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In news:

WHO experts meet to decide whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo should still be considered a global health emergency, following a sharp decline in reported cases.

In brief:

  • For the epidemic to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.
  • The decision is ultimately taken by the WHO’s Emergency Committee — a group of international experts that meets every three months once an emergency has been declared.
  • In 2014, it killed about 11,000 people — mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

About Ebola Viral Disease:

  • The viruses that cause Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • There is no approved vaccine or treatment for EVD.
  • The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 per cent.

Mode of spread:

  • Blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and
    semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD
  • Infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates
  • Handling or eating raw or undercooked “bushmeat”
  • Ebola can’t be caught through routine social contact, such as shaking hands, with people who don’t have symptoms.
  • There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus.
  • Ebola virus can remain in certain body fluids after a person has recovered from the infection. These fluids are semen, breast milk, ocular (eye) fluid, and spinal column fluid.

Bill To Regulate Pesticide Trade Gets Green Light

Why in News?

  • Union Cabinet has approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020
  • Bill regulates the business of pesticides and it will replace the existing Insecticides Act of 1968 to compensate farmers in case of losses from the use of spurious agro-chemicals.

More in News:

Objective: To protect the farmers and to ensure that they get safe and effective pesticides.

Key Provisions:

  • The bill aims to promote organic pesticides.
  • Information regarding the available pesticides will be available in the public domain, in all languages in digital format.
  • Farmers will know about the strength and weaknesses of pesticides, the risk, and alternatives in digital platform.
  • Government will provide compensation when there is any form loss due to use of low-quality pesticides in the farming.
  • Union government may form a central fund and also compensation funds are collected from the manufacturers.
  • Person who wants to import, manufacture, or export pesticides should register under the new bill and provide information regarding expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions of the pesticides.
  • Bill also regulates misleading advertisements by industries and manufactures.

Usage of pesticides in India:

  • India is the fourth largest producer of pesticides in the world.
  • Consumption of Pesticides are more in Paddy and it accounts for 26%.

Kerala Is Ready For Coastal Zone Management Plan

Prelims: Environment -CRZ

Why in news:

  • Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had notified the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, replacing the existing CRZ norms of 2011.
  • It is issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

More in news:


  • To promote sustainable development based on scientific principles.
  • For the protection of coastal stretches and marine areas.
  • Conservation of livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal area.

About Coastal Regulation Zone:

The region between the outer limits of territorial waters (12 nautical miles) and specified inward distance from high tide line along coasts.

Importance of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ):

  • India has a long coastline of 7516 km.
  • Both mainland and island coastlinefrom Gujarat to West Bengal, and two island archipelagos (Andaman Island and Lakshadweep).
  • Coastal waters are primary source of livelihood to 7 million households.

Classification of CRZ in India:

For the convenience of regulation for developmental activities, the coastal stretches within 500m are classified into four categories, viz.

Category I (CRZ-I)

a) Ecologically sensitive zone such as national parks/marine parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests, wild habitats, mangroves, corals/coral reefs.
b) Areas likely to be inundated due to rise in sea level
c) Areas between the Low Tide Line and High Tide Line

Category II (CRZ – II)

Area that have already been developed up to or the shoreline.

Category III (CRZ-III)

Areas that are relatively undisturbed and those which do not belong to either Category I or II.

Category IV (CRZ-IV)

Coastal stretches in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and small islands, except those designated as CRZ I, CRZ II and CRZ III.

Activities permitted and prohibited in coastal Areas:

  1. CRZ I: No new constructions shall be permitted within 500m of the HTL.
  2. CRZ II:
    • Reconstruction of the authorized building to be permitted subject to the existing FSI/FAR norms.
  3. CRZ III:
    • The area up to 200m from the HTL is be earmarked as ‘No Development Zone’.
    • Exceptfor repairs of existing authorized structures.
    • Permitted for agriculture, horticulture, gardens, pastures, parks, play fields, forestry and salt manufacture from sea water.

A Child Can’t Be Put Behind Bars, Rules SC

In News:

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the police have no right to detain children in conflict with law in a lockup or a jail.

In Brief:

  • A juvenile in conflict with law, if apprehended, has to be placed immediately under the care of the special juvenile police unit or a designated child welfare officer.
  • The Bench declared that the child has to be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). “Once a child is produced before a JJB, bail is the rule,”
  • If for some reason bail is not granted, a child cannot be put behind bars. He has to be lodged either in an observation home or in a place of safety.
  • The eight-page order on February 10 came after the court’s attention was drawn by the recent media reports about “children being detained in police custody and tortured in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh”.
  • The order sends a significant message to the authorities in the light of reports about children detained in connection with the protests against the Citizenship (Amendments) Act.
  • The Bench has issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi Commissions for Protection of Child Rights and directed them to file their responses within three weeks

Cabinet Clears Major Ports Authority Bill

In News:

The Union Cabinet recently approved the Major Ports Authority Bill 2020, which will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.

In Brief:

  • The bill will replace the existing regulations under a 1963 law help in improving infrastructure.
  • The 12 major ports in India would get a boost through the new law, he said, adding that disputes with private companies and PPP operators had been cropping up, but the existing law had no provisions to deal with them.

Industrial Production Shrinks 0.3% In December

In News:

A Recent Data showed that India’s industrial production growth turned negative in December, contracting by 0.3%, mainly on account of a decline in manufacturing sector output.

In Brief:

  • According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) data, the manufacturing sector output contracted by 1.2% in December 2019 as against a growth 2.9% in the same month last year.
  • The large outbreak of the coronavirus in China can adversely impact India as China is one of the largest trading partners.
  • The electronics and auto industry in India will likely be hit because of their dependence on Chinese imports of components and raw materials.

About IIP:

  • IIP is the only measure on the physical volume of production.
  • It is used by government agencies including the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of India, etc, for policy-making purposes
  • IIP remains extremely relevant for the calculation of the quarterly and advance GDP estimate.

Direct Tax Bill To Include DRTs In Ambit

  • The Union Cabinet approved changes in the ‘Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020’ with a view to increase its scope to cover litigation pending in various debt recovery tribunals (DRTs).
  • It was proposed to cover tax disputes pending at the level of commissioner (appeals), Income Tax Appellate Tribunals, high courts and the Supreme Court.
  • Cases involving over Rs. 9 lakh crore of direct taxes were pending across various fora.

About ‘Vivad se vishwas’ scheme:

  • Under this scheme, taxpayers whose tax demands are locked in dispute in multiple forums, can pay due to taxes by March 31, 2020, and get a complete waiver of interest and penalty.
  • If a taxpayer is not able to pay within the deadline, he gets a further time till June 30, but in that case, he would have to pay 10% more on the tax.
  • The Vivad se Vishwas scheme is similar to the ‘Indirect Tax, Sabka Vishwas’ scheme, which was introduced by Finance Minister during her maiden budget presentation in July 2019. The “Sabka Vishwas” legacy dispute resolution scheme was aimed at reducing disputes related to excise and service tax payments.
  • Taxpayers whose tax demands are locked in dispute in multiple forums can pay due taxes and get a complete waiver of interest and penalty.

Inflation Climbs, Industrial Output Contract Yet Again

In news:

A data showed industrial production contracted again in December 2019, even as retail inflation surged to an almost six-year high of 7.59%.

In Brief:

  • It is the highest inflation rate since the NDA government came to power at the Centre in May 2014.
  • NSO’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) data showed retail inflation had surged from 7.35% in December 2019 to 7.59% in January 2020, mostly due to costlier food items.
  • This is the fourth straight month that retail inflation has crossed the Reserve Bank of India’s medium term target of 4%.
  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) recorded a negative growth of 0.3% in December 2019 in comparison to the same month the previous year, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • The IIP had shown a positive growth of 1.8% in November 2019, after three consecutive months of contraction.
  • IIP contraction came largely on the back of a 1.2% slump in the manufacturing sector.
  • In fact, 16 out of 23 industry groups in manufacturing saw negative growth.
  • The production of capital goods fell by 18.2% in comparison to the previous year.


Price Cap On Bottled Water

  • The Kerala Government has decided to impose a cap of Rs.13 for one litre packaged drinking water in the state, after conducting an audit of the production cost.
  • The packaged drinking water with BIS standard would only be allowed to be sold in the state
  • At present most packaged drinking water is being sold for Rs. 20 in Kerala.
  • The Kerala Water Authority is also planning to launch bottled drinking water.