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SC turns down Opposition plea for increased VVPAT verification

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Supreme Court dismissed a plea by 21 Opposition parties to review its judgement rejecting 50% random physical verification of EVMs using VVPATs
  • On April 8, a SC bench had directed the Election Commission of India to increase physical counting of VVPAT slips to five random EVMs in each Assembly segment/constituency.
  • Before this judgement, ECI guidelines required physical counting of only one EVN in every Assembly Constituency.

 

For more on EVMs and VVPATs read current affairs of April 30, 2019

 

Rajasthan to execute business reforms plan on time

Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The Rajasthan Government has decided to execute the Business Reforms Action Plan (BRAP) on time this year for facilitating ease of business in order to maintain the State’s ranking as of the the top achievers in the field.

 

What is the Business Reforms Action Plan?

  • Business Reforms Action Plan includes recommendations for reforms on regulatory processes, policies, practices and procedures in 12 areas that include online single window system for approval, maintenance of land records, central inspection framework, tax enablers, labour regulations and obtaining electricity connection.
  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under Ministry of Commerce, has stated that this year they propose to undertake a 100 percent feedback based assessment on 76 reform measures under Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) 2019.
  • DPIIT is the monitoring agency for the BRAP and it is being implemented by the State governments.

 

Fall armyworm a threat to crops in Adilabad, Manipur

Paper : General Studies 3

 

Why in news?

  • Agriculture scientists and environmentalists predict that the deadly pest fall armyworm (FAW) could turn into a scourge for farmers in the Adilabad district in the coming crop seasons.
  • The pest which had primarily attacked the maize crop had damaged the crop to the extent of 90% in some cases and is expected to attack even cotton and soyabean crops.
  • A team of scientists have also discovered the FAW in maize in Manipur for the first time as well.

 

What is the fall armyworm?

  • The Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.
  • It is a polyphagous insect that can feed on many host plants and can cause complete devastation of a field within short time
  • It prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
  • FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and has quickly spread across virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In July 2018 it was confirmed in India and Yemen. Because of trade and the moth’s strong flying ability, it has the potential to spread further.
  • Intercropping maize with red gram and use of pheromone traps can be done to reduce the impact of FAW attacks.

 

Karnataka has no right to utilise Pennaiyar water : Tamil Nadu

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Tamil Nadu has told the Supreme Court that Karnataka has no right to utilise the water of the inter-state river Pennaiyar to the detriment of the people of Tamil Nadu
  • This statement was made against Karnataka’s work on check dams and diversion structures on the river.
  • According to the 1892 Madras-Mysore agreement, Karnataka cannot take up any work on the river without Tamil Nadu’s consent. Tamil Nadu contends that this extends to the river’s streams and tributaries as well.

 

About the Pennaiyar/Ponnaiyar River

  • The river originates in the Nandi Hills in the Chikkaballapura district of Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The river is dry for the most part of the year. Water flows during the monsoon season when it is fed by the south-west monsoon in catchment area and the northeast monsoon in Tamil Nadu.
  • Tributaries include Markandeya and Pambar

 

Road Accidents still cause more deaths : WHO

Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

 

  • Road accidents are the leading cause of death among people in the 5 – 29 age group worldwide with more than 1.35 million lives lost each year and 50 million sustaining injuries according to a WHO report.
  • Since 2008, India has maintained the dubious distinction of being number one in the world in road crash deaths.
  • In 2015, India had signed the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety wherein India had committed to halving road crash deaths by 2020 but it is nowhere near its goal.
  • Based on official data, road crashes kill close to 1.5 lakh people per year but WHO global status report says that this number may be near 2.99 lakhs.
  • The reasons for this trend include rapid urbanisation, poor safety, lack of enforcement, distracted, influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and a failure to wear seatbelts or helmets.

 

What is the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety?

  • Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety hosted by Brazil and WHO adopted Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety.
  • It lays down recommendations on strengthening existing legislations, adopting sustainable transport and strengthening post-crash response.
  • In the declaration, participants reasserted their commitment to reduce the deaths caused due to traffic accidents to half by the year 2020. This target was set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The declaration promotes sustainable commuting ways and prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
  • It recommends “implementation and enforcement of policies and measures to protect and promote, in an active way, pedestrian safety and cyclists’ mobility, such as sidewalks, bike paths and bike lanes, proper lighting, radars with cameras, signalling and road marking”.
  • The declaration further urges states to adapt road safety policies for the benefit of the vulnerable road users, children, youth, older persons and persons with disabilities.
  • India is a signatory to the declaration.

 

Government asks SC to rethink elevation of two HC judges

Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Central Government has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its recommendation to elevate two judges to the Supreme Court citing regional imbalance.
  • Both the judges were recommended for elevation by a five judge bench Supreme Court Collegium led by the Chief Justice of India on April 12.
  • The Collegium is expected to meet soon to decide on the government’s suggestion.
  • If the collegium reiterates the names, the government is bound to process the appointments.

What is the process of appointing judges to the Supreme Court of India?

  • As held by the court in the Three Judges Cases – (1982, 1993, 1998), a judge is appointed to the supreme court by the president on the recommendation of the collegium  — a closed group of the Chief Justice of India, the four most senior judges of the court and the senior-most judge hailing from the high court of a prospective appointee.
  • The Executive has been given the power to reject a name or ask the collegium to reconsider.
  • In 2015, the parliament passed a law to replace the collegium with a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). This was struck down as unconstitutional by the supreme court, in the Fourth Judges’ Case, as the new system would undermine the independence of the judiciary.