Stapled visas for Arunachal athletes unacceptable: India
External Affairs Ministry slams China’s move, says it will respond suitably; New Delhi agrees with Beijing’s statement that Modi, Xi discussed bilateral ties during G-20 summit in Bali last November
Terming China’s decision to revive the practice of “stapled visas” for Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh “unacceptable”, India on Thursday lodged a strong protest and said that it would respond suitably, after Beijing refused to give normal visas to three Wushu players.
The athletes were part of the 12-member team bound for the World University Games in Chengdu on Wednesday night. The team was held back after the government realised that the three athletes belonging to Arunachal Pradesh had been given “stapled visas”, which denotes China’s contention that the Indian State is a disputed territory.
News of the new rift came even as the External Affairs Ministry admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had discussed how to improve bilateral relations when they met in Bali in November 2022, something that the government had not revealed so far.
“It has come to our notice that stapled visas have been issued to some of our citizens representing the country in an international sporting event in China. This is unacceptable and we have lodged a strong protest with the Chinese side reiterating our position. India reserves the right to a suitable response to this action,” Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
China’s decision to give stapled visas to the athletes is a reversion to its actions in 2011-2013, when it began to issue stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir (then including Ladakh) and Arunachal Pradesh. Mr. Bagchi also clarified that Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi’s talks when they met in Bali eight months ago were not merely an “exchange of courtesies”. The clarification came after China’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that the two leaders had “reached an important consensus” in Bali on stabilising India-China relations.
“During the Bali G-20 summit last year we had said that at the conclusion of the dinner hosted by the Indonesian President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had exchanged courtesies, and also spoke of the need to stabilise bilateral relations,” Mr. Bagchi said.
He added that for India the key to resolving bilateral issues was to resolve the issues at the LAC and to “restore peace and tranquillity to these areas”.
Facts about the News
- China issued stapled visas to some of the sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh representing the country in an international sporting event in China.
- The athletes were part of the 12-member team bound for the World University Games in Chengdu.
- India has lodged a strong protest with the Chinese side and said that it would respond suitably.
What is a Stapled Visa?
- When the stamps of the country you are visiting, not placed on the passport, but on pages staple to it is called Stapled Visa.
- When the visitor leaves the country, his visa and entry and exit stamps are torn out, leaving no record on his passport.
- Stapled Visa is countries which are hostile to each other.
- The practice of stapling the visas stems from China’s claim on most of Arunachal.
Any Previous Incidents
- In 2009 also, China started giving stapled visas to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
- This meant that China do not recognise India’s sovereignty over J&K.
- However, China did not make any formal statement to this effect.
- Similarly, by giving stapled visa to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh, it registers its protest over the existing status of their citizenship.
Cinematograph Bill aimed at curbing piracy passed by RS
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that introduces stringent anti-piracy provisions, expanding the scope of the law from censorship to cover copyright also.
The Bill proposes a jail term of up to three years and a fine up to 5% of a film’s production cost for persons who “use any audiovisual recording device in a place licensed to exhibit films with the intention of making or transmitting … an infringing copy of” a film, or trying to do so.
The Bill seeks to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952, which authorises the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to require cuts in films and clear them for exhibition in cinemas and on television.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur said, “The government will not have revisional powers [over the CBFC’s decisions] even after this Bill.”
The Bill introduces three age ratings for films requiring adult supervision. Such films now get a U/A rating, but this has been split into U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. Films rated for adults have largely been prohibited on television, following a 2004 Bombay High Court order. Broadcasters often cut films voluntarily, and re-apply with the CBFC for a U/A rating. The Bill formalises this practice.
It will now have to be passed by the Lok Sabha.
Facts about the News
- The Rajya Sabha recently passed the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that introduces stringent anti-piracy provisions.
- The amendment will expand the scope of the law from censorship to also cover copyright.
- The Bill proposes stringent punishment for piracy.
- A committee of experts chaired by filmmaker Shyam Benegal had in 2017 recommended amendments to the film censorship regime.
- The graded-age classifications are in line with the report of the committee.
- However, the government has not implemented the key recommendation of the committee that the CBFC’s power to require cuts be taken away.
About The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023
Ministry: Information and Broadcasting
The Bill amends the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
The Act constitutes the Board of Film Certification for certifying films for exhibition.
Additional certificate categories:
- The Bill adds certain additional certificate categories based on age.
- The Bill substitutes the UA category with the following three categories to also indicate age-appropriateness: (i) UA 7+, (ii) UA 13+, or (iii) UA 16+.
- Other Categories:
- without restriction (‘U’)
- only to adults
- only to members of any profession or class of persons (‘S’).
- Films with an ‘A’ or ‘S’ certificate will require a separate certificate for exhibition on television, or any other media prescribed by the central government.
- The Board may direct the applicant to carry appropriate deletions or modifications for the separate certificate.
- Unauthorised recording and exhibition to be punishable:
- The Bill prohibits carrying out or abetting: (i) the unauthorised recording and (ii) unauthorised exhibition of films.
- Attempting an unauthorised recording will also be an offence.
Note: An unauthorised recording means making or transmitting an infringing copy of a film at a licensed place for film exhibition without the owner’s authorisation.
- An unauthorised exhibition means the public exhibition of an infringing copy of the film for profit:
- (i) at a location not licensed to exhibit films or
- (ii) in a manner that infringes upon the copyright law.
- The above offences will be punishable with: (i) imprisonment between three months and three years, and (ii) a fine between three lakh rupees and 5% of the audited gross production cost.
- Certificates to be perpetually valid: Under the Act, the certificate issued by the Board is valid for 10 years. The Bill provides that the certificates will be perpetually valid.
- Revisional powers of the central government: The Act empowers the central government to examine and make orders in relation to films that have been certified or are pending certification.
- Note: The Supreme Court in 1991 had ruled against such powers with the central government.
Weighing in on the National Research Foundation Bill
The scientific community in India is abuzz with curiosity and excitement after the Union Cabinet’s approval of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023 in June this year to “strengthen the research eco-system in the country”.
The Bill is to be introduced in Parliament. Once passed, it is to establish an apex body to spearhead research and development, foster a culture of innovation, and nurture a research ecosystem across all universities and colleges in the country.
Simultaneously, the Bill seeks to repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) Act 2008, under which the SERB was established as a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to carry out almost the same or similar functions which the NRF proposes to do.
The finer points
The idea of establishing the NRF as an independent foundation to promote and fund research was mooted by the Kasturirangan Committee in 2019 and adopted in the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). Importantly, both documents mentioned, in no uncertain terms, that the institutions currently funding research, such as the DST, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), and the University Grants Commission (UGC), as well as various other private and philanthropic organisations, would continue to fund research according to their priorities and needs independently.
The list of existing institutions funding research did not separately mention the SERB but there was no indication in the policy document that it would be abolished or subsumed into the NRF. Therefore, the scientific community had assumed that it shall, as a statutory body of the DST, continue to support and fund research as before.
To lend credence to the idea, it highlighted the point that leading research-producing nations had multiple public and private funding agencies; further, there was no reason that India could not stand to benefit from the practice.
The idea of having multiple research funding agencies gets further reinforced by the statement that the NRF would coordinate with other funding agencies and work with science, engineering, and other academies to ensure synergy of purpose and avoid duplication of efforts.
The financial outlay
Highlighting the lack of a conducive research ecosystem and underinvestment in research, the Kasturirangan Committee had said that the NRF would get an ‘annual grant of Rs. 20,000 Crores (Rs 2 Kharab or 0.1% of GDP)’.
It did not say how long this grant would continue, but it did note that research spending in the country was a meagre 0.65% of GDP compared to 2.8% in the United States, 2.1% in China, 4.3% in Israel and 4.2% in South Korea. It expressed concern that research and innovation spending in the country had declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.
Against this backdrop, even those who were pessimistic had felt that the proposed annual grant would continue until the research spending in the country reached the level it had been in 2008. The optimists in the community had hoped that it might continue until it reached the level of research spending in the U.S.
The NEP 2020 adopted the idea, but without any specific financial commitment. In the meantime, public and private expenditure on research and development taken together kept sliding to touch 0.64% of GDP in 2020-21 compared to 0.76% in 2011-12.
A Press Information Bureau release suggests that the NRF will have ₹10,000 crore for five years and thus get a total of ₹50,000 crore. Despite the scant details available in the public domain, it shows that the government grant or budgetary support would be at the most ₹14,000 crore while the remainder (₹36,000 crore) is to be mobilised through industry and other private philanthropic sources. This would effectively mean that the NRF would get a maximum annual grant of ₹2,800 crore over the next five years, a mere 14% of what the Kasturirangan Committee had recommended.
Following the repeal of its Act, the SERB will be subsumed into the NRF. The SERB was established as a statutory body of the DST to plan, promote and fund internationally competitive research in emerging areas of science and engineering. The SERB has been instrumental in building a sustainable research ecosystem ‘through a diverse programme portfolio that includes grant funding, fostering young researchers, recognising and rewarding research excellence, promoting scientific networks and partnerships, and enhanced gender and social inclusiveness’.
Budgetary allocation for the SERB had steadily increased from ₹200 crore in 2011-12 to ₹1,000 crore in 2018-19. Since then, allocation declined to ₹742 crore in 2020-21, but again rose to ₹911.46 crore in 2021-22. SERB programmes, schemes and activities have been important in financing basic research in science and engineering, and most of them will continue under the NRF with some tweaking and tinkering.
It is hoped that the budgetary allocation for the NRF will not be reduced by the amount allocated for the SERB. Experience shows that when schemes are merged or subsumed into a new scheme, the allocation for the new scheme is generally lower than the total for the discontinued schemes.
Greater relevance now
The criticality of research and knowledge creation and the importance of enhancing funding for research has been amply highlighted by the New Education Policy. It insists that the economic prosperity of many developed countries, now and in the ancient past, can be attributed to their intellectual capital and to their fundamental contributions to new knowledge in science, arts and culture. It cites India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece as examples.
The NEP argues that a robust research ecosystem acquires greater importance now due to growing challenges in the world and opportunities due to technological advancements.
The policy asserts that India has had a long tradition of research and knowledge creation in science, mathematics, art, literature, phonetics, language, medicine and agriculture, which needs to be strengthened to make India a leader. These are laudable ideas and intentions, but need to be backed by ample financial support, at least to the extent the Kasturirangan Committee had insisted upon.
The views expressed are personal
Budgetary allocation for the National Research Foundation should not be reduced as growth in research and knowledge creation is linked to ample financial support.
Facts about the News
National Research Foundation Bill
- Union Cabinet had approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023 in June this year to “strengthen the research eco-system in the country”.
- The Bill, after approval in the Parliament, will establish NRF, as an apex body to provide “high-level strategic direction” to scientific research in the country.
- This is done as per recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP).
- Financial Outlay proposed under the bill is Rs. 50,000 crore during five years (2023-28).
Other Key Highlights
- The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will be the administrative Department of NRF.
- It will be governed by a Governing Board consisting of eminent researchers and professionals across disciplines.
- The Prime Minister will be the ex-officio President of the Board.
- The Union Minister of Science & Technology & Union Minister of Education will be the ex-officio Vice-Presidents.
- NRF’s functioning will be governed by an Executive Council chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
- NRF will focus on creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D.
- Note: The bill will also repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) established by an act of Parliament in 2008 and subsume it into NRF which has an expanded mandate and covers activities over and above the activities of SERB.
- Science and Engineering Research Board is a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
- It was established by an Act of the Parliament of India in 2009.
- Supporting basic research in emerging areas of Science & Engineering are the primary and distinctive mandate of the Board.
- The Board is chaired by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Science and Technology.
- Serve as a premier agency for planning, promoting and funding of internationally competitive research in emerging areas.
- Identify major inter-disciplinary research areas, and individuals, groups or institutions and funding them for undertaking research.
- Assist in setting up infrastructure and environment for scientific pursuit.
Draft National Education Policy 2019- Kasturirangan Committee Report
- The Committee for Draft National Education Policy was chaired Dr. K. Kasturirangan and it submitted its report on May 31, 2019.
- The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2017.
- The draft Policy provides for reforms at all levels of education from school to higher education.
- It seeks to increase the focus on early childhood care, reform the current exam system, strengthen teacher training, and restructure the education regulatory framework.
- It also seeks to set up a National Education Commission.
Key observations and recommendations of the draft Policy include:
- Early Childhood Care and Education: The Committee observed several quality related deficiencies in the existing early childhood learning programmes. These include:
- curriculum that doesn’t meet the developmental needs of children,
- lack of qualified and trained teachers, and
- substandard pedagogy.
- The Right to Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act):
- Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years.
- The draft Policy recommends extending the ambit of the RTE Act to include early childhood education and secondary school education.
- This would extend the coverage of the Act to all children between the ages of three to 18 years.
- Curriculum framework: The current structure of school education must be restructured on the basis of the development needs of students. This would consist of a 5-3-3-4 design comprising the following:
- five years of foundational stage (three years of pre-primary school and classes one and two)
- three years of preparatory stage (classes three to five)
- three years of middle stage (classes six to eight), and
- four years of secondary stage (classes nine to 12).
- School exam reforms: To track students’ progress throughout their school experience, the draft Policy proposes State Census Examinations in classes three, five and eight.
- Further, it recommends restructuring the board examinations to test only core concepts, skills and higher order capacities
- School infrastructure: The Committee noted that establishing primary schools in every habitation across the country has helped increase access to education.
- However, it has led to the development of very small schools.
- The small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers and critical physical resources.
- Therefore, the draft Policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex.
- Teacher management: The Committee noted that there has been a steep rise in teacher shortage, lack of professionally qualified teachers, and deployment of teachers for non-educational purposes.
- For teacher training, the existing B.Ed. programme will be replaced by a four-year integrated B.Ed. programme.
- Higher Education: The committee noted that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India was 25.8% in 2017-18.
- The Committee identified lack of access as a major reason behind low intake of higher education in the country.
- It aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035 from the current level of about 25.8%.
- Regulatory structure and accreditation: The Committee noted that the current higher education system has multiple regulators with overlapping mandates.
- Therefore, it proposes setting up the National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).
- This independent authority would replace the existing individual regulators in higher education, including professional and vocational education.
- This implies that the role of all professional councils such as AICTE and the Bar Council of India would be limited to setting standards for professional practice.
- The role of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be limited to providing grants to higher educational institutions.
- Establishing a National Research Foundation:
- The Committee observed that the total investment on research and innovation in India has declined from 0.84% of GDP in 2008 to 0.69% in 2014.
- The draft Policy recommends establishing a National Research Foundation.
- The committee also recommends creation of a National Education Commission or Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog.
- It Aayog will be an apex body for education, to be headed by the Prime Minister.
- The Ministry of Human Resources and Development must be renamed as the Ministry of Education in order to bring focus back on education.
- Financing Education:
- The Draft Policy reaffirmed the commitment of spending 6% of GDP as public investment in education.
- Note that the first National Education Policy (NEP) 1968 had recommended public expenditure in education must be 6% of GDP, which was reiterated by the second NEP in 1986.
- The draft Policy seeks to double the public investment in education from the current 10% of total public expenditure to 20% in the next 10 years.
- Vocational Education: The Committee observed that less than 5% of the workforce in the age-group of 19-24 receives vocational education in India.
- This is in contrast to 52% in the USA, 75% in Germany and 96% in South Korea.
- It recommends integrating vocational educational programmes in all educational institutions in a phased manner over a period of 10 years.
- Adult Education: As per Census 2011, India still had over 3.26 crore youth non-literates (15-24 years of age) and a total of 26.5 crore adult non-literates (15 years and above).
- The committee recommends establishing an autonomous Central Institute of Adult Education, as a constituent unit of NCERT.
- It will develop a National Curriculum Framework for adult education.
- Education and Indian Languages: The Committee observed that a large number of students are falling behind since classes in schools are being conducted in a language that they do not understand.
- Therefore, it recommended that the medium of instruction must either be the mother tongue till grade five, and preferable till grade eight, wherever possible.
- The draft Policy recommended the three language formula and asked for flexibility in the implementation of the formula.
- Note: The three-language formula was initially introduced by the first National Education Policy in 1968. The three-language formula stated that state governments should adopt and implement study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking states, and of Hindi along with the regional language and English in the non-Hindi speaking states.
National Education Policy 2020
- Based on the recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee Report, a new National Education Policy was introduced in 2020. Details of the salient features of NEP 2020 are as follows:
- Ensuring Universal Access at All Levels of schooling from pre-primary school to Grade 12.
- Ensuring quality early childhood care and education for all children between 3-6 years.
- New Curricular and Pedagogical Structure (5+3+3+4)
- Establishing National Mission on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
- The medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the mother tongue /regional language.
- Assessment reforms – Board Exams on up to two occasions during any given school year, one main examination and one for improvement, if desired.
- Setting up of a new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development)
- A separate Gender Inclusion fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.
- Increasing GER in higher education to 50%.
- Setting up of National Research Foundation (NRF)
- Single overarching umbrella body for promotion of higher education sector- the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
- Expansion of open and distance learning to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER).
- Teacher Education – 4-year integrated stage-specific, subject- specific Bachelor of Education.
- Creation of an autonomous body, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology.
- Achieving 100% youth and adult literacy.
- The Centre and the States will work together to increase the public investment in Education sector to reach 6% of GDP at the earliest.
The anatomy of the Yamuna floodplains
How has rampant construction blocked flood pathways and impeded the river’s ‘right to expand’? Why are Yamuna floodplains important? What are the consequences of rapid urbanisation on the floodplains? How many people are dependent on the river? What do encroachments do?
The story so far: Battered by heavy rains, the Yamuna looks slow, sluggish and swollen. Last week, the water levels hit a 60-year-high, gushing through elite neighbourhoods built close to the floodplains. Waters advanced towards the Taj Mahal for the first time in half a century. More than 25,500 people were evacuated and ferried to rescue camps in a brown stream of waste; many of them lived in make-shift low-lying slum dwellings next to the river.
Why is the Yamuna important?
The late environmentalist Anupam Mishra once called Yamuna, Delhi’s “real town planner”: it meandered through Delhi ensuring the city was never short of water and never ravaged by famine or flood. Delhi was “well-planned along the course of the river Yamuna, but it isn’t so anymore,” he said. Causes, experts argue, can be traced to haphazard construction activities, rapid urbanisation, lack of proper housing and lax regulations — all of which have besieged the floodplains.
“We talk about rivers in isolation, but floodplains are inseparable from the river channel,” says Venkatesh Dutta, a professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University. The river system includes both water and land. Yamuna is a lifeline to five States, and its floodplains are a charging point.
Yamuna courses east of Delhi, entering the city from Palla village and exiting at the Okhla barrage. The floodplains are two km wide on each side. The floodplain along Yamuna’s 22 km run in Delhi, designated as the O zone by the Delhi Development Authority, has an area of approximately 9,700 hectares — the size of 1,500 new Parliament buildings.
Between Palla and Okhla, the composition of the floodplains changes from farmlands to slums, colonies, flyovers and bridges. It is also dotted with permanent structures like Ring Road, Akshardham Temple complex, Commonwealth Games Village, Player’s Building (housing the Delhi Secretariat) and the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
What is submerged now was once part of the river’s natural flow, Dr. Dutta explains. A river has the “right to expand” and needs to breathe through its flood plains. Any attempt to concretise constricts its air supply. “This is happening not only in Delhi, but all major cities including Pune, Lucknow, Mumbai,” he said.
As part of river systems, floodplains slow water runoff during floods, recharge groundwater and store excess water, replenishing the city’s water supply. “When you have sluggish flow, the surplus water stored in the floodplain is released back during the non-monsoon season,” Dr. Dutta explains. “If you lose the floodplain, you also lose the storage of water.” Delhi recorded similarly devastating floods in 1978, 1988 and 1995 which inundated floodplains, adversely impacting their health.
Who lives on these floodplains?
A 2022 report found there are 56 bastis (one basti has 15 or more houses), with 9,350 households and 46,750 people. Almost half of the households (4,835) practise farming as a livelihood; others rely on daily wage work, fishing, nurseries, and animal herding.
Most residents migrated from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan; some bastis have existed for eight decades and others were built more recently. Farmers near Palla and Hiranki villages traditionally grow rice, wheat, and flowers on the rich silt deposited by the river.
“Zone O supports a large variety of nature-based livelihoods with a low ecological footprint. Yet, these are being forcibly evicted in the name of ecological rejuvenation of the region,” the report noted. The farmland size has reduced from 4,850 hectares in 2000 to 3,330 hectares in 2020, as people were evicted, and livelihood shifted to daily wage work.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2016 imposed a blanket ban on agriculture-related activities till the “Yamuna is restored and made pollution free”.
On the NGT’s orders, the DDA in 2021 evicted 800 families in the Muslim-dominated Batla House area, a part of the floodplains that falls under no-construction zones. Private contractors built flats and sold to people, mostly daily wage and domestic workers, who cannot afford housing in other areas.
How did settlements emerge?
The first major non-agriculture settlements appeared after Independence when refugees from Western Punjab fled to Delhi. They built kuccha houses on the floodplains along the Yamuna Pushta (from the ITO bridge and up to Salimgarh Fort). The planning era propelled urbanisation in the 1950s and ‘60s, witnessing the construction of the first thermal power plant (employing people as labourers to unload coal from trains and clear fly ash), the Ring Road and Rajghat Samadhi.
Over 180,000 jhuggis on the Yamuna Pushta were demolished during the 1975 Emergency, and people were resettled in the peripheries.
The 1982 Asian Games brought more than one million migrant labourers from neighbouring States, tasked with building flyovers, sports facilities and luxury apartments. Little to no formal housing was provided; workers eventually settled on the open plain along the western embankment after the Games. By 2004, almost 3,50,000 people lived along the Yamuna, according to estimates. They earned livelihoods as domestic help, rickshaw pullers, porters, mechanics, small vendors, factory workers in nearby trade markets such as Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazaar. The population boom outpaced Delhi’s ability to build a proper sewage network and spiked Yamuna’s pollution, Manu Bhatnagar of the Natural Heritage Division of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage told The Hindu in an earlier interview.
The Delhi High Court in 2004 ordered eviction of “unauthorised” settlements on the floodplains, demolishing shanties and evicting more than two lakh people.
“Their subsequent eviction on the charge of pollution cleared the way for the construction of capital-intensive projects of urban infrastructure and elite consumption,” sociologist Amita Baviskar wrote in a paper. Large portions along the floodplains were used for projects — Delhi’s largest depot for its public bus service, Akshardham Temple complex, Commonwealth Games Village, metro depots, luxury apartments, and highways.
Moreover, Dr. Dutta says, “in the name of flood protection,” cities use embankments which “jacket the river, limiting the river’s ability to spread.”
What does Delhi’s Master Plan outline?
The Yamuna floodplain was designated as a protected area free from construction in the Delhi Masterplan of 1962. The Central Ground Water Authority in 2000 also notified the floodplains as ‘protected’ for groundwater management.
The draft Master Plan For Delhi 2041 divides Delhi into 18 zonal areas, designating Yamuna’s floodplains as ‘Zone O’, delineated in two parts: river zone (active floodplain) and riverfront (regulated construction is allowed). The latter is where structures such as Akshardham Temple and Commonwealth Village have been built.
The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) in 2020 found large parts of the Yamuna floodplains and riverbed were “grossly abused” due to lax implementation: 23 bridges including rail, road, metro and barrages have been built; there was a bridge at every 800m. “The creation of new embankments, guide bunds… are fragmenting the floodplain, promoting encroachments, and also leaving a trail of construction and demolition debris into riverbed and floodplains,” the group wrote.
An Expert Committee in 2012 formed to examine DDA’s Riverfront Development Scheme warned against any construction on floodplains. The areas proposed under the Yamuna Riverfront Development (YRDF) plan — which proposes biodiversity parks and ‘recreational’ activities — were within the active floodplain, which could affect the topography, increase pollution and affect flood-carrying capacity, the Committee warned.
“If you build on areas reserved for recharge, you lose groundwater,” says Dr. Dutta. The layers of sediments of floodplains create aquifers contributing to the river channel, which in turn rejuvenates the groundwater. But encroachments stop this two-way exchange.
The river is unable to transport flood waters downstream during monsoons, wet the lands or deposit soil along its banks to preserve the riverine ecosystem.
What do encroachments do?
Floodplains also protect against devastating flash floods by allowing excess water to spread out and storing that surplus.
However, encroachments restrict the river to a small channel. Any intense rainfall activity (India received 26% more rainfall in July than expected) swells the river, expanding in height not in width, eventually spilling over with devastating intensity. Climate change has intensified rains in frequency and severity, and seen in the Yamuna floods, runoff water comes as a huge gushing flow in a small span of time.
Dr. Dutta notes that “floods are inseparable from the hydrological cycle and are required for sediment transport, cleaning the riverbed, rejuvenating the river itself.”
“The concept of floodplain zoning is not mainstreamed in the Master Plan,” he adds, and authorities haven’t yet “taken cognisance of the river’s right to expand.” This gap, along with poorly implemented policies, frees up river land for private and public real estate. “The common property land — the river’s land — is open to auction and revenue generation. It’s a tragedy of commons because the river’s land has not been properly defined.”
A model draft Bill for defining floodplains and zoning was circulated in 1975. Only four States have drafted a National Floodplains Zoning Policy so far.
It is “reductive” to locate floodplains as a site of conflict between development and nature, says Dr. Dutta. Instead, action can be focused on creating climate-resilient infrastructures, de-silting drains, creating green areas and improving drainage systems. “You cannot police a river,” he says.
Battered by heavy rains, the Yamuna looks slow, sluggish, swollen. Last week, the water levels hit a 60-year-high, gushing through elite neighbourhoods built close to the floodplains, including Civil Lines, Rajghat and the Supreme Court.
Causes, experts argue, can be traced to haphazard construction activities, urbanisation, lack of proper housing and lax regulations — all of which have besieged the floodplains.
The Yamuna floodplain was designated as a protected area free from construction in the Delhi Masterplan of 1962. The Central Ground Water Authority in 2000 also notified the floodplains as ‘protected’ for groundwater management.
Facts about the News
- The Yamuna on July 13 crossed the record set in 1978 of 207.49 metres.
- Causes, experts argue, can be traced to haphazard construction activities, urbanisation, lack of proper housing and lax regulations.
- The floodplain along Yamuna’s 22 km run in Delhi, designated as the O zone by the Delhi Development Authority, has an area of approximately 9,700 hectares.
- As part of river systems, floodplains slow water runoff during floods, recharge groundwater and store excess water, replenishing the city’s water supply.
- If you lose the floodplain, you also lose the storage of water.
- Who lives on these floodplains, and what do they do?
- A 2022 report found there are 56 bastis (one basti has 15 or more houses), with 9,350 households and 46,750 people.
- Almost half of the households (4,835) practise farming as a livelihood; others rely on daily wage work, fishing, nurseries, and animal herding.
- Most residents migrated from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan
Delhi’s Master Plan
The Yamuna floodplain was designated as a protected area free from construction in the Delhi Masterplan of 1962.
The Central Ground Water Authority in 2000 also notified the floodplains as ‘protected’ for groundwater management.
The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) in 2020 found large parts of the Yamuna floodplains and riverbed were “grossly abused” due to lax implementation.
What is a floodplain?
- A floodplain (or floodplain) is a generally flat area of land next to a river or stream. It stretches from the banks of the river to the outer edges of the valley.
A floodplain consists of two parts.
- The first is the main channel of the river itself, called the floodway.
- Floodways can sometimes be seasonal, meaning the channel is dry for part of the year.
- It is the main channel where the river flows.
- Beyond the floodway is the flood fringe.
- It is the land between the banks of the floodway and the valley wall or anywhere the valley land starts to rise.
- The width of a flood fringe can vary according to the river, but they can be surprisingly wide.
How do floodplains form?
- Floodplains develop in two common ways: erosion and deposition (also known as aggradation).
- The erosion of a floodplain describes the process in which earth is worn away by the movement of a floodway.
- Aggradation (or alluviation) of a floodplain describes the process in which earthen material increases as the floodway deposits sediment.
- A river erodes a floodplain as it meanders, or curves from side to side.
- A meandering stream can contribute to a floodplain’s aggradation, or build-up in land elevation, as well as its erosion.
- The deposition of sediment that happens in floodplains can be the source of major fertility.
- This sediment is usually built up of alluvium, or silt, which is considered some of the richest soil, containing nutrients like potash, phosphoric acid and lime.
Yamuna River System
- Yamunotri, which is north of Haridwar in the Himalayan Mountains, is the source of the Yamuna.
- The river Yamuna, a major tributary of river Ganges, originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Banderpoonch peaks in the Mussourie range of the lower Himalayas.
- The river after originating from the state of Uttarakhand in India passes through the states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh and joins the Ganga River at Prayagraj.
- The total length of the Yamuna River is 1376 km.
- The Yamuna River basin accounts for 40.2% of the total basin of the Ganga River and 10.7% of the total area of India.
- Left bank tributaries of Yamuna River – Hindon, Hanuman Ganga, and Sasur Khaderi are the left bank tributaries of the river Yamuna.
- Right bank tributaries of Yamuna River – Tons, Giri, Chambal, Betwa, Sindh, Dhasan, Ken are the important right bank tributaries of river Yamuna.
World Hepatitis Day
- World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis.
- In 2023 the theme is ‘We’re not waiting.
- The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV)
What is Hepatitis?
- Hepatitis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the liver.
- Liver inflammation can be caused by several viruses (viral hepatitis), chemicals, drugs, alcohol, and certain genetic disorders.
- There are five viruses that cause the different forms of viral hepatitis: hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
- Hepatitis A is mostly a food-borne illness and can be spread through contaminated water and unwashed food.
- It is the easiest to transmit, especially in children.
- Hepatitis B can be transmitted through exposure to contaminated blood, needles, syringes or bodily fluids and from mother to baby.
- It is a chronic disorder and in some cases may lead to long-term liver damage, liver cancer and cirrhosis of the live.
- Hepatitis C is only transmitted through infected blood or from mother to newborn during childbirth.
- It too can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis in the long term.
- Hepatitis D is only found in people who are also infected with hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E is predominantly found in Africa, Asia and South America.
- In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and together are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths.
- An estimated 354 million people worldwide live with hepatitis B or C.
- Some types of hepatitis are preventable through vaccination.
- Note: WHO’s global hepatitis strategy, endorsed by all WHO Member States, aims to reduce new hepatitis infections by 90% and deaths by 65% between 2016 and 2030.
G-20: 39 MNCs come together for circular economy coalition
Embracing a circular economy model enables transition from the linear “take-make-waste” paradigm and embrace a more sustainable and regenerative approach, said Union Minister Bhupender Yadav at the launch of Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition (RECEIC) on the sidelines of the fourth G-20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) and Environment and Climate Ministers’ meeting in Chennai on Thursday.
As many as 39 multinational corporations (MNCs) from sectors such as steel, FMCG and electronics came together to pledge to adopt resource efficiency and circular economy principles to address environmental challenges rising from waste, including plastics, microplastics, e-waste, and chemical waste. The launch of RECEIC, which involved signing of the foundational charter and unveiling of the logo by Mr. Yadav, was attended by Ministers of seven countries such as Mauritius, Denmark, Italy, Canada, the UAE, France, and the European Union.
Naresh Pal Gangwar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), told the media on Wednesday that the coalition would be led by industries and the government would only play a supporting role.
Speaking about India’s efforts to mitigating the burden of plastic waste, Mr. Gangwar said about 41 lakh tonnes of plastic waste were generated in the country in 2021-22, of which 30 lakh tonnes were allocated to 2,000-odd registered recyclers and plastic waste processing units.
Under Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) guidelines established through the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022, 2.6 million tonnes worth of EPR certificates had been generated by plastic waste processors and around 1.51 million tonnes of those certificated had been purchased by PIBOs (Producers, Importers and Brand owners) against 2022-23 obligations, Mr. Gangwar said.
The ECSWG, which will conclude with the Ministers’ meeting on Friday, has been involved in discussing environmental issues and promoting global collaboration towards a sustainable future.
Facts about the News
MNCs come together for circular economy coalition
- Union Minister launched Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition on the sidelines of 4th G-20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group and Environment and Climate Ministers’ (ECSWG) meeting.
- 39 multinational corporations (MNCs) from sectors such as steel, FMCG, electronics came together to pledge to adopt resource efficiency and circular economy principles.
What is Circular Economy?
- A circular economy entails markets that give incentives to reusing products, rather than scrapping them and then extracting new resources.
- In such an economy, all forms of waste, such as clothes, scrap metal and obsolete electronics, are returned to the economy or used more efficiently.
- This can provide a way to not only protect the environment, but use natural resources more wisely, develop new sectors, create jobs and develop new capabilities.
- The circular economy is based on three principles, driven by design
- Eliminate waste and pollution
- Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)
- Regenerate nature
- Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials, the circular economy is a resilient system that is good for business, people, and the environment.