Why in news?
NGT acts tough on air pollution, directs 6 states to submit action plan by April 30
About National Green Tribunal
- The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
- It has been established for
- Effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources
- Enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
- It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving
- multi-disciplinary issues.
- The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
- The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
- The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
- The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court.
- Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.
- New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal
- New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other 4 place of sitting of the Tribunal.
- The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act.
- These include the following:
- 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;
- The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- This means that any violations pertaining only to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT.
- Importantly, the NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.
- With the enactment of the NGT Act, Civil courts cannot hear matters related to Environmental issues under the seven laws which the NGT is empowered to deal with.
India’s Foreign Trade
Why in news?
RBI press release on India’s foreign trade.
About the news
- India’s overall exports (Merchandise and Services combined) in April-February 2018-19 are estimated to be USD 483.98Billion.
- It exhibits a positive growth of 8.73 per cent over the same period last year.
- Overall imports in April-February 2018-19 are estimated to be USD 577.31Billion.
- It exhibits a positive growth of 9.42 per cent over the same period last year.
Overall Trade Balance
- Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade deficit for April-February 2018-19 is estimated at US $ 93.32Billion as compared to US $ 82.46Billion in April-February 2017-18.
Science and Technology
Why in news?
Solar tsunami can trigger the sunspot cycle.
About Solar Tsunami
- Solar Tsunami is a hot plasma wave racing across the sun's surface.
- Solar Tsunami are also known as Moreton Wave.
- The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA discovered solar tsunamis in 1997.
- NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) confirmed their reality in February 2009.
- The technical name is "fast-mode magnetohydrodynamical wave," or "MHD wave".
- They are named after Gail Moreton, an American Astronomer who was the first one to spot them in 1959.
How it is formed?
- They are generated by a solar flare and are a chromospheric signature of a large scale solar coronal shock wave.
- It hurls a billion-ton cloud of gas (a coronal mass ejection, or CME) into space and sent a tsunami racing along the sun's surface.
- The extreme temperature and pressure conditions that prevail some 20,000 km below the sun’s surface cause its material to form a plasma consisting primarily of hydrogen and helium in a highly ionised state.
- The plasma is confined with huge magnetic fields inside the sun.
- The sun’s toroidal magnetic field, from which sunspots get generated, wraps around the sun in the east-west direction.”
What are sunspots?
- Sunspots are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun in a region called the photosphere.
- The photosphere has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin.
- Sunspots have temperatures of about 3,800 degrees K.
- They look dark only in comparison with the brighter and hotter regions of the photosphere around them.
- A sunspot consists of two parts:
- The dark part (umbra)
- Lighter part around the dark part (penumbra)
- Sunspots can be very large, up to 50,000 kilometers in diameter.
- They are caused by interactions with the Sun's magnetic field which are not fully understood.
- Sunspots occur over regions of intense magnetic activity, and when that energy is released, solar flares and big storms called coronal mass ejections erupt from sunspots.
Polity and Governance
Why in news?
Former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Pinaki Chandra Ghose, is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal.
About the news
- The government constituted an eight-member search committeeto recommend the chairperson and members of the anti-corruption ombudsman
- The search committee is headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.
- But since there is no LoP in the current Lok Sabha, the opposition has been seeking amendmentof the act.
What is Lokpal?
- The ‘Lokpal’ is the central governing bodythat has jurisdiction over all members of parliament and central government employees in case of corruption.
- A national anti-corruption ombudsman to look into complaints against public servants as defined under the Lokpal Act, 2013.
- The main functionsare
- To address complaints of corruption.
- To make inquiries and investigations
- To conduct trialsfor the case on respective state and central government
Constitution of Lokpal
- The Lokpal to consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial Members.
- Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
- The chairperson can be current or former judges of the SC or chief justices of HCs.
- Members should have least 25 years of experience in matters related to anti-corruption policy, vigilance, public administration, finance, law and management.
Who selects Lokpal?
- A five-member selection panel comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of India, and an eminent jurist nominated by the President.
Powers of Lokpal
- The Lokpal can initiate a preliminary investigation after it receives a complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- If the complaint is found to be true, the Lokpal can ask the government to take disciplinary action against the public servant and also file a case in a special court to be set up by the Centre.
- It will cover all categories of public servants including Group ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employeesof Government.
- With respect to Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers, CVC will send its report of Preliminary enquiry to Lokpalfor further decision.
- With respect to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees, CVC will proceed further in exercise of its own powers under the CVC Act subject to reporting and review by Lokpal.
- All entitiesreceiving donations from foreign source in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
- Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
- It can attach or confiscate propertyof public servants acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
Why in news?
The Navy is set to induct the second Scorpene submarine Khanderi by early May 2019.
About the news
- Khanderi was launched in January 2017 and has since been undergoing a series of trials.
- The third in the Scorpene series Karanj which was launched in January 2018 is in advanced stage of trials and could be ready for induction by year end.
- The fourth submarine Vela is ready to be launched into water for trials around the same time depending on the ocean tide.
- The last two submarines Vagir and Vagsheer are in advanced stages of manufacturing on the assembly line.
- The first submarine of the class, Kalvari joined service in December 2017.
- The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.
- In addition, the Navy currently operates four German HDW class submarines and nine Russian Kilo class submarines.
- The Navy had last inducted a conventional diesel-electric submarine, INS Sindhushastra, procured from Russia in July 2000.
About Project 75I
- The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarinefor the Indian navy.
- The Project 75 Kalvari classis a classof diesel-electric attack submarines based on the Scorpène-class submarine being built for the Indian Navy.
- Under Project-75, French Company DCNS will provide design and technology to public sector Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai to make six Scorpene diesel submarines by 2022.
- The first one, INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine was commissioned by Prime Minister on December 2016.
- The second one, INS Khandari, was launched on January 2017 is currently undergoing sea trials.
- INS Karanjis the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by MDL under the Project 75 programme of Indian navy.
- It is processed through theStrategic Partnership (SP) model.
Current Affair Capules
- Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX) is an inter-service military exercise involving the participation of the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard.
- The exercise had commenced on January 7 and was planned to be terminated by March 10, but the rapid redeployment of the Indian Navy for operations in the North Arabian Sea in the aftermath of Pulwama terrorist attack extended the exercise.
- The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2018-19, shows that just 6% of rural households use the recommended twin-pit system to dispose of excreta from their toilets.
- Under the twin-pit system, two pits are dug with honeycombed walls and earthen floors which allow liquid to percolate into the surrounding soil. When one pit is filled and closed off, waste flow is transferred to the second pit, allowing waste in the first pit to be converted into manure after a year or two.
Map Aided Programme
Why in news
Experts have opined that greater collaboration between Japan and Russia to solve Kuril Island disputes can be a good lesson for resolving Kashmir conflict as well.
About the dispute
- Four islands - which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan calls the Northern Territories - are the subject of a 60-year-old dispute between the two nations.
- Kunashir (known in Japanese as Kunashiri),
- Iturup (Etorofu),
- Shikotan and
- The rocky Habomai islets.
- The southernmost islet in the Habomai group lies only a few kilometres off Nemuro on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
- Russia took control of the islands at the end of the Second World War, and by 1949 it had deported all residents to Japan.
- Because of the dispute, Russia and Japan have not yet signed a peace treaty to end World War II.
- In recent times, Negotiations between Japan and Russia over four disputed islands have entered a new phase.
Location of Kurils
- The island chain known as the Kurils stretches north across the Pacific Ocean from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.
Previous Year Questions Revision Series (Pqrs)-(2012)
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) acts as a banker’s bank. This would imply which of the following?
- Other banks retain their deposits with the RBI
- The RBI lends funds to the commercial banks in times of need
- The RBI advises the commercial banks on monetary matters
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
(a) 2 and 3 only (b) 1 and 2 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3