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Prime Minister to launch Accessible India Campaign for Physically disabled people n important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream. With firm commitment of the government towards socio-economic transformation of the persons with disabilities there is an urgent need to create mass awareness for universal accessibility. DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders. The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs. Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for : i) Ramps in public buildings ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users iii)Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres. Article 9 – Accessibility of UNCRPD 1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces; Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services. 2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to: Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public; Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities; Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public; Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information; Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet; Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
National award winning film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ inspired by the issues of Niyamgiri Adivasis Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ is the story of Struggle for the survival of Adivasis in Niyamgiri. The film has won this year’s National award in the category of Best Environmental Film. The main theme of the film is an intimate poetic window into the lives of the Kondh, the original dwellers (Adivasis) of the forests of Niyamgiri in Odisha State. This film is about those peoples relationship with the forest. It highlights environmental issues and focus on struggle of tribals in day-today life. The Kondha are indigenous tribal groups of India. They live in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Their highest concentration is found in the blocks of Rayagada, Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Bissam cuttack and Muniguda. The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment. However, due to development interventions in education, medical facilities, irrigation, plantation and so on, they are forced into the modern way of life in many ways. Their traditional life style, customary traits of economy political organization, norms, values and world view have been drastically changed over a long period. One sub-group of Kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger and settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands. They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting & gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation. The Dongrias commonly practice polygamy. By custom, marriage must cross clan boundaries (a form of incest taboo). The clan or “Puja” is exogamous, which means marriages are made outside the clan (yet still within the greater Dongoria population). The form of acquiring mate is often by capture or force or elopement. However, marriage by negotiation is also practiced. The Dongrias are great admirer of aesthetic romanticism. Their pantheon has both the common Hindu gods and their own. The gods and goddesses are always attributed to various natural phenomena, objects, trees, animals, etc. Vedanta Resources, a UK based mining company, is threatening the future of this tribe as their home the Niyamgiri Hill is rich in bauxite. The bauxite is also the reason there are so many perennial streams. The tribe’s plight is the subject of a Survival International short film narrated by actress Joanna Lumley. In 2010 India’s environment ministry ordered Vedanta Resources to halt a sixfold expansion of an aluminium refinery in Odisha. As part of its Demand Dignity campaign, in 2011 Amnesty International published a report concerning the rights of the Dongria Kondh. Vedanta has appealed against the ministerial decision, but the tribal leaders have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India’s supreme court (in April 2012). In 2013 A three-member bench of the Supreme Court directed the village councils of Rayagada and Kalahandi to take a decision within three months on whether the project can go ahead after considering any claims of cultural, religious, community and individual rights that the forest dwellers of the region may have. The ruling linked the constitutional provision for the protection of Scheduled Tribes as enshrined in Article 224 with protection of religious rights under Articles 25 and 26 and the Forest Rights Act. After years of controversy and confusion, Vedanta’s project to mine bauxite on a forested hill considered sacred by an ancient tribe has been stopped by the Indian government.
UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost The United Nations Report says : The rising level of air borne pollution in Asia is extracting greater social and economic costs leading to millions of people dying prematurely each year. Globally some 7 million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in the Asia Pacific. From forest fires with their smoky haze over South East Asia, to China’s smog-filled mega cites, to rural homes in South Asia choked by inefficient stoves, scientists say in Asia there are rising health and social costs from air borne particle pollution. The costs from air pollution are rising for millions across the region, with hundreds of cities facing pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) safety standards. We know that well over 200 cities in Asia exceed WHO guidelines on PM2.5 emissions. Millions of people living in them exceeding WHO guidelines which is directly linked with basically chronic health problems. Emission rates from household fuel combustion should not exceed the following targets (ERTs) for particles with aerodynamic diameters of less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), based on the values for kitchen volume, air exchange and duration of device use per day set out in Table R1.1 and which are assumed to be representative of conditions in low- and middle-income countries. Scientists warn that without significant steps, the number of premature deaths from air borne pollution will double by 2050. In South Asia, from Bangladesh to India and Pakistan, the toll to human life has been directly linked to people using stoves that burn solid cooking fuels, like wood or dung. Indoor pollution is a major contributor to health problems that compares to the pollution faced by urban communities with traffic borne smog. it’s not just a kind of respiratory problem, but it’s also a cardiovascular problem. it’s not just young children’s and women’s problem but across all age groups — men and women — everybody’s impacted — it makes it the top most public health environment concern. In India alone some 3.5 million deaths a year are attributable to household air pollution. But she adds India’s economic growth and rising incomes has led to more families to seek alternatives to solid fuels, such as liquid petroleum gas. Atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) over mega cities from Bangkok, Japan, China and throughout India, also extract serious costs to communities. China is reported to be increasing investment to curb severe pollution in major cities, both the capital and regionally. But U.N. scientists say more must be done than merely punishing polluters. They say the challenge lies in ensuring there is the political will to enforce existing environmental laws and cooperate on cross border problems such as smoke haze and other atmospheric pollution. Air pollution in India It is quite a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. In autumn and winter months, large scale crop residue burning in agriculture fields – a low cost alternative to mechanical tilling – is a major source of smoke, smog and particulate pollution. The National Green Tribunal directed Delhi and its neighbouring States Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to stop the age-old practice of straw burning recently. India has a low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases but the country as a whole is the third largest after China and the United States. A 2013 study on non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution and there have been some measurable improvements. However, the 2014 Environmental Performance Index ranked India 155 out of 178 countries.In which Air quailty is ranked 174 out of 178 countries.
Draft National Policy on Capital Goods and Engineering A draft base paper on National Policy on Capital Goods was prepared by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI)- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Joint Task Force on Capital Goods and Engineering. WHAT ARE CAPITAL GOODS? Any tangible assets that an organization uses to produce goods or services such as office buildings, equipment and machinery. Consumer goods are the end result of this production process. “Capital Goods” sector comprises of plant and machinery, equipment / accessories required for manufacture / production, either directly or indirectly, of goods or for rendering services, including those required for replacement, modernization, technological upgradation and expansion. It also includes packaging machinery and equipment, refrigeration equipment, power generating sets, equipment and instruments for testing, research and development, quality and pollution control. Capital goods sector is extremely crucial for the development of the country’s economy for the following two important reasons: – 1.Capital Goods is considered as a strategic sector and development of domestic capabilities is essential from a national self-reliance and security perspective . 2.Capital Goods sector has multiplier effect and has a bearing on the growth of user industries as it provides critical inputs, i.e., machinery and equipment to the remaining sectors covered under the manufacturing activity. The capital goods sector contributes 12% to the total manufacturing activity (which is about 15% of the GDP). It is a large and diverse sector in India with a market size of INR 2, 50, 000 Cr in 2013–14 and a domestic production of close to INR 1, 92, 000 Cr. The sector is estimated to grow to a market size of approx INR 4, 65, 000 Cr in 2016–17 with domestic production of approx INR 4, 00, 000 Cr. The sector is a major employer, with close to 13, 00, 000 people employed across various sub-sectors. The sector has grown at the rate of 15% per annum over the last decade. Heavy electrical and power plant equipment is the largest sub-sector contributing to approx 65% of total capital goods requirement. The sector contributes significantly to exports with over Rs 52, 000 crores in 2013-14 which have grown at approx 20% per annum over the last decade. The sector also imports to the extent of Rs. 1, 14, 500 crore, which is 37% of the total demand of capital goods. The capital goods component in industrial production has lagged in recent years due to slow pace of domestic demand leading to growing dependence on imports and following slow growth in the world economy. Further, in the globalized world and as trade barriers in the form of tariffs are reduced, not all capital goods manufacturers have been able to tap the global opportunity. Today, the sector has witnessed a gradual improvement and registered a positive growth from April to December 2014 at 5.7%. Key Issues: Imports continue to address ~35-40% of domestic demand for capital goods with the proportion being significantly higher in “critical components” segment for each subsector. Machine tools, heavy electrical and power plant equipment are sub-sectors that are particularly weak in self reliance with ~40% of demand being met by imports. Indian share in global exports in the capital goods sector is still low, ranging between 0.1% and 0.6%, across various sub-sectors. In contrast, share of global exports for China ranges between 7.7% and 16.3% depending on the sub sector. The prospects for growth of the capital goods sector in India have always been projected to be good. Basis this, industry has invested significantly in capacity while the market 3 growth has not been commensurate with the same. This has led to large blocks of underutilized capacity, waiting to capitalize on the latent demand in the market. Beyond 4-5 large players, the market is fragmented with the majority of operative units in the SME sector. These SMEs are challenged vis-à-vis large foreign competitors with low operating scale and issues related to access to capital. Historically, lower appetite for capital investment in R& D and limited know-how of process technologies, the technology profile of domestic products ranges from basic to intermediate. Support facilities, technology development institutions and skilled man-power continue to lag behind global standards Cost disabilities such as higher cost of power, finance and infrastructure leading to higher operating cost. Vision: “To increase the share of capital goods contribution from present 12% to 20% of total manufacturing activity by 2025” Mission Become one amongst top 10 capital goods producing nations of the world 4 – Raise exports to a significant level of at least 40% of total production. objectives: Creating an Eco-system for globally competitive Capital Goods Sector. Creation and Expansion of Market for Capital Goods Sector Promotion of Exports Human Resource Development Technology & IPR Introduction of Mandatory Standards Focus on SME Development
France, India to launch global solar alliance French President Francois Hollande and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch an international solar alliance aimed at eventually bringing clean and affordable solar energy within the reach of all. There is a gap at present in the application of solar technologies to the very large un-met demand for solar-powered technologies in solar resource rich countries. This gap arises primarily from lack of systematic information about the on-ground requirements as well as scarce opportunities for capacity building and training of users of technologies and finally, a shortage of suitable financing arrangements to make new technologies affordable to very poor users who require them. The potential energy from sunlight which shines on these countries throughout the year should be harnessed and used to transform lives through simple devices such as solar panels and solar appliances that already exist and need to be scaled up and made accessible where they are needed. This can dramatically improve the quality of life in rural and peri-urban areas that are currently in darkness due to lack of electricity grid. A partnership is proposed, to consist of countries, majority of whom face similar challenges resulting from low rates of energy access-such as farmers who cannot use technology to improve productivity and incomes, or a shortage of clean drinking water due to high costs of purification, or lack of modern healthcare facilities with lighting and refrigeration services, or insufficient numbers of schools with lights, fans and modern equipment. These countries need a voice on the international stage. If they can share their experiences and mobilize in order to close their technological gaps by cooperating with each other, solutions will be found and will also be scaled up leading to lower costs. This cooperation and coordination role is proposed to be filled by ISA, a grouping of countries who are keen to transform their solar resource wealth into improved lives for their people through application of solar technologies. After 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, many advocacy organizations were set up, primarily to disseminate knowledge about renewable energy. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 7.1, 7.2, 7.a and 7.b clearly state that renewable energy must be given priority in the future agenda of all countries. These read as follows: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” Mission and Vision is to provide a platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries where global community including bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and stakeholders can make a positive contribution to the common goals of increasing utilizing of solar energy in meeting energy needs of ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner. To achieve the objectives, ISA will have five key focus areas:- a. Promote solar technologies and investment in the solar sector to enhance income generation for the poor and global environment. b. Formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications. c. Develop innovative Financial Mechanisms to reduce cost of capital. d. Build a common Knowledge e-Portal. e. Facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R& D among member countries. ISA is proposed to be a multi country partnership organization with membership from solar resource rich countries between the two tropics. The total Government of India support including putting normative cost of the land will be about Rs 400 crore (US$ 62 million). Government of India support of Rs 175 crore(US$ 27 million) will be utilized for creating building infrastructure and recurring expenditure. It will be provided over a 5 year period from 2016-17 to 2020-21. Opinions of world leaders: There are several countries blessed with high solar radiation. We are making efforts to bring these countries together for enhanced solar energy utilization through research and technology upgradation. These countries have immense strength and capabilities to find solutions for their energy needs through solar energy. -Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India I welcome this initiative because if (these) countries can formulate ambitious targets for renewable by modifying regulatory frameworks for financing and improving technologies for lowering price of solar energy, then it will be a major contribution to the implementation of climate agreement. –Francois Hollande, President of France ISA can provide a unique focus in supporting global efforts to increase the uptake of renewable energy through the development of solar policies, the promotion of applications to reduce poverty and the facilitation of energy access. I welcome this initiative by an IRENA Member Country and the Chair of the IRENA Council, India, and look forward to supporting ISA member countries in all possible ways. –Adnan Z. Amin, Director General, IRENA