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CURRENT AFFAIRS 28-05-2018

Premature Deaths And Air Pollution

 

Relevancy

  • GS Paper 3

Why in news?

  • Worsening air quality in the last two decades has emerged as one of the major reasons for high numbers of premature deaths in 11 north Indian cities.
  • The findings titled ‘Know what you breathe’, released, were researched by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi in collaboration with environmental NGO Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED).
  • The report found annual mortality linked to air pollution to be in the range of 150-300 persons per 1 lakh population.

Where was the study conducted?

  • The study was conducted in 7cities of Uttar Pradesh (Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Varanasi, and Gorakhpur), 3 cities of Bihar (Patna, Gaya, and Muzaffarpur), and the capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi.
  • Kanpur recorded the highest number of premature deaths per year (4,173) due to chronic exposure to air pollution, followed by Lucknow (4,127), Agra (2,421), Meerut (2,044), Varanasi (1,581), Allahabad (1,443) and Gorakhpur (914).

What did the study say?

  • The study calculated the annual “mortality burden” through averages of recorded deaths caused due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI), coronary disease, stroke, and lung cancer, in these cities.
  • COPD was the largest cause of the deaths (at 29.7%) and lung cancer the lowest (0.6%).
  • The largest share in total burden was attributed to ALRI in Agra and Meerut, and to COPD in Allahabad, Gaya, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Patna, Muzaffarpur and Varanasi.
  • The estimates should not be perceived as instant deaths clarifying that they represent premature (earlier than the expected lifetime of the Indian population) deaths due to chronic exposure from pollution.
  • However it isn’t possible to validate these estimates, as cause-specific mortality data do not exist in India.
  • The report also said that premature mortality burden would reduce by 14%-28% annually with the achievement of Indian air quality standards in these cities.
  • The report also found levels of PM2.5 exposure moving downward from west to east of the Indo-Gangetic plain with the highest proliferation in Varanasi and the lowest in Ranchi.
  • The report has indicated an increase of 28.5 microgram / m3 in PM 2.5 in the last 17 years in Varanasi.
  • The annual particular matter exposure was the highest in Meerut, with an “alarming” figure of 99.2 ug/M3 (microgram per cubic metre), followed by Agra (91) and Lucknow (83.5).
  • The study has attributed residential (cooking, heating, and lighting) sources as the largest contributors to annual ambient PM2.5 concentration (73.8%) followed by industry (11.7%), transport (9.8%) and energy sectors (4.6%).

The RERA Report Card

 

Relevancy

  • GS Paper-3 (Economic Development)

Why in news?

  • It’s been a year the real estate legislation came in to effect it is a year since the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) came into effect (May 1).
  • But stocktaking presents a dismal picture as far as its implementation and expected benefits are concerned.

How many states have RERA act?

  • 20 of the 28 States (the Act is not applicable in Jammu and Kashmir) have framed the rules stipulated under RERA to carry out its legal mandate.
  • In some States such as Uttar Pradesh, the Act’s provisions have been watered down in favour of builders by altering the definition of “on-going projects” which need registration under RERA.
  • There is also a dilution on the penalties for non-compliance.
  • Similarly, the speedy dispute redress mechanism envisaged by the Act is yet to take shape.
  • Apart from Maharashtra only Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have appointed a permanent regulatory authority (to be established within a period of a year).

Online portal RERA:

  • 6 states have set up the online portal contemplated by the Act.
  • In the Northeastern States, RERA has been challenged on certain constitutional grounds of land belonging to the community and autonomous councils.
  • In contrast, Maharashtra, which has established both the regulatory authority (Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority, or MahaRERA) and the appellate tribunal, has shown that with earnest action, the Act and the establishment of the permanent regulator can have a positive impact in reassuring real estate purchasers.
  • MahaRERA’s online portal has led to builders registering projects and a high degree of compliance in terms of registration by real estate agents.
  • This along with fast track adjudication of consumer complaints has made the MahaRERA an example of how other States need to implement the Act.

What is the way forward?

  • Implementation of the Act eventually needs to focus on consumer interests.
  • In these efforts, rudimentary compliance must be eliminated and practicality should be adopted.
  • For example, in U.P., a large number of new projects are concentrated in Ghaziabad or Gautam Budh Nagar/Noida. However, even though the Act provides for State governments to establish more than one regulatory authority, the interim regulator designated in U.P. is located in Lucknow.
  • This has led to consumers being inconvenienced as they need to travel to Lucknow to file their complaints.

Conclusion:

  • One of the most notable provisions of the RERA is the requirement to keep 70% of funds received for a project in a separate escrow account, a step to prevent a diversion of funds which usually happens and in turn results in project delays.
  • Recently, the Central government notified June 30 as the date by which all States have to do away with dilutions and bring in all incomplete projects within the ambit of RERA.
  • This date is also the deadline by when permanent regulators have to be formed and for the websites of all States to become functional.

The Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease Study

Relevancy

  • GS Paper- 1 & 2 (Health, Governance)

Why in news?

  • Recently the Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet ranked India a lowly 145th among 195 countries in terms of healthcare access and quality in 2016.
  • The study used an index based on 32 causes of death that should be preventable with effective medical care.
  • Each country was given a healthcare access and quality (HAQ) score between 0-100.
  • The global average HAQ score was 54.4. Iceland and Norway topped the list with a HAQ score of 97 each.
  • India’s HAQ score is 41.2, up from 24.7 in 1990 showing improvement.

What is new about the study?

  • For the first time, the study analyzed healthcare access and quality between regions of seven countries including India.
  • The study used an index based on 32 causes of death that should be preventable with effective medical care.
  • Each country was given a healthcare access and quality (HAQ) score between 0-100.

How have the states performanced?

  • Goa and Kerala have the highest scores in 2016, both over 60, whereas Assam and Uttar Pradesh had the lowest, both below 40.
  • Particularly low were scores like 12 for skin cancer, 24 for neonatal deaths and adverse medical treatment, and 30 for tuberculosis and chronic kidney ailments.

Low score in TB

  • This is not surprising, since India accounts for nearly 30 per cent of global TB deaths.
  • TB being often missed by practitioners and MDR-TB is diagnosed very late.

What are its inferences?

  • This scorecard shows that the health system is weak in our country.
  • While centrally funded schemes have provided health access in some areas, quality has not improved in certain states.

New realities of Indo-Russia relations

Relevancy

  • GS Paper -2 (International Relations)

Why in news?

  • Indian PMs met Russian President and set a new normal in his foreign policy outreach.
  • Like Wuhan meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Sochi visit was aimed at resetting and rebalancing bilateral ties that have weakened over the past few years.
  • The special understanding between India and Russia has frayed, with India drifting closer to the U.S. and Russia to China.

What called for this meeting?

  • The meeting premised on a number of new realities facing India.
  • India’s existing dependence on Russian military hardware, with orders for about $12 billion more in the pipeline, must not be jeopardized at any cost.
  • These have been made more difficult by a new U.S. law (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) that would hit India’s big-ticket hardware purchases and energy deals from Russia, and Mr. Modi would have wanted to reassure Mr. Putin that India will not bow to such pressure.
  • Russia’s recent military exercises and helicopter sales to Pakistan as well as its outreach to the Afghan Taliban have been viewed with deep concern by India, which has sought to extract assurances that this would not in any way hurt its national security interests.
  • The new push to strengthen ties is driven by the global instability that the Donald Trump administration has set off.
  • India appears to have decided it can no longer depend on consistency in the U.S.’s foreign policy.

What is the way forward?

  • As a result, the recalibration of Mr. Modi’s foreign policy from its perceived Western tilt to a more even-handed approach of aligning with all in India’s interests is welcome.
  • Informal summits of the kind in Sochi and Wuhan are also useful to break the ice and reset relations when needed.
  • But a comprehensive shift in foreign policy must be accompanied by greater transparency.

Conclusion:

  • The official outcomes of the informal summits that India and China will cooperate in Afghanistan, while India and Russia will coordinate on the Indo-Pacific.
  • Both have hitherto only been referenced in India’s ties with the U.S. and its allies, Europe, Japan and Australia.
  • Without clarity, at a time of global flux India may appear to be attempting to travel in two boats at once.

 

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