Rajya Sabha approves the National Waterways Bill 2015

Navigating rivers through simple boats (Source: IWP Flickr Photos)
Navigating rivers through simple boats (Source: IWP Flickr Photos)

Rajya Sabha gives a go ahead to the National Waterways Bill

The Rajya Sabha has given its approval to the National Waterways Bill that aims to convert 111 rivers across the country into National Waterways. The Bill has been approved by the Lok Sabha already. Per the Shipping Ministry, the Bill will help in boosting the maritime trade of the states and augment their economy. Along with this, it has also clarified that the Bill will in no way restrict the rights of the State Governments. Across the country, inland waterways comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters extend to about 14,500 kms.

Art of Living pays Rs. 25 laks, goes ahead with World Culture Festival

The National Green Tribunal had allowed the Art of Living to conduct its World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains, despite knowing that no environmental clearance was obtained for the event. Even the Water Ministry had denied receiving any application for permission to conduct the show. A fine of Rs 5 crore which was supposed to be paid before the show as an environmental compensation to the destruction was imposed on the organisers. However, only Rs 25 lakh was remitted before the show while they have promised to pay the rest within three weeks. Moreover, per experts, it will require atleast Rs 120 crore to restore the area to its original state. 

Kerala sets an example by revoking wetland reclamation nod

The Kerala Government has cancelled its order that allowed the reclamation of paddy fields for two major investment projects. One is the tourist village project at Kumarakam, worth Rs 2,200 crore and would have involved the reclamation of 470 acres of backwaters. The other is a hospital project in Ernakulam, worth Rs 1,000 crore and would have caused reclamation of 47 acres of paddy land. 

Rs 10,000 crore to drought-hit districts of Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Government has decided to grant Rs 10,000 crore to boost water conservation in drought-prone districts of of the State. The funds will be routed through the Maharashtra State Water Conservation Corporation, the nodal body executing projects, with the objective to make the State drought-free by 2019. Along with this, the Government will also be extending Jalswarajya-2 scheme to 5,182 drought-prone villages for which the State has already given its share of Rs 385 crore.

NGT raps Bengal Government over environmental degradation in the Sunderbans

The National Green Tribunal has got tough with the West Bengal Government over violation of environmental laws in the Sunderbans. Last year, the Bench was informed that an illegal building had come up in the Sunderbans region by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. However, per the Chief Secretary, the building will be converted into a desalination plant. Also, it has been brought to the notice of the NGT that a cruise is being operated in the buffer zone of the Sunderbans, and that the West Bengal Government has not informed the Centre of how the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) has been demarcated since 2011.

This is a roundup of important policy matters from March 8 - 14, 2016. Also read last week's news roundup.