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Policy & Politics

Aviation pollution and environmental issues

Aviation has several environmental impacts faced basically by the residents and that’s why many activists
around the world have started focusing on this matter. There are immediate demand and an urgent
need to address the environmental effects with the growth in demand for aircraft and airplanes.

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INTRODUCTION

 Aviation is one of the most important parts of our national economy which provides people an option to move throughout the world. Recently, the outlook of the Government of India towards the Aviation industry has undergone many changes in almost every area; the emerging trends in the industry include new and totally different concepts of ownership, finance, operations, and free hassle free management. The new emerging trends in this industry in a global scenario are the increased globalization of economies, liberalization of aviation policies, developments in civil aviation, privatization of airlines, open skies bilateral agreements, etc.

 In the wake of the increasingly organized movement of goods and services globally, there is rising pressure in civil aviation as well, to grow as a super-fast mode of transportation and that’s how the Civil aviation has transformed itself from a mode of transformation to an essential part of our life from past few years, our overall growth is at the cost of our own environment, no doubt this is one of the fastest-growing industry in the global market and is experiencing growth all over the world but at the same time, commercial aviation consumes good amounts of nonrenewable fuels which leads to their depletion. According to one of the reports from Airports is too important to Privatize – a letter to the editor, 1992. Wall Street Journal, over the past 50 years, around 9 % demand for air travel has risen per annum globally and growth at a reduced rate of around 3-7% is predicted for the next coming 20 years.

 Growth of Aviation Industry and Environmental Hazards 

The increasing demand for air services in India is the reason for the deregulation of the airline industry, according to a report, by 2017 the growth in India’s air traffic was expected to increase in around 52.31 million domestic passengers and by 32.98 million in international passengers and by 2020 it was expected by The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation that the Indian commercial fleet will grow by 1000 aircraft from 380 aircraft and which will lead to automatically growth of fuel consumption to 3-3.5% and somehow will reach between 461 Mt. by 2036. According to a report by ICAO 2010, Environment Report 2010, Domestic and International operations will account for 38% and 62% of global fuel consumption respectively. Globally, the Aviation industry has a much positive economic and social impact on our society from making our lives convenient to travel the world to have a source of income from tourism; there have been several benefits.

 According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change established by United Nations Environment Programme and Meteorological Organisation, around 4.9% of humans caused climate change, which includes greenhouse gases and the emission of Carbon dioxide, which is contributed by the air transportation system. According to research done by Airbus, in the Middle East, the air traffic will double by the year 2034 and the number of passenger’s fleet of airlines will grow by 2365 new passenger aircraft. With the increase in demand for air travel, there is now a greater need to examine ways to reduce its potentially damaging effects on our planet. 

Causes of Environmental Issues in Indian Aviation 

Industry Aviation has several environmental impacts faced basically by the residents and that’s why many activists around the world have started focusing on this matter. There are immediate demand and an urgent need to address the environmental effects with the growth in demand for aircraft and airplanes and the emission of some pollutants. As a result of these factors and with the rising value being placed on environmental quality, there are increases in constraints on mobility, economic vitality as well as the nation’s security. The environmental issues of the aviation industry can be classified into the following categories. 

Airlines Environmental issues

 Airport Environmental issues

 Environmental Pollutions Health Hazards

 Airlines Environmental Issues or Climate Change impacts of aviation emission: Atmosphere can be categorized into five spheres i.e. Troposphere (0-7 miles from ground level), Stratosphere (7-31 miles from ground level), Mesosphere(31-50 miles above the ground level), Thermosphere( 50- 440 miles above the ground level), Exosphere( 440-6200 miles from the ground level) and lastly Ionosphere ( it overlaps both the thermosphere and exosphere, it is ionized by solar scattering and contains magnetic powers and enhances radio waves propagation to distant places to earth) the pollution by aircraft can be categorized into different atmosphere layers like Carbon dioxide (CO2), NOX, Ozone layer and the last one is ground-level pollution. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): 

Nowadays many aircraft generally travel at the height of 35000 feet and their engines emit exhaust which contains CO2 which is generally heavier than the air. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate, Change CO2 is the most important gas which emits from the aircraft due to the combustion of fossil fuel which largely contributes to more greenhouse effect and climatic change. The level of CO2 emission is expected to increase more and more in the upcoming decade, and the level of toxic elements generated by this emission is very high regardless of the altitudes, but the effect of this greenhouse gas is more effective at the level of the Stratosphere than lower altitudes.

 Sometimes at the altitude at which the commercial airlines fly, CO2 which is released by the aircraft does not condense because the temperature varies from -35 degree C to -50 degree C which is warmer than the freezing point of this gas which is 56 degrees C and therefore it will disperse slowly because of the pressure of the gas at that temperature is 101 PSIG which will descend the lower altitudes which causes slow descending nature of these gases. The elevation below which the air and the pollutants mix is known as Mixing height and the emission at this height mainly contributes to the groundlevel air pollution and climate change as well when emissions are above the level of mixing height.

 NITROGEN OXIDE (NOx)

 At the layer of Troposphere this gas emits at a large amount by jet airline ranging from subsonic, supersonic was known for more than 20 years ago by Hidalgo and Cruten which are effective information of ozone (O3) in the upper layer of troposphere, and could damage the ozone layer. Volatile organic compounds also play a significant role in hampering the functions of the ozone layer which is basically present in the aircraft’s emissions, at the altitude of 8-13 km, these gases are in dominant nature and hence increased the concentration of O3 enhances the effect of global warming. 

The emission of NOx results in reducing the ambient levels of methane in the atmosphere which affects globally and the lifetime is around 8-12 years. There is an emission of around 5-25 kg of NO2 per kg burning of fuel. Direct aircrafts emissions include some harmful pollutants such as Carbon Dioxide and Water that can affect the climate along with some other effects like the production of ozone in the troposphere layer alteration of methane lifetime, contrail and cirrus cloud formation, etc. No doubt that Nitrogen oxide has a cooling effect in the atmosphere by reducing the greenhouse and other gases like methane but still at the same time it doesn’t counterbalance the warming effect which is caused by the formation of Ozone and the overall effect is increasing the temperature of earth’s atmosphere. 

CONTRAILS AND CIRRUS CLOUD FORMATION

 Contrails generally formed at altitude where the temperature is very cold and hum, and in turn it may lead to the formation of cirrus clouds, sometimes the lifetime of contrails vary from seconds to hours. But the warming effects are highly dependent on altitude, location, and atmospheric conditions, there is no such particular report on the extent of the enhanced cirrus that arises from aircraft contrails and particle emission is also not well quantified but at the same time, there is some evidence which shows that cirrus clouds and air traffic are interrelated.

 SOOT AND AEROSOLS

 Soot basically traps outgoing infrared radiation and has a small warming effect, and the overall effect is regional and not global, Aerosols are totally different from soot, it reflects the solar radiation and have some cooling effects and has same regional effect as same as soot.

 Airport Environmental Issues

 Airports have also been accused of degrading the environment because of various factors. Even the slightest variations in terms of going against the environmental norms could lead to suspension of operations, which we don’t expect and are striving towards a friendly approach. a serious role for pollution caused at airports is by ground access vehicles (GAV) and ground support equipment (GSE). of these vehicles include; the staff jeeps; cars; heavy-duty pushback trucks; ground power units; passenger terminal buses; catering trucks; cleaning trucks; mobile airconditioning units. Apart from the above, this also contributes to the pollution crisis at the airports especially during peak hours within the morning and evening, because the aircrafts lineup expecting take-off clearance while others have their engines idling and one clearly figure out the foggy, hazy and smoky environment at the airport’s tarmacs and thresholds of the runways.

 Even when present on the bottom, the emissions from different categories of aircraft and airport vehicle emissions include harmful NOx, CO2 compounds that have very serious consequences on the health of individuals residing nearby, and also to those lying directly below the flight path (during take-off and landing). These compounds are carcinogenic in nature. Another defying aspect of airport pollution is that the biodiversity that has plants/ tree plantations and avian (birds) and has become at the brim of destruction while an airport is freshly under construction. the development of the airport involves clearing of planted lands that are usually spoken over vast areas and hectares (as 5500 Acres) of fields of plantations like rubber or filling from marsh areas with an incredible amount of sand and concrete like just in case of Singapore’s Changi Airport or Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, this sort of destruction creates an enormous imbalance within the ecosystem and should cause disturbances within the ecological good chain. But even after the completion of the airport project, they still pose threat to biodiversities like bird strikes or bird hits and safely recycle techniques of airport waste and water. 

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTIONS

 Aviation Air Pollution: Change in average weather is termed as climatic change. There are many types of air pollution at different elevations caused by airports and airplanes, aircraft emits many toxic elements while flying overhead in large amount and these emissions are spread over an area of 12 miles long and 12 miles wide on takeoff. Emissions from aircraft below 1000 feet above the ground somehow cause bad air quality. The concern for aviation air quality is basically related to the areas connected with airports and around them. 

The chief local air quality relevant emissions attributed to aircraft operations at airports are Nitrogen oxides, water vapor, Sulphur Dioxide, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, etc. According to a report, aviation account for around 2% of the total CO2 emission globally, and 50% more emissions from aviation are expected by this current year 2020 with the increase in fuel in around 50%. In 2009, India has totally revised the national ambient air quality standards. The notified ambient air quality standards in India are equivalent to the European level and exceed the standards prevalent in the US according to the Ministry of State for Environment and Forests. In India, it was decided under the report of revised National Ambient Air Quality that 12 pollutants in total will be measured to calculate the level of air pollution as compared to earlier which was 6 pollutants and the distinction between both industrial and residential areas have also been removed which means now the industries have to conform to the same standards as residential areas and will be compelled to take necessary measures to check air pollution. 

AVIATION WATER POLLUTION

 It is a well-known fact that airports are known as to be the major source for water pollution, they used to dump all toxic chemicals, de-ice airplanes during winter storms into water. During de-icing, the airline mixes around 55% of glycol and around 45% of water at 185 degrees F heat and spray the planes down with it. Ethylene glycol is a more toxic substance and consumes high levels of oxygen during decomposition which is also one of the reasons for the depletion of freshwater and is harmful to aquatic animals.

 AVIATION NOISE POLLUTION 

It is another very important issue airport noise and noise due to overflying at low heights had led some local people to even protest leading to night curfews in some developing countries, but such unilateral decisions by municipalities are not good for the overall growth and it curfews continue then it will become very difficult to manage and even getting land slots at the airport. 

CURRENT SCENARIO IN INDIA

 In ancient times in India, men lived close to forests and loved their surroundings. Today, however, man has only plans for constant air travel, spoiling the fragile mother Earth. 

The Rabindranath Tagore saga 

Commercial aviation had begun in 1911 in India and construction of civil aerodromes was first started at Dum Dum in Calcutta following in Baramati in Allahabad and Gibbert Hill in Bombay in 1924, in total 44 airports were being operated by the Civil aviation department during Independence in 1947. The Indian aviation sector has transformed itself from an over-regulated and the managed sector to a more liberal and investmentfriendly one in the past few years, which at present is undergoing several developments according to the current scenario of our country. Even though it is estimated that the Indian aviation sector would be the world’s fastest-growing sector over the next few years both in the terms of passenger and cargo traffic as well as an area of equipment supply, maintenance, repair, and overhaul, etc, still there are no prescribed standards to noise pollution around the airports, it a fact that noise pollution is bound to have higher at airports as compared to other places. 

A petition was filed before the Delhi High Court on March 3, 2010, by the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre and an NGO named Bijwasan Gram Vikas Samithi to direct the Directorate General of Civil Aviation ( DGCA) with no deadlines fixed to implement some measures to check the growing level of noise pollution near Delhi airport and Delhi International Airport pvt.ltd was barred from using two runways that were being used at the IGI airport. The DGCA is looking for introducing continuous descent approach which is a method by which aircraft approach airports before landing to reduce fuel consumption and noise and it also involves maintaining a constant three-degree descent angle during landing until meeting the instrument landing system at the IGI airport as an immediate measure to reduce noise pollution. Recently in 2009, the Government of India has raised the National Ambient air quality standards that are equivalent to the European level as well. 

LAWS FOR CONTROLLING AVIATION POLLUTION

 Earlier only common law remedy was only available for excessive noise and other pollutions. With the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which was made at Stockholm on 16th June 1972, Modern environment law started. In 1982, a charter was made for nature by United Nations and in the 1989 Hague declaration, a charter was made on Environment basically to protect the Ozone layer globally and to prevent global warming of the atmosphere. In India, there is no specific provision related to aviation pollution, but our Indian Constitution states that protection and improvement of the environment, forests, and wildlife of the country is State’s duty. 

An act was passed by the American congress in 1990, which states that by the year 2000 all aircrafts in commercial fleets weighing more than 75000 pounds must be at either stage three aircraft at stage 2. According to the bill of United States senate bill, the Quiet communities act of 1947; it would re establish the office of noise abetment and control in the environment protection authority and would also challenge the US federal aviation administration to listen carefully and also to look after the aviation noise. In India there is no specific provisions regarding aviation pollution however our Indian Constitution states that it is the duty of the state to protect the environment and to work for improvement as well along with wild life and forests. Both fundamental rights and dpsp talks about environment Our constitutional provisions are backed by a number of laws, it is considered as the father of other laws. 

Under art.253 of constitution the epa 1986 was enacted and came into force after bhopal gas tradegy. Similarly A large number of laws such as water act and air came into existence when there is disputes The scope of the environment protection act is broad in the sense with the environment which includes water, air, land, and the interrelationships among them and human beings and other living organisms. Environmental Pollution is defined in Environment Protection act, as the presence of pollutants in the environment, and environment pollutants can be defined as the solid, liquid, and gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be and which are injurious to the environment. 

According to sec 15 of the Environment Protection Act, whoever fails to comply with or contravenes any of the provisions of the Act or any rules made thereunder shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years with a fine which extends to one lakh rupees or with both. Under sec 17 of this act, where an offense under this act has been committed by and head of the department shall be guilty of the offense and will be liable and punished accordingly.

 CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS

 We can say that no doubt that in our changing scenario aviation is something very important and becoming an essential infrastructure and on the other hand, airports and aviation industries are causing pollution to a reasonable extent. There are three actions which have been recommended to achieve the National Vision for Aviation and the Environment, the first one is to basically promote coordination and communication among the stakeholders, the second deals with the development of more effective tools and metrics for the guidance of policy decisions and research planning investments, the last one is related with technological and policy options to achieve a balanced approach to a long term environmental improvements, all of them are interrelated and can only be achieved if all of them are implemented correctly. 

Apart from the recommendations, there are some suggestive ways by which we can help in reducing environmental pollution like using biofuels which are present partially currently, by addressing new and independent challenges, regular check on air traffic controllers, curbing air transportation. As Mahatma Gandhi said that “ Earth provides enough to satisfy our needs but not to satisfy our greed.” And hence it is our responsibility to protect our environment.

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Policy & Politics

New Development Financial Institution should balance between infrastructure and development needs

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, said that a Bill would be introduced to set up a DFI and Rs 20,000 crore would be provided to capitalise the institution. ‘The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years’ time,’ she said.

Tarun Nangia

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Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, said that the focus on DFIs now is on helping countries to achieve ‘green growth’, promote innovation, provide counter-cyclical finance not just to the infrastructure sector but also crucial areas.

Former Deputy Governor of the RBI, Rakesh Mohan, on Friday suggested that the proposed new Development Financial Institution (DFI) needs to attract ‘patient capital’ investors as well as leading experts on its board and in top management. Mohan, who was also a former Executive Director at the IMF, made these comments during a webinar organised by the think-tank Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) and India International Centre.

It comes in the backdrop of the Union Budget 2021-2022 recognising the long-term debt financing needs of the infrastructure sector and proposing a “professionally managed” DFI “to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing”. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget speech, had also said that a Bill will be introduced to set up a DFI and provided Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise the institution. “The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years-time,” she had said. Later, Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda had reportedly said India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited could be subsumed into the new DFI – the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development. The proposed DFI will also play a crucial role in realising the National Infrastructure Pipeline, under which around 7,000 projects have been identified with an estimated Rs 111 lakh crore-worth of investment between 2020 and 2025.

Rakesh Mohan also proposed that the new DFI should be headquartered in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. The first CEO or CMD of the proposed DFI should be a person with India’s best interests in mind.

Echoing Mohan, former Deputy Governor of RBI Shyamala Gopinath also said there should be an emphasis on good governance. In addition, there is a need to focus on issues such as contract enforcement and project bankability, she said.

Speaking on the occasion, former Executive Director of IDBI, G. A. Tadas, said the Budget proposal of providing Rs 20,000 crore to capitalise the institution will not be sufficient to finance infrastructure projects to the tune of Rs 111 lakh crore by 2025 and help the country to be a USD 5 trillion economy. The initial capital for the DFI needs to be augmented to at least Rs 50,000-60,000 crore to achieve a portfolio of around Rs 5 lakh crore in the next three years, he added. He said there has to be an emphasis on a robust risk management System.

Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Financial Markets Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, said the focus on DFIs now is on helping countries to achieve ‘green growth’, promote innovation, provide counter-cyclical finance not just to the infrastructure sector but also crucial areas such as health and other social sectors. Larger number of DFIs can have greater impact, she said, adding that post the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the DFIs have seen a renaissance.

Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS and Professor Milindo Chakrabarti, Visiting Fellow, RIS, also spoke during the programme.

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Policy & Politics

Bank account & property will be seized for violation of GST rule

Bharat vyapar bandh on 26 February on the call of CAIT .

Tarun Nangia

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The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called for a Bharat Vyapar Bandh on February 26, and the trade organizations in all the states of the country have decided to join the bandh. CAIT has called for a Bharat Vyapar Bandh, against the recent amendments to the GST rules as it is adverse to business and demanding a ban on e-commerce company Amazon immediately.

CAIT National President B C Bhartia & Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that said that on February 26, “Dharna” will be organized at about 1500 places across the country, including Delhi, to raise traders voice against the unjustified amendments in GST rules and traders across Country will not login GST portal on Bandh day as a mark of protest . They said that most of the leading trade organisations in different states of the Country both at national and state level including Delhi have decided to join the vyapar bandh, while some other organizations will also announce their support by this evening.

Bhartia and Khandelwal told that Bharat Vyapar Bandh of traders will be rational and peaceful across the country. While wholesale and retail markets will remain completely closed, shops selling essential commodities have not been included in the shutdown in view of the need of the citizens of the country. Shops which cater to the needs of people in residential colonies have also been kept out of the bandh. They said that shutting down vyapar even for a day was never the intention of the traders but it is the changed format of GST which has forces us for holding a day long Bandh. GST tax system has become very complex rather than simplified and is completely contradict the original declared vision & purpose of GST implementation, which has now become a never ending cycle of huge compliance’s.Instead of simplifying and rationalizing the tax system, the GST Council is working towards imposing maximum burden of tax on traders, which is grossly undemocratic.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said that after amendment in the current rules, the tax officer has been given unlimited rights to many things because of which now the GST registration of any trader will be in hands of the tax officer and he can cancel it even without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing, he can also seize the traders bank accounts and property, also Input credit of tax paid to traders can be blocked. Such provisions will discourage traders and create many obstacles in doing business.

CAIT Delhi State President Vipin Ahuja & State General Secretary Dev Raj Baweja said that the trade associations connected to scooter parts, electrical goods, medicines, computers and computer accessories, chemical, paint chemicals, bicycles, toys, papers, stationary in Delhi , Iron and Hardware, Sanitary Goods, Iron Trade, Jewelery, Rubber Plastics, FMCG Goods, Cosmetics, Readymade Garment, Wood & Plywood, Building Materials, Grocery, Oil, Spices, Food, Electronics, Mobile, Furnishing Fabric, Gift Items, Photo , General store, tarpaulins, ferro alloys, acrylic, aluminum, metal, machinery, marble, radio and radio parts, cement, file and envelope makers, handloom and handloom fabrics, metal scrap, agricultural implements, in Delhi and all over the Country have declared their support to Bharat Vyapar Bandh.

CAIT national president B.C. Bhartia and secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said that on 26 February “dharna” will be organised at about 1,500 places across the country, including Delhi, to raise traders’ voice against the unjustified amendments in GST rules and traders across the country will not login GST portal on that day as a mark of protest .

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Policy & Politics

Government aims to become self-reliant in silk sector in two years

Tarun Nangia

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Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development Government of India today said that the recent Budget has brought cheer to the textile industry with the announcement of seven mega textile parks. Additionally, INR 10,000 crores have been dedicated by the Govt of India for PLI schemes, specially dedicated to MMF and technical textiles.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Karnataka VastraTek – Apparel & Textile Conclave organised by the Department of Handloom and Textiles, Govt of Karnataka in association with FICCI Karnataka State Council, Ms Irani elaborated on the growth of the silk sector in the state, Ms Irani said that Karnataka reigns in the realm of silk. “Under the Silk Samagra Program, the Govt of India dedicated specifically over INR 2,000 crores for the development of silk. I am hopeful that the industry gives the state of Karnataka ideas, proposals or initiatives that can make our country Atmanirbhar in silk. We in the Ministry of Textiles are looking at the next two years to ensure that India is self-reliant in the space of silk,” she said.

“Just reducing the produce line to saris and garments would be doing a great injustice to the potential of the silk sector. We are aware that silk, especially the waste of a cocoon can be used by pharma and cosmetic companies. We are hopeful that industry captains can suggest usage of silk waste to help elaborate our production line or elaborate our diversification prospects, Ms Irani added.

On the future of textiles in the state of Karnataka, the Minister said that the MSP operations for cotton procurement by the Cotton Cooperation of India has touched over INR 359 crores in the state. “From 2014-15 to this year, the Ministry of Textiles has extended support of over INR 1,622 crores only for cotton procurement and MSP operations benefiting over 1.67 lakh farmers,” she said.

Highlighting the importance of the handicrafts sector, the Minister said that Pehchaan Cards were distributed to over 26,000 artisans. The latest handloom census has brought to light that there are over 50,000 weavers in Karnataka who are looking at new opportunities digitally to expand their markets. She further suggested that on lines of the GeM portal that has brought on-board over 1,50,000 weavers from across the country, a similar digital opportunity is given to the marketing of artisans and weavers of Karnataka.

The textile and the apparel sector were tested as an industry during the COVID times and we rose to that challenge nationally and internationally by becoming the second largest manufacturers of PPE suits. “The fact that we could turn around our manufacturing processes in less than 60 days to meet the immediate need of our country speaks volume and is a testimony to the talent of the textile industry,” she added.

Mr Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil, Minister of Handloom and Textile & Minority Welfare Department, Government of Karnataka said that the state was first state to implement a dedicated textile policy and has been an inspiration to other states in the country for the same. The Doddabalapur Integrated Textile Park is the first integrated textile park of the country spread across 48 acres of land and has over 85 units focused on weaving, warping, among others and has generated employment for over 8000 people.

“The Govt of Karnataka is committed to providing world class facilities with easy access to railways, airports and ports for the smooth export of goods and materials. The new Textile and Apparel Policy 2019-2024 has been formulated keeping industrial requirements in mind and the incentives provided is the best in the country. With constant monitoring, the sector will be able to tide over the difficult situation induced by the pandemic,” he said.

Mr Ullas Kamath, Chairman, FICCI Karnataka State Council & Joint Managing Director, Jyothy Labs Ltd said that the special emphasis given by the union budget 2021 to the textile and apparel sector to set up large textile parks are extremely important.

“Very few countries can boast of robust textile value chains that India has. Karnataka has been one of the key states of apparel and garment supplies to both domestic and international markets and the textile industry occupies key position in terms of its contribution to the state’s economy. The policy intervention by the Govt of Karnataka have created thriving manufacturing clusters.” he said.

The FICCI Karnataka State Council has been taking sector specific initiatives to improve industry performance. For the textile and apparel sector we are forming a subcommittee with leading garment manufacturers and this will certainly help to bring more vibrancy, he added.

Dr A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (APEC) said that with the support and help extended by the Centre during in the last year, India became the second largest manufacturers of medical textile.

“Karnataka plays a vital role in apparel exports and does about INR 17,000 cr worth of exports per year. The state govt should utilise the PLI scheme and promote MMF garments in a big way, he said. There is a need for plug and play facilities for apparel manufacturing and processing, he suggested.

Speaking on the industry’s role, Mr R D Udeshi, President, Reliance Industries Limited said, “The time has come for the industry to come forward and be aggressive for reinvestment and become one of the major manufacturing hubs in the global arena. We, as an industry, have proved ourselves during the pandemic. From importing PPE suits to manufacturing and exporting the same, this has proved that the industry has the willpower and manufacturing excellence.”

Mr Jacob John, President – Premium Brands, Adithya Birla Fashion & Retail Limited said that the retail sector is pleased to see business bouncing back after a prolonged crisis induced by the pandemic. “With the steps taken by the govt, we expect business to attain normalcy by Q2 of FY22,” he said.

Mr Siddhartha Agarwal, Co-Chair, FICCI Karnataka State Council and Managing Director, Bhoruka Park Private Limited delivered the vote of thanks and said that the conclave had been organised against the background of the new state textile policy unveiled by the Govt of Karnataka.

On the future of textiles in Karnataka, the minister said that the MSP operations for cotton procurement by the Cotton Cooperation of India has touched over Rs 359 crore in the state. ‘From 2014-15 to this year, the Ministry of Textiles has extended support of over Rs 1,622 crore only for cotton procurement and MSP operations benefiting over 1.67 lakh farmers,” she said.

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Policy & Politics

India and Mauritius sign comprehensive economic cooperation and partnership agreement

As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

Tarun Nangia

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Dr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, and Ambassador Mr. Haymandoyal Dillum, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Government of Mauritius signed the India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA)  in Port Louis yesterday, in the august presence of Prime Minister of Mauritius Mr Pravind Jugnauth, and External Affairs Minister, Govt of India, Mr S. Jaishankar.

CECPA is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa. The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas

Impact/benefits: CECPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers 310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agricultural products (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32 lines), electricals and electronic item (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood and articles thereof (15 lines), and others. Mauritius will benefit from preferential market access into India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits, juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment, and apparel.

 As regards trade in services, Indian service providers will have access to around 115 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors, such as professional services, computer related services, research & development, other business services, telecommunication, construction, distribution, education, environmental, financial, tourism & travel related, recreational, yoga, audio-visual services, and transport services.

 India has offered around 95 sub-sectors from the 11 broad services sectors, including professional services, R&D, other business services, telecommunication, financial, distribution, higher education, environmental, health, tourism and travel related services, recreational services and transport services.

Both sides have also agreed to negotiate an Automatic Trigger Safeguard Mechanism (ATSM) for a limited number of highly sensitive products within two years of the Signing of the Agreement.

Timelines: The Agreement will come into force at an early date.

The India-Mauritius CECPA will further cement the already deep and special relations between the two countries.

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Policy & Politics

CARE FOR YOUR AND OTHERS’ LIVES

As soon as the launch of the Covid-19 vaccine was announced, people threw all the caution to the winds. This careless attitude is responsible for the reappearance of the coronavirus pandemic. The need of the hour is to take strict action against those whose careless attitude is not only endangering their own lives but that of others too. Moreover, vaccines should be made available in the open market.

Vijay Darda

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As the New Year dawned, it looked like that the coronavirus pandemic was now tapering out. The number of Covid positive patients was declining rapidly and the death count was also going down, but by mid-February, reports of a fresh coronavirus outbreak from several parts of the country started pouring in again. The situation is getting worse in Karnataka and Maharashtra. The situation in Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal, Akola, some suburbs of Mumbai and Nagpur in Maharashtra is turning to be serious. If we look into the reasons, then one thing is clear that it is the negligent behaviour of the people that is responsible for this worsening situation.

 If I were to talk about my state Maharashtra, hundreds of people attended the wedding functions that took place on Vasant Panchami’s Muhurat and people neither took any precaution nor used sanitizer. They behaved as if the Covid-19 crisis was over, and there was no need to be afraid of anything! About 500 to 600 people had gathered in each marriage hall. These marriages have proved to be the hubs of the Covid-19 outbreak. The hard work and dedication of the government officials, doctors, other agencies who had subdued the pandemic and got letters of appreciation for being Covid Warriors, have all gone in vain. The organisers of wedding ceremonies are responsible for the new crisis, the hotels and the wedding halls as well as the officials of municipal corporations are also largely responsible. This could not have happened without their collusion.

Besides, the careless attitude of people in putting on masks and not following social distancing norms is leading to a surge in coronavirus cases again. Even if people are putting on masks, they are wearing it improperly. It keeps hanging below their nose or below their chin. With this kind of poor discipline, the atmosphere is proving conducive for the spread of coronavirus pandemic. If even one person in the crowd is a Covid-19 patient, he will infect a multitude of people. How can we forget that we have lost many of our near and dear ones due to Covid-19 pandemic. I believe that it is very important to open the markets because it is related to the livelihood of the people but at the same time we have to adopt some rules otherwise how will we be able to protect ourselves from this deadly virus? If the Covid-19 cases continue to rise, it will directly affect our economy. We have come out of lockdown with great difficulty and the economy has somehow started coming back on track.

Under these circumstances, if the situation worsens again, it will not only affect those Covid-19 positive patients, but other people will also suffer. If the lockdown or curfew is required again, the situation will worsen. From the common man to traders, businessmen and industrialists, they all are still reeling under the impact of coronavirustriggered lockdown and the very thought of the lockdown again is enough to give them shudders. The condition of schools is also very bad. They are grappling with the challenges of recovering the fees from parents and paying their staff. It is unfortunate that people are not thinking about it. They neither care for their own lives nor of those of others. In my view, such reckless people are enemies of the society.

The situation warrants strict action against them so that they would desist from indulging in such careless activities again. Besides, the government should now step up vaccination drive too. At present, just the frontline warriors are being vaccinated. Covid-19 vaccination in India started on January 16 and one crore people have been vaccinated in a month. If the pace remains the same, then just imagine how long it will take to vaccinate all the needy people. It has been reported that ordinary people above the age of 50 years will be vaccinated in the middle of March. The question is why the speed of vaccination is not being stepped up when we have about 10 crore vaccines ready and the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are engaged in developing the vaccine at full capacity. Why so much delay in giving vaccines to people above 50 years of age? It is reported that the glitches in the app have slowed down the vaccination but now they are being corrected. So, should it take so much time in today’s technological age? Let me inform you that Tamil Nadu government has also started vaccinating the journalists because they too have been in the frontline war against the coronavirus pandemic. That is very encouraging.

And the second biggest thing is that since we have lakhs of vaccines, then why doses are not being made available in the open market. By open market, I do not mean drug stores but private hospitals. Private sector hospitals in our country are well equipped with resources and if their help is taken, the pace of vaccination will become faster and the burden on the government will also be reduced. Those who have the ability to spend money for the vaccine should go to a private hospital. And the government should make arrangements at its centres for those who do not have money for getting vaccinated at private hospitals. Now, the common people are also wishing that the vaccine should be made available in private hospitals and the government should fix the rate of the vaccine and ensure that no hospital charges more than the prescribed amount.

India has overcome many diseases by vaccinating its vulnerable population. It is due to the series of vaccination drives that the immune system of Indians is much stronger than people living in countries of Europe and America. This is the reason why the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been relatively low on us. We are the number one in the world in terms of vaccination. Our resources and our potential are immense. The vaccination of the population on a mass scale can definitely help us beat the coronavirus. But this does not mean that we abandon the path of prevention. We should not become guilty of criminal negligence. Take care of your life and do not play with the lives of others. Wear the mask in the right way. Follow the safe distancing norms. Be healthy and keep others healthy too.

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

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Policy & Politics

MAKING IT HAPPEN: TRANSFORMATIVE EXCISE POLICY

Anil Swarup

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It is a moot point whether respective State Governments should impose prohibition, banning sale of potable alcohol. Some States like Gujarat and Bihar indeed have. There are arguments both for and against it. However, everyone admits that excise revenue arising out of tax on liquor sale constitutes a big chunk of the overall revenues of any state. At the turn of the century, there were unmistakable signs that the excise sector was struggling on account of monopolistic structure at least in the State of Uttar Pradesh. When S P Gaur took over as Secretary in the Excise Department of the State, he was briefed by the then Excise Commissioner, Pravir Kumar who too had recently taken over this sensitive assignment. He gave him an overview of the excise scenario in the State. The excise earning of about Rs. 2100 Crore constituted 17% of the total tax revenue. There was a monopoly of excise contractors. The distilleries and consumers were hapless sufferers at the hands of these contractors. Seven groups (each in one or a group of Districts) of excise contractors had taken control of the entire State, with distillers & consumers reduced to non-entities.

Under the prevalent system that was almost a century old, the excise vends came to be auctioned District-wise annually. A similar auction-based system was in vogue in most neighbouring States. Magnitude of licence fees for the district was so large (more than Rs.100 crore in urbanised districts) that small players couldn’t participate in the auctions. The whole process was reduced to a farce as a handful of big contractors cartelised and carved out their respective districts or a group of them for excise business. The monopolists would influence the excise policy, rules, dictate terms to the distillers and charged arbitrary price from the consumers. Not infrequently, they would refuse to yield any increase the bid amount. The government, expecting higher revenues in a competitive environment, was left with little elbow room to negotiate with the licensees.

The new team at the helm of Excise Department had the benefit of the K.N. Singh Committee Report that had highlighted concerns about the growing influence of excise monopolies. Further, a comparatively low per capita consumption of liquor in UP implied a suppression of consumption data by licensees. They had a vested interest in projecting lower sales, indulging in supply of illicit liquor, smuggling & excise duty evasion. The consumers, being unorganized and without a lobby, were made to pay the price. Besides, the supply of country liquor in poly-pouches spelt disaster for the environment with disposal of 100 lakh pouches every year. This disposal impacted water bodies as well.

The refusal of excise contractors to bid for higher revenues for 2000-01 precipitated a crisis. It was too late to make amends for the auctions due in March 2000. Major strategic reforms, however, became imminent in the excise sector of the State. S P Gaur and his team had consultations with all the stake-holders that included distillers, District Collectors and excise officials.

With support from Excise Minister and the new Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, it was decided to undertake major reforms instead of tinkering here and there. A new Excise Policy (NEP) was considered. The objective of this Policy was to eliminate the monopolies, facilitate entry of new enterprise in excise sector and to settle the excise vends in a transparent and fair manner.

As a prelude to NEP, an innovative Beer Project, entailing a paradigm shift, was devised. The excise duty, collected at a brewery, was now to be a major source of excise revenue with licence fee playing secondary role. The Beer Project met with stiff opposition from the powerful contractor’s lobby. After a protracted legal battle, the government settled 1326 new beer licences in summer of 2000. The new licences, with a small licence fee and simplified terms and conditions, were allotted on the basis of publicly held lottery. This Project gave unexpected sales and opened up the system. Beer prices crashed from Rs.65 to Rs.35 per bottle. Besides releasing this segment of liquor from the clutches of regular contractors, it opened up the system and brought several thousand new entrepreneurs in the sector. A new excise policy (NEP) was born!!

Encouraged by the success of the Beer Project, the team toiled day and night to work out alternative options and their implications under New Excise Policy. An inter-State meeting of 10 major excise earning States was held in November, 2000 to identify the best excise practices & consolidate the essential elements of NEP without compromising the total revenue. It provided for low licence fee, simplified entry level terms & conditions, allotment of shops by respective District Collectors through public lottery, and set the vendors free to buy liquor from any State distillery. The country liquor pouches (200 ml) were to be replaced by bottles (180 ml). It introduced Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and holograms using latest technology for checking duty evasion.

There were apprehensions about a fall in excise revenue as every 180 ml bottle contained 20 ml less country liquor than a poly-pouch. Even the Cabinet Minister shared these apprehensions but he played along in view of the larger benefits. The NEP was approved by the Cabinet. The Policy was put into operation within 2 months. The Excise Minister was partly correct as during the first year of NEP, there was a lower increase in the revenue that was expected. Subsequently, however, the excise revenue rose phenomenally to reach Rs. 27,323 Crore. It also ensured safe and better quality liquor to consumers at a fair price. His place as a stakeholder was duly recognized. By eliminating the use of poly- pouches, the Policy reduced the soil and water pollution a great deal.

The team led by S P Gaur and Pravir Kumar demonstrated that out-of-box-thinking is possible in bureaucratic framework as well and if it is done by taking stake holders into confidence, with imaginative planning and meticulous execution, it can yield the desired results. Here was a team that made-it-happen and it sustained over the years as they put in place institutions to sustain what they had created.

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