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5 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair







The immediate neighbourhood  



India at 95 on  Gender Index



An experiment Ebola cure may also protect against Nipah Virus



For more inclusive private schools



Patients turn litigants as new rules stall therapy



Global growth slows in 2019 says WB  




The immediate neighbourhood  (The Hindu Page 12)


Mains GS paper II: International relations  




Context: PM Narendra Modi invited the SAARC nations to his 1st swearing in ceremony in 2014, however now PM Modi has invited the BIMSTEC nations to his 2nd swearing in ceremony in 2019.  


This showcases the decreased importance of SAARC and increased emphasis on BIMSTEC and within that context the author is making the argument that SAARC still has the potential to become a platform for South Asian interests and shared growth


Importance of SAARC:

  • According to the author, PM Modi is not attempting to replace SAARC with BIMSTEC, since both organisations are based on different foundations. SAARC, as an organisation reflects the South Asian identity of the countries based on shared history, language, religion, cuisines, etc.   BIMSTEC on the other hand is not based upon shared identity but rather a shared geographical region of Bay of Bengal. The founding principles of BIMSTEC states that it will be an addition to and not be a substitute for bilateral, regional or multilateral cooperation involving the Member States and will act as a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN.

  • SAARC has developed common platforms in several fields such as agriculture, education, health, climate change, science and technology, transport and environment. An important example would be the South Asian University in Delhi. BIMSTEC is beginning to form platform, with secretariat being formed in 2014 itself.

  • SAARC mainly suffers from India - Pakistan conflict, whereby India is unwilling to engage with Pakistan till it ends or makes serious attempts cross-border terrorism. 

  • However, according to the author, India is willing to engage in Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which also has Pakistan as a member. BIMSTEC in 2018 also suffered from regional rivalry, whereby Nepal refused to participate in a BIMSTEC military exercise which was being led by India. 


  •  A common complaint is that SAARC is becoming defunct because of Pakistan’s opposition to connectivity projects such as the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), energy sharing proposals and others such as the South Asia Satellite. However, such agreements have not made progress in other groupings either whereby the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping has failed to implement the MVA due to opposition from Bhutan.

  • Similarly, Pakistan is responsible for ineffective implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Area agreement. However, such problems occur in other groupings whereby India too accused of withholding the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. However it needs to be understood that India's concerns with RCEP is based mainly on economic reasons while Pakistan is not implementing SAFTA due to its political opposition to India.


Future Steps that can be undertaken to improve SAARC:

  • SAARC could adopt the “ASEAN minus X” formula — members who are unwilling to join a project or initiative can be allowed to join at a future date, while members who wish to go ahead with the cooperation agreement can do so.

  • SAARC could be a common platform to demand more sustainable alternatives for development, or to oppose trade tariffs together, or to demand better terms for South Asian labour around the world.





India at 95 on  Gender Index (The Hindu -Page.24)


Prelims: socio- economic development


SDG Gender Index


About SDG Gender Index

  • It has been developed by Equal Measures 2030 – an independent civil society and private sector-led partnership.

  • The partnership is a joint effort of leading regional and global organizations including:

Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow),

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,

The African Women’s Development and Communication Network

The International Women’s Health Coalition

  • The index accounts for 14 out of 17 SDGs

  • India ranked 95 th out of a total 129 countries.

  • It measures the state of gender equality aligned to 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 129 countries and 51 issues ranging from health, gender-based violence, climate change, decent work and others.

  • It provides a snapshot of where the world stands, right now, linked to the vision of gender equality set forth by the 2030 Agenda.

  • A score of 100 indicates the achievement of gender equality in relation to the underlying indicators. A score of 50 would indicate that a country is about halfway to meeting its goal. India’s score of 56.2 means that it is among 43 countries in the ‘very poor’ category.

  • India scores the highest in health (79.9), followed by hunger (76.2) and energy (71.8). Among the SDGs, on which the country performs poorly are partnerships (18.3), industry, infrastructure and innovation (38.1) and climate (43.4).



An experiment Ebola cure may also protect against Nipah Virus (The Hindu -Page. 24)


Prelims: Science and technology


Nipah Virus     


Context: Scientists have claimed Drug Designed to Beat Ebola Also Fights off Nipah



  • Ebola virus derived its name from the Ebola River (Congo) where in 1976 it was first identified. The Nipah virus gets its name from the first place it was detected, Kampung Sungai Nipah in Malaysia, in 1998.



  • The only current treatment for Nipah virus infection is a monoclonal antibody that is still experimental. Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug designed to treat Ebola virus disease.


  • During trials, scientists gave a lethal dose of Nipah virus to eight African green monkeys. Four of them were given intravenous remdesivir, and survived. The other four monkeys that did not get the drug died within eight days.

  • Though Ebola and Nipah belong to different viral families, but Remdesivir — made by Gilead Sciences— appears effective against both.




For more inclusive private schools (The Hindu -Page.13)


Mains : GS Paper II: issues related to Education   


Right to education Act      


Context:  The 86th  (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2002 added Article 21A to the Constitution which it mandatory for the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from the age of six to 14 years (fundamental right).  The Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 to give effect to this amendment.


Provisions of the Act

  • The Act provides that children between the ages of six and 14 years have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school.  It also lays down the minimum norms that each school has to follow in order to get legal recognition. 

  • All children aged 6-14 shall have the right to free and compulsory education at a neighborhood school.

  • No direct school fees or indirect cost on uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals, transportation etc needs to be borne by the child or parents to obtain elementary education.

  • The Government will provide schooling free of cost until the child’s elementary education is completed.

  • All schools must comply with certain infrastructure and teacher norms. Two trained teachers will be provided for every 60 students at the primary level.

  • The Act required government schools to provide free and compulsory education to all admitted children. Similarly, aided schools have to provide free and compulsory education proportionate to the funding received, subject to a minimum of 25%. 

  • The Act stated that these schools shall be reimbursed for either their tuition charge or the per-student expenditure in government schools, whichever is lower. 

  • The RTE Act bears many similarities to the U.S.’s No Child Left Behind Act, including school accountability, assessment standards and teacher training. Like the U.S., in India too States have been given major leeway in deciding the course of implementation. 


Issue with the 25% Quota obligation of Private Schools

  • Section 12 (1) (c) of the Act mandates all private schools (except for minority schools) to allocate 25% of their seats to economically weaker sections, i.e. those families with an income of less than Rs.2 lakh a year, and other disadvantaged groups like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the physically challenged

  • The State government will then reimburse these schools for students admitted under this provision, at an amount per month that is determined by the State rules.


A. Issue related to vacancies

  • Even because of the presence of provision, vacancies are present. For instance, on the last day of admissions under the RTE Act, under the first lottery there were 20,835 vacancies in Maharashtra.

  • Over 80% of Delhi’s private schools are not heeding the right to education (RTE) law on reserving 25% of seats for children coming from economically weaker sections (EWS).


B. Issue in administration machinery

  • Tamil Nadu, which has always been at the forefront of educational progress in India, has made certain strides in the implementation of Section 12 (1) (c). It has widened the ambit of “disadvantaged sections” to include HIV positive children and transgenders.

  • A centralised database has been created by the State where people can access all the matriculation (State board) schools in the State which lie within 1 km of their residence.

  • One of the main concerns is the absence of several CBSE schools on the school database set up by the State. Despite the use of GIS tagging, several parents complain that the system is faulty in identifying nearby schools.

  • The management committee as per the RTE Act has not been notified. RTE rules also state that unfilled seats can be filled again in September but governments have no conspicuous public announcements regarding this.


C. Issue of Finance

  • Financial problems continue to mar the system — many schools collect money for textbooks and uniform though this is part of the State-stipulated fees. This is a chain reaction: the Centre is supposed to release up to 70% of the funds for this programme which is often delayed. 

  • The Tamil Nadu government has allocated a sum of Rs.368.49 crore, while the Central government has allocated only Rs. 27.8 crore under the RTE in the same period. This leads to a financial crunch for the State and, by extension, the schools.


D. Issue in ‘1km’ criteria

  • There have also been several grievances regarding the ‘1 km radius’ criterion, especially for rural residents who may not have any private schools in their vicinity. This criterion will eventually widen the rural-urban divide in educational outcomes.

  • The Kerala Rules are more progressive as they acknowledge terrain limitations and the State has made provisions for adequate arrangements for providing elementary education.


Steps needed

  • The window for the admission process for RTE Act vacancies in private schools is very narrow.  This causes many parents to miss the deadline, despite thousands of vacancies.

  • The procedure for admission should be made through a single-point window online for all school boards, with computer kiosks to assist parents who may not be able to fill the form online.

  • A mobile application should be built with live information on the number of seats available in each school under the 25% quota.

  • An RTE compliance audit should be conducted for all schools every year by the State Education Department.

  • Any aid given to private schools must be tied to the levels of compliance achieved by the school.

  • Several schools do not adhere to the 25% quota. These schools should be penalised and derecognised if continuous violations occur. Every school should declare prominently that it is RTE compliant — and the admission procedure, including deadlines, should be conspicuously displayed at the school premises.

  • On the government side of things, funds need to be released in a timely manner, so that it inspires confidence in schools to fill all the vacancies.



  • Section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act recognises the need for inclusion, and explicitly establishes responsibility on all stakeholders to contribute towards this goal.

  • This socialisation will benefit all classes of society as we rise above our social biases to make our children not just better learners but better human beings.





Patients turn litigants as new rules stall therapy (The Hindu -Page.01)


Mains GS Paper II: issues related to health


New clinical trial rules


Context: The Union Health Ministry has notified the Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 to promote clinical research in the country. The rules will apply to all new drugs, investigational new drugs for human use, clinical trials, bio-equivalence studies and ethics committees.


Salient provisions:

  • It has reduced the time for approving applications to 30 days for drugs manufactured in India and 90 days for those developed outside the country. 

  • The rules stated that in case of no communication from Drugs Controller General of India, the application will be deemed to have been approved. It said the requirement of a local clinical trial may be waived for approval of a new drug if it is approved and marketed in any of the countries to be specified by the Drugs Controller General with the approval of the government.

  • The new rules will ensure patient safety, as they would be enlisted for trials with informed consent.

  • The ethics committee will monitor the trials and decide on the amount of compensation in cases of adverse events. 



  • However, the issue has been arisen because the definition of new drugs include a vaccine, recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid (r-DNA) derived product, living modified organism, monoclonal anti-body, stem cell derived product, gene therapeutic product or xenografts, intended to be used as drug.

  • It also mandated that such formulations are approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation. The new rules require clinics engaged in such ‘new drug’ therapy to acquire a marketing licence.

  • But there is no provision for an interim arrangement for the period between an application being made to the Drug Controller and a decision being taken on the application. It may take months for the approval.

  • Hence patients with different ailments, have moved the High Court as their treatments has been discontinued. As an interim measure court has allowed them for treatment.


What are stem cells?

  • Stem cells are the body’s raw materials — cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells called daughter cells.

  • These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle cells or bone cells. No other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.

  • Stem-cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition



  • It may help in increasing understanding of how diseases occur. 

  • It helps in generating healthy cells to replace diseased cells (regenerative medicine).





Global growth slows in 2019 says WB  (The Hindu -Page.17)


Prelims: Economy

Mains GS Paper III : economy


Global Economic prospects report


Context: As per the Global Economic prospects report the world economic  growth has slowed down.


About Global Economic prospects report

  • Published by World Bank

  • This year’s theme is heightened tensions , subdued investment


Highlights of the report  

  • Slowdown in global economy as in 2019 the previous estimate was 2.9% which has come down to 2.6% now

  • And the projection for 2020 stands at 2.8%


Reasons for slowdown

  • Decline in investment and trade – due to trade wars , export oriented countries’  exports fell due to which investment feel and that led to a slowdown

  • Increase in government debt – after the financial crisis of 2008, governments went in for low interest rates and fiscal stimulus through borrowing and this limited the scope of borrowing money for investment

  • Various economies are slowing down due to uncertainty over Brexit


Concerns and challenges

  • Low income countries have failed to develop  into middle income countries

  • High levels of government debt

  • No scope for reducing rates of interest

  • Difficult to meet sustainable development goals



Relevant articles from PIB:


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.




What to study?

For prelims and mains: about the campaign and its significance, about World Environment Day.


Context: On the eve of World Environment Day, Union Environment Ministry has launched a people’s campaign called #SelfiewithSapling, urging people to advocate the cause on social media.

Under the campaign, people have been urged to plant a sapling and post selfie with the planted sapling on social media.


World Environment Day:

Every June 5th is World Environment Day. On this day, communities and individuals around the world work to increase awareness of the importance of conserving the environment, the positive global impact of environmental regulations and controls and engage in activities that serve to educate and improve their environment locally.

The World Environment Day is a part of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) for creating awareness and action worldwide for the environment. The first World Environment Day was celebrated in 1973.

The theme for 45th World Environment Day is Beat Air Pollution. It is the call for action to combat the global crisis for ‘fresh air’.

Host: China.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Programme


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the programme, about World Bank and related facts.


Context: The Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) and the World Bank recently signed a $287 million loan agreement for the Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Programme.


About the Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Programme:

  • The programme aims to improve the quality of health care, reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and fill equity gaps in reproductive and child health services in Tamil Nadu.
  • The programme supports interventions to strengthen institutional and state capacity to achieve results.
  • The programme will promote population-based screening, treatment and follow-up for NCDs, and improve monitoring and evaluation. Patients will be equipped with knowledge and skills to self-manage their conditions. Lab services and health provider capacity will also be strengthened to address mental health. To tackle road injuries, the programme will improve in- hospital care, strengthen protocols, strengthen the 24×7 trauma care services and establish a trauma registry.
  • Another key aim of this programme is to reduce the equity gaps in reproductive and child health. Special focus will be given to nine priority districts, which constitute the bottom quintile of the RCH indicators in the state and have a relatively large proportion of tribal populations.
  • This Programme focuses on results instead of inputs through a Programme-for-Results (PforR) lending instrument. This will provide a much greater focus on outputs and outcomes through better alignment of expenditures and incentives with results.


The Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Program will support the state government to:

  • develop clinical protocols and guidelines;
  • achieve national accreditation for primary, secondary, and tertiary-level health facilities in the public sector;
  • strengthen physicians, nurses and paramedics through continuous medical education;
  • strengthen the feedback loop between citizens and the state by making quality and other data accessible to the public.



Tamil Nadu ranks third among all Indian states in the NITI Aayog Health Index which is reflected in vastly improved health outcomes. The state’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 90 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 62 deaths in 2015-16 while infant mortality has declined from 30 deaths per 1000 live births to 20 in the same period. A key contribution to these achievements has been the establishment of emergency obstetric and neonatal care centres and the 108 ambulance service with previous support from the World Bank. These have ensured that no mother has to travel more than 30 minutes to access emergency obstetric and neonatal care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS)- objectives, functions and significance.


Context: The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has decided to waive off fee for SC/ST candidates who join vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS).


About Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS):

  • Formerly under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Jan Shikshan Sansthan was transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship in 2018.
  • Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS) were established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school dropouts by identifying skills as would have a market in the region of their establishment.
  • They were formerly known as Shramik Vidyapeeth.
  • The JSSs are unique, they link literacy with vocational skills and provide large doses of Life Enrichment Education (LEE) to the people.
  • They aim for convergence with other stakeholders in society. It is their endeavour to shape their beneficiaries into self reliant and self-assured employees and entrepreneurs.

Relevant articles from various news sources:


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Nandan Nilekani-led panel on digital payments


What to study?

For prelims and mains: key recommendations of the panel, challenges to less- cash economy and reforms needed.


Context: Nandan Nilekani-led panel on digital payments has submitted its recommendations.



The five-member high-level panel headed by Aadhar architect and former Infosys chairman Nilekani was constituted earlier this year by the central bank tasked to submit a comprehensive report holding consultations with all the major stakeholders to strengthen the digital payments industry which has seen a ten-fold growth in the last five years.


Key recommendations:

  • Targets: It has set a target for the government and regulators to achieve a ten-fold volume growth in digital payments over the next three years through customer-friendly pricing mechanisms and broadening access infrastructure.
  • Measures to increase the outreach: Banks need to ensure that no user is more than 5 kms away from a banking access point and if such areas are found, these must be considered ‘shadow areas’ and a local vendor be made a banking correspondent (BC) as he deals in money and stays there.
  • Measures to less-cash economy: removing transaction charges on digital payments made to government, inducing a competitive Merchant Discount Rates (MDR) pricing structure and easing KYC costs to banks are amongst the key recommendations put forward by the committee. 
  • Role of the governments: committee has put the onus on government to be at the forefront of the transition by taking steps such as removing transaction charges on all digital payments made by customers to the government. The committee recommends that the Government, being the single largest participant in payments, take the lead on all aspects of digitization of payments.
  • Committee has also asked RBI to set an interchange rate for transaction between customers and leave the MDR on competitive market pricing which would reduce the transaction cost for customers. 
  • Special impetus on digitising mass volume channels such as recurring bill payments, toll and ticket payments at public facilities and digital onboarding of khirana store merchants has also been recommended by the panel in order to achieve the targeted growth.
  • The panel has also asked the government to set up special risk mitigation and complaint registering digital portals. A special data monitoring mechanism to garner granular district level data on consumer trends and payment behaviour has also been suggested by the committee for targeted intervention to improve the existing infrastructure.


Sources: the Hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Can an individual simultaneously be a member of both Houses of Parliament?


What to study?

For prelims: constitutional provisions on this.

For mains: Concerns and issues associated with simultaneous membership.


Why in News? Some of those who won in the recent elections were elected from more than one constituency; some were already members of either Rajya Sabha or the legislature of a state. These MPs must vacate one of their seats — because under the Constitution, an individual cannot simultaneously be a member of both Houses of Parliament (or a state legislature), or both Parliament and a state legislature, or represent more than one seat in a House.


What are the procedures and timelines for effecting this?

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha:

  • If a person is elected simultaneously to both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, and if he has not yet taken his seat in either House, he can choose, within 10 days from the later of the dates on which he is chosen to those Houses, the House of which he would like to be a member. [Article 101(1) of the Constitution read with Section 68(1) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951]
  • The member must intimate his choice in writing to the Secretary to the Election Commission of India (ECI) within the 10-day window, failing which his seat in Rajya Sabha will fall vacant at the end of this period. [Sec 68(2), RPA 1951]. The choice, once intimated, is final. [Sec 68(3), RPA, 1951]
  • No such option is, however, available to a person who is already a member of one House and has contested the election for membership of the other House. So, if a sitting Rajya Sabha member contests and wins a Lok Sabha election, his seat in the Upper House becomes automatically vacant on the date he is declared elected to Lok Sabha. The same applies to a Lok Sabha member who contests an election to Rajya Sabha. [Sec 69 read with Sec 67A, RPA 1951]


Elected on two Lok Sabha seats:

There is no one in this category in the new Lok Sabha. Under Sec 33(7) of RPA, 1951, an individual can contest from two parliamentary constituencies but, if elected from both, he has to resign one seat within 14 days of the declaration of the result, failing which both his seats shall fall vacant. [Sec 70, RPA, 1951 read with Rule 91 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961]


State Assembly and Lok Sabha:

Under Article 101(2) of the Constitution (read with Rule 2 of the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, made by the President under this Article) members of state legislatures who have been elected to Lok Sabha must resign their seats within 14 days “from the date of publication in the Gazette of India or in the Official Gazette of the State, whichever is later, of the declaration that he has been so chosen”, failing which their seats in Lok Sabha shall automatically fall vacant.


Sources: Indian Express.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


India’s fertiliser industry needs to prioritise pollution control: CSE Study


What to study?

For prelims and mains: pollution from fertiliser industry, concerns, challenges and measures needed.


Context: The Indian fertiliser industry has overlooked the aspects related to environmental pollution, while making improvements in energy efficiency, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based non-profit, under its Green Rating Project (GRP).


Highlights of the study:

The fertiliser industry has been classified under the ‘red category’ of polluting sectors by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Water pollution:

  • The discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial wastewater has increased pollution of surface water (rivers and other water bodies) and groundwater sources. Most of the groundwater samples were found to be non-compliant with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) limits on amount of ammonia.
  • According to the BIS, the maximum permissible limit of ammonia (as total ammoniacal nitrogen) in drinking water is 0.5 ppm. However, about 83 per cent groundwater samples collected from hand-pumps in surrounding villages and near ash ponds, tubewells and borewells near 18 plant sites (out of the total 23 plant sites studied) had an ammoniacal nitrogen content of 0.51–93.5 ppm, the upper limit of which is 187 times the permissible limit set by BIS.
  • Such high levels of contamination can be linked to the seepage or overflow of a plant’s ash pond water into the ground, the study showed.
  • About 57 per cent samples collected near 14 plants were found non-compliant with fertiliser effluent discharge norms set by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, particularly with respect to cyanide concentrations in many of the samples and total Kjeldahl nitrogen levels in a few samples.
  • Some plants were also found to be diluting their wastewater with freshwater to meet pollution control norms. 


Air pollution:

  • While most plants are meeting the particulate matter (PM) standards, inefficient air pollution control devices or improper fuel combustion within the systems have led to high emission levels at some plants. There is also no regulation in India for parameters like emissions of gaseous ammonia from urea manufacturing, the study pointed out.
  • Emissions from prilling towers are the main source of pollution at a urea plants. The emissions, which contains urea dust, ammonia and oxides of nitrogen and carbon, also affects the growth and productivity of vegetation and crops around a plant. Crops become dry due to exposure to excess ammonia gas.


Solid Waste:

  • Solid and hazardous waste management of most urea manufacturing plants is satisfactory. But, a few plants are not managing their hazardous waste properly, for which they have received notices or directions from the respective PCB or CPCB.
  • Ash pond maintenance has emerged as an issue at most plants. At some plants, handling and storage of fly ash is inefficient and causes pollution due to fly ash dispersal into the atmosphere and leaching into the groundwater table.
  • A few plants transport coal by road in uncovered trucks, taking advantage of lack of strict regulations regarding transportation of coal.


Sources: Down to Earth.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment


State of India’s Environment 2019


What to study?

For prelims and mains: key highlights, concerns raised and findings, measures proposed.


Context: The State of India’s Environment 2019 in Figures is an exclusive data-driven analysis of major developmental and environmental sectors. SoE 2019 in Figures is an annual quantified statement of environmental statistics and analysis put together by Down To Earth magazine, which Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish.

Usefulness: The datasets can be used by the media to investigate compelling stories, ask better questions to policymakers to drive them to come up with better policies for sustainable development agenda. 


Key findings:

State of air – Air pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India. Its impact on children is equally worrying. Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country. While India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up. Against the target of 15-16 million e-vehicles by 2020, the county had 0.28 million vehicles till May 2019.

State of development – Climate change poses the biggest economic threat in the world today and features prominently in the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. With just 10 years to go, India is yet to identify indicators to track its climate change preparedness. Of the 13 SDGs the country is tracking, indicators exist for only a handful of the targets.

State of water – Both surface and groundwater in the country are under stress. 86 water bodies are critically polluted. The bulk of the polluted water bodies are in Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala. One of the reasons is the substantial increase (136 per cent) in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011 and 2018. Groundwater is also reeling under overexploitation, which is running 94.5 per cent of all minor irrigation schemes in the country. There has been an unsustainable increase in