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New bill introduced in US to help India join APEC

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Image source: kickerdaily.com

India: A group of potent lawmakers in America has introduced a new bill in the US Congress asking the Obama administration to include India in APEC, reasoning that including India will help the US in fulfilling their strategic goals in Asia.

Matt Salmon, Chairman of the House Committee on Asia and Pacific who introduced the bill in the US legislation says, “Membership in APEC would provide India a constructive forum to flean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies”.

“Indian Prime Minister Modi is striving hard for major economic reforms to open India’s markets, improve trade volume, and facilitate his growing population’s need and continued job growth” said Salmon.

Salmon is also joined by Ami Bera, the sole Indian-American lawmaker in the present Congress along with ED Royce; Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, Elliot Engel; Chairman of House Affairs Committee, George Holding, Derek Kilmer, Dana Rohrabacher and Scott DesJarlais.

According to Bera, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and an economically prosperous and regionally engaged India will benifit US strategic goals on Asia.

The legislation observes that a partnership between US and India is important for the US administration’s rebalance to Asia especially the Asian-Pacific region.

Noting that India is located within the Asian-Pacific region which allows for continued trade and investments deals with other APEC member countries, the legislation calls for the Secretary of Sates, John Kerry to construct a strategy for the membership of India in APEC including working groups, activities, meetings and mechanisms.

The legislation also directs the secretary to actively gain support for membership of India from the other APEC States and to submit a report within two months of the legislation regarding the same.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) headquartered in Singapore is a forum consisting of 21 economies to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The members of APEC are Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile, China, Russia, Peru, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan,Brunei Darussalam and US. (Inputs from Agencies)

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A Clean Ganga Not Possible Without Continuous Flow: Green

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made

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The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay

By Bappaditya Chatterjee

The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.

“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.

 

Ganga, travel
River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.

 

Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

 

River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.
River Ganga is also the most polluted river.

Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.

Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”

 

Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.

However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge Over Brahmaputra River

Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)