IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


9th January, 2020


Cabinet nod for ordinance enabling FDI in coal mining

The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend two laws to ease mining rules, enabling foreign direct investment in coal mining.


-       Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 was amended through an ordinance.

-       End-use restrictions had been done away.

-       Allowed “anyone to participate in the auction of coal blocks”.

Significance of the ordinance:

-       It would boost the ease of doing business.

-       Increase the growth avenues.

-       Would strengthen the auction process of those mines whose leases were expiring.

-       Seamless transfer of clearances would also be facilitated.

-       Coal India would be strengthened.

-       Steel industry would get cheaper inputs, leading to an increase in ‘competitiveness’.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-nod-for-ordinance-enabling-fdi-in-coal-mining/article30515236.ece

Govt to provide ₹5,559 crore funding to northeast gas grid

In only the second instance of the government directly funding a gas pipeline, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a ₹5,559 crore viability gap funding for the proposed northeast gas grid.

About North-east gas grid:

-       The 1,656-km North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid will connect Guwahati in Assam to major cities in the region such as Itanagar, Dimapur, Kohima, Imphal, Aizwal, Agartala, Shillong, Silchar, Gangtok and Numaligarh.

-       The pipeline will enable the supply of piped cooking gas to households and CNG to automobiles, besides fuel to industry.

-       It is to be implemented by Indradhanush Gas Grid.

-       It is the second time that a gas pipeline project in the country will be funded by government. Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra (JHBDPL) gas pipeline project was the first project.

-       Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project is proposed to be connected to the Northeast via the Indradhanush grid.

Significance of grid:

-       It is a part of a broader goal of the government to raise the share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix to 15% by 2030 from current 6.2%.

-       It would ensure reliability and uninterrupted natural gas supplies to the consumers, which otherwise gets severely affected due to various reasons in this part of the country.

-       Boost industrial growth without affecting the environment.

-       Offer better quality of life to the people due to use of cleaner and green fuel.

-       Boost exploration and production of gas in the region.

-       Help in early monetisation of natural resources.

-       Bring energy security to the people of northeast area.

Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga Project:

-       It will pass through five states i.e. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.

-       This pipeline will lead to industrial development of eastern India.

-       It would provide piped cooking gas to residents.

-       With the Urja Ganga project, 20 lakh households will get PNG connections.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-to-provide-5559-crore-funding-to-northeast-gas-grid/article30513102.ece


Re-grassing is mandatory after mining, rules SC

The Supreme Court ordered that mining leaseholders should be held responsible for re-grassing mined areas, so that biodiversity gets a second chance in these scarred landscapes.

Court Observation:

-       Re-grassing of mined areas is made mandatory in every mining lease, environmental clearance and mining plan across the country.

-       Restore the land to a condition, which is fit for growth of fodder, flora, fauna, etc.

-       The government was ordered to file an action taken report in three weeks.

-       Devise methods to ensure compliance by mining leaseholders.

-       Cost of re-grassing the mined area and wherever damage was caused, would be entirely borne by the licence holder.

-       An area, which is, mined results in complete elimination of grass, which in turn denies fodder to the herbivores.

Environmental impacts of mining:

-       Erosion

-       Formation of sinkholes

-       Loss of biodiversity

-       Soil contamination

-       Groundwater and surface water contamination by chemicals from mining processes,

-       Persistence of effects for years.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/re-grassing-is-mandatory-after-mining-rules-sc/article30518853.ece

2019 was the 7th warmest year in India since 1901, says IMD

The rise in average temperatures over India in 2019 was the lowest since 2016, according to a report from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Report findings:

-       2019 was 7th warmest since record keeping commenced in 1901.

-       Annual mean surface air temperature averaged over the country, was +0.36°C above average.

-       The highest warming observed over India was during 2016 or 0.71°C above the mean.

-       According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the rise in global mean surface temperature during 2019 (January to October) was +1.10°C.

Reasons behind temperature rise:

-       Temperatures in the pre-monsoon (March-May) and monsoon seasons (June-September).

-       There is no declining trend. The only pattern is that global warming is raising average temperatures globally, as well as in India.

Weather events in 2019:

-       Monsoon rains (June-September) was 10% over its normal.

-       The northeast monsoon rains being 9% over its normal.

-       During 2019, eight cyclonic storms formed over the Indian seas, with the Arabian Sea contributing five out of these eight cyclones against the normal of one per year.

-       It was due to a strong Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which cyclically heats the West Indian Ocean that stimulated cyclone formation over the Arabian Sea.

-       An unusually strong IOD has contributed to the ongoing Australian drought.

-       Parts of Europe, last year saw heat waves and extreme monsoon in India.

Climate related casualty:

-       Rain and floods killed 850 lives in different parts of the country.

-       Heat waves over the northeastern and central parts claimed about 350 lives.

-       Lightning and thunderstorm claimed over 380 lives from central, northeastern, northwestern and peninsular parts of the country.

-       Snowfall and avalanche-related incidents claimed 33 lives from Jammu & Kashmir, and 18 from Leh.

-       A cold wave claimed 28 lives from different parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/2019-was-the-7th-warmest-year-since-1901-says-imd/article30515266.ece


Revised norms for data-led probes

The Union Home Ministry has said that before seeking information about a person’s e-mail account hosted on servers in foreign countries, investigating agencies will have to establish that it is linked to a crime.

Revised guidelines:

-       To streamline the process of seeking legal assistance from foreign countries in criminal matters and Issuing directives on drafting and processing letters rogatory.

-       Mutual legal assistance requests and service of summons, notices and other judicial documents will be done.

-       G-8 countries’ 24/7 Network was one such channel that could be used to place request for preserving data in real time.

-       The request may be sent to the service provider or to the CBI — the contact point in respect of G-8 24/7 Network.

-       All data, including personal, must be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully.

-       The requested country has to be informed about the time period for which the data is required.

-       Such period shall be consented by the requested country.

-       The transferred data shall be kept for no longer, than the period required for the purpose for which it has been received.

Need for the guidelines:

-       Accessing the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) creates important records and other information such as customer records, connection information and stored data.

-       Most intermediaries and social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Yahoo!, Twitter and YouTube have their servers outside India.

-       It has very important evidence to prove the guilt intention of the accused.

-       Since this type of evidence can disappear quickly, it is of paramount importance to get the data preserved expeditiously through appropriate channels.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/home-ministry-issues-norms-to-seek-legal-aid-from-abroad/article30518873.ece


Trump avoids escalating crisis, says Iran is 'standing down'

U.S. President Donald Trump backed away from days of angry rhetoric against Iran as the two countries tried to defuse a crisis over the American killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Trump Statement:

-       United States did not necessarily have to respond militarily to Iranian missile attacks on military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq.

-       No Americans were harmed in the strikes.

-       Urged world powers to quit a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran that Washington withdrew from in 2018 and work for a new deal.

-       US will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Iran’s response:

-       Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on January 8 in retaliation for the killing.

-       Missile attacks were a “slap on the face” of the United States.

-       U.S. troops should leave the region.

-       Strikes “concluded” Tehran's response to the killing of Soleimani.

-       Iran do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/trump-says-no-us-casualties-iran-appears-to-be-standing-down/article30516718.ece

Won’t give black boxes to U.S.: Iran

Iran’s aviation authority said it would not hand over to Americans the recovered black boxes of a Boeing 737 that crashed and killed all 176 passengers and crew.

Global air aviation rules:

-       It was the right of the country where air crashes occur to carry out the investigation.

-       This accident will be investigated by Iran’s aviation organisation but the Ukrainians can also be present during the incident’s investigation.

-       Under the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization, of which Iran, Ukraine and the U.S. are all members, air crash investigations are led by the country where the accident occurred.

-       Whereas, few countries are capable of analysing black boxes— notably Britain, France, Germany and the U.S.

-       France’s Accident Investigation Bureau, which handles air crash investigations, said it has not received any request from Iran.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/wont-give-black-boxes-to-us-iran/article30516075.ece