InstaLinks : help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
- Indian Diaspora: Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils
- 76th World Health Assembly
- National Human Rights Commission
GS Paper 3:
- GST has begun to show sustained growth
- Decarbonising transport sector
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
- Neeraj Chopra
- Georgi Gospodinov
- Changathi literacy examination
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
- Independence of the district judiciary
- India-Bangladesh rail link
- UDAN 5.1
- AI Supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’
- Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Indian Diaspora: Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils
GS2/GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Indian Diaspora/ Indian History
Context: The Malaiyaha Tamil community in Sri Lanka has released a declaration calling for greater recognition, political rights, and improved living and working conditions.
Who are Malaiyaha Tamil community?
The Malaiyaha Tamil community refers to a historically marginalized group in Sri Lanka who migrated from southern India around 200 years ago to work in British-run plantations. They mainly work in tea and rubber estates, contributing significantly to Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange earnings. Their population is roughly around 10 lakhs (out of which around 1.5 lakh people work in tea and rubber estates)
Problems faced by the Malaiyaha Tamil community in Sri Lanka:
|Structural Exclusion||Limited access to resources and opportunities compared to other communities. Poor human development indices compared to other communities.|
|Discrimination and Exploitation||Deprived of citizenship rights until 2003. Subjected to discrimination and exploitation in various aspects of life.|
|Inadequate Living Conditions||Many families still reside in colonial-era line rooms without basic amenities. A UN body highlighted in 2021 that the community is living in “inhumane and degrading” conditions|
|Economic Distress||The financial crisis in Sri Lanka further exacerbated their economic hardships. More than half the population living in estate areas is pushed into acute poverty.|
|Low wages||Their daily wage of LKR 1,000 (about ₹373) is tied to the target of 18-22 kg of plucked tea leaves every day, while braving leeches and wasp attacks.|
|Limited Political Representation||Lack of recognition as a distinct identity and equal citizens. Demand for appropriate political power sharing and proportional electoral arrangements.|
To alleviate these problems, the Malaiyaha Tamil community has released a declaration demanding the following:
- Design, resource, and implement a 10-year development plan based on affirmative action to address decades of structural exclusion.
- Reduce poverty, provide land and housing, and enhance public health and education access.
- Ensure labour rights, including fair living wages and legal protection.
- Recognize the Malaiyaha Tamils as a community with a distinct identity and equal citizenship.
- Establish appropriate political power sharing and a proportional system of electoral arrangements.
Assistance provided by India:
- Grant projects cut across sectors such as education, health, livelihood, housing, and industrial
- The Indian Housing Project aims to build 50,000 houses in war-affected areas and estate workers in the plantation areas. However, the progress on it has been slow.
- India now offers about 710 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students.
- The reconstruction work of a century-old railway track in northern Sri Lankaunder India’s assistance
India and the International community must pressure Sri Lanka into providing the community with greater recognition, political rights, and improved living and working conditions through affirmative action and long-term development plans.
‘Indian diaspora has a decisive role to play in the politics and economy of America and European Countries. Comment with examples. (UPSC CSE 2020)
76th World Health Assembly
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate
Context: The 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) is being held in Geneva (Switzerland) with the theme: WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all.
WHO and WHA:
- WHO: Since 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) – the UN specialized health agency, leads and championed global efforts to give everyone, everywhere a safe and healthy life.
- WHA: It is the main decision-making body of WHO and comprises 194 Member States. Every year, delegates from all Member States come together (generally in May) to agree on the Organisation’s priorities and policies.
Highlights of the 76th WHA:
- Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters report:
- It was launched by the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All – formed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The report provides a roadmap to focus on the links between health and sustainable, inclusive and innovation-led economic growth.
It recommended reorienting economies to deliver health for all across four interrelated themes:
Significance: Instead of health for all being seen as the servant of economic growth → roadmap will structure economic activity in a way that will allow all people faster with better access to essential health services.
- Pandemic treaty:
- Negotiations on new rules for dealing with pandemics are underway at the WHA.
- The WHO already has binding rules known as the International Health Regulations – adopted in 2005 after the SARS outbreak.
- These regulations are still considered appropriate for regional epidemics, such as Ebola but inadequate for a global pandemic.
What is the so-called Pandemic treaty?
- It should be a legally binding treaty (proposed by the EU and to be adopted by May 2024) for those who sign up.
- It would be only the second such health accord after the 2003 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a treaty that aims to reduce smoking via taxation and rules on labelling and advertising.
- Developing countries, especially in Africa, are keen to use the negotiations to secure better access to vaccines.
- However, the proposed treaty has come under fire as critics warn that it could lead to countries ceding authority to the WHO.
Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 pandemic. (UPSC 2020)
National Human Rights Commission
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies
Context: For the 2nd time in a decade, the UN-backed Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission, India (NHRC-India).
- Formerly known as the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), GAHNRI is a global network of NHRIs.
- It is constituted as a non-profit entity (under Swiss law) and Secretariat support is provided by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
- It coordinates the relationship between NHRIs and the UN human rights system.
- They were defined in 1991 and were adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission (1992) and the UN General Assembly (1993).
- They provide the international benchmarks against which NHRI can be accredited.
- They set out 6 main criteria that NHRIs are required to meet. These are:
- mandate and competence;
- autonomy from the government;
- independence guaranteed by a statute or Constitution;
- adequate resources; and
- adequate powers of investigation.
Importance of GANHRI accreditation:
- Institutions accredited with “A status” means full compliance with the Paris Principles.
- It is the only non-UN body whose internal accreditation system grants access to UN committees – speaking rights and seating at human rights treaty bodies.
|About||It is a statutory body established on 12 October 1993 (in conformity with the Paris Principles), under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA) 1993 [Amended in 2019].|
|Objective||A watchdog for the promotion and protection of the human rights of citizens of India. The PHRA defines Human Rights as the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.|
|Composition (13)||A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the SC.
1 member, who is, or has been, a Judge of the SC.
2 member, who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of an HC.
3 Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge or practical experience in matters relating to human rights.
7 ex officio members – NCSC, NCST, NCBC, NCW, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.
|Appointment||By the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of – The PM (Chairperson), The Union Home Minister, The LoP in the Lok Sabha, The LoP in the Rajya Sabha, The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
The sitting Judge of the SC or sitting Chief Justice of any HC can be appointed only after consultation with the CJI.
|Functions||The protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
Enquiry into complaints of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.
Studies treaties and international instruments and makes recommendations for their effective implementation to the GoI.
Review factors that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.
To visit jails and study the condition of inmates.
Engage in human rights education among various sections of society and promote awareness among the masses.
Encourage the efforts of NGOs and institutions working in the field of human rights literacy, etc.
Why is the accreditation NHRC-India deferred?
- Lack of independence (political interference in appointments).
- Lack of diversity (in staff and leadership) and accountability.
- Insufficient action to protect marginalised communities, religious minorities, and human rights defenders.
- Involving the police in probes into human rights violations.
- Poor cooperation with civil society.
- All of the above is contrary to the ‘Paris Principles’.
- Its decisions should be made enforceable by the government.
- Members of NHRCs should include civil society, human rights activists, etc.
- NHRC should have its independent investigating staff.
Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analysing their structural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures. (UPSC 2021)
GST has begun to show sustained growth
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Economy: Taxation
Context: The article highlights the trend in tax collection in India post-Covid, specifically focusing on direct taxes and GST.
Direct Tax Vs GST
|Direct tax refers to the taxes imposed on individuals and entities (levied directly on the taxpayer) based on their income, profits, or assets. It includes taxes like income tax, corporate tax, and wealth tax.||GST (Goods and Services Tax) is an indirect tax levied on the supply of goods and services. GST is a consumption-based tax that is charged at each stage of the supply chain, from production to the final sale.
|During COVID, direct tax experienced a decline of nearly 10% but then saw a growth rate of 49% in 2021-22 and 18% in 2022-23.||The recovery in GST collection has been better compared to direct taxes.|
|While the growth of corporation tax has been high, personal income-tax collection has declined.||Better recovery in GST has been due to:
a) e-invoicing and procedural simplification, b) better compliance procedures, c) the rising inflation rate and d) the rise in import duties
GST (introduced on July 1, 2017) is a multi-stage collection mechanism and aims to be a unified indirect tax across the country on products and services. The objectives of GST include simplifying the tax system, preventing misclassifications and litigations, avoiding an inverted duty structure, and ensuring a destination-based consumption taxation approach.
GST is implemented through a dual GST model, with the Centre and States levying taxes on a common base. The rates for GST range from 5%, 12%, 16% and 28%, and it applies to most goods and services, excluding alcoholic liquor for human consumption and five petroleum products (petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high-speed diesel, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel). The GST Council, headed by the Union Finance Minister, is the governing body responsible for making key decisions regarding GST.
Achievements of GST:
|High GST revenues||GST revenues have shown a high growth rate ( constantly reaching over 1.5 Lakh crore a month collection)|
|Technological achievements||The GSTN, the technology platform for GST, has been successfully stabilized, ensuring smooth operations and transactions.|
|E-invoicing implementation||Mandating e-invoicing for businesses above Rs 100 crore has improved invoice matching and detection of fake invoices, enhancing tax compliance.|
|Improved tax compliance and enforcement||E-invoicing, e-waybill and online processes have improved tax compliance and enabled better enforcement, reducing instances of fraud and disputes.|
|Reduction in transaction costs||GST has significantly reduced transaction costs, making business operations more efficient and cost-effective.|
|Removal of hidden and embedded taxes||By removing hidden and embedded taxes, GST has improved the competitiveness of domestic industries in the global market.|
|Seamless tax credits||The system of seamless tax credits throughout the value chain and across state boundaries has minimized the cascading effect of taxes.|
Challenges/Limitations of GST:
|Refund delay issues||There are concerns regarding delays in export refunds, impacting businesses reliant on timely refunds under the GST regime.|
|Rate differentiation||The presence of multiple tax rates is seen as inefficient for targeting benefits to the poor, leading to complexities and potential disparities in the tax system.|
|Lack of dispute redressal mechanism||The absence of a statutory mechanism for uniform rulings by authorities has resulted in a lack of clarity and consistency in resolving disputes under the GST regime.|
|Constant amendments||The frequent amendments made to the GST law have caused confusion among taxpayers and tax administrators, leading to misunderstandings and misconceptions.|
|Adaption and technical issues||Small and medium businesses face challenges in adapting to the tech-enabled GST regime, with IT glitches affecting the seamless flow of input credits and ease of compliance.|
|Complex penalties||Businesses often face difficulties in monitoring vendor behaviour and believe they should not be penalized for compliance deficiencies of their vendors after paying GST amounts.|
|15th Finance Commission concerns||The 15th Finance Commission has highlighted additional concerns, including the multiplicity of tax rates, shortfalls in GST collections, volatility in collections, and inconsistencies in return filing. The dependency of states on compensation from the centre is also a concern.|
Anti-profiteering measures and compliance procedures in GST need to be streamlined to ensure cost efficiency and price reduction benefits reach the common man. A group of ministers has proposed the removal of exemptions on various services, aiming to bring uniformity and broaden the tax base under GST.
Decriminalisation of offences under GST
Explain the rationale behind the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act of 2017. How has COVID-19 impacted the GST compensation fund and created new federal tensions? (UPSC 2020)
Enumerate the indirect taxes which have been subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. Also, comment on the revenue implications of the GST introduced in India in July 2017. (UPSC 2019)
Q1. Consider the following items: (UPSC 2018)
- Cereal grains hulled
- Chicken eggs cooked
- Fish processed and canned
- Newspapers containing advertising material
Which of the above items is/are exempted under GST (Goods and Services Tax)?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1, 2 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
What is/are the most likely advantages of implementing ‘Goods and Services Tax (GST)’? (UPSC 2017)
- It will replace multiple taxes collected by multiple authorities and will thus create a single market in India.
- It will drastically reduce the ‘Current Account Deficit’ of India and will enable it to increase its foreign exchange reserves.
- It will enormously increase the growth and size of the economy of India and will enable it to overtake China in the near future.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Decarbonising transport sector
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation
Context: According to the ITF Transport Outlook 2023, acting now and decarbonising transportation can help in achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The ITF Transport Outlook 2023: It was released by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the Leipzig Transport Summit.
ITF: It is a think tank (administratively integrated with the OECD yet politically autonomous) for transport policy that organises the Annual Summit of transport ministers.
Leipzig (Germany) Transport Summit:
- Transport ministers from across 64 member countries of the ITF gathered under the event theme of ‘Transport Enabling Sustainable Economies’.
- The United Kingdom holds the current Presidency of the annual Summit.
Highlights of the ITF Transport Outlook 2023
- If action to decarbonise transport is accelerated, the transport sector can still reduce its CO2 emissions by about 80% over the next 25 years (compared to 2019).
- This drop will enable limiting the global temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the Paris Agreement goal.
Reaching this high-ambition scenario requires:
- A combination of complementary policies that avoid unnecessary transport activity.
- Shift to no-carbon transport and improve the efficiency of transport.
- Scale up cost-competitive technologies and fuels to move people and goods with fewer emissions.
Advantage of reaching this high-ambition scenario: The total capital investment needs of core infrastructure (road, rail, airports and ports) will be 5% lower with ambitious policies in place than carrying on with business as usual.
- The Decarbonising Transport initiative of the ITF: Promotes carbon-neutral mobility to help stop climate change.
- Forum for Decarbonizing Transport: Launched by NITI Aayog and WRI India, the project aims at bringing down the peak level of GHG emissions (transport sector) in Asia.
- EVs: National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, FAME Scheme, Incentives under PLI Scheme, etc.
- Alternative fuels (CNG, etc), Ethanol blending, hybrid vehicles, BS (VI) norms, etc.
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
Indian javelin thrower and Olympic Gold medalist Neeraj Chopra has achieved the top spot in the World Athletics men’s javelin throw rankings. This marks the first time Chopra has reached the number-one position in his career. Previously, he had secured the second spot in the rankings.
About Javelin throw:
The javelin throw is an athletic event in which athletes throw a spear-like object called a javelin as far as possible. It is one of the track and field events. The javelin is made of metal or fibreglass and has a pointed tip.
Usage: You can use the example to highlight the values of Dedication, Perseverance, Focus, Resilience, Sportsmanship, etc.
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel have won the International Booker Prize for their novel “Time Shelter.”
The book explores the impact of nostalgia and memory through a story set in a clinic that recreates different decades of the past. It examines the allure of escaping the present and the consequences of vanishing memories.
Lessons that can be drawn from the book “Time Shelter”:
The book cautions against excessive nostalgia and the temptation to escape from the present. It highlights the importance of living in the present and embracing the opportunities it brings.”Time Shelter” underscores the importance of striking a balance between preserving the past and embracing the future.
Usage: The example can be used in Essay/Ethics paper.
Changathi literacy examination
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
The Literacy Mission in Thrissur organized the Changathi literacy examination, aiming to teach migrant workers to read and write Malayalam and Hindi. A total of 92 labourers attended the examination.
The Changathi project addresses the exclusion faced by migrant workers in Kerala by enabling them to understand the socio-cultural aspects of the state. The examination was based on the specially prepared textbook “Hamari Malayalam,” covering topics such as hygiene, health, values, and workers’ rights.
Usage: Such examples can be used in an Indian Society/ Governance paper to highlight the ways to integrate migrants into the local society.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: During the inauguration of the new Parliament building, a sacred “sengol” sceptre (a Symbol of Transfer of Power) that was given to Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of Independence will be handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
About the Issue:
Renowned danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam’s letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) triggered a detailed investigation into the historic Sengol, a sceptre from Tamil Nadu. It was discovered that the Sengol ceremony took place just minutes before Nehru’s iconic midnight speech on August 15, 1947. The sceptre had been kept at his Prayagraj residence-turned-museum until now.
About “sengol” sceptre:
|What is “sengol” sceptre?
|The “sengol” sceptre is a long, stick-like item ( 5 feet) made of silver and covered in gold. The sceptre has a carving of a bull, called a Nandi, at the top. This is done to remind everyone about the importance of fair and just leadership in the country.|
|Significance||It represents the idea that the person who holds it should rule with fairness and justice. It is believed to have a connection to the Chola dynasty, an ancient kingdom in Tamil Nadu.|
|Name||‘Sengol’ is derived from the Tamil word ‘semmai,’ which means excellence, the ‘Sengol’ represents the embodiment of power and authority.|
|Suggested by C Rajagopalachari||The idea of using the ‘Sengol’ sceptre for the symbolic transfer of power came from C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India. When Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of British India, asked for a suitable symbol, Rajaji suggested the ‘Sengol’ sceptre. He was inspired by a similar ceremony in the ancient Chola dynasty, where power was passed from one king to another.|
|‘Aanai’ Order||In the Chola tradition, during the transfer of power ceremony, in addition to the presentation of the sceptre, an order called ‘aanai’ in Tamil was bestowed upon the new ruler. This order symbolizes the responsibility to govern with unwavering adherence to the principles of ‘dharma,’ ensuring justice and fairness in the realm.|
|Crafted by Vummidi Bangaru Chetty||To bring the ‘Sengol’ sceptre to life, Chennai-based jeweller Vummidi Bangaru Chetty undertook the task of crafting this historic symbol.|
India-Bangladesh rail link
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The Indian Ministry of Railways has handed over 20 Broad Gauge locomotives to Bangladesh to support the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations.
Currently, three pairs of passenger trains operate between India-Bangladesh. These are:
- Kolkata-Dhaka: Maitree Express
- Kolkata-Khulna: Bandhan Express
- New Jalpaiguri- Dhaka: Mitali Express
Further planned sections are:
- Akhaura-Agartala rail link
- Mahihasan-Shahbazpur rail link
Other train links between India and its neighbouring countries:
- India-Nepal: Janakpur-Jaynagar Railway (Jaynagar-Kurtha)
- India-Pakistan: Thar Express (Jodhpur-Karachi) (suspended indefinitely)
- India-Myanmar: The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (Under construction)
Additionally, the Indian government has offered Bangladesh the use of the IT system deployed by the PM-GATI SHAKTI scheme, which provides detailed geospatial information for better planning and streamlining.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched UDAN 5.1, a new version of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) specifically designed for helicopter routes.
Key features of UDAN 5.1:
- Allowing routes where one of the origin or destination locations is in a priority area
- Reducing airfare caps by up to 25% to make helicopter travel more affordable
- Increasing Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps for operators to improve financial viability
Aim: The scheme aims to democratize air travel and promote tourism, hospitality, and local economies.
Previous rounds of the scheme have already operationalized 46 helicopter routes, benefiting hilly and North East states and the current round aims to cover a larger number of routes.
Read about UDAN 5.0:
AI Supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The AI supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT,’ located at C-DAC in Pune, India, has achieved a ranking of 75th in the world on the Top 500 Global Supercomputing List.
- Significance: This recognition places India among the top AI supercomputing nations globally.
It is part of the National Program on AI initiated by the Government of India, aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “AI for All.”
- Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology envisions scaling AIRAWAT to a computing capacity of 1,000 AI Petaflops to meet the current AI computational requirements.
Benefits: The deployment of AIRAWAT will empower academia, research labs, the scientific community, industry, and startups to develop indigenous AI-enabled products and solutions, particularly for addressing India-specific challenges.
|About Supercomputer||A supercomputer is an extremely powerful and high-performance computer capable of performing complex calculations and processing large amounts of data at incredibly fast speeds. It is used for tasks that require immense computational power.|
|Measurement||The processing speed of a supercomputer is measured in PETAFLOPS (ten to the power 15 floating point operations per second). FLOPS (floating point operations per second) are typically used to measure the performance of a computer’s processor.|
|Maximum||China has the maximum number of supercomputers globally, followed by the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.|
|Supercomputers in India||India’s first supercomputer was PARAM 8000. It was followed by PARAM Shivay, PARAM Shakti, PARAM Brahma, PARAM Yukti, and PARAM Sanganak, installed at various institutions in India.|
|Previous AI supercomputer ranking||In 2020, PARAM Siddhi, the High-Performance Computing-Artificial Intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, achieved a global ranking of 62nd among the Top 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world.|
|National Supercomputing Mission||The National Supercomputing Mission (launched in 2015) with the goal of enhancing research capacities and capabilities in India. It aims to connect various research institutions to form a Supercomputing grid using the National Knowledge Network (NKN).|
|Nodal Ministry||The National Supercomputing Mission is jointly steered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).|
|Implementation||The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, are responsible for implementing the National Supercomputing Mission.|
|Phases of the Mission||The mission is planned in three phases: Phase I focuses on assembling supercomputers, Phase II aims to manufacture certain components within the country, and Phase III involves designing a supercomputer in India.|
Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Assam government in response to a plea seeking the declaration of the area around Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam as an eco-sensitive zone.
What is an eco-sensitive zone?
Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are designated areas surrounding national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that are deemed ecologically fragile and important for the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Areas mandated under ESZ:
MoEFCC has mandated the declaration of land within 10 km of the park or sanctuary boundaries as ESZs under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. However, the application of the 10-km rule can vary, and areas beyond 10 km can also be notified as ESZs if they contain significant ecological corridors.
Categorization of Activities:
- Prohibited: Commercial mining, sawmills, polluting industries, major hydroelectric projects, and commercial use of wood
- Regulated activities include tree felling, the establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial use of natural water, the erection of electrical cables, and drastic changes in agricultural practices.
- Permitted activities in ESZs include ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, the use of renewable energy sources, and the adoption of green technology for all activities.
About Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary:
It is located in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra River in Assam, and is known for having the highest density of one-horned rhinos (EN) in the world. It is often referred to as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ due to its similar landscape and vegetation. Approximately 72% of the sanctuary is covered by wet savannah dominated by Arundo donax and Saccharum, while the rest consists of water bodies.
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