Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Experts and clean air activists on Thursday welcomed the Centre’s decision to set up a commission to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR but hoped for better implementation of its decisions and orders.
The Centre has issued an ordinance making pollution an offense with a jail term up to five years and a penalty up to Rs one crore. It was issued on Wednesday night after the approval of the President.
According to the notification, the commission will replace the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) which was earlier formed by the Supreme Court as the apex monitoring body in matters of pollution.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.
EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal, in a statement, said: “We welcome this move as it clearly shows the intent and determination of the Union government to mitigate toxic pollution in the region. As chairman and one of the members of the now-dissolved EPCA, we would like to place on record our gratitude for the opportunity given to us to address air pollution challenges.”
Arun Duggal, Founder of the Centre of Excellence for Research and Clean Air at IIT-Delhi, also welcomed the step and hoped that the Commission would be fully empowered and include representatives from the government, the scientific community, business, industry, civil society, and citizens.
“I also recommend that commission must review its own performance objectively on annual basis about their contribution in reducing air pollution and results achieved,” Duggal told IANS.
Sunil Dahiya, analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said that the major issue with the ordinance will be when it comes to implementation, as the EPCA had almost similar powers but failed miserably in cleaning the air even after being in force for more than 20 years.
“The question of whether it is a positive move or just a distraction and wasteful exercise will be decided on the fact whether the ordinance changes the status quo when it comes to ground implementation and strict action on polluters or not,” Dahiya added.
Aditya Dubey, a young environmentalist from Delhi, said: “Grateful to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (Environment Minister) Prakash Javadekar for the speedy enactment of this law creating a very powerful commission for tackling air pollution and stubble burning. I would request them to appoint the chairperson today and get it functioning so that it can defend us from the Covid-19 explosion waiting to happen.”
Third-year law student Aman Banka, who along with Dubey, has been fighting a case against stubble burning in the Supreme Court, said: “We welcome the new executive order for the formation of a committee to enact a new law on air pollution. We hope for better implementation.”
The ordinance, which proposes to set up a permanent body to monitor air quality in the NCR comes just days after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Supreme Court that the Centre will enact a law to combat the menace of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
According to the ordinance, a Commission for Air Quality Management will be set up for the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, and will look into issues of stubble burning, vehicular pollution, dust pollution, and all other factors, which contribute towards deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: बिजली से चलने वाले चाक से कुम्हारों की 3 से 4 गुना बढ़ी कमाई
“Any non-compliance of this Ordinance, rules made thereunder or any other order or direction issued by the Commission shall be an offense punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to five years or with fine which may extend up to one crore rupees or with both,” said the ordinance.
The Commission will be headed by a full-time Chairperson who has been a Secretary in the Central Government or Chief Secretary of a state. The Chairperson will be selected by a committee headed by the Environment and Forest Minister and comprising the Transport, Commerce, and Science and Technology Minister as well as the Cabinet Secretary as members.
Out of the Commission’s 18 members, 10 will be bureaucrats while others will be experts and activists.
ALSO READ: Twitter Rolls Out ‘Topics Feature’ In India
One of the important aspects of the Commission is that the Centre has proposed to replace the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA and all other bodies with it, which will make this Commission an exclusive authority on air quality management for Delhi-NCR, and it will submit annual reports to Parliament.
Orders of the Commission can be challenged only before the National Green Tribunal and not in any civil court. (IANS)
Japan has successfully launched a new navigation satellite into orbit that will replace its decade-old navigation satellite.
The satellite, QZS-1R, was launched onboard an H-2A rocket that lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 10.19 p.m. on Monday night, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said in a statement.
The company builds and operates H-2A rockets the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
QZS-1R is a replacement for Quasi-Zenith Satellite System 1 satellite first launched in 2010. “It was a really beautiful launch," the company said in a tweet after a successful lift-off.
"H-IIA F44 flight proceeded nominally. Approximately 28 minutes 6 seconds after launch, as planned, the payload separated from the launch vehicle," the statement said.
The official QZSS website lists four satellites in the constellation: QZS-1, QZS-2, QZS-3 and QZS-4, Space.com reported.
The QZSS constellation will eventually consist of a total of seven satellites that fly in an orbit passing through a near-zenith (or directly overhead) above Japan, and QZS-R1 is meant to share nearly the same transmission signals as recent GPS satellites, according to JAXA.
It is specially optimised for mountainous and urban regions in Japan, JAXA said.
Mitsubishi's H-2A 202 rocket launch system has been operational since 2003 and has sent satellites to locations such as Venus (Akatsuki) and Mars (Emirates Mars Mission).
The latest H2-A rocket launch is the first since November 29, 2020, when Japan launched an advanced relay satellite with laser communications tech into orbit, the report said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Science, Space Satellite, Communications, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, satellite QZS-1R
Everyone loves firecrackers, even the most environment-friendly advocates cannot hide their joy when they see these delightful lights colour the skies. India celebrates Diwali in the true spirit of her culture and heritage by spraying the navy-blue skies with sparkling hues of gold, silver, red, and green. Firecrackers are not just a tradition in this country, they are a legacy.
The original connotation one makes with fireworks in China. The elaborate Chinese celebrations with dragons and zapping firecrackers have left their mark in human memory, but the use of fireworks is not limited to heralding the Chinese New Year. All over the world, fireworks have come to symbolise the ultimate celebration. During Diwali in India, this spirit is re-ignited every year.
Indians have known the use of gunpowder for many centuries now. Sanskrit texts name a substance called 'agnichura' which is described as a 'powder that creates fire'. This is believed to be saltpetre.
A single firecracker ablaze Photo by Unsplash
Sometime during the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire, and the Adil Shah Dynasty in South India, the use of the Chinese pyrotechnic formulae became extensively common in entertaining the royals. Weddings, Festivals, and other special celebrations in the palace were marked with a spectacular display of fireworks.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, the dynamics of fireworks changed in India. Ayya Nadar and Shanmuga Nadar, from Tamil Nadu's Sivakasi who migrated to Kolkata, set up a fireworks factory there. It began as a match factory, but after receiving the required permission, it was converted into a fireworks unit. Within a few years, another factory was set up in Sivakasi. Before long, multiple units were set up there, and today, it is India's fireworks hub. Most of the crackers that are used during Diwali come from Sivakasi.
Recently, environmental concerns have caused the ban of fireworks as it causes air pollution. The sale of crackers has reduced drastically after this new law. During the lockdown, the factory labourers underwent great losses, especially in Sivakasi. But keeping the spirit of Diwali in mind. crackers cannot be entirely done away with, and continue to light up the skies at least for a few hours every year.
Keywords: Diwali festival, Fireworks, Sivakasi, the Vijayanagar Empire, culture and heritage in India.
PARIS — In a decision with potential ramifications across European museums, France is displaying 26 looted colonial-era artifacts for one last time before returning them home to Benin.
The wooden anthropomorphic statues, royal thrones and sacred altars were pilfered by the French army in the 19th century from Western Africa.
President Emmanuel Macron suggested that France now needed to right the wrongs of the past, making a landmark speech in 2017 in which he said he can no longer accept "that a large part of many African countries' cultural heritage lies in France." It laid down a roadmap for the controversial return of the royal treasures taken during the era of empire and colony. The French will have a final glimpse of the objects in the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac from 26-31 October.
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot tried to assuage jitters among European museums, emphasizing that this initiative "will not create a legal precedent."
A royal seat of the 'Royal treasures of Abomey kingdom' (Œuvres des tresors royaux d'Abomey) on display at the Musee du quai Branly in Paris, Sept. 10, 2021. Photo Credit: VOA
A French law was passed last year to allow the restitution of the statues to the Republic of Benin, as well as a storied sword to the Army Museum in Senegal.
But she said that the French government's law was intentionally specific in applying solely to the 27 artifacts. "[It] does not establish any general right to restitution" and "in no way calls into question" the right of French museums to hold on to their heritage.
Yet critics of such moves — including London's British Museum that is in a decades-long tug-of-war with the Greek government over a restitution of the Elgin Marbles — argue that it will open the floodgates to emptying Western museums of their collections. Many are made up of objects acquired, or stolen, during colonial times. French museums alone hold at least 90,000 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa.
A woman looks at the Parthenon Marbles, a collection of stone objects, inscriptions and sculptures. Photo Credit: VOA
The story of the "Abomey Treasures" is as dramatic as their sculpted forms. In November 1892, Colonel Alfred Dodds led a pilfering French expeditionary force into the Kingdom of Danhomè located in the south of present-day Benin. The colonizing troops broke into the Abomey Palace, home of King Behanzin, seizing as they did many royal objects including the 26 artifacts that Dodds donated to the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris in the 1890s. Since 2003, the objects have been housed at the Musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac.
One hundred and twenty-nine years later, their far-flung journey abroad will finally end.
Benin's Culture Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola called the return of the works, a "historic milestone," and the beginning of further cooperation between the two countries, during a news conference last week. The country is founding a museum in Abomey to house the treasures that will be partly funded by the French government. The French Development Agency will give some 35 million euros toward the "Museum of the Saga of the Amazonians and the Dan home Kings" under a pledge signed this year.
The official transfer of the 26 pieces is expected to be signed in Paris on Nov. 9 in the presence of Macron and the art is expected to be in Benin a few days later, Abimbola said.
While locals say the decision is overdue, what's important is that the art will be returned.
"It was a vacuum created among Benin's historical treasures, which is gradually being reconstituted," said Fortune Sossa, President of the African Cultural Journalists Network. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Benin art, Emmanuel Macron, European museums, Abomey Treasures, anthropomorphic statues