Budget 2015-16 likely to have huge cuts in social sector

MNREGA workers building check dam in Gujarat
MNREGA workers building check dam in Gujarat

Social sector likely to get less funds in Union Budget 2015-16

The Prime Minister's Office has ordered the Union Ministry of Finance to allocate more funds to Ministries concerned with infrastructure works viz. shipping, road and transport, telecom and power in the Union Budget 2015-16. This will affect the social sector severly and it's likely that the Union Ministry of Rural Development will face a heavy cut of Rs 15,000 crore. Likewise, the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is expected to suffer a cut of Rs 5,000 crore.

MoEFCC allows construction of Shivaji statue in Arabian Sea

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved the construction of 309 foot tall statue for Maratha warrior king Shivaji in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast. The project worth Rs 400 crore, will cost the government Rs 2000 crore for achieving environmental sustainability. Also, the navy is against the project and it has also been reported that the project is in violation to the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms.

Railway Board identifies 50 major stations for integrated cleanliness

The Railway Board has issued guidelines to all Zonal Railways to outsource cleanliness at 50 major railways stations of ‘A1’ & ‘A’ categories on Indian Railways. The cleanliness contract is expected to be an integrated one that will cover entire sections of the station including tracks, platforms, all parts of the building, concourse, approach road, parking area etc. The Board has suggested the use of steam cleaners for removing stains from smooth surfaces and use of bio-enzyme products for killing bad odour in urinals.

Have you implemented the Action Plan on climate change?: NGT asks Centre, States and UTs

The National Green Tribunal has sought responses from the Centre, States and Union Territories on action taken to curb climate change and also to check if the Governments have implemented the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). NAPCC was released in 2008, and in August 2009, all the states and UTs were ordered to formulate the individual state action plan but nothing has been done towards this and the probable reason, as observed, is the conflict of interest between the Centre and various State Governments.

NGT asks UP Government to identify officers behind Dadri wetlands' degradation

The National Green Tribunal has ordered the Uttar Pradesh Government to identify and examine the officers of the Ghaziabad Development Authority who had allowed Uttam Steel and Shiv Nadar University to carry out construction in the Dadri wetland area. The Tribunal has also sought the Authority's response on why an 80-feet wide road has been proposed to be built in and over the wetland. As claimed, the wetland area, which is home to 200 species of rare and migratory birds, has shrunk from 68 hectares to 30.6 hectares.

Andhra announces exclusive industrial water allotment policy

To ensure a speedy and sustainable industrial development in Andhra Pradesh, the State Government has declared an exclusive industrial water allotment policy. The policy envisages reservation of 10% water for industrial use and water will be allocated to industries within seven days of filing the application. Also, as per the new policy, industries will be allowed to store the surplus water in existing Government reservoirs and in absence of reservoirs, Government land will be provided for the same. 

HC reserves order on petition against Adani firm and Centre for blocking rivers

The Gujarat High Court has reserved its order on the petition filed against the Adani firms and Centre over the blocking of 14 rainfed rivers in Kutch district by Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone (APSEZ). The petitions claim that the APSEZ has caused destruction, bunding, blocking and diversion of more than 14 rainfed rivers in the region, which has further posed calamitous consequences to the people in Kutch. The petition has further sought quashing of environmental clearance granted to the APSEZ.

Government initiates work to amend the Forest Policy

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is all set to present the country with its third Forest Policy. The task to document the policy that will bring a balance between environment sustainability and development for the next 25 years, has been entrusted to the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal. Once ready, this will be the third National Forest Policy of India, after the ones created in 1952 and 1988.

SC rejects Kerala plea yet again to restrict TN from raising Mullaperiyar dam height

The Supreme Court has once again rejected Kerela's petition to prohibit Tamil Nadu from raising the height of the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft. This is the Court's reaffirmation to its verdict passed in May this year. The Court has dismissed the petition on various grounds such as: Tamil Nadu is not a successor of the 1886 agreement, as erroneously assumed; and benefits that Tamil Nadu will receive from the dam height increase are very minimal.

Government mulls plan to create Yamuna waterway and a centre for river conservation

The Government is planning to develop a waterway in the Yamuna river between Delhi and Agra, to ensure the availability of at least five metres of water in the river throughout the year. The plan envisages the construction of barrages, reservoirs, river-side ports and terminals on the Delhi riverfront side as well as near Agra. Along with this, the Delhi Development Authority has given a nod to setting up the Unified Centre for Rejuvenation of River Yamuna (Restoration and Beautification) to ensure conservation, restoration and rejuvenation of the Yamuna ecosystem.

This is a fortnightly roundup of important policy matters from December 2 - 15, 2014. Also read last fortnight's news updates