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People should use more electric vehicles to curb pollution: Javadekar

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NEW DELHI: The Centre has upgraded the fuel standards to BS-VI in a bid to fight

pollution

, Union Environment Minister

Prakash Javadekar

on Monday and urged people to shift to electric vehicles.

Speaking at a webinar on the first ever ‘International Day of

Clean Air

For Blue Skies’, Javadekar also urged the states to come up with specific plans of how to reduce pollution in their respective cities.

“We did not have to celebrate blue skies day earlier but with industrialisation and huge increase in population, number of vehicles, waste and dust, pollution has also gone up,” he said, adding that more public transport could lessen pollution.

“I believe that more the public transport, lesser the pollution. I use an electric two-wheeler and we bring our household goods using that vehicle. I urge people to use more electric vehicles.

“In Delhi, we also have electric three-wheelers which are of great significance. States must decide on these three things – using cleaner fuels, building good roads to ease traffic and ensuring that brick kilns use zigzag technology. It is also the states’ responsibility,” Javadekar said.

The minister said as the country has now migrated to BS-VI standards, quality petrol and diesel is being provided, which is an important initiative to fight pollution.

He said in the last few years, roads and highways are being constructed by the government at a record pace and due to this less pollution is taking place in comparison to previous times.

Principal secretaries of the Urban Development department and Environment department of 28 states and eight Union Territories, commissioners of 122 cities as identified in National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) launched in 2019, also participated in the webinar.

The environment minister also launched a brochure on ‘Integrated Measures to Combat Air Pollution’ under the (NCAP) which emphasises on city specific plans in the identified 122 cities.

During the webinar, Babul Supriyo, minister of state for environment, emphasised on the need to create awareness among people about air quality instead of imposing fines.

“Air is what we all breathe. Everyone must ensure it is clean. We need to raise public awareness and not impose fines to improve air quality,” Supriyo said.

Sharing a roadmap to tackle air pollution, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Member Secretary Prashant Gargava said out of 122 non-attainment cities identified under NCAP, city plans of 110 cities in 23 states are under implementation while plans of 12 cities in five states are under review.

States in which no city has been identified as non-attainment cities under NCAP include Haryana, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.

“Several mitigation measures are being taken by the authorities. We launched the ‘Sameer’ mobile application in 2016 to monitor AQI and now we have our attention focused on monitoring and reducing pollution in 122 NACs,”Gargava said.

Gargava also said shifting two-wheelers to electric mode of energy could greatly help in curbing pollution.

“If two wheelers could be shifted to electric mode of energy, that would make a substantial difference. We need to identify pollution hotspots and accordingly take action,” the CPCB official said, while also proposing creation of a dashboard for sharing success stories and tracking implementation of NCAP.

Addressing the webinar, the environment minister also said he aimed to achieve the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for holistic improvement in air quality in 100 cities.

“Acceptance of a problem is beginning of the solution. In 2014, we launched air quality index (AQI) monitoring. Now with pan India Clean Air programme, I am sure we will be able to achieve the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of holistic improvement in air quality in 100 cities,” he said.

He also said the challenge is to reduce pollution for which “we initiated the NCAP in 2019 under which crores of rupees have been given to the 122 non-attainment cities to come up with a plan to reduce pollution.”

“Several roads have been built in the last six years in a speedy manner which has helped ease the traffic congestion and helped reduce pollution. We have also enhanced emission standards for industries and I am glad that emissions from 4,500 industries is being monitored.

“I want to say that the central government will help states in the cause of improving air quality but the states also have to take responsibility now. State should come up with specific plans of how to reduce pollution in their respective cities,” Javadekar said.

Environment Secretary R P Gupta said that the Centre will provide all the necessary support but cities must ensure the waste is taken care of properly.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address from the Red Fort on this Independence Day, had highlighted the need of Holistic Improvement in Air quality in 100 cities.

The General Assembly of United Nations on December 19, 2019 adopted a resolution to observe the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on September 7 every year starting from 2020.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

PM Modi asks states to focus on micro-containment zones

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked states to reassess if lockdowns of one or two days are effective in containing Covid-19 and told them to press on with full strength in opening economic activities while fighting the virus.

In a review meeting with chief ministers and representatives of seven states with a high number of cases, Modi said “micro containment zones” should be the way forward as it will curb the infection spread and also allow activities to go on.

He asked states to further enhance their focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and clear messaging to curb the pandemic.

Noting that most of the Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic, Modi said an effective messaging is all the more important as rumours often get spread and the common man wonders if the testing is wrong.

Some people even make the mistake of undermining the seriousness of the disease, he said, while pitching for the need for an effective messaging.

The prime minister said it has to be ensured that medicines move unhindered from one state to another and noted that India has also been able to supply medicines across the world during such hard times.

The nationwide lockdown in the initial phases yielded very positive results and our focus now should be on micro-containment zones, he said.

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INDIA

Opposition petitions President against farm bills: Top developments

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NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, eight days ahead of the scheduled end of the Monsoon session, amid concerns of spread of coronavirus among lawmakers. Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the House had to hold 18 sittings but it held only 10.

Naidu said the 10-day session was productive and as many as 25 bills were passed and six were introduced.

Opposition members were boycotting the proceedings after eight members were suspended after ruckus in the House on Sunday during passage of farm bills.

Here are the top developments:

Lok Sabha adjourns sine die; Monsoon session ends

LokSabha was adjourned sine die on Wednesday evening, bringing the Monsoon session of Parliament to an end eight days ahead of schedule, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The session started on September 14 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House sine die after the passage of the Major Port Authorities Bill.

Opposition parties request President not to give assent to farm bills

Opposition parties have requested President Ram Nath Kovind not to give his assent to the contentious farm bills, and conveyed to him that their passage in Rajya Sabha was “unconstitutional”, Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

The government should have consulted all parties, farmer leaders before bringing the farm bills, Azad said after meeting the President.

“The Constitution was undermined …We have given a representation to President that the farm bills have been passed unconstitutionally and he should return these bills,” Azad said.

Naidu expresses anguish at ‘unpleasant turn of events’

Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said it is “extremely unpalatable” when bills are passed amid a boycott of proceedings by some sections of the House, but not taking up legislative work in such a situation may legitimise their action as an “instrument of blocking legislation”.

He was speaking before adjourning the Upper House sine die, eight days ahead of schedule, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This kind of situation needs to be avoided by all means,” Naidu said in his remarks on the conclusion of the 252nd session of Rajya Sabha.

Parliament passes 3 key labour reform bills

Parliament approved three key labour reform bills that will remove impediments to winding up of companies and allow firing of staff without government permission in firms with up to 300 workers from the existing 100, a move aimed at attracting more investments and job creation.

Rajya Sabha passed by voice vote the three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety amid a boycott by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, over the suspension of eight MPs.

With passage of these three bills, 29 central labour laws have been codified into four broad codes as contemplated by the government under labour reforms to improve ease of doing business and providing universal social security to workers as well.

Javadekar slams opposition for staying absent from RS

The absence of opposition members from the house when the bill that assures wage, social security and health security to fifty crore labourers is being brought shows they are distanced from public, said Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

“73 years after independence, labourers are getting the right they had been waiting for. The Bills guarantee wage, social and health security. When a Bill that assures wage security, social security and health security to 50 crore labourers has been brought, the Opposition is absent because they are distanced from the public,” Javadekar said.

Parliament passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

Parliament passed a Bill for inclusion of Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi in the list of official languages in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to the existing Urdu and English.

The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 was passed by Rajya Sabha through voice vote. Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on Tuesday.

Minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said it was a long-standing demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be included in the list of official languages.

Rajya Sabha returns two Appropriation Bills

Rajya Sabha returned the Appropriation (No 3) Bill, 2020 and the Appropriation (No 4) Bill, 2020, authorising payment of certain sums from the Consolidated Fund of India for the current financial year.

The bills, which were passed by Lok Sabha on September 19, were cleared in the Upper House with a voice vote and without any discussion.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Bills for consideration and passing.

Opposition parties conduct silent protest march

Various opposition parties took out a silent protest march in the Parliament complex against the contentious farm bills passed recently.

The protesting MPs carried placards with messages such as “Save Farmers, Save Workers, Save Democracy” during their march from the Mahatma Gandhi statue to the Ambedkar statue on the premises. They also stood before Gandhi’s statue in a line.

Members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI-M, DMK, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party and the NCP participated in the protest.

Parliament passes FCRA Amendment Bill

Parliament passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to make furnishing of Aadhaar numbers by office bearers of NGOs mandatory for registration, with the government asserting that the proposed legislation is aimed at transparency and not against any NGO.

Amid Opposition boycott of proceedings over suspension of eight MPs, Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the bill.

Replying to a debate on the bill, Minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said the legislation was not against any NGO and is an effort to maintain transparency.

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INDIA

Covid roundup: PM reviews situation in worst-hit states, Oxford vaccine trial in US & more

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With spike of 83,347 cases, India’s Covid-19 tally crosses 56-lakh mark

With a spike of 83,347 new cases and 1,085 deaths in the last 24 hours, India’s Covid-19 count stood at 56,46,011 on Wednesday. India’s Covid-19 death toll stands at 90,020. Maharashtra continues to be the worst-affected state in the country with 2,72,809 active cases 33,407 deaths while Karnataka

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