Cabinet approves establishment of additional 6.5MMT Strategic Petroleum Reserves at Chandikhol in Odisha and at Padur, Karnataka

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved establishment of additional 6.5 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facilities at two locations, i.e. Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka, including construction of dedicated SPMs (Single Point Mooring) for the two SPRs. The SPR facilities at Chandikhol and Padur will be underground rock caverns and will have capacities of 4 MMT and 2.5 MMT respectively. The government had announced setting up of two additional SPRs during the budget announcement for 2017-18.

The in-principle approval is to take up the project under PPP model to reduce budgetary support of Government of India. The terms and conditions of such participation would be determined by M/oP&NG in consultation with Ministry of Finance after conducting road shows to elicit requirements of the market, including prospective investors.

ISPRL has already constructed underground rock caverns for storage of 5.33MMT of crude oil at three locations, viz. Vishakhapatnam (1.33 MMT), Mangalore (1.5 MMT) and Padur (2.5 MMT). The total 5.33 MMT capacity under Phase-I of the SPR programme is currently estimated to supply approximately 10 days of India’s crude requirement according to the consumption data for FY2016-17. Cabinet’s approval for establishing additional 6.5 MMT Strategic Petroleum Reserve facilities will provide an additional supply of about 12 days and is expected to augment India’s energy security.

About SPR programme:

To ensure energy security, the Government of India had decided to set up 5 million metric tons (MMT) of strategic crude oil storages at three locations namely, Visakhapatnam, Mangalore, and Padur (near Udupi). These strategic storages would be in addition to the existing storages of crude oil and petroleum products with the oil companies and would serve as a cushion during any external supply disruptions.

In the 2017-18 budget, it was announced that two more such caverns will be set up Chandikhole in Jajpur district of Odisha and Bikaner in Rajasthan as part of the second phase.

The construction of the Strategic Crude Oil Storage facilities is being managed by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), a Special Purpose Vehicle, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

In 1990, as the Gulf war engulfed West Asia, India was in the throes of a major energy crisis. By all accounts, India’s oil reserves at the time were adequate for only three days. While India managed to avert the crisis then, the threat of energy disruption continues to present a real danger even today.

It is unlikely that India’s energy needs will dramatically move away from fossil fuels in the near future. Over 80% of these fuels come from imports, a majority of which is sourced from West Asia. This is a major strategic risk and poses a massive financial drain for an embattled economy and its growing current account deficit.

To address energy insecurity, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government mooted the concept of strategic petroleum reserves in 1998. Today, with India consuming upwards of four million barrels of crude every day (January 2015 figures), the case for creating such reserves grows stronger.

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Domestic Violence Act

The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that the Domestic Violence Act, intended to safeguard women against marital abuse, will apply even after divorce.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi on May 10 dismissed a petition challenging a 2013 Rajasthan High Court judgment, which had ruled to this effect.

The High Court also held that the Act would not apply only to marital relations, but the expression “domestic relations” was wide enough to include “consanguinity, marriage, a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or as family members living together as a joint family”.

What is Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005?

It is an act to provide for the more effective protection of the rights of Women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the first significant attempt in India to recognise domestic abuse as a punishable offence, to extend its provisions to those in live-in relationships, and to provide for emergency relief for the victims, in addition to legal recourse. It extends to the whole of India except the State Jammu & Kashmir.

It aims to protect women from physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse at home.

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Supreme Court wants trials in child sexual abuse cases to be fast-tracked

Shocked by the high rate of the pendency of child sexual assault cases, the Supreme Court directed High Courts to set up panels of its judges to regulate and monitor trials under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The Supreme Court, which had ordered a review of the backlog under POCSO, found that States such as Uttar Pradesh have over 30,000 cases pending despite the child protection law coming into existence as early as 2012.

Many States have not yet even set up Special Courts to try POCSO cases as mandated by the law.

Guidelines:

All high courts must ensure that the cases of sexual assault of children are fast-tracked and decided by special courts.

High courts should instruct the trial courts not to grant unnecessary adjournments during a trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

High courts may constitute a committee of three judges to regulate and monitor the trials of sexual assault cases of children.

The State police chiefs should constitute special task forces to investigate cases.

Nearly 32% of cases filed under the POCSO Act, which deals with sexual abuse of minors, were pending police investigation at the end of 2016 while 89% were pending trials.

POCSO Act:

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

The Act casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the CWC, should the need arise.

The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimization of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offense is reported.

The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offenses. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offense; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.

The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.

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Bureau of Indian Standards

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) granted First Licence to M/s Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd for Liquid Chlorine on All India basis. Ahmedabad Branch Office (AHBO) under the jurisdiction of Western Regional Office has granted BIS Certification Marks Licence CM/L-7200117899 to M/s Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd, PO Petrochemicals, Ranoli, Vadodara, Gujarat-391346 for the product Liquid Chlorine, Technical as per IS 646:1986.

This is the First Licence granted on All India basis. The licence has been made operative with effect from 12th April 2018 for a period of one year. This product is in liquid form and stored in metal containers. It is usually used as a gas obtained by evaporating the liquid from the metal container. It is used mainly in the paper, pulp, textile bleaching, water sterilization and manufacture of chemicals.

The Indian Standard 646:1986 for Liquid Chlorine, Technical, prescribes the requirements and the methods of sampling and test for liquid chlorine, technical. The move will facilitate industry to get a quality Liquid Chlorine with Standard Mark under BIS Certification Marks Scheme.

About Liquid Chlorine:

The product is in liquid form and stored in metal containers. It is usually used as a gas obtained by evaporating the liquid from the metal container. It is used mainly in the paper, pulp, textile bleaching, water sterilization and manufacture of chemicals.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the National Standards Body of India is a statutory organization under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. The organisation was formerly the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), set up under a Resolution.

It works under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.

The Minister in charge of the Ministry or Department having administrative control of the BIS is the ex-officio President of the BIS.

As a corporate body, it has 25 members drawn from Central or State Governments, industry, scientific and research institutions, and consumer organisations.

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Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan from MP

On the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district to launch the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan at Ram Nagar on Tuesday.

The scheme will focus on training, building infrastructure and stepping up initiatives for e-governance under the e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project.

About Gram Swaraj Abhiyan:

“Gram Swaraj Abhiyan” is being organised from 14th April to 05th May 2018.

The campaign, undertaken under the name of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”, is to promote social harmony, spread awareness about pro-poor initiatives of the government, reach out to poor households to enrol them as also to obtain their feedback on various welfare programmes.

As a special endeavour during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, saturation of eligible households/persons would be made under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in 21,058 identified villages.

The programmes covered are Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya, Ujala scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.

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Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act

The government is all set to bring Tramadol, a painkiller, under the ambit of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in a move aimed at checking its abuse. Penalties for violations of provisions will increase substantially and a notification is likely to be issued soon, two people aware of the matter said.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raised concerns about the abuse and trafficking of pharmaceuticals in a recent meeting held at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and suggested that the availability of Tramadol be substantially reduced in order to track its movement in the market.

Suggestions by NCB:

1.Manufacture Tramadol and codeine-based cough syrups in small batches to enable authorities to track the manufacturer.

2.Verify the existence of sale premises before a licence is granted by the states and conduct surprise raids in this regard.

3.All the state licensing authorities should re-consider proposal for the reduction in batch size for manufacturing such drugs to control the diversion towards its abuse and misuse.

4.The Narcotics Control Bureau is the apex coordinating agency. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.

5.The Bureau, subject to the supervision and control of the Central Government, is to exercise the powers and functions of the Central Government for taking measures with respect to:

6.Co-ordination of actions by various offices, State Governments and other authorities under the N.D.P.S. Act, Customs Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act and any other law for the time being in force in connection with the enforcement provisions of the NDPS Act, 1985.

7.Implementation of the obligation in respect of countermeasures against illicit traffic under the various international conventions and protocols that are in force at present or which may be ratified or acceded to by India in future.

8.Assistance to concerned authorities in foreign countries and concerned international organisations to facilitate coordination and universal action for prevention and suppression of illicit traffic in these drugs and substances.

9.Coordination of actions taken by the other concerned Ministries, Departments and Organizations in respect of matters relating to drug abuse.

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Inter Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority:

A government-appointed panel has recommended one window solution in cases of intercountry removal and retention of children, an official statement said on Monday.

The Committee, headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, submitted its report on legal issues related to these two issues, recommending addressing the problems of parents and children involved.

Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority:

The Committee has recommended that the Government may establish an ‘Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’.

The composition of the authority:

The Authority may be chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with Members from Legal and Social sector background along with representatives from key Ministries.

The authority has been envisaged to provide a one window solution in cases of intercountry removal and retention of Children.

The Authority may examine the inter-country cases of removal and retention of children vis-a-vis the cultural context, the merit of the case, and the best interest of the Child.

Over three crore Indians living abroad have cross-border marriages. When such a diverse family unit breaks down, children suffer as they are dragged into an international legal battle between their parents. Inter-spousal child removal is one of the most unfortunate outcomes of such breakups. Children are “abducted” by one parent and taken to a country with a different culture. This can be traumatic as they are also cut off from the other parent.

International Child Abduction Bill:

The Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2016 seeks to address the issue. The Bill is in consonance with the principles of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, which seeks to protect a child from the harmful effect of wrongful removal and secure prompt return and reintegration of the child in an environment of his/her ‘habitual residence’.

The Bill defines ‘wrongful removal or retention’ as an act in breach of custody to a person or an institution or any other body under the law of the country in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention. The law will be applicable to those wrongfully removed or retained children in India who have not completed 16 years.

The Bill recommends the setting up of a Central Authority tasked with discovering the whereabouts of the child. The Authority will further act to prevent harm to the child, secure the voluntary return of the child to his or her habitual residence, exchange information relating to the child with the appropriate authorities of the contracting state, institute judicial proceedings in the High Court concerned to secure the return of the child, provide free legal aid advice, and make administrative arrangements for the return of the child.

The court can order the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained in India and if a period of one year has not elapsed from the date of removal or retention. However, the one-year cap is not final. The court can order return if it is established that the child is not settled in his/her new environment. It can refuse to order return if returning would expose the child to harm or if the child, on attaining an age and level of maturity, refuses to go back, among other conditions.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980):

The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty whereby the contracting states will have to cooperate with each other in expeditiously sending back the runaway parent and the child to the country of the child’s ‘habitual residence’.

It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.

The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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Minorities Commission to seek Constitutional Status

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has decided to approach the government for granting it Constitutional status to protect the rights of minority communities more effectively.

In its present form, the NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned to take action against them. If granted constitutional status, the NCM will be able to act against errant officials who do not attend hearings, follow its order or are found guilty of dereliction of duty. Also, the NCM can penalise or suspend an officer for two days or send him/her to jail.

The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2017-18), in its 53rd report, had also noted that the NCM is “almost ineffective” in its current state to deal with cases of atrocities against minorities.

The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India. Original notification of 1993 was for Five religious communities Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Muslims.

The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity; provided that five Members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities.

Aggrieved persons belonging to the minority communities may approach the concerned State Minorities Commissions for redressal of their grievances.  They may also send their representations, to the National Commission for Minorities, after exhausting all remedies available to them.

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Draft CRZ Notification

Environmentalists in the city have raised objections to the draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018, saying it has diluted the norms while benefitting builders. “The new rules will open areas like Vasai, Virar, Palghar and Mira Bhayandar to more development and new townships will come up here. If sanctioned, there will be no sacred areas under the CRZ,” said Stalin Dayanand, director, NGO Vanashakti. The new rules have mandated that for tidal influenced water bodies, CRZ will be between the High Tide Line to 50 metres (or width of the creek, whichever is less), instead of the earlier 100 metres.

The salient features of the draft CRZ Notification, 2018 and changes with respect to CRZ Notification, 2011, are as under:

CRZ limits on land along the tidal influenced water bodies has been proposed to be reduced from 100 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less, to 50 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less.

A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been proposed to be stipulated for all Islands close to the mainland coast and for all Backwater Islands in the mainland.

For CRZ-III areas, two separate categories have been proposed viz.:

CRZ-III A – Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census.  Such areas shall have an NDZ of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.

CRZ-III B – Rural areas with the population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.

Ease of procedures: Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I & IV areas, shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the MoEF&CC.  For all other project activities located in CRZ-II/III areas, CRZ clearance shall be considered at the level of the CZMA.

As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen at 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels.  In the Draft CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been proposed to de-freeze the same and permits FSI for construction projects.

Regulated limestone mining is proposed to be permitted, subject to strict Environmental safeguards, in areas adequately above the height of HTL, based on recommendations of reputed National Institutes in the Mining field.

The norms also prevent the disposal of plastic into the coastal waters and mandate the compensatory plantation of three times the mangrove area destroyed for development works. Mangroves in private land will not require a buffer zone.

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UTTAM APP

The Union Minister for Railways and Coal Shri Piyush Goyal launched UTTAM App for Coal Quality Monitoring.  UTTAM stands for – Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal (uttam.coalindia.in). The Ministry of Coal and Coal India Limited (CIL) developed UTTAM, aims to provide an App for all citizens and coal consumers to monitor the process of Third Party Sampling of coal across CIL subsidiaries.

UTTAM App ensures accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in coal ecosystem.  It provides a platform for monitoring of sampling and coal dispatches.  The App is designed with an aim to make the citizens a stakeholder in the coal ecosystem. UTTAM is an example of leveraging technology to facilitate a bidirectional channel between Coal India Limited and a common citizen.  It ensures transparency and efficiency in the coal quality monitoring process and brings coal governance closer to people.

Specific benefits of the UTTAM App would be:

For Subsidiary structure: The information about subsidiary wise declared GCV will help citizens and coal consumers to compare and assess the coal quality coming from a particular mine.  It will provide a proper mapping of the declared grade of coal dispatch to the consumers.

For Coal consumer portal – The portal would give detailed information for coal consumers regarding the Third Party Sampling parameters. The App will give access for monitoring coal quality to individual coal consumers.

The salient features of UTTAM APP are:

Sampling Coverage – The App provides coverage of Third Party Sampling which includes information on production, dispatch and quantity sampled of coal.

Subsidiary-wise quality parameters – An interactive map-based view provides holistic coverage of coal quality across subsidiaries, along with subsidiary details on quality parameters (Declared Gross Calorific Value [GCV], Analysed GCV) and coverage parameters (Locations, Quantity sampled).

Declared Vs Analysed GCV – With CIL’s aim of having minimum variation between declared and analysed GCV of coal, an accurate representation of the same is incorporated in the App.

Complaints pertaining to quality of Coal – Complaints are the reflection of coal quality and transparency in the coal ecosystem.  The App reflects the trend of complaints, which validates CIL’s efforts for quality improvement through Third Party Sampling.

With the reduction in imports and gap minimising between analysed and declared grade, the reduction of complaints have been observed.

Sampled volume – The App presents the latest quantity sampled in the power and non-power sector, bringing transparency in the coal quality assessment system.

Imports of coal – The amount of coal imported is a clear reflection of the quality of coal that is produced within the country.  The trend of coal imports over the last years is presented in the App.

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