Recently the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published its first ever report on Jammu and Kashmir including PoK.
This report has opened up controversies over the territory dispute between India and Pakistan.
Why this report?
This report has been in production since 2016, after a new wave of violence hit the Kashmir Valley.
About 51 protesters and civilians were killed in the months that followed, while more than 9,000 were injured by pellets and bullets.
Consequently, the OHCRC asked India and Pakistan to allow its teams’ access to the State, a request that was refused.
What did the report say?
The report criticized India on how it handled the protests and extra judicial killings, using hard tactics.
The report has also used less harsh terms such as armed group and leader of armed group, instead of militant group and terrorist as regarded by the Indian Security Forces.
The report has also recommended removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for its alleged human rights violations.
Why India has criticized the OHCHRreport?
India has officially announced that the OHCHR report undermines the UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism.
The report violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as terms such as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit Baltistan” have been used to describe the part of the State under Pakistani control.
India has also criticised the report on the indirect and remote basis through which information was collected in the region.
Growing Plastic Pollution
GS Mains Paper-3, Environment and Biodiversity
Why in news?
The pollution caused by the single use of plastics is affecting the environment.
It is high time that steps be taken to reduce their use and explore sustainable alternatives.
How much is plastic in use at present?
Plastics are organic polymers of high molecular mass and are usually synthetic, mainly derived from petrochemicals.
Due to their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, non-corrosiveness and imperviousness to water, plastics are used for multiple purposes at different scales.
Presently, over one million plastic bags and one million plastic bottles are used every minute worldwide.
About 50% of the plastics used are single use (disposable) which constitute 10% of the total waste generated.
And of the 7 billion tons of plastic waste generated, only 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the environment.
How plastics impact the environment?
The plastics, mostly single use plastics are carried down the rivers to the oceans and this accounts for two thirds of the plastic waste present in the oceans.
This affects the marine ecosystem as fishes are killed when they swallow plastic particles.
Also the economic impact due to plastic pollution is high especially in fisheries and tourism sector.
Another direct impact of plastic pollution is on the land, as it degrades slowly and leaches chemicals into surroundings and groundwater.
Drinking water samples in different parts of the world including India reveal presence of up to 83% micro plastic concentrations.
How Can Plastic use be reduced to eliminate Plastic Pollution?
Plastic use cannot be entirely eliminated from day to day activities, but safe disposal, reuse and reducing the quantity can be done.
Policies should be made to restrict plastic production and encourage recycling.
Since plastics are used by the common man, a behavioural change is necessary and segregation of household waste must be made mandatory.
Awareness has to be created on the dangers of plastics hazards and to opt for sustainable and biodegradable products.
Incentives for developing eco-friendly substitutes (cloth/paper/jute bags, leaves/areca leaf plates, paper straws), scientific as well as financial support must be provided.