ENVIRO ANNOTATIONS

MoRTH advises States for Compliance with SC Order on BS-IV Vehicle Registration

01.04.2020, Delhi: The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has advised NIC to facilitate the States and Union Territories in limited registration of Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) -compliant vehicles all over India except Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) in compliance with Supreme Court directions contained in its order dated 27.3.2020.

The Supreme Court has allowed the sale of 10% of unsold BS IV compliant vehicles for 10 days, after the end of the 21-days countrywide lockdown. It is important to note that the Supreme Court has maintained the stay on sale and registration of such vehicles in Delhi and NCR.

Earlier, in a judgment dated 24.10.2018, the Apex Court in a case of M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India and others 2018 held that no BS-IV compliant vehicles should be permitted to be sold in India after 31.03.2020 (Deadline). The Judgment stated that all automobile manufacturers in India have to dispose of the vehicles which conform to BS-IV norms and have to adopt BS-VI norms, which provide improved, and eco-friendly technological changes, in manufacturing automobiles. Sold BS-IV vehicles have to be registered within 10 days of sale. BS IV vehicles brought before March 31 can be registered later too.

Accordingly, the registration of only BS-VI vehicles is permitted from today throughout India. As per the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) 700,000 two-wheelers, 15,000 passenger cars, and 12,000 commercial vehicles are unsold. Further, 105,000 two-wheelers, 2250 passenger cars, and 2000 commercial vehicles are sold but not registered in India.

Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BSES) are the standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the emissions of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). In order to lessen the damage being caused to the environment from automobile use, in January 2016, the Government of India, announced to leapfrog to Bharat Stage (BS) VI standard of auto fuel from existing BS IV, skipping BS-V emissions norms. The norms will be applicable on Pan-India basis with effect from 1st April 2020.

MoEF&CC extends validity of ESA/ESZ draft notification

30.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has extended the period of validity of Draft Notification bearing S O No. 1127(E) dated 18th March 2020 relating to Ecologically Sensitive Zones, and Ecologically Sensitive Areas from 545 days to 725 days. The said notification was issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

The Ministry has also clarified that the validity of all existing draft notifications, relating to all Ecologically Sensitive Areas & Ecologically Sensitive Zones, pending, and valid as on the date of publication of the notification and subsequent draft notifications shall be 725 days.

However, the Ministry has yet to clarify its stand on the validity of several other draft notifications, such as the EIA Notification 2020, and Battery Waste Management Rules 2020.

Contribution to PM CARES Fund Qualifies CSR Expenditure

29.03.2020

The entire world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that has posed serious challenges for the health and economic security of millions of people. India too is not an exception. According to the Health Ministry sources, the latest (4.40 PM) number of coronavirus infected cases stood at 979. This has resulted in an emergency. Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ has been set up on 28.03.2020. Prime Minister is the Chairman of this trust and its Members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.

Soon after, Tata Trusts pledged Rs. 500 Crores, on different heads, to protect and empower all affected communities from the wrath of COVID-19. According to a press release issued by Tata Trust, Chairman, Shri Ratan N Tata’s has stated, "The current situation in India and across the world is of grave concern and needs immediate action. Tata Trusts and the Tata group’s companies have in the past risen to the needs of the nation. At this moment, the need of the hour is greater than any other time."

The statement further mentions, "In this exceptionally difficult period, I believe that urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the COVID-19 crisis, which is one of the toughest challenges the human race will face."

Tata Sons has announced an additional Rs 1000 Crores support towards COVID-19 and related activities.

On the very day, it was also notified through an office memorandum bearing Ref. No. CSR-05/1/2020-CSR-MCA issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs that any contribution made to the PM CARES Fund shall qualify as CSR expenditure under the Companies Act 2013.

JSW Group committed Rs 100 Crores, while employees of Airport Authority of India have made an initial contribution of Rs. 20 Crores towards PM CARES Fund.

The Defence Minister, Sh. Rajnath Singh informed that all the personnel in military forces and Ministry of Defence, have pledged to contribute one day salary that stands to be Rs. 500 crores to the PM CARES Fund, for which the Union Home Minister, Sh. Amit Shah expressed his gratitude to all of them. All paramilitary forces personnel, on 29/03/2020 have contributed their one day salary, totaling Rs. 116 crores to the PM CARES Fund, for which the Union Home Minister, Sh. Amit Shah expressed his gratitude to all of them.

This fund will enable micro-donations as a result of which a large number of people will be able to contribute with smallest of denominations.

The newly launched PM CARES Fund has attracted criticisms on social media, Some are asking why a new fund when a Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund already exists? While, some are asking about why PM CARES Fund and not INDIA CARES Fund. However, this could be discussed later, once the emergency is overcome.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in his monthly programme "Mann Ki Baat", today, spoke entirely on the grim situation and persuaded people of India to maintain calm at this challenging time.

COVID2019 Impact: MoEF&CC amends EIA Notification 2006 relating to APIs

28.03.2020

A notification dated 27th March 2020 has been issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The notification states that "All proposals for projects or activities in respect of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), received up to 30th September 2020, shall be appraised as Category B2 projects, provided that any subsequent amendment or expansion or change in product mix, after 30th September 2020, shall be considered as per the provisions in force at that time.

Earlier, the Ministry had issued Office Memorandum No. 19-21/2020-IA.III (Part) dated 11th March 2020 stating, “In order to ensure drug availability/ production to reduce the impact of the outbreak of Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) and to improve overall preparedness of drugs, the Ministry has directed that projects or activities in respect of Bulk Drugs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients and Bulk Drug Intermediates) shall be considered out of turn and clearances shall be issued expeditiously.”

Regulation for Hydroxychloroquine

27.03.2020

Govt. directs that sale by retail of any preparation containing the drug Hydroxychloroquine shall be in accordance with the conditions for sale of drugs specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

MoEF&CC Extends Validity EC expiring between 15.03.2020 to 30.03.2020

27.03.2020, Delhi: In view of the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and subsequent lockout declared, Govt. of India & the National Disaster Management Authority, notwithstanding any condition imposed in the respective Prior Environment Clearance in respect of the validity period, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has extended the validity of Prior Environmental Clearances (EC) in respect of all category of projects or activities expiring between 15th March 2020 and 30th April 2020, till 30th June 2020; provided that such project or activity is permissible to be carried out as per other relevant extant laws & regulation during the period of such extension. The extension is subject to same terms and conditions of the previous Prior Environmental Clearance in order to ensure uninterrupted operations of such projects or activities. A copy of the letter bearing F.No. 22-25/2020-IA.III dated 25th March 2020 is available at https://parivesh.nic.in/

COVID-19 Restrictions Causing Impact in Zoos

24.03.2020, Delhi: The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has informed that zoos are facing severe hardship in getting getting supply of food, drinking water, upkeep and healthcare of wild animals as a consequence of Section-144 and Curfew imposed for the containment of COVID-19. The CZA has requested Chief Secretaries of all States and Administration of Union Territories to specify the activities of food and drinking water supply, upkeep and healthcare of captive animals housed in zoos under the "essential services" and exempt them from the restrictions under extant legal provisions.

Earlier on 23rd March 2020, the CZA had issued a circular, requesting all the Chief Wildlife Warden of States and Union Territories to ensure supply of food, drinking water, necessary healthcare to all captive animals housed in zoos.

The CZA is a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to perform functions u/s 38-C of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 has issued a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administration of Union Territories. Read More

Union Govt writes to States/UTs to ensure continuity of Print & Electronic Media

24.03.2020, Delhi: The Union Government of India has written to all State Governments, and Union Territories, requesting them to ensure operational continuity of Print and Electronic Media. The letter, addressed to Chief Secretaries, highlights importance of robust and essential information dissemination networks viz TV Channels, News Agencies, Teleport Operators, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG), Direct to Home (DTH) and Highend-in-the Sky (HITS), Multi System Operators (MSOs), Cable Operators, Frequency Modulation (FM) radio and Community Radio Stations. The Union Government has stated that the proper functioning of these networks is required not only to create awareness among people but also to keep the nation updated of the latest status. The letter further stated that these networks played a pivotal role in ensuring avoidance of fake news and promotion of good practices.

Allocation for Delhi's Environment in Sisodia's Budget

24.03.2020, Delhi: Amidst the COVID-19 furor, Delhi Assembly passed the Annual Budget for the Financial Year 2020-21 proposed by the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Delhi Government, Sh. Manish Sisodia. According to the budget, the Per Capita Income of Delhi has been estimated at ₹389,143 during 2019-20 with an increase of 8.57 % over the per capita income of ₹358,430 in the previous fiscal.

One of the 10 Guarantees of Chief Minister, Sh. Arvind Kejriwal is to keep the air of Delhi clean and making Delhi green. The Delhi Govt. has set a goal to reduce the air pollution by 2/3rd in the next 5 years. Smog towers will be installed to control air pollution on a large scale under the "Pollution Control and Environment Management" scheme, for which an outlay of ₹30 crore has been made. Delhi Government has also approved the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy in 2019. It aims to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles in place of the old ones so that the emission of the transport sector is reduced thereby improving the air quality of Delhi.

To overcome the manpower scarcity that affects the implementation of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; a new scheme “Deployment of Marshals” in Environment Department with an outlay of ₹2 crore in 2020-21 will be introduced . On the line of achieving the target of planting 2 crore saplings in the next 5 years, it has been earmarked to plant 40 lakh saplings during 2020-21. This shall be attained by 22 green agencies.

Government is to provide neat and clean environment in each slum colonies and JJ clusters with street lights to remove the dark spots as well as augmentation and maintenance of existing street lights under the Scheme Environment Improvement of Urban Slums.

Stating that there is a need to carry out intensive campaigns all over Delhi to create awareness and public participation in the environment, the Dy. Chief Minister proposed a ₹20 crore allocation in the budget. "This is for segregation of waste at home, avoiding single use plastic, rooftop plantation, gifting plants instead of offering bouquets, use of public transportation and car pooling, cycling for short distance, using jute and cloth bags, preventing waste of paper, to celebrate in eco-friendly ways and holding conferences on environmental issues etc.", he added.

The Dy. Chief Minister said that in order to encourage citizens to contribute for environmental protection and preservation work, Green Citizen Awards will be instituted.

In the budget speech, it was also informed that in order to promote solar energy, the government has issued notification of Delhi Solar Energy Policy under which people / institutions producing solar energy will be encouraged. In most of the government buildings, schools, technical institutes and courts etc., the process of setting up solar plants is going on. As of January 2020, around 3589 solar power plants with an aggregated capacity of 161.898 MW had been installed in Delhi. Around 200 acres of land for the installation of solar power plant have been offered by the farmers under the “Mukhyamantri Kisan Aay Badhotary Yojna”.

It was informed that the government has started the work of upgrading and expanding existing hospitals and construction of new hospitals to increase the bed capacity from 10,000 beds to 26,000 beds. Delhi Finance Minister also informed that the Government of Delhi has worked in close coordination with the Government of India at every level to fight against COVID-2019 by providing adequate Quarantine facilities on a war footing to Indians arriving Delhi from all over the world. A provision of ₹ 50 crore has been made for Budget Estimate for FY 2020-21.

A new scheme “Behavioural Change for Safety of the Women” for awareness campaign to trigger behavior change in the society will be introduced in 2020-21.

CBWTFs plays a vital role as COVID-19 Warriors

Sanjaya K Mishra

23.03.2020, Delhi: Amidst the furor due to tragic news from Italy, US, and Spain, the Government of India is striving to contain the Corona Virus, and #COVID-19. The success of People's Curfew (Janta Curfew), a 14-hour home quarantine, called by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrates the resolve and restraint of the people of India to stand together to tackle the worldwide pandemic. Subsequently, the Centre and State governments have been working strategically to lock down selected areas. During the lock down period, it is advised that people must stay away from unnecessary movements out of home. Only those in the frontlines of the war against COVID-19 will continue working relentlessly.

One of these frontline warriors are the biomedical waste (BMW) collectors, who reach to various hospitals, quarantine centres, isolation wards and collect the infected wastes for appropriate disposal. Two such companies; namely, Biotic Waste Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Delhi and Biotic Waste Ltd., Gurgaon have been working with due responsibility in this emergency time. Biotic Waste Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Delhi has the credit of getting the first ever Environmental Clearance granted to a Common Bio-Medical Waste Facility, while the Biotic Waste Ltd., Gurgaon is the second one to get the same. Just few days back, the Chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region, Shri Bhure Lal (Retd. IAS), and a team including the acclaimed environmentalist Ms. Sunita Narain; had inspected the biomedical waste management facility and practices of the Gurgaon unit.

When asked about their preparedness for the COVID-19 wastes, Sh. Vikas Ghallot, Director of Boitic, a CBWTF said that they have made arrangements of dedicated separate vehicles for the collection of wastes from identified and informed isolation wards, quarantine centres, and hospitals. If the hospital can also inform them till it is not identified by the government. Further, they have assigned specially trained personnel for the work. The companies have allotted special protection suits and all personal protective equipment, including sanitizer and soap for hand wash to the personnel. Once the waste reaches their respective facilities in Delhi and Gurgaon, it is immediately taken for incineration. The vehicle is disinfected and fumigated before it leaves for the next round of collection. Special records are being maintained by both Delhi and Gurgaon facilities.

The Delhi Common Bio-medical Waste Facility is covering Quarantine Camps at Hotel Pride Plaza, Aerocity; Hotel IBIS, Aerocity; Hotel Holiday Inn, Aerocity; Hotel Red fox, Aerocity; Hotel Aloft, Aerocity; T3, Arrival Airport; Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia hospital; Ambedkar hospital; Babu Jajjiwan Ram Hospital; Nehru homeopathy hospital; Training School, Tughlakabad; Training School, Shakur Basti; RPF Barrack, Tughlakabad; Narela, near Bharat Mata school; and Chhattarpur Mandir Road, Mehrauli. In Gurgaon they are attending Quarantine Base Hospital at Manesar, Treatment wards at Medanta, Fortis Hospital, NSG Hospital Manesar, Columbia Asia Hospital, and General Hospital at Sector 10, Gurgaon.

Greenco Rating System in Indian Railways

18.03.2020

With the pressure emanating from resource scarcity and climate change, "Green" has become the new driver for organizations across the globe. Going Green is no longer a philanthropic afterthought for organizations. It has become a more forward thinking and responsible approach for companies to produce and deliver its goods and services. GreenCo Rating System developed by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) provides guidance and leadership to organizations to tread the green path. It helps the organizations to evaluate "How Green is the Company". According to a press release based on information given by the Union Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 18th March 2020; the GreenCo Rating System has been acknowledged in India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) document, submitted to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, as a proactive voluntary action of Indian industry / private sector towards combating climate change.

As per the Minister’s statement, assessment and rating of major Workshops and Production Units of Indian Railways as Green Industrial Units started with ‘GreenCo’ certification in 2016-17. It helps the industrial units in identifying and implementing various possible measures in terms of energy conservation, material conservation, recycling, utilisation of renewable energy, Green House Gases (GHG) reduction, water conservation, solid and liquid waste management, green cover etc. Increasing focus in these areas helps Railways in resource conservation and reduction in intensity of environmental impact.

This system is beneficial for the environment as the GreenCo rating assesses the units on their environmental performance and thus aligns them to national priorities towards environment such as energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy, waste management, etc. Beside 46 workshops and other units, the GreenCo Rating System has been implemented in Modern Coach factory, Raebareli; Diesel Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala; Integral Coach Factory, Chennai; Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi; Rail Wheel Factory, Yelahanka; Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala; Rail Wheel Plant, Bela. Tweet Us

Govt. of India seeks comments on Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020

18.03.2020

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has issued a draft notification on the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020. The draft has proposal for substitution in rule 2, sub-rule (1) clause (c) deliberating the meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The clause (e), shall be substituted, as "CSR Policy" means a statement containing the approach and direction given by the board of a company, as per recommendations of its CSR Committee, for selection, implementation and monitoring of activities to be undertaken in areas or subjects specified in Schedule VII of the Act.”

It has proposed for substitution in rule 2, sub-rule (1) clause (f) meaning of International Organization. Further, after clause (f) a new clauses (g), (h) and (i) shall be inserted. (g) specifies "Net profit". "Net profit" means the net profit of a company as per its financial statement prepared in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Act, but shall not include the following, namely: - (i) any profit arising from any overseas branch or branches of the company, whether operated as a separate company or otherwise; and (ii) any dividend received from other companies in India, which are covered under and complying with the provisions of section 135 of the Act: Provided that net profit in respect of a financial year for which the relevant financial statements were prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, (1 of 1956) shall not be required to be re-calculated in accordance with the provisions of the Act: Provided further that in case of a foreign company covered under these rules, net profit means the net profit of such company as per profit and loss account prepared in terms of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 381 read with section 198 of the Act. The clause (h) defines “Ongoing Projects”, which means a multi-year project undertaken by a Company in fulfillment of its CSR obligation having timelines not exceeding three years excluding the financial year in which it was commenced, and shall also include such projects that were initially not approved as a multi-year project but whose duration has been extended beyond a year by the Board based on reasonable justification. In addition, the clause (i) “Public Authority” means ‘Public Authority’ as defined in sub-clause (h) of section (2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.”

Rule 4, shall be substituted, namely:- “CSR Implementation - (1) The Board shall ensure that the CSR activities are undertaken by the company itself or through: (a) a company established under section 8 of the Act, or (b) any entity established under an Act of Parliament or a State legislature. Provided that such company/entity, covered under clause (a) or (b), shall register itself with the central government for undertaking any CSR activity by filing the e-form CSR-1 with the Registrar along with a prescribed fee. Provided further that the provisions of this sub-rule shall not affect the CSR projects or programmes that were approved prior to the commencement of the Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020. (2) A company may also collaborate with other companies for undertaking projects or programmes or CSR activities in such a manner that the CSR committees of respective companies are in a position to report separately on such projects or programmes in accordance with these rules. (3) A company may engage international organizations for designing, monitoring and evaluation of the CSR projects or programmes as per its CSR policy as well as for capacity building of their own personnel for CSR. Provided that a company may also engage an international organization for implementation of a CSR project subject to prior approval of the central government. (4) Board of a company shall satisfy itself that the funds so disbursed have been utilized for the purpose and in the manner as approved by it and Chief financial Officer or the person responsible for financial management shall certify to the effect. (5) In case of ongoing projects, the Board of a company shall monitor the implementation of the project with reference to the approved timelines and year wise allocation and shall be competent to make modifications, if any, for smooth implementation of the project within the overall permissible time period. “

Under rule 5, sub-rule (2) shall be substituted with "The CSR Committee shall formulate and recommend to the Board, an annual action plan in pursuance of its CSR policy, which shall include the following: (a) the list of CSR projects or programmes that are approved to be undertaken in areas or subjects specified in Schedule VII of the Act; (b) the manner of execution of such projects or programmes as specified in sub-rule (1) of Rule 4; (c) the modalities of utilization of funds and implementation schedules for the projects or programmes; and (d) monitoring and reporting mechanism for the projects or programmes. (e) Details of need and impact assessment, if any, undertaken by the company.”

Rule 6 with heading CSR Policy shall be omitted.

Rule 7 shall be substituted, namely:- “CSR Expenditure: (1) The board shall ensure that the administrative overheads incurred in pursuance of sub-section (4) (b) of section 135 of the Act shall not exceed five percent of total CSR expenditure of the company for the financial year. Provided that a company undertaking impact assessment, in pursuance of sub-rule (3) of Rule 8, may incur administrative overheads not exceeding ten percent of total CSR expenditure for that financial year. (2) Any surplus arising out of the CSR projects or programmes or activities shall not form part of the business profit of a company and shall be ploughed back into the same project or shall be transferred to the Unspent CSR Account and spent in pursuance of CSR policy and action plan of the company. (3) The CSR amount may be spent by a company for creation or acquisition of assets which shall only be held by a company established under section 8 of the Act having charitable objects or a public authority. Provided that any asset created by a company prior to the commencement of Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020, shall within a period of One hundred and eighty days from such commencement comply with the requirement of this rule, which may be extended by a further period of not more than ninety days with the approval of the board based on reasonable justification. 4)Unspent balance, if any, towards fulfilment of CSR obligation at the time of commencement of these Rules shall be transferred within a period of thirty days from the end of Financial Year 2020-21 to special account viz., ‘Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Account’ opened by the company and such amount shall be spent by the company in pursuance of its obligation towards the Corporate Social Responsibility Policy within a period of three financial years from the date of such transfer, failing which, the company shall transfer the same to a Fund specified in Schedule VII, within a period of thirty days from the date of completion of the third financial year.”

Under rule 8, sub-rule (3) shall be inserted "A company having the obligation of spending average CSR amount of Rs 5 Crore or more in the three immediately preceding financial years in pursuance of sub section 5 of Section 135 of the Act, shall undertake impact assessment for their CSR projects or programmes, and shall disclose details of the same in its Annual Report on CSR.”

Rule 9, shall be substituted with “Display of CSR activities on its website: The Board of Directors of the company shall mandatorily disclose the composition of the CSR Committee, and CSR Policy and Projects approved by the Board on their website for public viewing, as per the particulars specified in the Annexure.”

After rule 9, newly Rule 10 shall be inserted "National Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Fund : (1) The Central Government shall establish a fund called the “National Unspent Corporate Social Responsibility Fund” (herein after referred as “the Fund”) for the purposes of sub-section (5) and (6) of section 135 of the Act. The Fund shall be utilized for the purposes of undertaking CSR projects in the in areas or subjects specified in schedule VII of the Act. Provided that until such fund is created the unspent CSR amount in terms of provisions of sub-section (5) and (6) of section 135 of the Act shall be transferred by the company to any fund as specified in schedule VII of the Act. (2) The manner of administration, authority for administration of the Fund shall be in accordance with such guidelines as may be prescribed by the Central Government from time to time.”

An addition of the e-form CSR-1 is proposed to be inserted. The annexure detailing FORMAT FOR THE ANNUAL REPORT ON CSR ACTIVITIES TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BOARD'S REPORT also proposed a significant change.

The Government of India has solicited public comments on the draft Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2020, which may be accessed at the web link. Comments, if any, may be submitted Online by end of business hours on 28th March 2020 positively.

National Water Mission launched “Catch the Rain” Campaign

18.03.2020

Last pre-monsoon was absorbed in election. This year, the National Water Mission #NWM, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (WR, RD & GR), Government of India has taken prompt step to make the nation ready to harvest rainwater, much before the rainy season. The Secretary, WR, RD & GR, Government of India, Shri U.P. Singh, on 13th March 2020, while addressing the inaugural session of the workshop on “Catch the Rain: Rain Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge Structures for Water Conservation” organized by the NWM in New Delhi, said there is a need to create mass awareness and involve the general public to give momentum to the campaign. He emphasized on the decentralization in rain water harvesting campaign. Deliberating on “Catch the Rain where it falls”, the Secretary stressed on making every possible efforts to ensure percolation of rainwater into the ground, irrespective of the catchments, be it the rooftop, airport or industry premises. This will augment the groundwater resources and also rejuvenate the rivers to flow. In this context he added that “One solution to pollution is dilution”.

Shri UP Singh said the priority government attaches to water conservation is evident from the fact that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in his first Mann ki Baat radio programme broadcast upon assuming office for the second term, was devoted to this theme. Underlining the importance of groundwater recharge, Shri UP Singh said while the five big dams in the country hold anywhere around 250 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) of water, the quantity of water stored in underground aquifers is about 400 BCM. Pointing out that the country still receives an average of more than 1,000 mm rainfall though its distribution is skewed, he said it is a matter of concern that only 8% of rainfall is harnessed while the rest is wasted as runoff.

Stressing on the need for Demand side Management of Water Resources, Shri UP Singh said even if we are able to save 10% water consumption in agriculture, it will make a big difference since agriculture comprises 85-89% of water usage in the country while about 5% usage is for drinking and domestic purposes. Calling for mass movement to rejuvenate water bodies, Shri UP Singh mentioned more than 500 traditional water bodies including wells have been revived in Udham Singh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh by utilizing MGNREGA resources and CSR funds.

Shri G. Asok Kumar, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, NWM, said the campaign “Catch the Rain” has been initiated as a part of the “Har Kaam Desh ke Naam” initiative, and to nudge states and stakeholders to keep ready Rainwater Harvesting Structures before the onset of the monsoon. He informed that the Government is working to set up of district level rain centers, where anyone can avail information on rainwater harvesting techniques and expertise.

Shri Suneel Kumar Arora, Advisor, NWM delivered the welcome address, and Shri J. P. Singh, Deputy Secretary, NWM gave the Vote of Thanks. Tweet us

MCA sanctions to prosecute in 366 cases in violation of CSR provisions

17.03.2020

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has accorded sanction for the prosecution in violation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) provisions in 366 cases besides 121 applications for compounding have been made and 37 cases have been compounded. All CSR related offences are compoundable. Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur informed in Lok Sabha on 16th March 2020 , in a written reply to a question.

Shri Thakur further stated that whenever any violation of CSR provisions is reported, action against such non-compliant Companies are initiated as per provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 after due examination of records following due process of law. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a Board driven process and the Board of the company is empowered to plan, decide, execute and monitor the CSR activities of the company based on the recommendation of its CSR Committee.

The Schedule VII of the Act enlists the activities, which may be included by companies in their CSR policy. The entire CSR architecture is disclosure based and CSR mandated companies are required to file details of CSR initiatives annually in MCA21 registry. It was also informed that the High-Level Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (HLC-2018) submitted its report to the Government on 07.08.2019. The report is available on the Ministry’s website at www.mca.gov.in. The recommendations of HLC-2018 is under consideration of the Ministry.

CSR for companies has been mandated through Companies Act, 2013 that came into effect since 01.04.2014. Section 135 of the Act enumerates the provisions concerning CSR and the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 prescribes the rules for implementation. All these were notified on 27th February, 2014 and came into effect since 01.04.2014. The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019 amended section 135 dealing with Corporate Social Responsibility. The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019 received President's assent and was published in Official Gazette on 31st July, 2019.

Urban Environment Allocated 2.93% for GMDA Capital Expenditure Budget

17.03.2020

Haryana Chief Minister, Shri Manohar Lal Khattar chaired the 6th meeting of Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) in Gurugram.

While discussing development projects the Chief Minister was briefed on improvement of the road from Old Delhi Road to Atlas Channel. He was told that there is a plan to develop this road as model road by GMDA. The road development work will be done including a number aspects, such as; cycle tracks, pedestrian, greenery, rainwater drainage, and so on. The Chief Minister has directed the officials to hold a meeting with companies in this regard so that the companies can come forward to improve the road under CSR.

Gurugram Municipal Corporation Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh informed that the roads are being cleaned by the Municipal Corporation, for which it is facilitated with four sweeping machines. Soon, the fifth machine will be put to use. In addition, the Municipal Corporation is also in the process of procurement of a small and hand held vacuumizer machine.

It was also apprised in the meeting that the government has planned to set up STPs in villages Bajgheda and Dhankot of 2 KLD capacity, each. These will be installed by the STP Development and Panchayat Department. In addition, one 25 MLD capacity STP is planned for villages Kasan, Khoh, Baskusla, Basharia and village Dhaana and Manesar and Naharpur Kasan. Construction of STP in village Bajgheda and Dhankot is expected to be completed by 31st December 2020, while the STP in IMT Manesar is scheduled by 31st December 2022. This proposal was also approved in the meeting.

Earlier, on 16th March 2020 in which budget proposals for 2020-21 was approved. It was budgeted that during the Financial Year 2020-21 GMDA will spend Rs. 1608.83 Crore in various items, while an inflow of Rs. 1,173 Crore envisaged.

It was shown that Rs. 528.21 Crore would be spent on capital works by GMDA, out of which Rs. 338.26 Crore is allocated for development of infrastructure, Rs. 100.95 Crore kept for mobility management. The budgeted expenditure on urban environment was pegged at Rs. 15.50 Crore, while Rs. 73.50 Crore allocated for social infrastructure. In addition, Rs. 522.48 Crore has been allocated to spend on EDC based activities. Further, Rs. 595.30 Crore has been allocated to operation and maintenance expenses, out of which Rs. 250.53 Crore allotted for drinking water supply, sewerage and drainage.

Tata Power Club Enerji Sustainability Movement saved 298 Lakh Unit Power since 2007

16.03.2020

Tata Power as claimed to be India’s largest integrated power has initiated a sustainability drive "Club Enerji". The initiative has brought in 533 participating schools across India, which has reportedly saved 29.8 million units of power since 2007. Club Enerji started in the year 2007. At an average per capita consumption of around 1,200 units, the savings in power can be equated to the annual consumption for around 25,000 households in India. Tata Power’s Club Enerji by involving school children.

According to a press release, Tata Power Club Enerji is described as a ‘reverse parenting’ platform to propagate efficient usage of energy and to educate the society on climate change issues. Through this innovative platform that advocates the larger sustainability message to society through school children offers simple energy-saving and resource-conserving tips, that makes considerable difference in protecting the planet and strengthening India’s energy security. The release also states that during the current financial year, Tata Power which is also India’s largest integrated utility initiated four fresh campaigns including 'I have the Power', ILiveSimply, #SwitchOff2SwitchOn’ and 'I Can' to further the success of Club Enerji among the youth of India. These campaigns that were also promoted on popular social media platforms.

Ms. Shalini Singh, Chief-Corporate Communications & Sustainability, Tata Power, said, Tata Power Club Enerji is one of the most successful energy conservation programme that we have initiated. In many ways this program has now proven to be at least a decade ahead of what is now a powerful global movement – youth speaking the message of sustainability and climate change to power. As for its impact, we believe the numbers speak for themselves. Such a scale of success would not have been possible without the whole-hearted support of children, parents and teachers and thousands of our colleagues in Tata Power. In the coming months and years, we hope to scale this up to make it an even bigger national movement.”

Through the sustainability movement the members are guided through a 4-stage principle: Educate, Enhance, Engage, and Empower. Thus, the members are empowered in developing a self-sustained community that will take the cause forward. The programme concentrates on awareness generation by educating children on the importance of energy and resource conservation and moral & civic values. The primary sensitization includes three visits made to the same set of children to reinforce the message of energy & resource conservation. These interactive sessions through flash modules, presentation and competitions are undertaken to reinforce the content and assess the integration of thoughts into action.

School children are trained to understand the moral & civic values, interpretation of electricity bills, basic steps that will help curb wastage of power with the help of Energy Audits and Energy Calculators, how to reduce the use of fuel, water, manage waste & plant trees, optimum use of electrical gadgets/ devices at home and sharing the effective practices adopted & results within their immediate circle.

According to a communication, as part of this initiative to monitor the impact of the programme, Tata Power confers titles like Energy Champions on young students, who actively practice and propagate energy saving and resource conservation while practising moral and civic values. Active outreach members who help spread the energy conservation message are crowned as Energy Ambassadors. These young Energy Champions move ahead in spreading the cause by further sensitizing their friends, families, and neighbourhood, together with leading this movement of conservation of energy and moral and civic values, across the nation.

MoEF&CC brings out draft of EIA Notification 2020

11.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has brought out the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 notification. The notification will be applicable to whole of India including territorial waters.

The notification defines “Accredited Environment Impact Assessment Consultant Organization (ACO)” is an organization that is accredited with the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) of Quality Council of India (QCI) or any other agency, as may be notified by the Ministry from time to time.

The notification has provision for “District or Divisional Level Expert Appraisal Committee (DEAC)”, which is a committee of experts constituted for the purpose of this notification, at district level or at divisional level, by the SEIAA or UTIAA in exercise of powers conferred under the section 23 of the Act, on the recommendation of the State Government or Union Territory administration, for environment appraisal of projects referred to it, and for making appropriate recommendations.

“Study area” has been described as the immediate surrounding area within an aerial distance of, 10 km around the boundary of the project falling under Category ‘A’ or 5 km around the boundary of the project falling under Category ‘B’, as the case may be.

According to the draft notification, “Violation” means cases where projects have either started the construction work or installation or excavation, whichever is earlier, on site or expanded the production and / or project area beyond the limit specified in the prior-EC without obtaining prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be. And, “Non-compliance” means non-compliance of terms and conditions prescribed in the Prior Environment Clearance or Prior Environment Permission to the project.

The new notification has deliberated on the compliance reporting system. Instead of six-monthly compliance reporting, only one annual report shall be mandatory. It shall be mandatory for the project proponent to submit compliance reports in respect of conditions stipulated in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, pertaining to previous financial year by 30th June, online through the designated portal. The yearly compliance report shall be submitted, each year, from the date of grant of prior-EC, till the project life, to the Regulatory Authority concerned. However, Regulatory Authority can seek such compliance reports at more frequent intervals, if deemed necessary.

In case of failure to submit yearly compliance reports in respect of the conditions stipulated in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, pertaining to previous financial year by 30th June, of the relevant financial year, a late fee of Rs. 500/- per day in case of Category ‘B2’ projects; Rs. 1000/- per day in case of Category ‘B1’ projects; and Rs. 2,500/- per day in case of Category ‘A’ projects shall be levied. If such non-submission of the compliance reports in respect of the stipulated conditions in prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, conditions continue for a period of consecutive three years, the prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, shall be deemed to have been revoked without any notice in this regard. The latest compliance report shall also be displayed on the web site of the project proponent. The compliance monitoring of conditions prescribed in respect of prior-EC, for Category ‘B1’ and prior-EP for Category ‘B2’ projects, shall be carried out by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) or Union Territory Pollution Control Committee (UTPCC). The monitoring report shall be uploaded on the designated web portal within fifteen days from the date of inspection. Notwithstanding above provisions, to supplement the efforts of the Ministry for monitoring through Regional office of the Ministry, Regional Directorate of CPCB, SPCB or UTPCC, the Ministry may empanel government institutions of national repute for carrying out compliance monitoring of conditions of prior-EC or prior-EP, as the case may be, of projects in a random manner. Section 23 of the proposed EIA 2020 notification deliberates on dealing with the cases of non-compliance. Section 23(6) spells that on conclusion of the proceeding, the Expert Committee shall make categorical recommendations to the project proponent for time bound action plan for compliance of the conditions of prior-EC conditions and the amount of the bank guarantee deposited as an assurance for the purpose of compliance with the SPCB or UTPCC, as the case may be. The bank guarantee will be released after successful implementation of the action plan and on the recommendations of the Regional office of the Ministry or Regional Directorate of CPCB in case of Category “A” projects; SPCB or UTPCC in case of the Category “B” projects.

Elevated roads and standalone flyovers or bridges >1,50,000 SQM of built-up area shall be appraised under B2 category of EIA projects. Section 26 details the list of exception of projects/cases shall not require prior-EC or prior-EP, which includes Country Liquor (e.g. based on Mahuwa flower, Cashew, etc.) units up to capacity of 10 kilo liter per day.

Validity of EC to projects except Mining, River Valley or Irrigation projects or Nuclear power projects shall be 10 years.

The MoEF&CC has down the procedure to bring such violation projects under the regulations in the interest of environment at the earliest point of time rather than leaving them unregulated and unchecked, which will be more damaging to the environment.

The notification further states that any person interested in making any objections or suggestions on the proposal contained in the draft notification may forward the same in writing for consideration of the Central Government within the period so specified to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh Road, Aliganj, New Delhi-110 003, or send it to the e-mail address at eia2020-moefcc@gov.in.

Manufacturers will be bound to provide Disposal Packets with Sanitary Pads from January 2021: Shri Prakash Javadekar

08.03.2020

On the special occasion of International Women’s day, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and M/o Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar said "We should address the waste pickers as ‘Swachhta Sevika’ from this as they are doing a great service to the nation. The Union Minister was interacting with female workers’ SWaCH Pune, a wholly-owned workers’ cooperative on the occasion of International Women’s day 2020. Though, SWaCH became formally operational from 2006, its history dates back to 1993. Door to door collection of waste is an important service offered by SWaCH to Pune’s citizens. SWaCH also offers other products, programmes and services through SWaCH Plus, which aims to involve citizens in recycling and sustainable living.

Shri Javadekar also said, “I celebrate my Diwali with waste-pickers to understand their work and problems, we all city dwellers want garbage shed for us, but not too close from our home. This mindset should change. I have decided to give funds from Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund for construction of 50 big and 50 small garbage sheds which are designed by SWaCH.”

“At the same time, we have observed that production and usage of sanitary napkins and diapers has greatly increased in the country, however they are still being discarded in a way which is harmful to waste-pickers. We will implement the rule that January 2021 onwards all sanitary pad manufacturers will have to compulsorily give degradable bags for disposal of each sanitary napkin. This rule is already in existence but is not being followed by the manufacturers", the Minister added.

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change further said that "We have to ensure that decentralized model wherein garbage by educational institutes and housing societies should be disposed at the premises itself. There is rule for compulsory picking of garbage and disposal for municipal towns, this rule will be made compulsory for all the habitations with more than 3000 population. With steps like these the dream of Swachh Bharat of Prime Minister Modi will be realized."

Shri Javadekar while commemorating International Women’s Day with Swachata Sevika’s said that, “The women have 4 important qualities namely consistency, compassion, courage and capacity for decision-making. I salute the Swachhta sevikas gathered here today who help in realizing the dream of Swachh, Swasth, Hit and Fit India.”

On this occasion, Smt. Laxmi Narayan, Founder of SWaCH said on this occasion that, “Garbage should be disposed off in decentralized way. The money spent on transport of garbage should be utilized in encouraging people to make garbage into compost at the source. It will be great help if the plant buying plastic waste is located in Pune, which shall create value and provide incentive for waste pickers and segregation.”

Smt. Rani Shivsaran, Swachhta Sevika representing 3500 Swachhata sevikas from the SWaCH group requested that a permanent separate shed for sorting of garbage at each ward will help greatly in this work. She further said initiatives like V-Collect (V for Victory) help in collecting items from homes which are lying unused and prove additional source of income for these Sevikas.

Solid waste management has been a major focus in recent years. Many cities are gearing up to work rigorously on Zero Waste to Landfill. Converting garbage into compost at source has started in some places. However, there is a need to push it further to channelize the appropriate characterization and use of compost. Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers have to play significant role ahead with regard to analysis of compost quality for betting use in agricultural and non-agricultural fields.

On-shore and Off-shore Oil and Gas Exploration Projects or Activities need EC from SEIAAs

07.03.2020

The Government of India has re-categorized the on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration projects or activities from Category ‘A’ to Category ‘B2’ vide notification number S.O. 236 (E) dated the 16th January 2020. Any Project Proponent will, in the present scheme of things, have to apply to State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Therefore, the final decision as to whether to allow any particular project in any particular region would continue to vest with the State Government. Further, such projects are also required to obtain Consent to Operate under the Air and Water Acts from State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees, as applicable. This information was given by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in the Lok Sabha, in a reply to questions raised by Sh. A. Ganeshamurthi, MP and Sh. Uttam Kumar Reddy Nalamada, MP.

Further, it was also stated that the Government has re-categorized the on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration projects or activities from Category ‘A’ to Category ‘B2’ on the following grounds:-

(1) Exploratory drilling is a temporary activity and will be completed in three to four months without having any permanent establishment or setup at the exploratory site.

(2) The exploratory wells are drilled only for appraisal without taking out any commercial production at this stage. It is in fact, a prospecting activity for ascertaining the presence of Hydrocarbons.

(3) Exploratory drilling involves a small piece of land admeasuring 110x110 sq.m. which has limited scope of waste generation along with minimal environmental impacts for a short span.

(4) There is no requirement of prior-environmental clearance even in case of exploration of coal and other major or minor minerals,.

(5) Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) shall still be required from the respective State Pollution Control Board or Union Territory Pollution control Committees, as the case may be, to ensure the environmental safeguards.

Total 18 number of onshore and offshore oil and gas exploratory drilling projects were given prior Environmental Clearances by the Government across the country during 2015-2019.

Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Industrial Sector

Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) means the reuse of treated wastewater in process or in domestic usages except in horticulture.

Chennai Metro sells 36 million liter per day (MLD) treated wastewater to 31 industrial establishments at Rs. 10.2 per kiloliter.

National Water Mission promotes Zero Discharge of Rainwater from the premises through “Catch the Rain Campaign”.

Sanjaya K.Mishra

After the success of “Sahi Fasal” campaign, the National Water Mission (NWM), Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, has started a series of national workshop on “Increasing Water Use Efficiency in Industrial Sector”. The first workshop was organized on 5th March 2020 at Scope Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. The aim of this campaign is to nudge Indian businesses to manage their water use, and the business-risks emanating from this dependency on water, in a more efficient and responsible manner; through review of current water usage pattern and identify opportunities to enhance water use efficiency. Many experts from coal based Thermal Power Plants, Pulp and Paper, and Textile participated in the workshop, which deliberated on the challenges and opportunities in managing water risks from industry perspectives; leveraging policies, legal, institutional and economic instruments to encourage water stewardship among businesses; evaluating extant multi-stakeholder initiatives; and sharing lessons and best practices from across the spectrum of stakeholders and geographies.

In his welcome address Shri G. Asok Kumar, Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NWM emphasized that as India is heading towards 5 Trillion economy, improved water efficiency in industries will become indispensable to avert any water insecurity in business and industrial production.

Shri U. P. Singh, Secretary, Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation (WRRD&GR), Ministry of Jal Shakti, described climate change as a new elephant in the room. He perorated that though, rainfall quantity has not changed, there is a change in the distribution of rainfall, which is an outcome of climate change. Shri Singh highlighted on Water Heritage sites in India and also Corporate Water Responsibility. Citing reference to data, 140 liter of freshwater requirement per cup of coffee, the Secretary, WRRD&GR said “Water quality and quantity are very much interlinked. Therefore, establishing water footprints in every product is significant.”

“National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency is going to be established by the Government of India, which would work on the line of Bureau of Energy Efficiency to grant star rating for various products”, he added.

Shri Singh also pointed out that in earlier times, there was no consideration of water for setting up industries. In contemporary situation, there is a huge public pressure for closure of industries. Several complaints are being received regarding reverse pumping by industrial establishments, and also excessive abstraction of groundwater leading to water stress situations. This has necessitated the industries to ponder upon their water policies and also come forward with Corporate Water Responsibility.

Shri Anshuman, Associate Director, Water Resources Division, The Energy Research Institute (TERI) in a presentation enlightened that the Thermal Power Plants have reduced from 4800 liter per Mega Watt (MW) to 3200 liter per MW through regular water audits. Citing an example of revenue generation from wastewater treatment, he said that Chennai Metro sells 36 million liter per day (MLD) treated wastewater to 31 industrial establishments at Rs. 10.2 per kiloliter. He further underlined that Water Policies must be established by all corporates and industries. 8 billion cubic meter (BCM) water could be saved if it is used efficiently in industries, he added.

Four presentations were made in the first plenary session with the theme Enhancing Water Use Efficiency: Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions, chaired by Shri J. P. Singh, Deputy Secretary, NWM. Shri B. P. Thapliyal, Director, Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute gave an insight on paper production in India vis-à-vis water management. Shri Thapliyal informed that in the wood based paper industries, which is only 19 in numbers, less than 50 cubic meter water is consumed per ton of paper, while agro-based paper mills, which is 37 in numbers, consume 50 to 60 cubic meter water is consumed per ton of paper. However, water consumption in recycled fiber based paper industry, which is maximum in number (445) stands to be nearly 15 – 25 cubic meter water per ton of paper. He also apprised that the challenge in water management is the cost of water is less as compared to the cost of treatment and recycling of wastewater.

Shri Jayant Joshi, Chief General Manager, Engineers India Limited presented case studies of water management in refineries. He deliberated that the capital cost as well as the operational cost towards treatment and recycling of wastewater in refineries is significantly high. The process also has a high carbon footprint, which needs to be considered from technical aspects for the environmental conservation.

UNIDO’s National Project Coordinator, Shri Debajit Das emphasized on the need of efficient use of water citing the reason that a 400% increase in water consumption envisaged in industrial sector. He deliberated on resource efficiency including water as a resource and also cleaner production. He spoke about the establishment of revolving fund to support the members in industrial parks.

Vice Chairman, Uttar Pradesh Leather Industries, Taj Alam spoke about the challenges, opportunities and solutions in the tannery industries. He presented a case study of a tannery unit that has been awarded by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as Asia’s best. He made a point that selection of right raw material and avoiding preservatives are key solutions in tannery industries.

Dr. Ramnath Sonawane, Secretary, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) apprised the participants about water usage pattern in Maharashtra state. He said 15% of water is used in domestic, 80% in agriculture and 5% in industry sector. The treated wastewater from domestic source could be utilized in agriculture to reduce fresh water use, he added. Dr. Sonwane stressed upon the need to motivate urban and rural local bodies to focus on actual treatment of wastewater and its utilization in order to bring significant change in water conservation.

The second plenary session with the theme Towards Zero Liquid Discharge in the industries – Reality Check was chaired by Shri Suneel Kumar Arora, Advisor (C&W), NWM. In the session, Dr. M. S. Parmar, Joint Director, National India Textile Research Association (NITRA) said that Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) is not properly defined till date. In his presentation, Dr. Parmar dealt with water consumption data specific to textile industries. To attain a specific colour shade, sometimes it is required to process, reprocess and continue reprocessing for hours and hours, which leads to extremely high volume of water consumption. Dr. Parmar suggested to opt lighter shades in textile, which is less water intensive. He gave an insight to various options available to attain reduction in water consumption in textile industries. Dr. Vivek Kumar, Prof. from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi in his talk mentioned the definition of ZLD as the reuse of treated wastewater in process or in domestic usages. He said that many distillery industries in India have attained ZLD in real terms. However, while describing the pros and cons of ZLD Dr. Vivek Kumar mentioned that a significant increase in carbon footprint is envisaged during the process of attaining ZLD in paper industries. Shri Yogesh Kumar Sharma, DGM, NTPC, Raipur made a presentation on water consumption and scope of water conservation in thermal power plants. He said water consumption increases with low plant load factor. Shri John Thomas, Technical Advisor, GIZ deliberated on challenges pertaining to ZLD. He highlighted that attaining ZLD in industries like pharmaceutical and food sectors is not feasible. Therefore, imposing condition of ZLD implementation should be seen from a practical angle.

Shri Tejdeep Singh, Scientist D, NWM chaired the third and final plenary session with the theme Stakeholders’ perspectives towards enhancing WVE in industries. In the session, Shri Makrand Barhanpurkar, Uni Head – Bhadrachalam, ITC Ltd. shared on how they have attained carbon positive for 14 consecutive years, water positive for 17 consecutive years and positive in solid waste recycling for 12 consecutive years. Dr. Arvind Kumar, President of India Water Foundation deliberated on circular principle of 3R to 12R. Shri M. A. Patil, Senior Director (Resource & Management), FICCI perorated on increasing productivity by taking various measures such as reducing water and energy bills, resource optimization and solid waste management, and so on. He detailed some key drivers for water efficiency in industries, through which many sectors are continuously minimizing water footprints. He also suggested for regular water and wastewater audits. Dr. Vikrant Tyagi, Project Coordinator, GIZ gave an insightful comparison of water policy prevailing in European Union, Italy, Spain and that in India with focus on Gujarat and Haryana. Dr. Tyagi highlighted that India is not having a Federal Water Policy that could guide the states. River management policies are also not available in India. He said that Italy covers 55 parameters in treated sewage, while India has just set limits for 7 parameters as per NGT Order dated 30th April 2019. Dr. Tyagi also gave weightage on water foot prints.

Addl. Secretary and Mission Director, NWM, Shri G. Asok Kumar delivered closing remarks and extended vote of thanks. Expressing his satisfaction on the successful completion of the first workshop in the series, he said that the talks will be compiled and taken for necessary action. Shri Kumar mentioned that the policy makers as well as regulators must act with a practical approach. The Additional Secretary also said that “One important outcome of this workshop is water pricing. Water needs to be quantified by metering. Industry needs to be motivated to adopt measures towards efficient use of water.”

The Mission Director of NWM also highlighted that Gujarat has implemented a very strict water policy, by which they allow NOCs to industries, only when they have an industrial water policy. Therefore, groundwater level in Gujarat has not gone down much.

Before closing, he also informed about two important subjects. One was about the “Catch the Rain Campaign”. The campaign is focused to be ready with all rainwater harvesting structures within the month of May. This campaign will target not only the rooftop rainwater harvesting, but also rain on the ground. Especially, the huge open land area in the Indian Army, Defence, Airports and other institutions, an even industries will be earmarked to ensure Zero Discharge of Rainwater from the premises. Secondly, he also informed about the Water Talk, which is organized by the NWM on every third Friday of a month. It was informed that 12 water talks have been organized successfully. Many acclaimed speakers from policy makers to researchers to real heroes such as Padma Vibhushan Anil Prakash Joshi, Padmashri Popat Rao Pawar, and so on, have delivered valuable talks. The 13th Water Talk may be a special one, when the Union Minister for Jal Shakti may grace the occasion. The Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Water Mission called upon all the participants to spread the message regarding Catch the rain Campaign and Water Talk.

Conference on NEWMA Draft Bill chaired by Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

06.03.2020

The Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat presided over the Conference of Chief Ministers / Ministers of Water Resources of the North-Eastern Region on the Draft Bill in respect of proposed North East Water Management Authority (NEWMA), in New Delhi, today.

The Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura, Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Water Resources Ministers of NER States participated in the Conference. Secretary, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, Shri UP Singh, and other senior officers of concerned Central and State Governments also attended the deliberations.

It is noteworthy that a High Level Committee, under the chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, had recommended setting up a new entity i.e. North Eastern Water Management Authority (NEWMA) parallel to Brahmaputra Board for the proper management of water resources in North Eastern Region. The report of the expert committee for suggesting immediate measures for proper management of water resources in North Eastern India and the draft report of the High Level committee was circulated, during FY 2018-19, to the states for their views and suggestions.

Decline Trend in Elephant Deaths due to Train Accidents

06.03.2020

According to information received from States, death of India’s national heritage animal— the elephant, in train accidents has been showing a declining trend. As stated by Shri Babul Supriyo, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, today, this is a result of concerted efforts taken by the Central and State Governments.

As per the Minister's statement, a number of preventing measures were taken by Zonal Railways in coordination with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have resulted in saving of elephants.

Earlier in an order dated 2.9.2014 in Writ Petition W.P. (C) No. 107 of 2013 Shakti Prasad Nayak Vs. Union of India & Ors. the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had stated that the depletion of the clan of the elephants has been a worrying feature of protection and sustenance of wildlife. There has been a constant uproar about the apathy shown to such accidents, which are avoidable in today's progressive technology. The Supreme Court had issued directions as to necessary steps be taken by the Railways all over the country to reduce the speed limit of running trains that are passing through dense forests. It was also directed that in case a speed limit is not followed/ appropriate action should be taken against the erring drivers and officials concerned. The Supreme Court direction also stated that the Indian Railways to take steps to discontinue the movement of goods trains at night between Siliguri and Alipurduar and divert fast moving and night trains through Siliguri -Falakata route.

It is noteworthy that according to the Elephant Census 2017, the population was pegged at 27, 312 across 23 states. This was a decrease by about 3,000, as compared to last census in 2012.

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the population of Asian elephants was about 41,410 to 52,345 and of that India alone accounts for nearly 60%.

No Special Scheme to Promote plantation in the Private Sector

06.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) does not implement any special scheme to promote plantation in the private sector. However, tree plantation, and afforestation in the country is taken up under various schemes of different Ministries of Government of India and State Plan/Non-plan schemes, and by NGOs, Civil Societies, Corporate bodies, etc. This information was given by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and M/o Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in a reply to a question raised by Shri Shankar Lalwani, Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha.

The statement laid in the house further states that as per information received from Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, a Sub-Mission on Agroforestry under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture is being implemented since 2016-17 to promote plantation on farmlands. The scheme is being implemented in 20 States and UTs. A restructured National Bamboo Mission (NBM) has also been launched in 2018-19 by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. The objective of the National Bamboo Mission includes increasing the area under bamboo plantation on non-forest government land and private lands to supplement farm income as well as availability of quality raw material for industries.

Promotion of plantation in private sector needs to be given thrust. The projects, which are accorded environmental clearance are specified with a condition that requires a specific area to be covered under tree and green cover. However, considering the pollution and land degradation issues, tree cover is more important than green cover. The condition of 33% tree cover needs to be implemented. There were several cases, where the proposal of project expansion, by lowering the greenbelt area were accepted by the MoEF&CC. One example is the grant of EC to expansion of “Group Housing” at SIEL Complex, Shivaji Marg, New Delhi-110015 DLF Homes Developers.

National Chambal Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Oussudu Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu declared Eco Sensitive Zones

03.03.2020

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) notifies an area with an extent varying from zero to 1.91 kilometers around the boundary of Oussudu Lake Birds Sanctuary in the State of Tamil Nadu as Eco-sensitive Zone. The Ministry has also notified zero to 2 kilometers around the boundary of National Chambal Sanctuary in the State of Madhya Pradesh as Eco-sensitive Zone.

Oussudu Lake, located is a large shallow wetland in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Situated at about 12 kilometers from Puducherry Town on the western side on Puducherry –Villupuram –Valuthavur main road, it is the most important fresh water lake. Much of the Ousteri bank along the Tamil Nadu side consists of rural settlements, the Pondicherry side of the lake is predominantly urban or suburban. The circumference of the lake is 7.275 kilometers and the total catchment area of lake is 15.54 square kilometers. It receives water mainly from Suthukeni check dam through Suthukeni canal and the run-off from the Lake basin. The Suthukeni check dam is constructed across the river Sankaraparani. The major water source for the Suthukeni dam is the excess water from Veedur dam, Viluppuram District of Tamil Nadu State.

The total area of the tank is 8.00 square kilometers, which is nearly 800 hectare; of which 3.90 square kilometers had been proposed by the Government of Puducherry as a Sanctuary and 3.31 square kilometers has been surveyed, proposed and then notified by the Government of Tamil Nadu as a Bird Sanctuary.

Oussudu lake is an example of degrading wetlands. Oussudu plays a vital role in recharging the ground water aquifers for Villupuram and Pondicherry, which is largely dependent on groundwater for its drinking water supply. It also protects the underground aquifers from sea water ingress. Ousteri Lake has been facing serious threats from multiple fronts such as reclamation, agriculture, siltation, weed invasion and poaching. The lake serves as an important corridor for the migratory birds, which move to Point Calimere during winter. Every year during the months of October to February large congregation of water birds can be seen in thousands in this swamp.

The area supports diverse flora rich in rare and endemic elements. It is a monsoonal lake and the northeast monsoons leave Ousteri lake flooded during the winter months and goes partially dry during summer months. The vegetation of the study area is very diverse, ranging from small herbs to very large trees including many aquatic plants. The lake though small contains diverse flora and fauna that includes nearly 480 plant species belonging to 317 genera and spreading over 92 families.

The National Chambal Sanctuary lies across Sheopur, Morena and Bhind districts of Madhya Pradesh with a length of 435 kilometers and area of 435 square kilometres. It is home of naturally living population of 75% of the critically endangered species of Gharial. The sanctuary also harbours national aquatic animal - the fresh water gangetic dolphins, nine species of fresh water turtles and more the 180 species of migratory birds.

After the publication of the notifications, no new polluting industries shall be permitted to be set up within the Eco-sensitive Zone. However, only non-polluting industries shall be allowed within Eco-sensitive Zone as per the classification of Industries in the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board in February, 2016, unless so specified in this notification, and in addition, the non-polluting cottage industries shall be promoted.

Tata Power Tops as India’s Most Respected Companies in Energy Sector

03.03.2020

Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power utility has emerged as one of India’s Most Respected Companies, according to the Annual survey for 2020 by Business World, one of India’s widely read business magazines. The company has been ranked 14th among all the companies surveyed across various sectors for the 2020 edition of BW Business world’s Most Respected Companies study by TechSci Research. The Company is also featured as number 1 in energy sector and number 3 in Infrastructure, power and heavy engineering.

Mr Praveer Sinha, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Power, said, “Tata Power’s journey as a leader in India’s energy sector has been truly transformational in nation building. What started as a hydropower company more than century ago is today one of India’s leading energy companies, a feat achieved by constantly reinventing itself to serve the needs of its customers and staying relevant to all stakeholders. Tata Power is also fast emerging as leader in the renewable energy sector covering the entire spectrum of application including rooftop solar solutions & solar microgrids and a growing national network of charging stations for electric vehicles.”

The study by TechSci Research mapped how employees and self – employed individuals in India perceive organisations. The exercise measured perception of 80+ companies across parameters such as effective growth plans, financial return, innovative products & services, trustworthy leadership, technological innovation, corporate social responsibility, women-friendly policies and work culture.

Tata Power is poised to become an energy solutions company, moving away from the narrow definition of a power developer or distributor. Currently Tata Power is offering the rooftop solar services in 70 cities. By 2020 end the service will be available in 100 cities. The plan for rural India is to set up microgrids with micro enterprises, initially in 200 villages and ultimately in 10,000 villages. The Company hopes to expand its distribution presence from 3 cities to 10-12 & have already won distribution circles of Odisha doubling its consumer base to 5 million consumers. According to a press release by the company, Tata Power is also teaming up with Tata Motors & other automakers to build charging stations for electric vehicles and hopes to grow the business from nine cities and 100 charging points currently to several folds.

Raghav Chadha is new Vice-Chairman of Delhi Jal Board

03.03.2020

Shri Raghav Chadha, the young and vibrant AAP Spokesperson and MLA from Rajinder Nagar Legislative Assembly constituency takes over as the new Vice Chairman of Delhi Jal Board (DJB). After resuming office, Shri Chadha said “I express my gratitude to my leader CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal for believing in me. Provision of 24x7 clean piped water to all households and a clean Yamuna are key priorities of the Kejriwal government, I will make every possible effort to make it a reality.”

The new Vice Chairman added that "The target for the DJB is to reduce discharge of sewer waste by 25% each year, with the objective of zero sewer waste discharge into the river moving ahead."

Emphasizing on the importance of groundwater rejuvenation, he said "Once Delhi was bestowed with approx. 1000 water bodies. Delhi government is working to restore the water bodies and determined to bring back the ecological balance. Pilot projects at Gogha Lake and Rajokri Lake has been commissioned which has become a prototype with regard to groundwater augmentation."

"DJB will ensure that improvement in per capita water availability," he added.

Our immediate priority is to prepare a Summer Action Plan to handle peak summer water demand. DJB would work on increasing the water supply in water deficient areas, improving efficiency and faster redressal of complaints, Chadha said.

The new Vice Chairman reviewed DJB's ongoing efforts in violence affected North-East Delhi and took stock of the water supply situation in the affected areas. He directed DJB Officials to ensure effective supply of safe drinking water to the people in the affected areas, including additional deployment of water tankers, wherever required. Shri Chadha also reaffirmed that the DJB will work round the clock in the service of the people.