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Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Why in the news?

Lok Sabha has passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019

What are the key provisions of the Bill?

  • Definition of a transgender person: The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth.  It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar and hijra.  Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia, chromosomes, or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
  • Prohibition against discrimination: The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to: (i) education; (ii) employment; (iii) healthcare; (iv) access to, or enjoyment of goods, facilities, opportunities available to the public; (v) right to movement; (vi) right to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property; (vii) opportunity to hold public or private office; and (viii) access to a government or private establishment in whose care or custody a transgender person is.
  • Right of residence: Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.  If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
  • Employment: No government or private entity can discriminate against a transgender person in employment matters, including recruitment, and promotion.  Every establishment is required to designate a person to be a complaint officer to deal with complaints in relation to the Act.
  • Education: Educational institutions funded or recognised by the relevant government shall provide inclusive education, sports and recreational facilities for transgender persons, without discrimination.
  • Health care: The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.  The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
  • Certificate of identity for a transgender person: A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.  A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female. 
  • Welfare measures by the government: The Bill states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.  It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training and self-employment, create schemes that are transgender sensitive, and promote their participation in cultural activities. 
  • Offences and penalties: The Bill recognizes the following offences against transgender persons: (i) forced or bonded labour (excluding compulsory government service for public purposes), (ii) denial of use of public places, (iii) removal from household, and village, (iv) physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse.  Penalties for these offences vary between six months and two years, and a fine.
  • National Council for Transgender persons (NCT): The NCT will consist of: (i) Union Minister for Social Justice (Chairperson); (ii) Minister of State for Social Justice (Vice- Chairperson); (iii) Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice; (iv) one representative from ministries including Health, Home Affairs, and Human Resources Development.  Other members include representatives of the NITI Aayog, and the National Human Rights Commission. State governments will also be represented. The Council will also consist of five members from the transgender community and five experts from non-governmental organisations.
  • The Council will advise the central government as well as monitor the impact of policies, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons. It will also redress the grievances of transgender persons. 

 

Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Why in the news?

The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was recently passed by the Lok Sabha.

What are the key provisions of the Bill?

  • It amends the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.  The Act provides for the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys. 
  • Under the Act, a state government may request the central government to refer an inter-state river dispute to a Tribunal for adjudication. If the central government is of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations, it is required to set up a Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication of the dispute, within a year of receiving such a complaint.  The Bill seeks to replace this mechanism. 
  • Disputes Resolution Committee: Under the Bill, when a state puts in a request regarding any water dispute, the central government will set up a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), to resolve the dispute amicably.  The DRC will comprise of a Chairperson, and experts with at least 15 years of experience in relevant sectors, to be nominated by the central government. It will also comprise one member from each state (at Joint Secretary level), who are party to the dispute, to be nominated by the concerned state government. 
  • The DRC will seek to resolve the dispute through negotiations, within one year (extendable by six months), and submit its report to the central government. If a dispute cannot be settled by the DRC, the central government will refer it to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal.  Such referral must be made within three months from the receipt of the report from the DRC. 
  • Tribunal: The central government will set up an Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal, for the adjudication of water disputes.  This Tribunal can have multiple benches. All existing Tribunals will be dissolved, and the water disputes pending adjudication before such existing Tribunals will be transferred to the new Tribunal. 
  • Composition of the Tribunal: The Tribunal will consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, three judicial members, and three expert members.  They will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee. Each Tribunal Bench will consist of a Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson, a judicial member, and an expert member.  The central government may also appoint two experts serving in the Central Water Engineering Service as assessors to advise the Bench in its proceedings. The assessor should not be from the state which is a party to the dispute.
  • Time frames: Under the Act, the Tribunal must give its decision within three years, which may be extended by two years.  Under the Bill, the proposed Tribunal must give its decision on the dispute within two years, which may be extended by another year.
  • Under the Act, if the matter is again referred to the Tribunal by a state for further consideration, the Tribunal must submit its report to the central government within a period of one year. This period can be extended by the central government.  The Bill amends this to specify that such extension may be up to a maximum of six months.
  • Decision of the Tribunal: Under the Act, the decision of the Tribunal must be published by the central government in the official gazette.  This decision has the same force as that of an order of the Supreme Court. The Bill removes the requirement of such publication. It adds that the decision of the Bench of the Tribunal will be final and binding on the parties involved in the dispute.  The Act provided that the central government may make a scheme to give effect to the decision of the Tribunal. The Bill is making it mandatory for the central government to make such scheme.  
  • Data bank: Under the Act, the central government maintains a data bank and information system at the national level for each river basin.  The Bill provides that the central government will appoint or authorise an agency to maintain such data bank.

 

Food Safety

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Why in the news?

  • FSSAI has issued an advisory against the practice of packing toys along with food in food packages as gifts as these can be directly ingested by the children.
  • It has also said that the colour, texture and nature of toy or gift item should not at all resemble the food product inside food package.

What is FSSAI?

  • FSSAI stands for Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
  • The FSSAI is a statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.

The following are the statutory powers that the FSS Act, 2006 gives to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

  1. Framing of regulations to lay down food safety standards
  2. Laying down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing
  3. Providing scientific advice and technical support to the Central Government
  4. Contributing to the development of international technical standards in food
  5. Collecting and collating data regarding food consumption, contamination, emerging risks etc.
  6. Disseminating information and promoting awareness about food safety and nutrition in India

 

Air Pollution

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

An analysis has shown that it will cost India’s coal-fired power plants at least 73,000 crore rupees to comply with the government’s directive to comply with implementation of clean technology in existing and new plants.

What are the norms that the power plants have to meet?

  • From 2017, thermal power plants across India would have to cut particulate matter emissions by as much as 40 per cent and reduce their water consumption by nearly a third according to this notification by the Union Ministry Of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The target has now been extended to 2022.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had notified the revised standards for coal-based Thermal Power Plants in the country, with the primary aim of minimising pollution. These standards are proposed to be implemented in a phased manner. Thermal power plants are categorised into 3 categories, namely those:- (i) Installed before 31st December, 2003 (ii) Installed after 2003 upto 31st December, 2016 and (iii) Installed after 31st December, 2016. 
  • The new standards are aimed at reducing emission of PM10(0.98 kg/MWh), sulphur dioxide(7.3 Kg/MWh) and Oxide of nitrogen (4.8 kg/MWh), which will in turn help in bringing about an improvement in the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) in and around thermal power plants. 
  • The technology employed for the control of the proposed limit of Sulfur Dioxide – SO2 & Nitrogen Oxide – NOx will also help in control of mercury emission (at about 70-90%) as a co-benefit. Limiting the use of water in thermal power plant will lead to water conservation (about 1.5 M3/MWh) as thermal power plant is a water-intensive industry. This will also lead to a reduction in energy requirement for drawl of water.