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18 JULY 2022

. No. Topic Name Prelims/Mains
1.    Different Sessions of Parliament Prelims & Mains
2.    Forest Fires Prelims & Mains
3.    5% GST on Various Food Commodities Prelims & Mains
4.    Eco Sensitive Zones Prelims Specific Topic


1 – Different Sessions of Parliament: 


Topic – Parliament related issues

  • Context:
  • The opposition was accused by the government of aiming to “belittle the image” of Parliament by insisting that “non-issues” like the updated list of impermissible expressions be considered, setting the tone for a stormy Monsoon Session that will begin on Monday.
  • Details of the Parliamentary Sessions:
  • Details about summoning Parliament are contained in Article 85 of the Constitution.
  • A session of Parliament may be called by the Government. The decision is made by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and is formalised by the President, on whose behalf MPs are summoned to a session.
  • The parliamentary schedule in India is flexible. Parliament meets three times a year by tradition rather than as mandated by the Constitution.
  • The first budget session, which takes place for the longest period of time, starts around the end of January and finishes by the end of April or the first week of May. During a break in the present session, Parliamentary Committees may speak about the budgetary recommendations.
  • The second session is the three-week Monsoon Session, which typically begins in July and continues through August.
  • November through December are the months of the third session, also referred to as the Winter Session.
  • Process of Summoning:
  • the procedure for calling a meeting with every member of the Parliament. The President will convene each House of Parliament on occasion. The Parliament must meet at least twice a year, with no more than a six-month gap between sessions.
  • Adjournment:
  • After its session, the House adjourns and resumes at the time designated for the next session. A few hours, a few days, or a few weeks can pass during the delay. A meeting can be adjourned sine die, which means that no time or date has been chosen for the next gathering.
  • Prorogation:
  • A prorogation marks the end of a session. An act of prorogation ends a session. The time between prorogation and reassembly is known as the recess. Prorogation marks the end of the current session rather than the dissolution of the house (in case of Lok Sabha, as Rajya Sabha does not dissolve).
  • Quorum:
  • The bare minimum number of members required to call a house meeting is referred to as a “quorum.” The Constitution established a quorum of one-tenth of the total number of members for both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. As a result, for a Lok Sabha meeting to take place, at least 55 members must be present, whereas for a Rajya Sabha meeting, at least 25 members must be present.

Source – The Indian Express.

2 – Forest Fires:


Topic – Environment Conservation

  • Context
  • Firefighters fought to extinguish flames that were spreading across the forests of southwest Europe on Sunday as the heatwave persisted unabatedly and Britain was on course to set temperature records this coming week.
  • About Forest Fires:
  • Any uncontrolled and unrestricted combustion or burning of plants that consumes the available fuels and spreads based on environmental conditions is known as a wildfire in a natural context, such as a forest, grassland, brush land, or tundra. It is also referred to as a wildfire, blaze, or vegetation fire (e.g., wind, topography).
  • Forest fires can be started by human actions like clearing land for development, protracted droughts, or, in rare cases, lightning.
  • For a wildfire to begin blazing, it needs three things: fuel, oxygen, and heat.
  • The Risk of Fire in India’s Forests:
  • The Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun, published the India State of Forest Report 2019 (ISFR), which estimates that as of 2019, over 21.67 percent (7,12,249 sq km) of the nation’s geographic area is categorised as forest.
  • Greater area is covered by trees by 2.89 percent (95, 027 sq km).
  • According to historical fire incidents and data, the woodlands in the Northeast and central India regions are the most vulnerable to forest fires.
  • Forested areas in Assam, Mizoram, and Tripura have been recognised as being “extremely prone.”
  • The states that fall under the category of “very highly prone” are Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. These states also have substantial wooded areas.
  • According to the MoEFCC’s 2020–2021 annual report, Western Maharashtra, Southern Chhattisgarh, parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, coupled with central Odisha, are developing into “extremely prone” forest fire hotspots.
  • Approximately 26.2 percent of the total forest cover, or a startling 1,72,374 square kilometres, are categorised as “very prone” or “moderately prone” areas.
  • Causes of forest fires:
  • Although there are many different natural causes of forest fires, most large fires in India are primarily the consequence of human activity.
  • Recent studies have found a connection between global warming and a rise in fires, particularly the massive Amazon forest fires that have ravaged Brazil and Australia during the past two years.
  • Climate change is associated with fires that are more severe, last longer, happen more frequently, and are of a highly flammable nature.
  • In India, forest fires are most frequently reported in the months of March and April because there is a large amount of dried wood, logs, dead leaves, stumps, dry grass, and weeds on the ground that are easily ignited by a spark.
  • Another significant issue in Uttarakhand is the lack of soil moisture. In two consecutive monsoon seasons (2019 and 2020), rainfall has fallen 18 and 20% short of the seasonal average.
  • Most fires are started by individuals, occasionally even on deliberately. To gather mahua flowers, which are used to prepare a local beverage, peasants in Odisha, which saw a big fire in the Simlipal forest last month, are known to set dry leaves on fire.
  • Effects of forest fires:
  • Forest fires have a variety of detrimental effects that can affect the soil, tree development, vegetation, and overall flora and fauna.
  • Fires destroy several hectares of woodland, and the ash they leave behind prohibits any vegetation from growing there.
  • The heat of the fire destroys animal habitats.
  • The soil quality degrades when soil compositions vary.
  • Additionally affected are soil moisture and fertility.
  • Forests can become smaller.
  • Trees that survive a fire typically have their growth severely inhibited.
  • The importance of forests:
  • Forests are essential for mitigating and responding to climate change.
  • They act as a reservoir, sink, and supplier of carbon.
  • A healthy forest can store and sequester more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem.
  • In India, where 1.70 lakh communities are close to forests, several crores of people depend on fuelwood, bamboo, fodder, and little timber for their livelihood (Census 2011).
  • Efforts to reduce forest fires:
  • In order to track forest fires in real-time, the FSI (Forest Survey of India) developed the Forest Fire Alert System in 2004.
  • The system’s improved version, which was released in January 2019, now makes use of satellite data obtained from NASA and ISRO.
  • The 2018 National Action Plan on Forest Fires and the Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (NAPFF).

Source – The Indian Express

3 – 5% GST on Various Food Commodities:


Topic – Indian Economy

  • Context:
  • Select common foods will become more expensive starting on Monday as a result of the 47th GST Council’s decision to abolish the tax exemption on some pre-packaged and labelled commodities. The choice was made official on Thursday by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs.
  • Many items that were previously excluded from the GST will now be subject to tax:
  • Beginning on July 18, a 5 percent GST will be applied to all pre-packaged and labelled products, including buttermilk, lassi, and curd.
  • For pre-packaged and labelled items including flour, wheat, rice, paneer, puffed rice, khandsari sugar, natural honey, and jaggery, the same regulation is applicable.
  • Regardless of whether they are sold in bulk or unpackaged in front of customers, all of these agricultural and dairy products will continue to be free from GST.
  • Recent Changes’ Impact:
  • Prior to this, the GST only applied to branded packaged rice. The GST will now apply to all unbranded, pre-packaged grains of wheat, rice, and rice flour.
  • Starting on Monday, the price of rice could increase by at least Rs 3 to Rs 5 per kg due to the Union government’s plan to levy a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% on packaged items.
  • Thousands of rice merchants and more than 3,000 rice mills have asked the Center to rescind the 5 percent GST. All of the state’s mills were shuttered on Saturday in protest.
  • Rice with registered brands was subject to taxes in 2017, whereas rice without registration was exempt. But starting on July 18, all brands of pre-packaged rice will be subject to a 5 percent GST as that exception has already been abolished.
  • This would result in an average increase of Rs 60 in the price of rice, which now costs Rs 1,000 for a 25kg bag. Even though pre-packaged rice accounts for nearly 95% of all rice sold in the State, loose rice is still tax-free. The food safety administration has also asked dealers to sell packaged food items in accordance with the FSSAI Act in order to ensure hygiene.

Source – The Hindu

4 – Eco Sensitive Zones:

Prelims Specific Topic

  • Context:
  • Kerala has appealed the Supreme Court’s decision mandating an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) beginning at least one kilometre from each protected forest, national park, and animal sanctuary across the country.
  • The choice was made in response to a request for forest resource conservation made in the Nilgiris area of Tamil Nadu.
  • What are the main pointers of the judgement?
  • When the Center presented its ESZ recommendations in February 2011, it suggested a 10-kilometer barrier based on comments from the states and UTs.
  • The Court recognised that an identical ESZ for all national parks and sanctuaries would not be feasible and noted particular circumstances like Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai and Guindy National Park in Chennai, both of which are located quite near to the city.
  • If the existing ESZ exceeds the 1 km buffer zone or if any statutory instrument establishes a higher boundary, the existing ESZ shall prevail.
  • In national parks and animal sanctuaries, mining is prohibited.
  • All of these states and UTs, where the minimum ESZ is not required, would be subject to the ruling.
  • The enormous level of public interest might make a reduction in the minimum ESZ width possible.
  • In order for this court to make the required orders, the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which has been formed by the court, and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change (MoEFCC), which has also been appointed by the court, must be contacted by the concerned state or UT.
  • The court ordered each state and UT’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) to produce a report within three months outlining the current activities in each national park’s or wildlife sanctuary’s ESZ.
  • The Court mandated that the PCCF oversee the prevention of the construction of any new, long-term structures within the ESZ and that anyone currently engaged in any activity submit a new request for PCCF approval within six months.
  • What are eco-sensitive zones?
  • The National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change required state governments to designate land as eco-fragile zones or eco-sensitive zones (ESZs) within 10 kilometres of the borders of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. This was mandated by the Environmental (Protection) Act of 1986. (MoEFCC).
  • Purpose:
  • To serve as a sort of “shock absorber” for the natural landscape, ESZs are established around protected areas such as national parks, forests, and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Between areas with high protection and those with reduced protection, these areas would act as a transition.
  • The use of wood for commercial reasons, commercial mining, sawmills, polluting businesses, and the development of big HEPs are all prohibited.
  • Visiting a national park with a hot air balloon, releasing effluents or other solid waste, or producing hazardous materials are all examples of tourism-related activities.
  • Tree removal, construction of hotels and resorts, the use of natural water for commercial purposes, the installation of electricity lines, the radical alteration of the agriculture system, such as the use of heavy machinery, insecticides, etc., and the enlargement of roads are all regulated activities.
  • Regular horticultural or agricultural practises, the use of renewable energy sources, organic farming, and the implementation of green technology are all approved activities.
  • Significance:
  • Lessen the adverse consequences of development initiatives
  • To decrease the effects of urbanisation and other development activities, regions near protected areas have been classified as Eco-Sensitive Zones.
  • In-situ conservation refers to the preservation of an endangered species in its natural habitat. One example of this is the protection of the One-horned Rhino in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
  • Lessen human-animal conflict and logging.
  • Ecosensitive areas lessen friction between humans and animals and forest loss.
  • The protected areas are built on the core and buffer style of management, which benefits and safeguards the neighbouring communities as well.
  • What obstacles must Eco-Sensitive Zones overcome?
  • Projects for development:
  • Building projects in the ESZ, including as roads, dams, and other urban and rural infrastructure, interact with the ecosystem, harm it, and upset the natural system.
  • Administration and fresh legislation:
  • The Environmental Protection Act of 1986 and the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, both of which do nothing to deter wildlife poaching, disrespect the rights of forest people. This is to support the development efforts of ESZs.
  • Tourism: To accommodate the rising demand for eco-tourism, the area surrounding parks and sanctuaries is being eliminated through deforestation, expulsion of residents, etc.
  • Introducing foreign species:
  • Plantations of exotic species, like Eucalyptus and Acacia auricularis, among others, are putting strain on natural forests.
  • The ESZs are under stress due to climate change in terms of the environment, water, and land. For instance, Kaziranga National Park’s animals and ecosystem have suffered greatly as a result of the Assam floods and sporadic forest fires.
  • Local communities: The pressures on the protected areas include altering farming practises, an ageing population, and an increase in the demand for firewood and other forest products.
  • Way Forward:
  • The States should act as a trustee for the benefit of the general public in relation to natural resources in order to promote sustainable development over the long run.
  • The state’s fortunes should not be immediately boosted by the government by restricting its role to that of an economic stimulator.
  • Promoting carbon footprints, regenerating extinct habitats, and replanting deteriorated forests are all achievable.
  • Promoting conservation practises and informing people about the harmful repercussions of resource overexploitation.

Source – The Hindu


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