Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Notifiable Disease
- Vibrant Village and PM gati
- Kesavananda bharti case
- Nuclear liability issue
- India’ Water census
1 . Notifiable diseases
Context: Malaria is all set to become a notifiable disease across India, with Bihar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Meghalaya too in the process of putting this vector-borne disease in the category. This will then require by law that cases be reported to government authorities.
What is Notifiable disease?
- A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.
- The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, 1969 require disease reporting to the WHO in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role.
- Making a disease legally notifiable by doctors and health professionals allows for intervention to control the spread of highly infectious diseases. Registered medical practitioners need to notify such diseases in a proper form within three days or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation. This means every government hospital, private hospital, laboratories, and clinics will have to report cases of the disease to the government.
- The process helps the government keep track and formulate a plan for elimination and control. In less infectious conditions, it improves information about the burden and distribution of disease
List of Notifiable diseases in India
- The Centre has notified several diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, encephalitis, leprosy, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough), plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, measles, yellow fever, malaria dengue, etc. The onus of notifying any disease and the implementation lies with the state government.
- Any failure to report a notifiable disease is a criminal offence and the state government can take necessary actions against defaulters.
- Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by parasites (plasmodium vivax, plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium malariae and plasmodium ovale) that are transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
- It is both preventable and curable.
- Malaria is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another
2 . Vibrant Village Programme and PM Gati Shakthi
Context: Centre’s ambitious Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) which aims to develop infrastructure and open up villages to tourists along the China border will be integrated with the Prime Minister Gati Shakti mega project.
What is the Vibrant Village programme?
- The Vibrant village development scheme was first announced in the 2022 Budget. The programme’s targets are to provide comprehensive development of villages on the border with China and improvement in the quality of life of people living in identified border villages. The development in these villages will help prevent migration, and thus also boost security.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2018 had pointed towards backwardness, illiteracy, and lack of basic facilities and infrastructure in border areas. The VVP aims to address all these issues.
Which states come under VVP?
- Under this centrally sponsored scheme, 2,967 villages in 46 blocks of 19 districts have been identified for comprehensive development. These villages about the border in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Ladakh. In the first phase, around 662 villages have been identified for priority coverage.
What are the funds allocated for the programme?
- In the first phase of this programme, a population of about 1.42 Lakh will be covered in 662 villages in 46 blocks.
- Under this scheme Rs. 4800 crores will be spent from 2022 to 2026 and 11 districts, 28 blocks and 1451 villages have been included in the first phase. Out of the total outlay, Rs 2,500 crore will be spent exclusively on the creation of road infrastructure.
- The total outlay is for financial years 2022-23 to 2025-26. There is a conscious effort to not overlap VVP with the Border Area Development Programme.
What are the objectives of the scheme?
- The aims of the scheme are to identify and develop the economic drivers based on local, natural, human and other resources of the border villages.
- Development of growth centres on the “Hub and Spoke Model” through promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill development is also one of the objectives of VVP.
- The programme intends to leverage tourism potential through promotion of local, cultural, traditional knowledge and heritage in the border areas, thus increasing the employment opportunities of the people and, as a result, stemming migration.
- It is also aimed at the development of sustainable eco-agribusinesses on the concept of “One village-One product” through community-based organisations, cooperatives, SHGs, NGOs etc.
- The district administration will prepare action plans with the help of Gram Panchayats for the identified villages to ensure 100 per cent saturation of Central and state schemes.
- The scheme envisages that drinking water, 24×7 electricity, connectivity with all weather roads, cooking gas, mobile and internet connectivity be made available in the border areas.
- Special attention will be given to solar and wind energy, tourist centres, multi-purpose centres and health infrastructure and wellness centres
- Under this programme, the development work of villages will be done at 3 levels. The Government of India will take care of the facilities of every person living in the villages and the benefits of various schemes will be delivered to the people. There will not be a single house in the border villages which does not have basic amenities.
What is PM Gati Shakti?
- PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity, essentially a digital platform to bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
- The multi-modal connectivity will provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another.
- It will facilitate the last mile connectivity of infrastructure and also reduce travel time for people.
- Significance– PM Gati Shakti NMP envisages the creation of a system for inter-connected and multimodal transportation networks leading to integrated economic and infrastructure development, improved trade competitiveness, promotion of exports and employment generation.
- It envisages establishing integration and synergy amongst different infrastructure sector projects such as National Highways, Railways, Waterways, Telecom, etc., catering to development requirements/ logistic supports of different sectors and industries (e.g. Steel, Power, Fertilizers, Coal, etc.).
- The NMP will rely on creation of various data layers including geographical features, land records, etc., to facilitate coordinated and integrated planning, project preparations and implementations, optimization of logistics arrangements and efficient transportation systems.
Objectives of PM GatiShakti Master Plan
- PM GatiShakti’s main objective is to create Next Generation Infrastructure by learning from the past.
- It is an integrated plan which will address the missing gaps to assure seamless movement of people, goods & services.
- Its main objective is to increase ease of living, ease of doing business, minimize disruptions and expedite completion of works with cost efficiencies.
- PM GatiShakti will assist in achieving the objective of an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ by rendering visibility to various stakeholders.
- Instead of planning & designing separately in silos, the projects will be created and executed with a common vision.
- It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of numerous Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN.
- Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agro zones etc will be covered to enhance connectivity & make Indian businesses.
PM Gati Shakti is based on six pillars:
- Comprehensiveness: It will include all the existing and planned initiatives of various Ministries and Departments with one centralized portal. Each and every Department will now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning & execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.
- Prioritization: Through this, different Departments will be able to prioritize their projects through cross-sectoral interactions.
- Optimization: The National Master Plan will assist different ministries in planning for projects after identification of critical gaps. For the transportation of the goods from one place to another, the plan will help in selecting the most optimum route in terms of time and cost.
- Synchronization: Individual Ministries and Departments often work in silos. There is lack of coordination in planning and implementation of the project resulting in delays. PM Gati Shakti will help in synchronizing the activities of each department, as well as of different layers of governance, in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them.
- Analytical: The plan will provide the entire data at one place with GIS based spatial planning and analytical tools having 200+ layers, enabling better visibility to the executing agency.
- Dynamic: All Ministries and Departments will now be able to visualize, review and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects, through the GIS platform, as the satellite imagery will give on-ground progress periodically and progress of the projects will be updated on a regular basis on the portal. It will help in identifying the vital interventions for enhancing and updating the master plan.
3 . Kesavananda Bharati Case
Context: Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud announced that the Supreme Court has created a special webpage for the Kesavananda Bharati case in which a 13-judge Bench, the largest constituted in the court’s history, through a wafer-thin majority of 7:6, held that the Parliament cannot amend the ‘Basic Structure’ of Constitution.
About Kesavananda Bharati Case
- Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala & Anr., also known as the Kesavananda Bharati judgment, was a truly landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution.
Background of the case
- In February 1970, Kesvananda Bharati was compelled to take the Kerala Government to court, challenging the 1969 Land Reforms enacted by the then C. Achuta Menon government that had affected his Mutt. Through the land reforms, the government took away a large chunk of Edneer Mutt’s property, causing it severe financial difficulties.
- Bharati filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the land reforms. Along with his lawyer Nani Palkhivala, Kesvananda Bharati argued that the new laws violated his fundamental rights, specifically his fundamental right to religion (Article 25), freedom of religious denomination (Article 26), and the right to property (Article 31).
- Alongside Kesavananda Bharati, representatives of the coal, sugar, and other industries that were adversely affected by the land reforms also knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court with petitions of their own.
- The case, Kesavananda Bharati and Ors vs State of Kerala and Anr, went on for over three years before the top court. A 13-judge bench, the largest to be constituted in the history of the Supreme Court, heard the case for 68 working days.
What was the Judgment?
- On April 24, 1973, the 13-judge bench in a 7:6 majority concluded that the Constitution’s ‘basic structure’ is inviolable and cannot be altered by Parliament.
- Though the ‘Basic Structure’ itself was not strictly defined, allowing room for interpretation in future Supreme Court judgments, the following aspects of the Constitution were said to be part of the Basic Structure:
- Supremacy of the Constitution
- The Rule of law
- The Federal character of the Constitution
- The Separation of powers between the Legislature, the executive, and the judiciary
- The Protection of Fundamental Rights
- Basic Structure Doctrine– Through the judgment, the Supreme Court put in place the basic structure doctrine as a common law legal doctrine that the Constitution of a sovereign state has certain characteristics that cannot be erased by its legislature.
- Simply put, the doctrine establishes that the Constitution has a basic structure that cannot be altered by the Parliament through amendments.
- It is through the basic structure doctrine that the Supreme Court of India derives its powers to review and strike down constitutional amendments and acts enacted by Parliament that conflict with or seek to alter this “basic structure” of the Constitution.
- Signifiance of the case– The Kesavananda Bharati judgment is considered to be a landmark judgment that changed the constitutional history of India for two major reasons.
- First, it prevented the Indian Parliament from amending Part III of the Constitution, which deals with fundamental rights; and
- second, it established the supremacy of the judiciary in constitutional matter
4 . Nuclear Liability Issue
Context: Two years after the French energy company Electricite de France (EDF) submitted its techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear power reactors in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur, talks between Indian and French officials over several issues, including liability, have not resulted in any breakthrough yet.
What is Nuclear Liability?
- Nuclear liability is the exclusive liability of the operator of the nuclear installation where the nuclear incident occurred. Operators of nuclear power plants are liable for any damage caused by them, regardless of fault. They therefore normally take out insurance for third party liability, and in most countries they are required to do so.
- The potential cross-boundary consequences of a nuclear accident require an international nuclear liability regime, so national laws are supplemented by a number of international conventions.
- Liability is limited by both international conventions and by national legislation, so that beyond the limit (normally covered by insurance) the state can accept responsibility as insurer of last resort, as in all other aspects of industrial society.
- The international Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) has entered into force, and will largely replace other conventions.
Nuclear liability principles
Most conventions and laws regarding nuclear third party liability have at their heart the following principles:
- Strict liability of the nuclear operator
- Exclusive liability of the operator of a nuclear installation
- Compensation without discrimination based on nationality, domicile or residence
- Mandatory financial coverage of the operator’s liability
- Exclusive jurisdiction (only courts of the State in which the nuclear accident occurs have jurisdiction)
- Limitation of liability in amount and in time
Governments have long recognized the risk of a nuclear accident causing transboundary damage. This led to the development of international frameworks to ensure that access to justice was readily available for victims outside of the country in which an accident occurs, so far as the countries are party to the relevant conventions
Therefore 1997, the international liability regime was embodied primarily in two instruments:
- The IAEA’s Vienna Convention* on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage of 1963 (entered into force in 1977).
- The OECD’s Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy of 1960 which entered into force in 1968 and was bolstered by the Brussels Supplementary Convention in 1963
Nuclear Liability legal framework in India
- India enacted the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 (“CLNDA”) on September 21, 2010 and thereafter, signed the CSC on October 29, 2010. The Act by far is the most comprehensive legislation that inter alia deals with compensation for the victims of such disasters.
- Section 4(1) of CLNDA states that the operator of the nuclear installation shall be liable for nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident.
- Section 4(2) provides for joint and several liability where there is more than one operator.
- Section 4(4) contains the principle of strict and no-fault liability of the operator.
- Section 8 requires the operator to cover liability through insurance or other financial security.
- Sections 15 and 18 provide for limitation for bringing an action for compensation. The aforesaid provisions of CLNDA are in line with the Paris and Vienna regimes, as well as the CSC.
- The other provisions of CLNDA are also broadly consistent with the CSC. However, concerns have been raised regarding Section 17 and Section 46 thereof.
Nature of Liability under the Act
- The Doctrine of Strict Liability stands at the heart of the Act. Taking cognizance of the earlier incidents of man-made disasters such as the Bhopal gas tragedy, the parliament deemed strict liability to be better for the substantive purpose of the Act i.e. enable victims to get compensation.
- Since its very inception, the Act has been subject to much controversy over the problems that arise due to the provisions for liability enumerated under the act. Some of the pertinent issues that seek attention are:
- Monetary Capping on compensation: The act fixes the liability to a certain monetary limit. In the case of operators, the limit is Rupees 15 billion and for the Government the cap is fixed to 300 million dollars of Special Drawing Rights of the IMF which as per the current rates comes out to be roughly 420 million US Dollars. The biggest problem with such capping is the situations when the damage exceeds the limit. The Act does not expressly provide for any provision with respect to damages over the limit which makes the implementation arbitrary in cases of serious nuclear losses.
- Limited Private Players: Another issue that surrounds the liability is the operation of such nuclear plants. In India, these plants are state owned and operated through NPCIL and so ultimately the responsibility for such disasters will be borne by common Tax-payers. The operator also being a state entity in India makes the monetary burden of compensation fall on the common man.
- Neglect of the Additional Costs: The incidents in the past such as the Fukushima and Chernobyl have shown that apart from granting compensation there are many additional costs which the party at fault needs to bear. These costs include the cost of cleaning up and safe disposal of the nuclear waste. These activities demand a lot of money along with high level of caution and care. The Act does not provide any provision for these additional costs which can prove problematic.
Liability of Suppliers- Section 17 of the Act
- By the virtue of Section 17 of the Act an operator has the right to recourse against the supplier. Such a right finds its basis in the contract between the operator and his supplier, who is an employee. If the nuclear accident can be attributed to the fault of the supplier due to below standard services and other defects etc. the supplier can be held liable under the contract law. The suppliers claim the act to be unfair to them, few contentions are:
- Uncapped Indemnities: These contracts between the operator and supplier are fixed at the value of the contract, or at a certain proportion of the contract value.
- No Scope for bargain: As the extent of indemnifying is unfixed for the supplier, the suppliers in the initial years tried to negotiate with the operator on the amount of money and often try to reach an agreement.
Liability under Tort Law-Section 46 of the Act
- The section which when harmoniously interpreted can allow compensation under the tort law is section 46. It talks about that nothing in the Act or any other law in force in the country can prevent a person from bringing proceedings against the operator which can be brought under any law apart from this act. Prima facie, the section seems to permit claims under tort law. However few issues that need to be dealt to make the law more efficient are:
- Ambiguity of Economic Loss: The question that raises doubts on the very intention of the act is that whether claims in tort law for economic loss can be sustained under this section. The statute is silent on the matter and the question still remains to be solved.
- Claim against supplier: Section 46 only talks about claims against operator and so the liability of the suppliers under tort law remains an area of concern. The suppliers seem to be effectively insulated from liability under tort by the section
Some Other Issues
- Foreign Jurisdiction: India takes supplies from many foreign countries when it comes to nuclear energy. These suppliers are foreign entities to Indian Law, so a burning question that arises is regarding the claims against these foreign suppliers.
- Position in International Law: The Convention for Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage called CSCND was adopted by UN that deals with jurisdiction issues in cases of nuclear damage. Article 13 of the convention states that any proceedings concerning claim for compensation from nuclear damage can be instituted only in the courts which have jurisdiction over the area of incident. Thus, it seems that a foreign court would not entertain claims of Indian victims.
5 . India’s Water Census
Context: The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the report of India’s first water bodies census, a comprehensive data base of ponds, tanks, lakes, and reservoirs in the country. The census was conducted in 2018-19 and enumerated more than 2.4 million water bodies across all states and Union Territories.
How is a ‘water body’ defined?
- The Water Bodies: First Census Report considers “all natural or man-made units bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes (e.g. industrial, pisciculture, domestic/ drinking, recreation, religious, ground water recharge etc.)” as water bodies. The water bodies “are usually of various types known by different names like tank, reservoirs, ponds etc.”, it says.
- According to the report, “A structure where water from ice-melt, streams, springs, rain or drainage of water from residential or other areas is accumulated or water is stored by diversion from a stream, nala or river will also be treated as water body.”
- As per the report, West Bengal’s South 24 Pargana has been ranked as the district having the highest (3.55 lakh) number of water bodies across the country. The district is followed by Andhra Pradesh’s Ananthapur (50,537) and West Bengal’s Howrah (37,301).
So did the census cover all water bodies that fit this definition?
- No. Seven specific types of water bodies were excluded from the count.
- They were: 1) oceans and lagoons; 2) rivers, streams, springs, waterfalls, canals, etc. which are free flowing, without any bounded storage of water; 3) swimming pools; 4) covered water tanks created for a specific purpose by a family or household for their own consumption; 5) a water tank constructed by a factory owner for consumption of water as raw material or consumable; 6) temporary water bodies created by digging for mining, brick kilns, and construction activities, which may get filled during the rainy season; and 7) pucca open water tanks created only for cattle to drink water.
What is the need of the Water body Census?
- The Centre earlier maintained a database of water bodies that were getting central assistance under the scheme of Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of water bodies.
- In 2016, a Standing Committee of Parliament pointed to the need to carry out a separate census of water bodies. The government then commissioned the first census of water bodies in 2018-19 along with the sixth Minor Irrigation (MI) census.
- The objective was to collect information “on all important aspects of the subject including their size, condition, status of encroachments, use, storage capacity, status of filling up of storage etc.”, according to the census report.
How were the census data collected?
- According to the report, “traditional methodology, i.e., paper-based schedules, were canvassed both for rural and urban areas. A “village schedule”, “urban schedule” and “water body schedule” were canvassed, and a smart phone was used to “capture latitude, longitude and photo of water bodies”,
What does the census reveal about encroachment of water bodies?
- The census found that 1.6% of enumerated water bodies — 38,496 out of 24,24,540 — had been encroached upon. More than 95% of these were in rural areas — which is logical because more than 97% of the water bodies covered by the census were in the rural areas. In almost 63% of encroached water bodies, less than a quarter of the area was under encroachment; in about 12% water bodies, more than three-quarters of the area was under encroachment.
- Uttar Pradesh accounted for almost 40% (15,301) of water bodies under encroachment, followed by Tamil Nadu (8,366) and Andhra Pradesh (3,920). No encroachment was reported from West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh.