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News Analysis: 02-11-2018
General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.
Choked by smog
Urgent correctives are needed, or lethal winter pollution will become the new normal
Air pollution is choking several cities in the northern States once again, as changes in temperature and slowing winds trap soot, dust and fine particulate matter.
The National Capital Region is badly hit, as the burning of agricultural residue in Punjab and Haryana is releasing large volumes of smoke containing, among other pollutants, highly damaging fine particulates, or PM2.5.
The problem is aggravated by the burning of urban waste, diesel soot, vehicular exhaust, road and construction dust, and power generation.
Although India has nine of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, it has not taken consistent action on pollution.
Tens of millions live with ambient air quality that is well short of even the relaxed parameters the country has set for fine particulates, compared with those of the World Health Organisation.
India should at least now give high importance to the WHO warning about air pollution being the new tobacco.
This year’s ‘severe’ air quality rating for Delhi and poor conditions prevailing in other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plain should compel a decisive shift in policy.
The Centre and the State governments need to get into crisis mode to dramatically reduce emissions.
They must address the burning of carbon, which is a direct source, and emissions with oxides of nitrogen and sulphur from vehicles that turn into fine particulates through atmospheric reactions.
Failure to take sustainable and urgent measures will inflict long-term harm on public health, affecting children even more by putting them at higher risk for diseases.
The UN Environment Programme’s recent report titled ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions’ has sounded a warning, pointing out that only 8% of the population in the countries of the region get to breathe air of acceptable quality.
One study of degradation of Delhi’s air over a 10-year period beginning 2000 estimated premature mortality to have risen by as much as 60%.
With the steady growth in the population of the capital and other cities, the trauma is set to worsen.
Farm stubble burning is a major contributor to the problem, and its footprint may be growing because of wider use of mechanical harvesters that is producing more waste.
An innovative approach could be to use climate change funds to turn farm residues into a resource, using technological options such as converting them into biofuels and fertilizers.
From an urban development perspective, large cities should reorient their investments to prioritise public transport, favouring electric mobility.
The World Bank has said it is keen to enhance its lending portfolio to tackle air pollution, opening a new avenue for this.
Governments should make the use of personal vehicles in cities less attractive through strict road pricing mechanisms.
Sharply escalated, deterrent parking fees can be implemented. If governments delay action on the critical issue of pollution control, public pressure must force them to act.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.
India protests China-Pakistan bus via PoK
India on Thursday reiterated its opposition to a proposed luxury bus service between Pakistan and China that would pass through parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan — territory that India claims — terming it “a violation of India’s sovereignty”, a day after it had summoned a Chinese diplomat to South Block to lodge a strong protest against the initiative
While China asserted that the bus service from Lahore to Tashkurgan in Xinjiang — timed to begin when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting Beijing — did not alter the country’s stance on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan dismissed India’s objections as “frivolous”.
China is preparing to roll out the red carpet for Mr. Khan, who is set to arrive in Beijing on Friday, and would be formally welcomed at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday.
India has consistently opposed the 1963 “China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement” that recognises PoK as under “actual Pakistani control” without prejudicing a final dispute resolution with India, and India has protested the Karakoram Highway on which traffic has been plying regularly, as well as subsequent infrastructure projects built by China in the disputed area.
Source: The Hindu
General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.
U.S. revokes duty-free import of 50 Indian items
The U.S. on Thursday revoked duty-free concessions on the import of at least 50 Indian products, mostly from handloom and agriculture sectors, reflecting the Trump administration’s tough stand on trade-related issues with New Delhi.
The Federal Register issued a notification, listing 90 products which were so far subject to duty-free provisions under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation on Tuesday, leading to the removal of these products from the privilege beginning November 1.
As of November 1, these products “will no longer qualify for duty-free preferences under the GSP programme but may continue to be imported subject to regular Most Favoured Nation duty-rates,” an official of U.S. Trade Representative said.
A review of the products indicates that the presidential proclamation is not country-specific, but product-specific. With India, being the largest beneficiary of the GSP, it has been hit the most by the latest U.S. decision.
The GSP, the largest and the oldest U.S. trade preference programme, is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary-countries.
A count of these products indicated that at least 50 of them are from India. Notably, India is the largest beneficiary of the GSP. In 2017, India’s duty-free export to the U.S. under the GSP was more than $5.6 billion.
The volume of India’s export to the U.S. impacted by the latest move of the U.S. is not known yet, but the list of products from which duty-free import provision has been removed reflects that a large number of small- and medium-size businesses could be impacted, in particular handloom and agricultural sectors.
Some prominent Indian products removed from the duty-free provisions of the GSP include dried pigeon pea seed; areca nuts, fresh or dried, in shell; turpentine gum; mangoes, prepared or preserved by vinegar or acetic acid; sandstone, merely cut into blocks or slabs of a rectangular (including square) shape; tin chlorides; barium chlorides; salts and esters of tartaric acid, nesoi; and trimethyl phosphite.
Full grain unsplit or grain split buffalo hide or skin; grain split whole buffalo leather, without hair on; whole buffalo skin leather (not full grain unsplits/grain splits); and full grain unsplit buffalo leather (not whole), have also been removed from the duty-free GSP list.
Dyed, plain weave certified hand-loomed fabrics of cotton, containing 85% or more cotton by weight; plain weave certified hand-loomed fabrics of cotton, containing 85% or more cotton by weight, hand-loomed carpet and other textile floor coverings, not of pile construction, woven, made up of man-made textile materials have also been removed.
Base metal clad with gold mixed link necklaces and neck chains and keyboard musical instruments, like harmoniums and similar keyboard instruments with free metal reeds are among the other products. These products can still be exported subject to regular tariffs.
Source: The Hindu
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