Beti Bachao: Poor enforcement of the PCPNDT Act frustrates Prime Minister Modi’s dream - The Daily Guardian
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Beti Bachao: Poor enforcement of the PCPNDT Act frustrates Prime Minister Modi’s dream

The PCPNDT Act prohibits use of sex selection and regulates use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques which can be used only for genuine purposes for detecting abnormalities. The Act provides punishment of imprisonment in case of violations. There is a complete machinery i.e. supervisory boards at the Central and state level and appropriate authority at district level for enforcement of the provisions.

Bhagabati Prasad Padhy

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Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister who in his Independence Day speech expressed the concern for protection of girl child. On the occasion of country’s 68th Independence Day on 15 August 2014, in his address to the nation, PM Narendra Modi espoused the cause of protection of girl child, female foeticide, and declining sex ratio in the country. Subsequently, on 22 January 2015, the Prime Minister while launching ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign  from  Panipat, Haryana, said that ‘for every 1,000 boys born, 1,000 girls should also be born.’

Beti Bachao

 The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme (BBBPS) is a flagship programme run by the central government to ensure the survival, protection and education of girl child. It is a centrally sponsored scheme that provides 100% financial assistance to state governments to encourage girl child education. The guidelines of the scheme emphasise the importance of enforcing the PCPNDT Act at the national, state and district levels. The district authorities are required to effectively monitor and ensure that the sex-determination tools are not misused by families and doctorsand to take stringent legal action against them in case of violations.

 The PCPNDT Act

The preference of  a son over a daughter has been a deep rooted social evil in Indian society which earlier led to female infanticide i.e  intentional killing of infant girls. The advent of ultrasound technology for pre-natal sex determination has substituted female infanticide by sex selective abortion of female foetus. It is estimated that about 30 per cent of women in India resort to sex selection out of desire to have a son  (UNFPA, 2012).The Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PNDT Act) was enacted to address the problem of sex selection of the foetus. The Act came into force from 1st January 1996. The PNDT Act was amended in 2003 and renamed as Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 (PCPNDT Act).

 The PCPNDT Act prohibits use of sex selection and regulates use of prenatal diagnostic techniques which can be used only for genuine purposes for detecting abnormalities. The Act provides punishment of imprisonment in case of violations. There is a complete machinery i.e supervisory boards  at  central and state level and appropriate authority at district level for enforcement of the provisions. The appropriate authority has the power to search and seizure of documents and  issue search warrant to any place suspected of being used for sex determination. The authority can cancel or suspend the license of any diagnostic center after giving notice of violation of the provisions of the Act. It has the power to prosecute any person for commission of offence under the Act by filing a complaint before the competent court. The PCPNDT Act is thus a complete code having stringent provisions to act as a deterrence against sex selection.

Role of the Supreme Court of India

Even though the Act  came into force in 1996, it was not implemented properly. Therefore, Center for Enquiry into Health & Allied Themes (CEHAT),an NGO filed a writ petition i.e CEHAT and Others v. Union of India & Ors: (2003) 8 SCC 412 in the year 2000 before the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to the central government and state governments to appoint the authorities for implementation of the PNDT Act. The Supreme Court while making an observation that “it is unfortunate that law which aims at preventing such practice is not implemented and, therefore, Non-Governmental Organisations are required to approach this Court for implementation”, decided the writ petition by directing the central and the state governments to implement the PNDT Act with full vigor and zeal and appoint the authorities contemplated under the Act.

Despite the directions of the Supreme Court, the Act was still not adequately implemented which led to the filing of another writ petition i.e Voluntary Health Association of Punjab vs. Union of India & Ors.:(2013) 4 SCC 1 before the Supreme Court in 2006. The Supreme Court, after taking the note of the fact that despite declining trend of sex ratio the provisions of the Act have not been adequately implemented by the various States and Union Territories, observed that: “

 there had been no effective supervision or follow-up action so as to achieve the object and purpose of the Act… mushrooming of various sonography centres, genetic clinics, genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, ultrasonic clinics, imaging centres in almost all parts of the country called for more vigil and attention by the authorities under the Act…their functioning was not being properly monitored or supervised by the authorities under the Act or to find out whether they are misusing the pre-natal diagnostic techniques for determination of sex of foetus leading to foeticide.”

 With the above observation, the Supreme Court on 4 March 2013 not only issued directions to the Central Supervisory Board and the State and Union Territories Supervisory Boards to oversee the effective  implementation of the Act but also directed the various courts in this country through the Registrars of various High Courts to take steps to dispose of all pending cases under the Act within a period of six months. The Supreme Court has also directed to file the Status Report within a period of three months.

Thereafter, in a landmark judgment on 8 Novemeber, 2016 in Voluntary Health Association of Punjab vs. Union of India & Ors.:(2016) 10 SCC 265, the Supreme Court passed further directions for effective enforcement of the Act. The relevant directions with regard to the prosecution for violation of the provisions of the Act interalia are:

  1. The provisions contained in Sections 22 and 23 shall be strictly adhered to. Section 23(2) shall be duly complied with and it shall be reported by the authorities so that the State Medical Council takes necessary action after the intimation is given under the said provision.
  2. If there has been violation of any of the provisions of the Act or the Rules, proper action has to be taken by the authorities under the Act so that the legally inapposite acts are immediately curbed.
  3. The Courts which deal with the complaints under the Act shall be fast tracked and the concerned High Courts shall issue appropriate directions in that regard.
  4. The judicial officers who are to deal with these cases under the Act shall be periodically imparted training in the Judicial Academies or Training Institutes, as the case may be, so that they can be sensitive and develop the requisite sensitivity as projected in the objects and reasons of the Act and its various provisions and in view of the need of the society.
  5. The Director of Prosecution or, if the said post is not there, the Legal Remembrancer or the Law Secretary shall take stock of things with regard to the lodging of prosecution so that the purpose of the Act is subserved.
  6. The Courts that deal with the complaints under the Act shall deal with the matters in promptitude  and submit the quarterly report to the High Courts through the concerned  Sessions and District Judge.
  7. The learned Chief Justices of each of the High Courts in the country are requested to constitute a Committee of three Judges that can periodically oversee the progress of the cases.

Enforcement of the PCPNDT Act

The very fact that the CSR (Child Sex Ratio) dipped from 927 to 919 between 2001 and 2011 census while the Act was in force, shows that the Act hardly made any deterrent effect during that period. As per the government reports,  the total number of pending court and police cases under the Act between 1996 and 2014 were 2,021 while number of convictions was 206. The number of court cases increased to   2,152 with 306 convictions in 2016. By March 2018, the total number of complaints filed under the Act increased to 2735.  

Despite the increase in number of complaints filed under the Act, there is substantial fall of  SRB (Sex Ratio at Birth). As per the Niti Aayog Report  of 2018, 17 out of 21 large states of the country have recorded dip in SRB with Gujarat recording an alarming dip of 53 points. The Niti Aayog Report while stressing on the need to check sex-selective abortion, urged the states to effectively implement the PCPNDT Act.

 The 10th Review Committee of National Health Mission, 2016 pointed out that  “the level of implementation of PCPNDT Act was abysmal. Lack of witnesses and insufficient evidence were cited as major reasons that resulted in cases falling through, thereby resulting in low conviction rates”. Similarly, the  12th Review Committee of National Health Mission, 2018 also recorded the poor implementation of the Act.  

Emerging Challenges

 The In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and  Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) technologies which give a ray of hope to childless couples, pose serious challenges to Beti Bachao programme. With the number of IVF and fertility centres growing in semi urban places and  society’s preference for male child, there is every possibility that these centres shall become the son facilitating business hubs.

 The Prime Minister’s dream of achieving the target of ‘1000 girls born for every 1,000 boys born’ shall be defeated  unless there is greater involvement of the community leaders, civil society organisations and  public in enforcement of the PCPNDT Act. The authorities must be committed to ensure that the complaints filed in the courts must result in convictions. The legislators must oversee the effective enforcement of the Act through the parliamentary committees. The judicial process while adhering to the Supreme Court directions should ensure the speedy trial of the complaints filed under the Act.    

 The writer is Advocate, Supreme Court of India.

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Policy & Politics

Dispute, Discrepancy, and Debate: Anti-Arbitration Injunctions in India

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Overview of Anti Arbitration Injunctions
The conundrum of anti-arbitration injunctions is similar to the relationship between a devil and deep blue sea, thereby, addressing the two-sided sword of danger and distress irrespective of choosing directions. India’s approach on anti-arbitration injunctions can be summarized more or less on the same lines. In common parlance, an anti-arbitration injunction suit seeks to injunct the initiation of arbitration proceedings. Generally, the parties prefer to take this recourse before the initiating arbitration proceedings. However, the same is not confined to narrow boundaries and hence, recourse can be availed before the tribunal passes the final award.
There are two broad limbs while dealing with such injunctions. On one hand, it is argued that this remedy strikes the power of arbitral tribunal to regulate or decide its own jurisdiction which results in increasing judicial intervention. On the other hand, it is argued in cantena of judgments that the duty of the court to ‘refer’ parties to the arbitration plays a vital role. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Vidya Drolia & Ors. v. Durga Trading Corporation (“Vidya Drolia”) reiterated four-fold conditions for determining arbitrability of disputes by appropriate forum viz., (i) instances where cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to actions in rem, not pertaining to subordinate rights in personam which arise from rights in rem, (ii) mutual adjudication would not be appropriate when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute inherently affects third party rights and hence, centralized adjudication must be there, (iii) mutual adjudication not possible when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to sovereign and public interest functions of the State, and (iv) when the subject-matter of the dispute is expressly, or by necessary implication non-arbitrable as per mandatory statute.
Further, in P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju (Died) another set of principles were crystalised, viz., firstly, there must be an arbitration agreement; secondly, a party to the agreement must bring an action in the court against the opposite party; thirdly, similar subject matter of the action and arbitration agreement; and fourthly, the other party must move to the court for arbitration before it submits its first statement on the substance of the dispute. Simultaneous reading of S. 8 & 45 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) makes it clear that the remedy of anti-arbitration injunction sustains limited judicial intervention. India is struggling to find a fine line of balance on the issue of autonomy to arbitral tribunals and ability of courts to interfere in matters pertaining to jurisdiction, injustices, or aggravation in any arbitration proceedings.

Narrow Bridge Prior to Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Section 16 of the Act encircles the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which talks about the issue of jurisdiction by arbitral tribunal as sufficient and efficient. In the case of Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while examining this backbone principle applied this principle and held that “the dispute related to the arbitrability should be decided by the tribunal itself and courts can interfere only when there is no agreement at all or whether the consent to enter into an agreement is vitiated by fraud or misrepresentation.” Hence, under the said Act, the challenge before a court is maintainable only after the final award is passed as provided by sub-section (6) of Section 16. In the case of N.N. Global Mercantile v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd, similar footings were observed while dealing with the said principle. Interestingly, in Kvaerner Cementation India Limited v. Bajranglal Agarwal, it was held that the civil court do not have the jurisdiction to interfere in arbitral matters, owing to the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which focuses on the competence of a court.
Quite recently, the Calcutta High Court denied the contention of forum non conveniens while restraining the other party from taking steps for a London-seated arbitration while reiterating that the contract was signed cautiously. Similarly, in Sancorp Confectionary v. Gumlik, the Delhi High Court refused to interfere and stated that all objections shall be heard by the arbitral tribunal itself. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in World Sport Group v. MSM Satellite Singapore Ltd while analysing the issue whether the arbitration agreement was null and void applied the principles of Section 45 of the Act. However, it is interesting and vital to note the case of Board of Trustees of Port of Kolkata v. Louis Dreyfus Armatures SAS & Ors where the Calcutta High Court granted anti-arbitration injunction and warned that it must only be granted in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances.

Window of Interference Post Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vidya Drolia laid down certain principles while analysing the issue of non-arbitrability, while placing substantial reliance on Duro Felguera and Boghara Polyfab. Firstly, the scope of judicial review under Section 8 and 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) is identical but vastly limited, secondly, arbitral tribunal is the preferred authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability and court is the second option on such aspects, and thirdly, the court may interfere rarely only when it is manifestly and ex facie precise that the arbitration agreement is non-existent, invalid, or / and the disputes are non-arbitrable. Further, while following the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz, the Apex Court strongly observed that it is the arbitral tribunal which must be preferred as first authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability. 
Recent judgments have shaken the balance between the courts and tribunals while sliding towards granting autonomy to arbitral tribunals. The suits in Bina Modi vs Lalit Modi were dismissed while reiterating the observation in Kvaerner Cementation wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court dismissed suits as unmaintainable since an alternative remedy was present under Section 16 of the Act. Reliance was also placed on Section 41(h) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, which bars the grant of injunctions when there is a possibility of deriving equally effective relief by any other usual mode of proceedings. The court while disallowing observed that the adequate remedy would be to approach the arbitral tribunal instead.
While hearing the Amazon-Future Retail, Justice Amit Bansal, stated that “there is only a very small window for interference with orders passed by the arbitral tribunal while exercising jurisdiction under Article 227. The said window becomes even narrower where the orders passed by the arbitral tribunal are procedural in nature.” The bench while upholding non-interference stated that the willingness of the court must be of utmost importance and added that arbitrators have a far greater flexibility in adopting procedure to conduct the arbitration proceedings as compared to civil courts and concluded by stating that nothing was found to suggest that the arbitral tribunal has denied equal opportunity to the parties or that it has not been accommodating towards the requests of the petitioners. Recently, the Supreme Court has set aside the orders of the Delhi High Court which initiated coercive steps against the companies and its promoters Biyanis for alleged violation of the Emergency Award passed by the Singapore Tribunal on the application filed by e-commerce giant Amazon.

Conclusion
In Vidya Drolia, the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s attempt to pose responsibility on the lower Courts while ensuring caution in exercising authority over proceedings referred to it under the Act clearly shows that we’re moving towards a pro-arbitration regime which must be accepted by open arms in order to curb over-burdening of judiciary. Prima facie, there are two important questions; firstly, can we have a common rule that everything must be decided by the arbitral tribunal with no power in hands of the court?, and secondly, has India approached this issue as if it were caught between the devil and the deep sea in choosing to exclusively rest the jurisdiction with the arbitral tribunal? Practically speaking, in the Indian context, we cannot shut eyes on the fact that there may be instances wherein the courts need to interfere in rare and exceptional circumstances. At times, the arbitral proceedings can be oppressive, vexatious, and inequitable. The law on anti-arbitration injunction suits in India has certainly reached a stifling point and hence, aim to not evolve as oppressive, manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and prejudicial to the interest of the parties.

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Policy & Politics

Bapu! Why don’t you come back again?

Not only India but the whole world celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, which made me think…

Vijay Darda

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Dear Bapu!
Let me say sorry to you. Your birthday was celebrated yesterday, October 2. It has become a tradition to write something on your birthday, just as there is a tradition of garlanding your statues at various intersections. There is the tradition of singing panegyrics to your virtue and then the misfortune of forgetting everything the next day. Even though I did not write anything, Bapu, my mind kept me restless throughout the day. Several questions kept raising their heads. I kept wondering who imprisoned our dear Bapu only in statues. Bapu! You took on the world’s biggest empire with such an ease and patience that the world was stunned! Have we forgotten the great man who freed us from the slavery of centuries?
As the Sun was about to set after celebrating your birthday, I felt that the questions which were stirring my mind must be agitating more people like me. Was it any easy task to awaken an almost uneducated country that had been in a deep slumber of ignorance for centuries? Bapu, when you came to India in 1915, toured the whole country and became active in the freedom movement in 1917, the literacy rate of the country was not even 7 per cent. The British were sending your sons and daughters across the sea as indentured labourers. The morale of the country was shattered but you did an amazing thing Bapu! No one had even imagined that your efforts, which looked very simple, would infuse consciousness in the country. Be it the Nilaha Kisan movement of Champaran or the 24-day Dandi March in March-April 1930 for the right to salt, they shook the sleeping soul of India awake. You taught this country to talk to the British on equal terms. When the Viceroy gave you the message to come to Delhi to meet him, what a befitting reply you gave! That, this country is ours. If you want to meet me, come down to Sevagram and I will be there! This also reminds me of the incident when you met George V in London. You were asked why you were clad in so few clothes? And what a wonderful answer you gave him: The king is wearing all the clothes!
Bapu! You were a source of inspiration for not just India but more than 40 countries. Thanks to you Bapu, those countries are free today! It was you who created awakening against apartheid. During his visit to India, Barack Obama too had said in the Parliament that had Gandhiji not been there, he would not have become the President.
You experienced and understood the pain in the common man’s life, and that is why you could do what no one could imagine. There is no such feeling of sensitivity left in our leaders, Bapu! I wish our leaders could learn from you! Today, the whole country is engaged in the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, something which you taught us Bapu. You fought for women’s education and equal rights when neither family nor society even thought about it. Today, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is in full swing, but the credit goes to you, Bapu! You must be seeing from wherever you are Bapu that the daughters of Mother India are scaling the pinnacle of success today. The national flag is flying high all over the world. There is a discussion to give one-third reservation to women today, whereas you had said long ago that if the country has to be taken on the path of progress, women will have to be given equal rights. If I think about your philosophy of life, I feel proud that on our soil there was a Mahatma called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who thought about the welfare of humanity. Seeing the women using blowpipes to blow air into the hearth and ending up with damaged lungs, Bapu called the scientist Magan Bhai to Sevagram and asked him to invent such a hearth that would rid women of this problem. In this way, the Magan chulha came into existence! The practice of open defecation is being phased out today, and the credit for this too goes to you, Bapu. You taught us the skill of digging a pit and burying the dirt so that it gets converted into manure. Your goal was that man should get freedom from manual scavenging.
You understood India in a true sense and also found solutions to the problems in accordance with its ambiance. You talked about naturopathy. You taught us the value of everything right from the value of livestock to the value of soil. Rajiv Gandhi talked about ensuring and taking the fruits of democratic power to the last person in the villages, and today our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making rapid efforts in that direction, but you are the father of this concept of village development, Bapu! You understood the power of youth, recognised the power of women, and realised the need for solidarity in society.
You started the eradication of untouchability and opened the temple gates for Dalits. You propagated humanity as the biggest religion to unite the country divided by caste, religion, and creed. When you talked about Ram Rajya, there was no religious exclusivity anywhere in it. There was a sense of equality for all. You paved the way for truth and non-violence when history was being stained with blood due to long periods of violence. That’s why you taught us to sing: Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Patit Pawan Sita Ram; Ishwar Allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan! You believed in forgiveness, non-violence, fasting, friendship, and brotherhood. Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha resided in your conscience.
You also wanted the villages to benefit from science, so you became friends with the great scientist Albert Einstein. He rightly said about you: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” The situation is the same today. It is our fault Bapu that today’s generation does not know anything about you properly! Bapu, why don’t you come to this land of Bharat once again? Many of your dreams are still unfulfilled, Bapu!

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

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Nation

Bombay High Court grants bail to Anil Deskmukh, remains in jail

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In a money laundering case brought by the Enforcement Directorate, the Bombay high court on Tuesday granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh.

The bail was granted on a surety amount of Rs 1 lakh. The ED has asked for a two-week delay in the order’s implementation.

Deshmukh was arrested in November of last year and moved the high court after his bail request was rejected earlier this year by a special PMLA court.

Deshmukh has been given bail in the ED case, but he will continue to be held in relation to the CBI case that was brought against him in April of last year.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the High Court to quickly hear and resolve the NCP leader’s case because it had been pending for six months.

Deshmukh’s lawyers, Vikram Chaudhari and Aniket Nikam, argued that the senior NCP politician ought to be given bail in light of his age (72), good health, and lack of prior convictions.

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Policy & Politics

Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia inaugurates direct flights between Bilaspur to Indore

Enhanced air connectivity between these cities will help bolster tourism and trade activities in the region: Scindia

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Jyotiraditya Scindia

Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia along with Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel inaugurated a direct flight from Bilaspur to Indore, today, on 03rd October 2022.
The flight will operate between Bilaspur-Indore-Bilaspur effective 3rd October 2022 (Today). It will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday on this route.
In his address, Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia said “this new air connectivity will facilitate people of both the states and contribute to the economic development of the regions. The Minister further added that the Ministry is working to operationalise 200 destinations including heliports and water aerodromes by 2026. The central government is committed to take the civil aviation sector to newer heights and improve air connectivity in every part of the country.
Bilaspur and Indore are prominent cities in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh respectively. Enhanced air connectivity between these cities will help bolster tourism and trade activities in the region and contribute to their overall economic development.
Alliance Air’s Flight 9I 691 will depart from Bilaspur at 1135 hrs. and arrive in Indore at 1325 hrs. with an introductory all-inclusive fare of INR 2,847/-. Flight 9I 692 will depart from Indore at 1355 hrs. and arrive in Bilaspur at 1545 hrs. with an introductory all-inclusive fare of INR 3,218/-.
The inauguration was graced by Shri Tulsi Silawat, Minister of Water, Resources of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Jaisingh Agrawal, Minister in charge of District Bilaspur, Arun Sao, MP (LS) Bilaspur, Shankar Lalwani, MP (LS) Indore, Shailesh Pandey, MLA Bilaspur, Dharamlal Kaushik, MLA Bilha, Ramcharan Yadav, Mayor Municipal Corporation, Bilaspur, Smt. Rashmi Ashish Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh. Besides, Usha Padhee, Addl. Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation, Vikramdev Dutt, CMD, AIAHL, Vineet Sood, CEO, Alliance Air, and other dignitaries from MoCA, AAI, Alliance Air, and local administration from Bilaspur, and Indore were also present.

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Policy & Politics

Inter-ministerial meeting to review progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants held in New Delhi today

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Inter-ministerial meeting to review progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants held in New Delhi today

An Inter-ministerial meeting to review progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants was held in New Delhi today. The meeting was co-chaired by Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav and Union Minister for Power, New & Renewable Energy, R. K. Singh. The meeting was held in the backdrop of the onset of the harvesting season for Kharif crops in the country. The meeting was also attended by Secretary (Power / Environment, Forest &CC / MOA&FW) and senior officials from the state governments of Haryana, Punjab & Uttar Pradesh and heads of all power utilities in the NCR region, as well. The meeting also drew participation from important government bodies like CAQM, CEA, CPCB etc.
The SAMARTH Mission presented the details of Biomass cofired in different NCR plants, Purchase orders placed, action on short term and long term tenders in process vis -a-vis the quantity required by NCR GENCOs as well. Regarding the quantity of biomass co-fired till date, it was mentioned that while till FY 2020-21, only 8 power plants had co-fired biomass pellets, the corresponding number has increased to 39 as on date. In the NCR region, 10 TPPs have started co-firing. However, the amount of biomass co-fired is still lagging. As on date, 83066 MT of biomass has been co-fired in 39 thermal power plants across the country totalling to a capacity of 55390 MW. In NCR region, the biomass co-fired is 22,696 MT out of which 95% has been done by NTPC. Further, 99% of the PO in place has been contributed by NTPC Ltd. Action by NTPC for both Biomass cofiring and procurement initiative was praised and it was mentioned that other GENCOs should follow the footstep of NTPC for successful implementation of Biomass cofiring in the country.
Different activities undertaken by MOP to expand Biomass co-firing in the country were discussed. Among the prominent activities are issue of revised Biomass policy, long term model contract, model SOP, Database development of Biomass stakeholders, lab development for testing of Biomass, initiation of R&D projects on Biomass, development of Biomass Mission website etc. It was also discussed that 25 number of offline and online training cum awareness programmes for various stakeholders in the sector including farmers, pellet manufacturers and power plant officials were held. While in the FY 2021-22, 10 such programs were held in a period of six months, 15 events have already been held in a period of six months in this Financial Year. Mission also highlighted various advertisements given in national &regional dailies for stopping stubble burning and raising awareness about SAMARTH mission in association with Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) & Power Foundation of India (PFI).
On the biomass pellet procurement side, a large no. of tenders have been floated by several power plants. Around 106 MMT of biomass tenders are at various stages of the tendering process. Out of these, order has already been placed for 43.47 Lac MT of biomass tenders by 35 power plants while tendering process is ongoing for 1064 Lac MT.
During the review, it was observed that the target of 5% co-firing of biomass along with coal in TPPs in the country was still far off. However, most power plants have issued long term tenders and the situation is expected to improve when the supply will start in those tenders. Meanwhile, Union Power Minister directed that till the time supply from the tenders is not started, power utilities should start procurement for the short term via alternate methods like spot market or commission agents as the harvesting season has already started.
All TPPs were directed that they should issue enough tenders to cover 5% requirement of biomass with special emphasis on plants located in Punjab and Haryana. It was also directed that power utilities should make all out efforts to complete the procurement process for existing tenders as soon as possible.
Direction was given to all thermal power plants in NCR region to install biomass pellet manufacturing plants (torrefied / non-torrefied) in their premises, including the private power companies. GENCOs may also explore to put up plant through Consortium. It was further highlighted that the non-compliance in this regard would be viewed very strictly. He further directed that Principal Secretary (Environment) from each State should act as nodal person for Biomass co-firing in the state.
Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had accepted the suggestion. He further communicated that MOP may think of giving Must Run status for the thermal power stations co-firing Biomass. He has praised the initiative by MOP and remarked that all should support Biomass Mission objective, which is a Mission of Prime minister of the country.
CAQM was also communicated to start considering penal provisions on Thermal Power Plants which are not taking enough steps to curb emissions and not co-firing sufficient quantity of biomass.
Ministry of Agriculture apprised that the Govt. has distributed Rs 600 crore worth of machinery to the Custom Hiring Centres of state governments under its scheme. Union minister requested that MoA should monitor whether the scheme is benefiting the intended beneficiary and that machines for stubble collection are made available in the vicinity of thermal power plants.
Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had further taken a review meeting for Financial support methodology. Union Environment Minister directed CPCB to also disseminate the information about the projects and organise workshop regarding the same.
It was also emphasised that the Power ministry would consider reduction in coal supply of those thermal power plants that do not comply with the MoP’s policy on biomass co-firing. Sufficient emphasis was given on the fact that the health and safety of the citizens was topmost priority and no one has the right to put innocent lives in danger.
Union Minister (Power and New & Renewable Energy) lauded the efforts of the SAMARTH Mission and directed it to continue its good efforts and hoped that the measures of the government in transforming the problem of stubble burning into a solution of power production would bear fruit with the cooperation of state governments.

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Policy & Politics

Inter- Ministerial meeting held to review Parali management in NCR and adjoining States

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Inter- Ministerial meeting held to review Parali management in NCR and adjoining States

A high level Inter-Ministerial meeting under the co-chairmanship of R.K Singh , Union Minister of Power & NRE and Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change was held today to review the progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants along with Parali management in NCR and adjoining states.
The meeting was held in the backdrop of the onset of the harvesting season for Kharif crops in the country. Secretaries of Ministries of Power and MOEF&CC, senior officials from MoA&FW, Chief Secretaries of governments of Punjab, Haryana & UP, Chairman-Commission of Air Quality of NCR along with officials of these ministries as well as heads of all power utilities in the NCR region attended the meeting. The meeting also drew participation from important government bodies like CAQM, CEA, CPCB etc.
R.K. Singh emphasised that orders for procurement & use of biomass pellets in TPPs must be expedited and at least 5% Co-firing is to be ensured.
Singh highlighted that power utilities should make all out efforts to complete the procurement process for existing tenders as soon as possible. He further underlined that till the time supply from the long term tenders is not started, power utilities should start procurement for the short term via alternate methods like commission agents as the harvesting season has already started.
R.K Singh also stressed that measures should be taken for expeditious setting up of manufacturing facilities for torrification of biomass pellets in different locations to overcome the challenges of supply of biomass’s pellets.
Singh further suggested that Principal Secretary (Environment) from each State should act as nodal person for Biomass cofiring in the state.
Singh emphasised that the ministry would put penal provisions on those thermal power plants that do not comply with the MoP’s policy on biomass co-firing. Sufficient emphasis was given on the fact that the health and safety of the citizens was topmost priority and no one has the right to put innocent lives in danger.
Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change welcomed the suggestions. He further communicated that Ministry of Power ( MOP) may think of giving Must Run status for the thermal power stations co-firing biomass. He praised the initiative by MOP in mission mode and remarked that all should support Biomass Mission objective, which is a Mission of Hon’ble Prime minister of the country.
It is to be noted that while till FY 2020-21, only 8 power plants had co-fired biomass pellets, the corresponding number has increased to 39 as on date. In the NCR region, 10 TPPs have started co-firing. As on date, 83066 MT of biomass has been co-fired in 39 thermal power plants across the country totalling to a capacity of 55390 MW. In NCR region, the biomass co-fired is 22,696 MT out of which 95% has been done by NTPC. Further, 99% of the PO in place has been contributed by NTPC Ltd. It was suggested that other GENCOs should follow the footstep of NTPC for successful implementation of Biomass co-firing in the country.
On the biomass pellet procurement side, a large no. of tenders have been floated by several power plants. Around 106 MMT of biomass tenders are at various stages of the tendering process. Out of these, order has already been placed for 43.47 Lac MT of biomass tenders by 35 power plants while tendering process is ongoing for 1064 Lac MT.
It was informed that 25 number of offline and online training cum awareness programmes for various stakeholders in the sector including farmers, pellet manufacturers and power plant officials were held. While in the FY 2021-22, 10 such programs were held in a period of six months, 15 events have already been held in a period of six months in this Financial Year.
During the review, it was observed that the target of 5% co-firing of biomass along with coal in TPPs in the country was still far off. However, most power plants have issued long term tenders and the situation is expected to improve when the supply will start in those tenders. Direction was given to all thermal power plants in NCR region to install biomass pellet manufacturing plants (torrefied / non-torrefied) in their premises, including the private power companies. GENCOs may also explore to put up plant through Consortium. It was further highlighted that the non-compliance in this regard would be viewed very strictly.
CAQM was also communicated to start considering penal provisions on Thermal Power Plants which are not taking enough steps to curb emissions and not co-firing sufficient quantity of biomass. CPCB informed that financial incentives are to going to be provided for setting up pellet manufacturing plants in the NCR region.
Ministry of Agriculture apprised that the central government has distributed Rs 600 crore worth of machinery to the Custom Hiring Centres of state governments under its scheme which can be used for stubble collection.

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