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Govt does background check on ministries’ consultants

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Looking into the matter of alleged leak of official documents from ministries, government is starting to collect details of all consultants working in its department and ministries, but get their salaries from external agencies.

lok_sabha_india_hd_images_computer_backgroundExternal agencies, including UN bodies, fund many consultants under bilateral and multilateral agreements. A three member panel headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, is assessing the details collected. The other two members in the panel are Finance Secretary Ratan Watal and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs.

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) is collecting and compiling together the information, to be viewed by the three-member panel.

As reported in The Indian Express, all ministries and departments have been sent a 24-point questionnaire about the consultants and told to explain “the need/justification for external support.”

The questionnaire also asks if the consultant in question reports to the ministry or directly to the bilateral/multilateral institution; and is the work of the consultant shared with the bilateral/multilateral institution.

The consultants work for ministries and departments which include the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Science and Technology, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Planning Commission (now known as the NITI Aayog), and missions/directorates under them.

There is no exact count of number of consultants tabulated as of yet, but around 100 work with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and another 80 are attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The DEA sent questionnaires to the ministries and departments on July 23, after a decision was taken regarding the same on July 16.

A letter by the DEA said, “Committee has now directed to obtain detailed information about engagement of consultants/advisers from each ministry/department.

Information collected from the questionnaire will reveal the level at which the decision was taken to engage the consultants; whether the position was advertised; whether an interview was held; whether the selection was made by the ministry or by the bilateral/multilateral institution; whether the consultant had prior experience of working in the ministry/bilateral-multilateral institution; the salary structure; terms of reference; and, whether feedback on quality of output is taken into consideration prior to release of payment.

Some ministries/departments have filled in the details while others are still in the process of submitting their replies.

 

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Earth Will Reach 1.5 Degrees Above Pre-Industrial Levels By 2030

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off.

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climate, global warming, celsisus
An aerial view of downtown San Francisco, California

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday said the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

In a report, the IPCC said that governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, CNN reported.

The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree Celsius. Avoiding going even higher will require significant action in the next few years, the report said.

climate, global warming, celsisu
A fisherman stands on his boat as he fishes at the Tisma lagoon wetland park, also designated as Ramsar Site 1141 in the Convention on Wetlands, in Tisma, Nicaragua. VOA

Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Coral reefs will also be drastically effected, with between 70 and 90 per cent expected to die off, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

climate, global warming, celsisus
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

Countries in the southern hemisphere will be among the worse off, the report said, adding “projected to experience the largest impacts on economic growth due to climate change should global warming increase”.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 degrees C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some eco-systems,” CNN quoted Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, as saying.

Monday’s report is three years in the making and is a direct result of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Also Read: Paris Adopts Climate Action Plan, Aims At Achieving A ‘Zero Carbon’ Future

In the Paris accord, 197 countries agreed to the goal of holding global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 90 authors from 40 countries were involved in leading the report, helped by 133 contributing authors. (IANS)