Reading Time: 6 mins Humans have always had to face the impact of natural hazards. Natural hazards account for up to 4 percent of the annual deaths worldwide, besides causing enormous economic losses and habitation losses. Landslides are a significant type of natural disaster that affects most of the hilly regions. Landslides are a downward and outward movement of slope materials like rock debris and earth, under the influence of gravity. when the shear stress exceeds the shear strength of the material, the down-slope movement of the mass of rocks & debris initiates.
Reading Time: 10 mins The Australian bushfire season has once again put forest fires at the centre of debate as a serious disaster. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, exposure to smoke from landscape fires (including forest fires) is estimated to cause 260,000 to 600,000 premature deaths annually. In India too, forest fires occur almost every year though of varying intensities. It is important to understand the phenomenon of forest fires to tackle it effectively.
Reading Time: 6 mins Updates *
On February 7th, 2020, with regards to Mukesh Kumar Vs the State of Uttarakhand case, the Supreme Court ruled that states are not legally bound to provide reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs. The apex court had stated that individuals do not have the fundamental rights to claim reservations in the promotions. This is based on the provisions of the Indian constitution. This recent judgement is not new. The top court had pointed out the fact that reservations are not fundamental rights in several judgements in the past.
Reading Time: 6 mins On March 11, 2020, the Cabinet Secretary announced that all states and UTs should invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 so that Health Ministry advisories are enforceable. As the number of cases in India has crossed 120 and is already in Stage 2 (local transition) of COVID-19, it is vital to enforce necessary measures to prevent the country from moving to stage 3, which involves community transmission of the disease. The Epidemic Diseases Act, despite being more than 100 years old, is playing a crucial role in dealing with the current outbreak. However, this colonial-era law has numerous limitations that need to be reformed to prepare the country of future epidemic outbreaks.
Reading Time: 5 mins Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 3rd March 2020 to improve cooperative banks’ management and regulation so as to protect the interests of the depositors. It also proposed to strengthen the cooperative banks by increasing professionalism, enabling access to capital, improving governance and ensuring sound banking through the RBI. This bill seeks to ensure that PMC-like frauds are not repeated in the future.
Reading Time: 5 mins Heatwaves emerged as one of the major weather hazards in India. In 2019, 19 states were affected by the phenomenon. Consequently, there is an urgent need to evaluate impacts of the heatwave and plan adaptation and mitigation strategies for prevention, preparedness and community outreach to safeguard human life, livestock, and wildlife.
Reading Time: 7 mins Since conducting its second nuclear tests in 1998, India had adhered to a self-imposed commitment to “No First Use” of nuclear weapons on another country. However, on August 16th, 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hinted that in future India’s “no first use” policy “depends on circumstances”. Following this episode, the Defence Minister had effectively reduced the already bleak chances of India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, in the current situation, it matters very little for India as it already has the necessary benefits it needs to expand and operate its nuclear programme.
Reading Time: 14 mins On January 16th, 2020, the government amended EIA Notification, 2006 to allow projects involving hydrocarbon exploration to be exempted from Environmental Impact Assessment by categorising them under the B2 category. This comes in response to the request from companies like Vedanta Ltd and ONGC to be exempted from public hearing as they are facing public criticism for their proposed projects. Vedanta Ltd proposed to explore hydrocarbon in Cauvery delta and ONGC had applied for permission for hydrocarbon exploration in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore. These proposed projects involve the drilling of wells and the use of environmentally dangerous techniques, making them highly hazardous for both the environment and the public. EIA is already having numerous limitations and drawbacks. Exempting these harmful projects from scrutiny by the public and the competent authorities is making this system even worse.