimum energy performance requirements for building services, and verification framework with Eco Niwas Samhita 2021.
  • The web-based platform ‘The Handbook of Replicable Designs for Energy Efficient Residential Buildings’ as a learning tool, which can be used to create a pool of ready-to-use resources of replicable designs to construct energy-efficient homes in India.
  • Creating an Online Directory of Building Materials that would envisage the process of establishing Standards for energy-efficient building materials.
  • Announcement of NEERMAN Awards, (National Energy Efficiency Roadmap for Movement towards Affordable & Natural Habitat), with the goal of encouraging exceptionally efficient building designs complying with BEE’s Energy Conservation Building Codes.
  • Online Star Rating tool for Energy Efficient Homes created to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in individual homes. It provides performance analysis to help professionals decide the best options to pick for energy efficiency of their homes.
  • Training of over 15,000 Architects, Engineers and Government officials on Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017 and Eco Niwas Samhita (ENS) 2021).

Source: PIB

Automated Train Toilet Sewerage Disposal System


Automated Train Toilet Sewerage Disposal System

Automated Train Toilet Sewerage Disposal System: 7 times cheaper alternative to Biotoilets

  • An automated technology for collection of toilet waste which is easy to maintain and seven times cheaper alternative to the bio-toilets, developed by an Indian scientist, can be used to maintain the toilet system of the Indian Railways.
  • Existing Bio toilets use anaerobic bacteria for converting human waste to gas, but that bacteria can’t decompose plastic and cloth materials dumped into toilets by passengers. Hence maintenance and removal of such non-decomposed materials inside the tank are difficult.
  • The technology developed by Dr R.V. Krishnaiah from Chebrolu Engineering College is an automated system for the collection of toilet waste from running trains and the segregation of different materials and processing into usable things.
  • The technology developed with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies programme of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), aligned with the ‘Make in India’ initiative has been granted five National patents and is in the testing phase.
  • The automated system consists of three simple steps--the septic tank (which is placed under the track, i.e., train line) top cover gets opened when train approaches to the septic tank place by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor and reader placed at Engine and septic tank position respectively, sewerage material in toilet tanks is dropped into the septic tank when they are mutually synchronized, and finally the septic tank cover gets closed when train departs away from it.
  • The collected sewerage material from train toilets is segregated such that human waste is stored in one tank, and other materials such as plastic materials, cloth materials, and so on are stored in another tank. The human waste is further processed separately to convert into usable material. The plastic and cloth materials are processed separately.
  • This technology has been developed targeting the Indian Railways specifically with the aim of cost reduction and to obviate the necessity of time-consuming anaerobic bacteria generation. In contrast with Bio toilets which cost one lakh per unit, the new technology brings down the cost to Fifteen thousand rupees only. Dr. R.V. Krishnaiah has tied up with MTE Industries for further upscale of this technology.

Source: PIB

Recent Verdicts by Supreme Court on Sedition in India

GS-II : Indian Polity Significant Provisions

It is time to define the limits of sedition: Supreme Court

What is the news?

  • The Supreme Court said “it is time to define the limits of sedition” even as it protected two Telugu channels from any coercive action by the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government for their reportage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud flagged indiscriminate use of the sedition law against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing grievances about the governments’ COVID-19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access, equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders.
  • “We are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A (sedition), 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation,” the court noted in its order.

How is sedition defined under the law?

  • Sedition, which falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870.
  • Section 124A defines sedition as an offence committed when "any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India".
  • Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.

History of Sedition

  • Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy.
  • The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was enacted in 1860.
  • Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence.

Impact of Sedition

  • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which a fine may be added.
  • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job.
  • They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in court at all times as and when required.

Sedition data

  • NCRB, starting in 2017, introduced a new category of crime: incidents of violence by “anti-national elements". These anti-national elements - bucketed into four groups:
  1. north-east insurgents,
  2. ‘Jihadi’ terrorists
  3. Naxalites and
  4. Other terrorists - had 1,012 cases registered against them in 2018.
  • In 2019, 9% of the sedition cases pending from previous years and filed in 2019 resulted in a closure because the accused were untraceable.
  • Charge sheets were filed in only 17% of the cases.
  • The conviction rate in such cases in 2019 was only 3.3%.
  • That our government since 2014 has been misusing this law is evident from the fact that 96% of sedition cases against 405 persons for criticising politicians and governments were registered after 2014.
  • Since then, there has been a 28% spurt over previous years in the number of sedition cases filed.
  • Around 65% of the 10,938 individuals accused of sedition since 2010 have been implicated during the present regime.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report, Crime in India, 93 cases of sedition were filed in 2019, which is a 165% jump from 35 in 2016. The state of Uttar Pradesh seems to be the most enthusiastic in this regard.
  • Around 77% of the 195 sedition cases since 2010 were registered in the last four years since Yogi Adityanath became chief minister. More than half of these cases targeted those who protested against the Citizen (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • The authoritarian streak of the present regime is apparent from the indiscriminate use of the law of sedition to shackle guaranteed fundamental freedoms without reasonable cause.
  • This is reflected in India slipping from the 27th position in 2014 to the 53rd in 2020 in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index global ranking. In terms of press freedom too, India is ranked 142 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2020.

Major Supreme Court Decisions on Sedition Law:

1) Brij Bhushan vs the State of Delhi and Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras.

  • The SC highlighted debates over sedition in 1950 in its decisions in Brij Bhushan vs the State of Delhi and Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras.
  • In these cases, the court held that a law which restricted speech on the ground that it would disturb public order was unconstitutional.
  • It also held that disturbing the public order will mean nothing less than endangering the foundations of the State or threatening its overthrow.
  • Thus, these decisions prompted the First Constitution Amendment, where Article 19 (2) was rewritten to replace “undermining the security of the State” with “in the interest of public order”.

2) Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar

  • In 1962, the SC decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar.
  • It upheld the constitutionality of sedition, but limited its application to “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence”.
  • It distinguished these from “very strong speech” or the use of “vigorous words” strongly critical of the government.

3) In 1995, the SC, in Balwant Singh vs State of Punjab, held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.

4) Recent news: Farooq Abdullah

  • Voicing dissent against the government does not amount to sedition, the Supreme Court said while rejecting a plea to “terminate” the Lok Sabha membership of National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and book him for sedition.

Why is there less conviction in Sedition cases in India?

  • One reason for this could be that sedition as an offence has no solid legal grounding in India.
  • The Indian Constitution lays out freedom of expression as a fundamental right which many legal scholars have argued prevents sedition from being an offence.
  • In 1967, the government enacted the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This was meant to be a more specific law intended to impose more reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • In 2018, there were 1,182 cases registered under UAPA. And almost all these cases (92%) were concentrated in five states (Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Jharkhand and Manipur).
  • Because of its use to clamp down on dissent, the UAPA has faced similar criticisms as the sedition law.
  • And the joint existence of a sedition offence and the UAPA governing the same category of offence makes little sense.
  • UAPA and sedition though are just two of the many offences that can be committed against the state.
  • Under the NCRB’s breakdown of offences against the state, the biggest offence comes under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The Act, which lays down the law about damage to public property, accounted for more than 80% of all offences against the state in 2018 and has increased since 2016.

Arguments in Support of Section 124A:

  • Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
  • It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means. The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State.
  • If contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment.
  • Many districts in different states face a maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
  • Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases.

Arguments against Section 124A:

  • Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
  • Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition.
  • Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
  • The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country.
  • The terms used under Section 124A like 'disaffection' are vague and subject to different interpretations to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
  • IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 have provisions that penalize "disrupting the public order" or "overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means". These are sufficient for protecting national integrity. There is no need for Section 124A.
  • The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse.
  • In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets forth internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. However, misuse of sedition and arbitrary slapping of charges are inconsistent with India's international commitments.

Way Forward

  • India is the largest democracy of the world and the right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy.
  • Section 124A should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. The SC caveat, given in Kedar Nath case, on prosecution under the law can check its misuse.
  • The definition of sedition should be narrowed down, to include only the issues pertaining to the territorial integrity of India as well as the sovereignty of the country.
  • The word ‘sedition’ is extremely nuanced and needs to be applied with caution. It is like a cannon that ought not to be used to shoot a mouse; but the arsenal also demands possession of cannons, mostly as a deterrent, and on occasion for shooting.

Recent SC Verdict on Sedition

  • The Chief Justice of India indicated that Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code may have passed its time asking the government what was the need for the ‘colonial law’ of sedition after 75 years of Independence.

Chief Justice of India's Statement on Sedition law

  • Chief Justice of India, in a judicial criticism of the way the sedition law is used by the government to crush liberties, asked why a colonial law used against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak continued to survive in the law book after 75 years of Independence.
  • This is a step away from the court’s own Kedar Nath judgment of 1962 which had upheld Section 124A but read it down to mean any subversion of an elected government by violent means.
  • The CJI’s refered to low conviction rates under the sedition law & dramatic jump in charging a person with the offence of sedition since 2016.

Low convictions in Sedition cases

  • In 2019, 93 cases were on the ground of sedition as compared to the 35 cases that were filed in 2016 (a 165% increase).
  • Of these 93 cases, chargesheets were filed in a mere 17% of cases and the conviction rate was an abysmally low 3.3%.
  • National Crime Records Bureau reports show that in 2019, 21 cases of sedition were closed on account of no evidence, two were closed being false cases and six cases held to be civil disputes.

Kedar Nath Singh ruling, 1962

  • The SC upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law and also attempted to restrict its scope for misuse in the 1962 Kedar Nath Singh case.
  • According to the SC guidelines in the 1962 judgement, unless accompanied by an incitement or call for violence, criticism of the government cannot be labeled ‘sedition’.

Key principles of the ruling

  • The SC ruled that the expression ‘the Government established by law,’ in the Sedition law, has to be distinguished from the persons engaged in carrying on the administration for the time being. It said that the ‘Government established by law’ is the visible symbol of the State.
  • Any acts within the meaning of Section 124-A which have the effect of subverting the Government established by law, or creating disaffection against it, would be within the penal statute.
  • Comments on Government actions, however strongly worded, would not be penal, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence.
  • Sedition is limited only to such activities that come within the ambit of the observations of the Federal Court, which also covers “activities involving incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace.”

Source: TH

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