Government to launch nationwide monitoring of toilet use, not construction
From January 2015, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will launch a Nationwide Real Time Monitoring of use of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The Monitoring System will mobilize people across the country to check and verify the use of toilets in rural areas through mobile phones, tablets or iPads. Unlike earlier, the system will monitor actual use instead of just construction of toilets. The Ministry also plans to install a National Telephonic helpline for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.
Centre clears ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, which was passed in 2013. The amendment has done away with Social Impact Assessments for five types of projects—national security and defence, rural infrastructure and electrification, affordable housing for the poor, development of industrial corridors and infrastructure, and social infrastructure. However, the compensation amount has been increased to four times in rural areas and two times in urban areas.
Centre approves amendments to the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act
The Government has cleared ordinance to ease the auction of minerals, including ores for producing iron, manganese and aluminium. As per the new rules, multinational companies like Rio Tinto and Vedanta will be able to direclty bid for mineral resources in India, unlike earlier, when the mineral resources were allocated to the companies by the Government. Also, in order to tackle rehabilitation issues, the Act calls for the creation of a District Mineral Fund that will receive funds from the mining companies and the Government.
Nod to two interlinking projects while activists prepare the Citizens' Charter
The Water Resources Ministry has given its nod to the Damanganga-Pinjal river linking project that aims to bring 2,450 million liters of water per day to Mumbai. Also, the Andhra Pradesh Government has given an administrative approval to divert water from the Godavari to the Krishna river through the Polavaram Project Right Main Canal. While the Government is approving interlinking projects one after the other, nearly 158 non-government experts have drafted a Citizens' Charter that votes against interlinking rivers and provide suggestions to deal with issues related to river pollution, interstate water disputes, barrages and dams, among others.
Railways constitute the Environement Management Directorate
The Railway Minstry has constitued a separate Wing, named the Environment Management Directorate, in a bid to ensure effective utilisation of water resources. The new Wing will be responsible for conducting water and energy audits, deal with matters related to environment management, and promote environment-friendly acivities. The Environment Directorate will have an Advisor- rank official in the Railways as its head along with six Executive Directors.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from December 30, 2014 - January 11, 2015. Also read last week's news updates.