T.N., Puducherry on edge as Nivar closes in
Why in News?
Cyclone Nivar over the southwest Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm in the next 18 hours and cross the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry. Wind speeds at the time of landfall are expected to reach 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph.
- The cyclonic system moved westwards witha speed of 5 kmph and lay about 320 km east-southeast of Cuddalore, about 350 km southeast of Puducherry and 400 km east-southeast of Chennai.
- It is likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next six hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during the subsequent 12 hours, moving west-northwestwards for the next six hours and then north westwards.
- With extremely heavy rainfall and gusty winds expected, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu declared a public holiday in the State.
Relief camps ready: CM
- Chief Minister of Tamilnadu said 3,344 relief camps have been kept ready and a total of 275 persons from the Ariyalur, Chidambaram, Cuddalore and Vridhachalam areas have already been relocated to nine relief camps.
- Special attention is being paid to 4,133 places, identified as vulnerable spots.
- Ambulances, high-power generators, tree-cutting equipment and other necessary machinery have also been kept ready.
- More than 43,400 persons, including more than 14,200 women, have been trained as first responders and are ready.
- A total of 5,505 persons trained by the State Disaster Response Force and 691 Home Guards are also involved in the job.
- The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has readied 22 teams — 12 in Tamil Nadu, three in Puducherry and seven in Andhra Pradesh — to handle emergency operations.
- All teams have reliable wireless and satellite communications, tree cutters/pole cutters for post-landfall restoration, if the need arises.
- The storm is expected to damage standing crop, trees and thatched rooftops.
- When the cyclone makes landfall, coastal areas could experience widespread rain and many places in interior districts might get moderate rain.
- The rainfall intensity may be extremely heavy (more than 24.4 cm) in one or two areas in Puducherry, Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, Ariyalur, Kallakurichi, Perambalur, Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai, apart from coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema.
- Nearly 16 districts, including Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Vellore, Dharmapuri, Salem, Tiruchi and Thanjavur, may receive heavy to very heavy rain up to 24 cm, in one or two places.
- Squally winds at speeds of 120-130 kmph, sometimes gusting up to 145 kmph, are expected in Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Puducherry, Mayiladuthurai, Cuddalore, Villupuram and Chengalpattu when the cyclone approaches the coast.
- In Chennai, where the memory of the December 2015 floods is still fresh, water managers are closely monitoring the level in reservoirs, particularly Chembarambakkam.
- We are taking readings of the water level every two hours. The water level at Chembarambakkam reservoir stood at 21.32 feet and received an inflow of 648 cubic feet per second.
- If we get around 2,500 cusecs for 24 hours, the water level will reach 22 feet and some amount of water would be released with warning.
- The meteorologists had forecast a ‘severe cyclone’ but now say it will intensify further to be labelled a ‘very severe cyclone’.
- This is just a step below the strongest possible classification of an ‘extremely severe cyclone’.
- The weather system resumed its westwards track with a speed of 5 km per hour. It may be recalled that the system was moving at an average speed of 20 km per hour.
- It is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during next 12 hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during subsequent 12 hours.
- It is expected to move west-northwestwards once it intensifies into a severe cyclonic storm and then northwestwards.
- At a press briefing that that tidal waves as high as 1-1.5 metres were expected to inundate low lying areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry near the place of landfall.
- The storm was characteristic of what was usually observed from October-December in the seas around India.
Andhra coastal alert
- Authorities in Andhra Pradesh are on high alert ahead of cyclone Nivar’s landfall, and helplines have been set up in all districts to disseminate information.
- Chief Minister of A.P held a review meeting with District Collectors and SPs, and asked the officials to be on high alert when the storm crosses the coast.
- Fishermen in Nellore and Prakasam disticts, who had ventured into the sea, rushed back as squally wind conditions prevailed.
- Sea water advanced up to 100 metres in the coastal mandals. NDRF and State Disaster Response Force teams were rushed to the coastal areas.
- Officials in Chittoor district are focussing on areas prone to water-logging and tree falls.
- Vigil has also been mounted at Araniyar reservoir and rivulets and causeways.
- In Guntur district, 16 multi-purpose rehabilitation centres were being set up in coastal mandals to evacuate in case of emergency.
- The Meteorological Centre, Bengaluru, has issued a Yellow Alert for districts in South Interior Karnataka including Bengaluru city, for November 25 and 26, as the region is expected to receive isolated spells of heavy rainfall due to the impact of Nivar Cyclone.
- Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, Ramanagara and Mandya districts are expected to receive heavy rainfall over the next two days.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
- The Disaster Management Act has statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.
- National Disaster Response Force consist of 12 battalions, three each from the BSF and CRPF and two each from CISF, ITBP and SSB.
- Each battalion have 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers, technicians, electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics.
- The total strength of each battalion is 1,149. All the 12 battalions have been equipped and trained to respond natural as well as man-made disasters.
- Battalions are also trained and equipped for response during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.
GS-2 Polity & Governance
Jail term, fine for ‘unlawful’ religious conversions in U.P.
Why in News?
The Uttar Pradesh government gave its nod to an ordinance that makes religious conversion a non-bailable offence inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means.
- The U.P. Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020 was cleared by the Cabinet weeks after Chief Minister of U.P promised to bring an “effective law” against “love jihad”, a legally unrecognised term.
- Violation of the provisions of the law would invite a jail term of not less than one year extendable to five years with a fine of ₹15,000.
- However, if a minor woman or a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities was converted through the said unlawful means, the jail term would be a minimum of three years and could be extended to 10 years with a fine of ₹25,000.
- The ordinance also lays down strict action, including cancellation of registration of social organisations conducting mass conversions.
- Mass conversions would invite a jail term of not less than three years up to 10 years and a fine of ₹50,000, reads the operative statement on the ordinance.
- In case of conversion done by a woman for the sole purpose of marriage, the marriage would be declared null and void.
- The ordinance further the burden to prove that a conversion was not done through misrepresentation would be on the person converting or those who facilitated it.
- A person seeking to convert to another to another religion for marriage would have to inform the district magistrate two months prior to it through a prescribed form.
GS-2 Polity & Governance
Permanent Commission: Army officers move SC
Why in News?
Women Army officers moved the Supreme Court to debunk the defence establishment’s announcement that 422 of 615 women officers screened have been found “fit” for a Permanent Commission (PC). They said the announcement was more optics than substance.
- In fact, only less than 50% of the women officers have been actually granted PC.
- They stated that the actual number of women officers “granted” PC would come to 277 — less than half of 615 — women officers spread across 31 batches in 10 Arms/Services of the Army.
- Compared to this number, 90% male officers have been cleared for PC in the Army.
- The exercise for grant of PC has been carried out more in optics, than in substance, rendering itself to be yet another instance of lip-service, adding to the long unfortunate chain of symbolic and Pyrrhic victories.
GS-2 Polity & Governance
Poshan Abhiyaan needs a boost: study
Why in News?
The National Nutrition Mission or the Poshan Abhiyaan, the world’s largest nutrition programme for children and mothers, must be stepped up to meet the targets set by the Centre to reduce stunting, wasting and anaemia by 2022, says a report by NITI Aayog.
- The review report drafted in March does not factor worsening poverty and hunger levels over the past seven months due to COVID-19, which is expected to dent strides made since 2018 to achieve nutritional targets.
- The government’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers was launched in 2018 with specific targets to be achieved by 2022.
- It aims to reduce stunting and wasting by 2% a year (total 6% until 2022) among children and anaemia by 3% a year (total 9%) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers.
- More than a third of the children under five face stunting and wasting and 40% aged between one and four are anaemic. Over 50% of pregnant and other women were found to be anaemic.
- We need to now accelerate actions on multiple fronts. We need to quickly graduate to a POSHAN-plus strategy which apart from continued strengthening the four pillars of the Abhiyaan also requires renewed focus on other social determinants in addition to addressing the governance challenges of NHM/ICDS delivery mechanisms.
- The report calls for a need to lay as much emphasis on complementary feeding as it does on breastfeeding, which it points out can help avert 60% of the total stunting cases in India.
- India’s targets are conservative as compared to the global target defined by the World Health Assembly (WHA), which is a prevalence rate of 5% of stunting as opposed to India’s goal of reducing stunting levels to 13.3% by 2022.
- The target of reducing prevalence levels of anaemia among pregnant women from 50.3% in 2016 to 34.4% in 2022 and among adolescent girls from 52.9% in 2016 to 39.66%, is also considered conservative.
- Significantly, the report was prepared before COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country, but was released only last month.
- Experts warn that deepening poverty and hunger may delay achieving the goals defined under the Nutrition Mission.
- “The projections are optimistic, and will need to be re-adjusted for the COVID-19 disruptions to health and nutrition services,” which provided technical support and data to NITI Aayog for the report.
GS-2 Polity & Governance
Won’t interfere in personal relations, says Allahabad HC
Why in News?
The right to live with a person of his or her choice irrespective of religion is intrinsic to the right to life and liberty. Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of two individuals, the Allahabad High Court.
- The court made the observations while quashing an FIR against a Muslim man and his family from the father of his Hindu wife.
- The court dismissing a writ petition filed by an inter-faith married couple seeking police protection on grounds that the conversion just for the purpose of marriage was unacceptable, was not laying good law.
- In the Kushinagar case, petitioner filed a writ seeking the quashing of an FIR against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
- The couple were adults and had performed nikah, as per Muslim rites and rituals.
- The girl, renounced her Hindu identity and embraced Islam and the couple had been living together peacefully for the past year.
- The FIR was lodged at the police station by his father-in-law out of “malice and mischief,” only with a view to bring an end to their marital ties.
- Counsel for the government and the informant opposed the submissions on grounds that conversion just for contracting a marriage was prohibited and that such marriage had no sanctity in law.
- The High Court quashed the FIR and the constitutional courts in particular were enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- We do not see as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who, out of their own free will and choice, are living together peacefully and happily.
- We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully, then neither any individual nor even State can have objection to relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together.
Govt. orders ‘priority’ for local tenders
Why in News?
The government has tightened its procurement norms to make it tougher for Ministries to pursue global tenders for contracts worth up to ₹200 crore.
- Under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan announced, the government had barred departments from issuing global tenders for contracts worth ₹200 crore or less.
- The General Financial Rules were amended to disallow global tender enquiries in such procurement of goods and services, with an eye on boosting the prospects of domestic micro, small and medium enterprises.
- Any Ministry seeking an exemption to the norm, in order to call for a global tender enquiry, is required to seek the Cabinet Secretariat’s prior nod.
- If they gave valid justification for the need to issue a global tender and the lack of alternatives within the country.
- A global tender unless they have first floated a domestic tender for their requirements, and tried to locate domestic producers in co-ordination with industry bodies, as per new rules issued by the Cabinet Secretariat and the Finance Ministry.
- Moreover, departments also cannot submit exemption proposals unless they have first published their procurement plan for the next three and five years on their websites.
- The procurement plan was mandated by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) in through a Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India)
- In an office memorandum, the Department of Expenditure has conveyed instructions to Ministries and departments, stressing that domestic tenders need to be floated for all goods and services before a global tender could be considered.
- However, local tenders floated before May 15 this year, when the new procurement norms came into place, shall not count.
‘Discuss, send proposal’
- Ministries, departments are requested to discuss with DPIIT, relevant industrial bodies for identification of domestic manufacturers and service providers and send the details of such deliberations along with the proposal.
- A blanket exemption to allow global tenders was recently granted for procurement of spare parts from foreign original equipment manufacturers after multiple departments and public sector firms raised concerns about the lack of domestic options.
GAIL proposes Kondapalli-Tirupati natural gas pipeline
Why in News?
State-owned GAIL is planning a 450-km pipeline from Kondapalli, near Vijayawada, to Tirupati for supplying natural gas to industries and city gas distribution projects.
- Though the proposed infrastructure is for catering to consumers in Andhra Pradesh, the bi-directional pipeline, is expected to emerge as a crucial component of a larger natural gas pipeline network in the region, over time.
- Submitting an expression of interest for developing the pipeline to regulator PNGRB, the firm said the pipeline will originate from Kondapalli in KG Basin network in Andhra Pradesh and connect Amravathi, Narasaraopet, Podili and Tirupati.
- GAIL said ONGC had indicated additional HPHT gas availability at Odalrevu and Mallavaram in KG Basin.
- It counted the R Series gas from RIL field as well as other natural gas pipelines such as East West Pipeline, IOC’s Ennore-Bengaluru pipeline and RLNG terminal in Ennore, besides gas from other interconnected pipelines.
- Pegging the potential gas demand a route at 4-5 MMSCMD, GAIL said the pipeline would have capacity of 4 MMSCMD.