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26 March, 2020

44 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II G20 pledges $5 trillion to defend global economy against COVID-19
Japan and Russia - Kuril Islands International Relations
GS-III RRB and COVID-19 Economic Issues
Economic package during COVID-19 Economic Issues
Waste management and Legacy Waste
PT Pointer Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) Economic Issues
GS-II :
G20 pledges $5 trillion to defend global economy against COVID-19

G20 pledges $5 trillion to defend global economy against COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IO 


In a show of crisis unity, leaders commit to implement and fund all health measures needed to stop the virus's spread.


Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies pledged to inject $5 trillion in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus and "do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic".

Showing more unity than at any time since the 2008-2009 financial crisis that led to the G20's creation, the leaders said they committed during a video conference summit to implement and fund all necessary health measures needed to stop the virus's spread.

G-20

  • About
    • The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
    • The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
  • Headquarter
    • The G20 operates as a forum and not as an organisation. Therefore, it does not have any permanent secretariat or management and administrative structure.
  • Origin
    • 1997-1999 Asian Financial Crisis: This was a ministerial-level forum which emerged after G7 invited both developed and developing economies. The finance ministers and central bank governors began meeting in 1999.
    • Amid 2008 Financial Crisis the world saw the need for a new consensus-building at the highest political level. It was decided that the G20 leaders would begin meeting once annually.
  • Members
    • The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
    • One nation holds the Chair every year, known as 'G20 Presidency'. Argentina chaired the G20 summit of 2018 and Japan for 2019.

In a statement containing the most conciliatory language on trade in years, the G20 leaders pledged to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies and other goods across borders and to resolve supply chain disruptions.

As many countries enact export bans on medical supplies, the G20 leaders said they would coordinate responses to avoid unnecessary interference. "Emergency measures aimed at protecting health will be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary," they said.

The G20 leaders also expressed concern about the risks to fragile countries, notably in Africa, and populations such as refugees, acknowledging the need to bolster global financial safety nets and national health systems. "We are strongly committed to presenting a united front against this common threat," the G20 leaders said in a joint statement following their 90-minute call.

Saudi Arabia, the current G20 chair, called the video summit amid earlier criticism of the group's slow response to the disease. It has infected more than 500,000 people worldwide and killed more than 23,000 - and is expected to trigger a global recession.

Saudi Arabia's ruler, King Salman, in opening remarks, said the G20 should resume the normal flow of goods and services, including vital medical supplies, as soon as possible to help restore confidence in the global economy. The group committed to national spending measures totalling $5 trillion - an amount equal to that pledged in 2009 - along with other large-scale liquidity, credit guarantee schemes and other economic measures.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was to address the G20 to seek support for ramping up funding and production of personal protective equipment for health workers amid a global shortage. "We have a global responsibility as humanity and especially those countries like the G20," Tedros told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday. "They should be able to support countries all over the world."

In his remarks to the group, United States President Donald Trump shared details of the $6 trillion in support the US is making available through legislation and increased Federal Reserve liquidity, including $2 trillion in fiscal spending. Trump also spoke in support of multilateral action and coordination. "He talked about working together, and sounded more supportive of multilateral coordination than ever before," said one source who observed the meeting.

The meeting was not marred by acrimony, as was feared given the on-going oil price war initiated by Saudi Arabia-led OPEC, and a war of words between the US and China over the origins and handling of the pandemic, who was not authorised to speak publicly. Tedros told G20 leaders that the pandemic is "accelerating at an exponential rate" and urged them to ramp up production of protective gear for health workers and remove export bans.

"Everyone realises that it is essential to preserve jobs, and to maintain trade flows, not disrupt the supply chains," said one Brazilian government official with knowledge of the video conference discussions. No country advocated "total confinement", mainly because most of the countries in the G20 are not implementing such moves, the official added.

Several participants called upon the G20 to play the same role that it played in overcoming the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, when member countries pledged to inject massive fiscal stimulus and financial liquidity into the economy, the Brazilian official said.

IMF resources

The G20 leaders also asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group "to support countries in need using all instruments to the fullest extent".

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva plans to ask the Fund's steering committee on Friday to consider doubling the current $50bn in emergency financing available to help developing countries deal with the virus, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters news agency.

To boost global liquidity, Georgieva also asked G20 leaders to back a Fund plan to allow member countries to temporarily draw on part of its $1 trillion in overall resources to boost liquidity. The IMF made a similar move in 2009 with a $250bn allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR), its internal unit of currency.

Georgieva gave no specific number in her statement, but observers to the G20 meeting said an SDR allocation of up to $500bn could be needed.

On the health response, the G20 leaders committed to close the financing gap in the WHO's response plan and to strengthen its mandate as well as expand the manufacturing capacity for medical supplies, strengthen capacities to respond to infectious diseases, and share clinical data.

 

Before this G20

Recently, the ministers and central bankers from the world’s largest economies participated in G20 meeting held in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

  • It was presided by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency.
  • The 2020 G20 Presidency will focus discussions, forums, working groups and Ministerial Meetings under the theme of “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.

Key Points

  • Global Economy:
    • The global economic growth remains slow and downside risks due to the geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty.
    • Though the economic growth is expected to increase in 2020 and 2021 due to loose monetary policy and an easing of trade tensions.
  • IMF’ Views at the Meeting:
    • It projects a “V-shaped, rapid recovery” for the global economy, but it warns about the uncertainty around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID 19).
    • The IMF also warned about other risks including rising debt levels in some countries as well as  climate change.
  • Demand for Global Taxation System:
    • It discussed ways to achieve consensus on a global taxation system for the digital era by the end of 2020.
      • It aims to allow governments to tax digital companies where they do business, rather than where they are registered for tax purposes.
    • India has also demanded closer collaboration between international revenue agencies to investigate tax affairs of offenders who cross borders for escaping tax investigation.

yes JAI HIND JAI BHARAT

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GS-II : International Relations
Japan and Russia - Kuril Islands

Japan and Russia - Kuril Islands

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- IR

Historical Background

  • Sovereignty Issue of South Kuril Islands:
    • The Kuril Islands dispute between Japan and Russia is over the sovereignty of South Kuril Islands.
    • The South Kuril Islands comprises Etorofu island, Kunashiri island, Shikotan island and the Habomai island. These islands are claimed by Japan but occupied by Russia as successor state of the Soviet Union.
    • These islands are known as Southern Kurils by Russia whereas Japan calls them Northern Territories.
  • Original Inhabitants-Ainu People:
    • The Kurils were originally inhabited by the Ainu people, and they were later settled by the Russians and Japanese, following several waves of exploration in the 17th and 18th centuries.
    • The Ainu or the Aynu, also known as the Ezo in the historical Japanese texts, are an indigenous people of Japan and Russia.
  • Treaty of Shimoda (1855):
    • In 1855, Japan and Russia concluded the Treaty of Shimoda, which gave control of the four southernmost islands to Japan and the remainder of the chain to Russia.
  • Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875):
    • In the Treaty of Saint Petersburg, signed between two countries in 1875, Russia ceded possession of the Kurils to Japan in exchange for uncontested control of Sakhalin Island.
  • Yalta Agreement (1945):
    • In 1945, as part of the Yalta agreements (formalized in the 1951 Treaty of Peace with Japan), the islands were ceded to the Soviet Union, and the Japanese population was repatriated and replaced by Soviets.
    • The San Francisco Peace Treaty signed between the Allies and Japan in 1951, states that Japan must give up “all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands”, but it also does not recognize the Soviet Union’s sovereignty over them.
  • Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration (1956):
    • The dispute over the islands has prevented the conclusion of a peace treaty to end World War II.
    • In 1956, diplomatic ties were restored between Japan and Russia by Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
    • During that time, Russia offered to give away the two islands closest to Japan. But the offer was rejected by Japan as the two islands constituted only 7% of the land in question.
  • Developments After 1991:
    • Despite a series of agreements, the dispute continues and Japan still claims historical rights to the southernmost islands and has tried repeatedly to persuade the Soviet Union and, from 1991, Russia to return those islands to Japanese sovereignty.
    • In 2018, the Russian President and the Japanese Prime Minister (PM) met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit  and decided to end the territorial dispute by Japanese PM agreeing to negotiate based on the 1956 declaration.
      • This implicitly showed that Japan has given up the two islands to maintain peace with Russia.
      • However, Russia indicated that the joint declaration signed by Japan and the Soviet Union in 1956 neither mentions a basis for returning Habomai and Shikotan nor clarifies which country has sovereignty over the islands.
    • Further, in 2019, Japanese PM made it clear that the country is not in the favour of withdrawing control over the Islands. Japan also believes that the islands are the inherent part of the nation’s territory. Therefore, Japan mentioned that it aims to sign the peace treaty after the territorial issue is resolved.

Importance of South Kuril Islands

  • Natural resources:
    • The islands are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and are thought to have offshore reserves of oil and gas.
    • Rare rhenium deposits have been found on the Kudriavy volcano on Iturup.
       
      • Nickel-based superalloys of rhenium are used in the combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines.
    • Tourism is also a potential source of income, as the islands have several volcanoes and a variety of birdlife.
  • Strategic Importance:
    • Russia has deployed missile systems in the region.
    • Russia also plans a submarine project and intends to prevent any American military use of the islands.
  • Cultural Importance:
    • The Japanese people, especially conservatives in Hokkaido, are emotionally attached to the islands.

Recently, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the northern Pacific and a tsunami warning was issued for the closest shores on Russia’s far eastern Kuril Islands. The earthquakes of this strength in the region have caused tsunamis in the past far from the epicenter of the earthquake. The epicenter is the point on the Earth's surface directly above a hypocenter or focus (The hypocenter is where an earthquake or an underground explosion originates)

Kuril Islands are stretched from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula separating Okhotsk Sea from the North Pacific ocean. It consists of 56 islands and minor rocks. The chain is part of the belt of geologic instability circling the Pacific and contains at least 100 volcanoes, of which 35 are still active, and many hot springs. Earthquakes and tidal waves are common phenomena over these islands.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
RRB and COVID-19

RRB and COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economics


Recently, the Centre has approved a ?1,340-crore recapitalisation plan for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs). The move is crucial to ensure liquidity in rural areas during the lockdown due to the COVID-19  crisis.


Key Points

  • This recapitalisation (a strategy of enhancing the financial base of an entity to overcome a rough financial situation) would improve their capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR) and strengthen these institutions for providing credit in rural areas.
    • The step will help those RRBs which are unable to maintain a minimum CRAR of 9%, as per the regulatory norms prescribed by the RBI.
  • The release of the Rs. 670 crore as the central share funds will be contingent upon the release of the proportionate share by the sponsor banks.
  • The recapitalisation process of RRBs was approved by the cabinet in 2011 based on the recommendations of a committee set up under the Chairmanship of K C Chakrabarty.
    • The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)  identifies those RRBs, which require recapitalisation assistance to maintain the mandatory CRAR of 9% based on the CRAR position of RRBs, as on 31st March of every year.
    • The scheme for recapitalization of RRBs was extended up to 2019-20 in a phased manner post 2011.

Capital-to-risk Weighted Assets Ratio

  • CRAR or Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is the ratio of a bank’s capital in relation to its risk weighted assets and current liabilities.
  • It is decided by central banks and bank regulators to prevent commercial banks from taking excess leverage and becoming insolvent in the process.
  • The Basel III norms stipulated a capital to risk weighted assets of 8%.
  • However, as per RBI norms, Indian scheduled commercial banks are required to maintain a CRAR of 9%.

Regional Rural Banks

RRBs are financial institutions which ensure adequate credit for agriculture and other rural sectors.

Regional Rural Banks were set up on the basis of the recommendations of the Narasimham Working Group (1975), and after the legislation of the Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976.

The first Regional Rural Bank “Prathama Grameen Bank” was set up on 2nd October, 1975.

Stakeholders: The equity of a regional rural bank is held by the Central Government, concerned State Government and the Sponsor Bank in the proportion of 50:15:35 (PT SHOT).

The RRBs combine the characteristics of a cooperative in terms of the familiarity of the rural problems and a commercial bank in terms of its professionalism and ability to mobilise financial resources.

Each RRB operates within the local limits as notified by the Government.

The main objectives of RRBs are

  1. To provide credit and other facilities to the small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers, artisans and small entrepreneurs in rural areas.
  2. To check the outflow of rural deposits to urban areas and reduce regional imbalances and increase rural employment generation.
  3. The RRBs are required to provide 75% of their total credit as priority sector lending.

Reforms

Recapitalization and amalgamation of RRBs

RRBs became financially weak with many having high NPAs because of the difficult loans they are giving. A committee chaired by Dr. K.C. Chakrabarty reviewed the financial position of all RRBs in 2010 and recommended for recapitalization of 40 out of 82 RRBs.

According to the Committee, the remaining RRBs are in a position to achieve the desired level of CRAR on their own. Accepting the recommendations of the committee, the central government along with other shareholders started to recapitalize eh RRBs by injecting funds into them. In the same manner the process of amalgamation continued.

Amalgamation of RRBs were made in two phases and the number of RRBs were brought down during the first phase significantly. In the second phase of amalgamation and restructuring, which is ongoing from 2012, geographically extensive RRBs within a State under different sponsor banks are amalgamated to have just one RRB in medium-sized states and two or three RRBs in large states. Amalgamation of RRBs into sponsoring banks and their merger brought down the number from 196 in late 1990s to 56 by 2016.

Most of the reform measures enabled the RRBs to make a smart recovery without being a burden and at the same time keeping their original risky mission of extending lending to the rural people. But still their NPAs remains high at around 6% (gross) and in the future also their activities need additional capital in the context of advanced capital requirements and regulatory standards. Hence, to enable them to acquire more capital the government has enacted RRB Amendment Act (2015). The amendment is aimed to help them to mobilize resource from financial markets. This Act let them to mobilize additional capital by keeping a combined government holding of at least 51%.

RRBs Amendment Act 2015

The Regional Rural Banks (Amendment) Act, 2015, came into effect from 4th February 2016. The Act raises the amount of authorised capital to Rs 2,000 crore and states that it cannot be reduced below Rs One crore. The Act allows RRBs to raise capital from sources other than the existing shareholders -central and state governments, and sponsor banks.  Here, the combined shareholding of the central government and the sponsor bank cannot be less than 51%.

For the sponsoring banks, they can provide various initiating assistance to the RRBs beyond the initial five years (previously, the sponsoring bank’s responsibility will be over in five years). The Act states that the central government may by notification raise or reduce the limit of shareholding of the central government, state government or the sponsoring bank in the RRB. For this, the central government may consult the state government and the sponsor bank. 

yes JAI HIND JAI BHARAT

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Economic package during COVID-19

Economic package during COVID-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Economics

The Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Niramla Sitharaman announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus. While addressing the press conference here, Smt. Sitharaman said “Today’s measures are intended at reaching out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hands, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs.”

 

Finance Minister announces Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against Corona Virus

? Insurance cover of Rs 50 Lakh per health worker fighting COVID-19 to be provided under Insurance Scheme

? 80 crore poor people will to get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months

? 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next three months

? Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families

? An ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled

? Government to front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers

? Central Government has given orders to State Governments to use Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund to provide relief to Construction Workers.

 

Following are the components of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: —

PRADHAN MANTRI GARIB KALYAN PACKAGE

I. Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres

• Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by a Special insurance Scheme.

• Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meet with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme.

• All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.

II. PM Garib Kalyan Ann (????) Yojana

• Government of India would not allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of foodgrains due to disruption in the next three months.

• 80 crore individuals, i.e, roughly two-thirds of India’s population would be covered under this scheme.

• Each one of them would be provided double of their current entitlement over next three months.

• This additionality would be free of cost.

Pulses:

• To ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above mentioned individuals, 1 kg per family, would be provided pulses according to regional preferences for next three months.

• These pulses would be provided free of cost by the Government of India.

 

III. Under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,

Benefit to farmers:

• The first instalment of Rs 2,000 due in 2020-21 will be front-loaded and paid in April 2020 itself under the PM KISAN Yojana.

• It would cover 8.7 crore farmers

 

IV. Cash transfers Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana:

Help to Poor:

• A total of 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders would be given an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months.

Gas cylinders:

• Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, gas cylinders, free of cost, would be provided to 8 crore poor families for the next three months.

Help to low wage earners in organised sectors:

• Wage-earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers are at risk of losing their employment.

• Under this package, government proposes to pay 24 percent of their monthly wages into their PF accounts for next three months.

• This would prevent disruption in their employment. Support for senior citizens (above 60 years), widows and Divyang:

• There are around 3 crore aged widows and people in Divyang category who are vulnerable due to economic disruption caused by COVID-19.

• Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during next three months.

MNREGA

• Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with  effect from 1 April, 2020. Wage increase under MNREGA will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker.

• This will benefit approximately 13.62 crore families.

 

V. Self-Help groups:

• Women organised through 63 lakhs Self Help Groups (SHGs) support 6.85 crore households.

a) Limit of collateral free lending would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs.

 

VI. Other components of PM Garib Kalyan package

Organised sector:

• Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include Pandemic as the reason to allow non-refundable advance of 75 percent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.

• Families of four crore workers registered under EPF can take benefit of this window. Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Fund:

• Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers has been created under a Central Government Act.

• There are around 3.5 Crore registered workers in the Fund.

• State Governments will be given directions to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to these workers to protect them against economic disruptions.

District Mineral Fund

• The State Government will be asked to utilise the funds available under District Mineral Fund (DMF) for supplementing and augmenting facilities of medical testing, screening and other requirements in connection with preventing the spread of CVID-19 pandemic as well as treating the patients affected with this pandemic.

 

RBI ANNOUNCED

  • RBI has permitted banks to give 3-month moratorium on term loans and EMIs
  • Central bank has also slashed repo rate by 75 basis points
  • Shaktikanta Das assured Indians that RBI is ready to tackle financial diffculties due to Covid-19 pandeimc

The RBI's MPC has voted in favour of an interest rate cut to the tune of 75 basis points, which brings the repo rate down to 4.4 per cent from 5.15 per cent. The reverse repo rate has also been reduced by 90 basis points to 4 per cent in a bid to maintain financial stability and revive growth.

RBI Governor said that the outlook remains extremely uncertain at the time and going forward much will depend on how India battles Covid-19 pandemic. "The outlook is now heavily contingent upon the intensity, spread and duration of the pandemic. There is a rising probability that large parts of the world will slip into recession,".

EMI, LOANS ON HOLD

It also announced that banks are permitted to allow a three-month moratorium for on payment of EMIs on all term loans that were outstanding on March 1.

"MPC noted that global economic activity has come to a near stand-still as Covid-19 related lockdowns and social distancing in affected countries. Expectations of a shallow recovery in 2020 from 2019's decade low in global growth have been dashed,"

However, this means that the final decision to provide such a relief is in the hands of the banks. This is one of the key takeaways from RBI's announcements as many people have been financially affected due to the lockdown implemented to prevent novel coronavirus from spreading in India. But it remains to be seen as to what extent this helps customers.

OTHER LIQUIDITY MEASURES

Apart from reducing key rates, the RBI also announced a slew of liquidity measures related to TLTRO, CRR and MLCR to ease mounting pressure. (The targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTROs) are Eurosystem operations that provide financing to credit institutions. By offering banks long-term funding at attractive conditions they preserve favourable borrowing conditions for banks and stimulate bank lending to the real economy)

"It has been decided to reduce the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of all banks by 100 basis points to 3% of Net Demand and Time Liabilities with effect from the fortnight beginning March 28 for a period of 1 year," the RBI governor announced.

The announcement came just a day after the government unveiled a Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package to shield poor people from the virus outbreak.

The RBI's relief measures announced in view of the Covid-19 pandemic stands at 3.2 per cent of the GDP.

yes Jai Hind Jai Bharat

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GS-III :
Waste management and Legacy Waste

Waste management and Legacy Waste

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

The Environment Ministry has revised Solid Waste Management Rules after 16 years.  The Rules are now applicable beyond municipal areas and will extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.   

62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country at present, out of which 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is biomedical waste, hazardous waste generation is 7.90 million tonnes per annum and 15 lakh tonne is e-waste. The per capita waste generation in Indian cities ranges from 200 grams to 600 grams per day.  43 million TPA is collected, 11.9 million is treated and 31 million is dumped in landfill sites, which means that only about 75-80% of the municipal waste gets collected and only 22-28 % of this waste is processed and treated.   “Waste generation will increase from 62 million tonnes to about165 million tonnes in 2030”.

 

Some of the salient features of SWM Rules, 2016 include:-

 

1.                  The Rules are now applicable beyond Municipal areas and extend to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, Port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.

 

2.                  The source segregation of waste has been mandated to channelize the waste to wealth by recovery, reuse and recycle.

 

3.                  Responsibilities of Generators have been introduced to segregate waste in to three streams, Wet (Biodegradable), Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and domestic hazardous wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.) and handover segregated wastes to authorized rag-pickers or waste collectors or local bodies.

 

4.                  Integration of waste pickers/ ragpickers and waste dealers/ Kabadiwalas in the formal system should be done by State Governments, and Self Help Group, or any other group to be formed.

 

5.                  No person should throw, burn, or bury the solid waste generated by him, on streets, open public spaces outside his premises, or in the drain, or water bodies.

 

6.                  Generator will have to pay User Fee’ to waste collector and for ‘Spot Fine’ for Littering and Non-segregation.

 

7.                  Used sanitary waste like diapers, sanitary pads should be wrapped securely in pouches provided by manufacturers or brand owners of these products or in a suitable wrapping material and shall place the same in the bin meant for dry waste / non- bio-degradable waste.

 

8.                  The concept of partnership in Swachh Bharat has been introduced. Bulk and institutional generators, market associations, event organizers and hotels and restaurants have been made directly responsible for segregation and sorting the waste and manage in partnership with local bodies.

 

9.                  All hotels and restaurants should segregate biodegradable waste and set up a system of collection or follow the system of collection set up by local body to ensure that such food waste is utilized for composting / biomethanation. 

 

10.              All Resident Welfare and market Associations,  Gated communities and institution with an area >5,000 sq. m should segregate  waste at source- in to valuable dry waste like plastic, tin, glass, paper, etc. and handover recyclable material to either the authorized waste pickers or the authorized recyclers, or to the urban local body. 

 

11.              The bio-degradable waste should be processed, treated and disposed of through composting or bio-methanation within the premises as far as possible. The residual waste shall be given to the waste collectors or agency as directed by the local authority.

 

12.              New townships and Group Housing Societies have been made responsible to develop in-house waste handling, and processing arrangements for bio-degradable waste.

 

13.              Every street vendor should keep suitable containers for storage of waste generated during the course of his activity such as food waste, disposable plates, cups, cans, wrappers, coconut shells, leftover food, vegetables, fruits etc. and deposit  such waste at waste storage depot or container or  vehicle as notified by the local authority.

 

14.              The developers of Special Economic Zone, industrial estate, industrial park to  earmark at least 5% of the total area of the plot or minimum 5 plots/ sheds for recovery and recycling facility.

 

15.              All manufacturers of disposable products such as tin, glass, plastics packaging etc. or brand owners who introduce such products in the market shall provide necessary financial assistance to local authorities for the establishment of waste management system.

 

16.              All such brand owners who sale or market their products in such packaging material which are non-biodegradable should put in place a system to collect back the packaging waste generated due to their production.  

 

17.              Manufacturers or Brand Owners or marketing companies of sanitary napkins and diapers should explore the possibility of using all recyclable materials in their products or they shall provide a pouch or wrapper for disposal of each napkin or diapers along with the packet of their sanitary products.

 

18.              All such manufacturers, brand owners or marketing companies should educate the masses for wrapping and disposal of their products.

 

19.              All industrial units using fuel and located within 100 km from a solid waste based RDF plant shall make arrangements within six months from the date of notification of these rules to replace at least 5 % of their fuel requirement by RDF so produced.

 

20.              Non-recyclable waste having calorific value of 1500 K/cal/kg or more shall not be disposed of on landfills and shall only be utilized for generating energy  either or through refuse derived fuel or by giving away as feed stock for preparing refuse derived fuel.

 

21.              High calorific wastes shall be used for co-processing in cement or thermal power plants.

 

22.              Construction and demolition waste should be stored, separately  disposed off, as per the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016

 

23.              Horticulture waste and garden waste generated from his premises should be disposed as per the directions of local authority.

 

24.              An event, or gathering organiser of more than 100 persons at any licensed/ unlicensed place, should ensure segregation of waste at source and handing over of segregated waste to waste collector or agency, as specified by local authority.

 

25.              Special provision for management of solid waste in hilly areas:- Construction of landfill on the hill shall be avoided. A transfer station at a suitable enclosed location shall be setup to collect residual waste from the processing facility and inert waste.  Suitable land shall be identified in the plain areas, down the hill, within 25 kilometers for setting up sanitary landfill. The residual waste from the transfer station shall be disposed off at this sanitary landfill.

 

26.              In case of non-availability of such land, efforts shall be made to set up regional sanitary landfill for the inert and residual waste.

(II)       Municipal Solid Waste

            With the ever increasing population and urbanization, the waste management has emerged as a huge challenge in the country. Not only the waste has increased in quantity, but the characteristics of waste have also changed tremendously over a period, with the introduction of so many new gadgets and equipment. It is estimated that about 62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country, out of which 5.6 million is plastic waste, 0.17 million is biomedical waste. In addition, hazardous waste generation is 7.90 million TPA and 15 lakh tonne is e-waste. The per capita waste generation in Indian cities range from 200 grams to 600 grams per day (2011).  43 million TPA is collected, 11.9 million is treated and 31 million is dumped in landfill sites.

(III)     Proper solid waste management

 

            Scientific disposal of solid waste through segregation, collection and treatment and disposal in an environmentally sound manner minimises the adverse impact on the environment. The local authorities are responsible for the development of infrastructure for collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of MSW.

            As per information available for 2013-14, compiled by CPCB, municipal authorities have so far only set up 553 compost & vermi-compost plants, 56 bio-methanation plants, 22 RDF plants and 13 Waste to Energy (W to E) plants in the country. 

(IV)     Problems of unscientific MSW disposal

            Only about 75- 80% of the municipal waste gets collected and out of this only          22-28 % is processed and treated and remaining is disposed of indiscriminately at dump yards. It is projected that by the year 2031 the MSW generation shall increase to 165 million tonnes and to 436 million tons by 2050.  If cities continue to dump the waste at present rate without treatment, it will need 1240 hectares of land per year and with projected generation of 165 million tons of waste by 2031, the requirement of setting up of land fil for 20 years of 10 meters height will require 66,000 hectares of land. 

As per the Report of the Task Force of erstwhile Planning Commission, the untapped waste has a potential of generating 439 MW of power from 32,890 TPD of combustible wastes including Refused Derived Fuel (RDF), 1.3 million cubic metre of biogas per day, or 72 MW of electricity from biogas and 5.4 million metric tonnes of compost annually to support agriculture.

(V) Consultation process for new Solid Waste Rules

            The draft Solid Waste Management Rules were published in June, 2015 inviting public objections and suggestions. Stakeholders consultation meets were organized in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Consultative meetings with relevant Central Ministries, State Governments, State Pollution Control Boards and major hospitals were also held. The suggestions/objections (about 111) received were examined by the Working Group in the Ministry. Based on the recommendations of the Working Group, the Ministry has published the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. 


Note: Apart from this, Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution of India makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.

Bioremediation: Bioremediation uses natural as well as recombinant microorganisms to break down toxic and hazardous substances in a solid waste by aerobic and anaerobic means.

Biomining: Biomining is the process of using microorganisms (microbes) to extract metals of economic interest from rock ores or mine waste. Biomining techniques may also be used to clean up sites that have been polluted with metals.


Way Ahead

  • Laying down clear technical norms: It is important that Bio-mining and Bio-remediation is made compulsory for areas wherever it can be applied. It shouldn’t be left to the discretion of municipalities to decide whether there are geographical constraints that prevent the use of the aforementioned techniques.
  • Biomining and Bioremediation are superior as well as simple methods which are not only cost-effective but also environment-friendly. The best part is that the land which was a landfill is fully available for alternate uses.
  • Scientific Capping: Capping, if it is inevitable, should be done scientifically with underground pits that have a good bottom and sideliners, and proper piping and gas extraction systems to prevent the escape of leachate and gases.
  • Decentralization of waste management: It is important that waste management is decentralized. Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh and Vellore present a very good example of the same where the waste was collected in a decentralized manner, composted naturally and is planted.

It is important that the decision-makers at all levels of government opt for more innovative and green approaches rather than falling for the technology-extensive costly methods of waste disposal which are normally being lobbied for by the manufacturers of such technologies.

Legacy waste

Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT)  has directed a committee to assess the amount of damage caused to the environment due to the dump sites (legacy waste) in Delhi.

  • The committee comprises representatives from the Central Pollution Control Board, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and IIT Delhi.

Key Points

  • Legacy wastes are the wastes that have been collected and kept for years at some barren land or a place dedicated for Landfill (an area to dump solid waste).
  • This waste can be roughly grouped into four categories:
    • Contained and/or stored waste(contained or stored waste are wastes in tanks, canisters, and stainless steel bins).
    • Buried waste.
    • Contaminated soil and groundwater
    • Contaminated building materials and structures.
  • Biomining method has been proposed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the effective disposal of legacy wastes.
  • Environmental Impact of Legacy Waste
    • Legacy wastes not only occupy large space, but also become a breeding ground for pathogens, flies, malodours and generation of leachate, which may lead to water contamination.
    • They also contribute to generation of greenhouse gases and pose risk of uncontrollable fire.

Biomining

  • Biomining is the process of using microorganisms (microbes) to extract metals of economic interest from rock ores or mine waste.
  • Biomining techniques may also be used to clean up sites that have been polluted with metals.
  • It is usually used for old dumped waste that remains in a partly or fully decomposed state with no segregation in existence between wet and dry waste.
  • In the cost effective method of biomining, treatment is done by dividing the garbage heap at the site into suitable blocks to let the air percolate in the heap.
  • As a result, the leachate which is the water in the heap with suspended solid particles is drained off and microbes are sprayed in the heap to initiate biological decompositions.
  • The waste is turned over several times in order to devoid the waste to leachate as much as possible.
  • This biological decomposition of the waste decreases the volume of the waste by 40%.

What is National Green Tribunal (NGT)?

  • It is a specialised body set up 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.
  • With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.

Structure of NGT

  • The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
  • The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
  • There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.

Powers & Jurisdiction

  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
  • Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
  • The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of 'natural justice'.
  • While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
  • NGT by an order, can provide
    • relief and compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage (including accident occurring while handling any hazardous substance),
    • for restitution of property damaged, and
    • for restitution of the environment for such area or areas, as the Tribunal may think fit.
  • An order/decision/award of Tribunal is executable as a decree of a civil court.
  • The NGT Act also provides a procedure for a penalty for non compliance:
    • Imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years,
    • Fine which may extend to ten crore rupees, and
    • Both fine and imprisonment.
  • An appeal against order/decision/ award of the NGT lies to the Supreme Court, generally within ninety days from the date of communication.
  • The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include:
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977,
    • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
    • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
    • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
    • The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
    • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.

Strengths of NGT

  • Over the years NGT has emerged as a critical player in environmental regulation, passing strict orders on issues ranging from pollution to deforestation to waste management.
  • NGT offers a path for the evolution of environmental jurisprudence by setting up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
  • It helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts on environmental matters.
  • NGT is less formal, less expensive, and a faster way of resolving environment related disputes.
  • It plays a crucial role in curbing environment-damaging activities.
  • The Chairperson and members are not eligible for reappointment, hence they are likely to deliver judgements independently, without succumbing to pressure from any quarter.
  • The NGT has been instrumental in ensuring that the Environment Impact Assessment process is strictly observed.

Challenges

  • Two important acts - Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 have been kept out of NGT’s jurisdiction. This restricts the jurisdiction area of NGT and at times hampers its functioning as crucial forest rights issue is linked directly to environment.
  • The NGT decisions are being challenged in various High Courts under Article 226 (power of High Courts to issue certain writs) with many asserting the superiority of a High Court over the NGT, claiming ‘High Court is a constitutional body while NGT is a statutory body’.” This is one of the weaknesses of the Act as there is lack of clarity about what kind of decisions can be challenged; even though according to the NGT Act, its decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court.
  • Decisions of NGT have also been criticised and challenged due to their repercussions on economic growth and development.
  • The absence of a formula based mechanism in determining the compensation has also brought criticism to the tribunal.
  • The decisions given by NGT are not fully complied by the stakeholders or the government. Sometimes its decisions are pointed out not to be feasible to implement within a given timeframe.
  • The lack of human and financial resources has led to high pendency of cases - which undermines NGT’s very objective of disposal of appeals within 6 months.
  • The justice delivery mechanism is also hindered by limited number of regional benches.

Important Landmark Judgements of NGT

  • In 2012, POSCO a steelmaker company signed a MoU with the Odisha government to set up steel project. NGT suspended order and this was considered a radical step in favour of the local communities and forests.
  • In 2012 Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India case, NGT gave judgment of complete prohibition on open burning of waste on lands, including landfills – regarded as the single biggest landmark case dealing with the issue of solid waste management in India.
  • In 2013 in Uttarakhand floods case, the Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. was ordered to compensate to the petitioner – here, the NGT directly relied on the principle of ‘polluter pays’.
  • In 2015, the NGT ordered that all diesel vehicles over 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
  • In 2017, the Art of Living Festival on Yamuna Food Plain was declared violating the environmental norms, the NGT panel imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 Crore.
  • The NGT, in 2017, imposed an interim ban on plastic bags of less than 50-micron thickness in Delhi because “they were causing animal deaths, clogging sewers and harming the environment”.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL)

Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL)

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for continuation of the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) from 1st April, 2020 onward until it is merged with the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP). Continuation of RoSCTL beyond 31st March, 2020 is expected to make the textile sector competitive by rebating all taxes/levies which are currently not being rebated under any other mechanism.

  • Announced on 7th March, 2019, RoSCTL was offered for embedded state and central duties and taxes that are not refunded through Goods and Services Tax. It was available only for garments and made ups. It was introduced by the Ministry of Textiles.
  • The government on 13th March, 2020 approved RoDTEP, a scheme for exporters to reimburse taxes and duties paid by them such as value added tax, coal cess, mandi tax, electricity duties and fuel used for transportation, which are not getting exempted or refunded under any other existing mechanism.
    • RoDTEP replaces the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) that was found to violate the World Trade Organization Rules.
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