Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 11th October 2021

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1.  Centre rebuts fears of power blackouts + States scramble to avoid power restrictions

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Coal sector | Power generation | UPSC

About the article:

  • Coal Ministry and Coal India promised that there was ample coal available to meet the demand of power plants.
  • daily average coal requirement at power plants is about 18.5 lakh tonnes whereas the daily coal supply has been around 17.5 lakh tonnes per day.
  • Cause of delay in supply: Monsoon rainfall and revival of energy needs (revival of economy).
  • Centre sector (25%), State (26%), Private (49%).
  • Coal (52%), Gas (6.5%), Hydro (12%), Wind, solar and other (26%).

Term in the article: Load shedding is a way to distribute demand for electrical power across multiple power sources. Load shedding is used to relieve stress on a primary energy source when demand for electricity is greater than the primary power source can supply.

The proven global coal reserve was estimated to be 9,84,453 million tonnes by end of 2003. The USA had the largest share of the global reserve (25.4%) followed by Russia (15.9%), China (11.6%). India was 4th in the list with 8.6%.

Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released the India Energy Outlook 2021 Report which explores the opportunities and challenges ahead for India as it seeks to ensure reliable, affordable and sustainable energy for a growing population.

  • The India Energy Outlook 2021 is a new special report from the IEA’s World Energy Outlook series.

Key Points

  • Third Largest Energy Consumer by 2030:
    • India will make up the biggest share of energy demand growth at 25% over the next two decades, as it overtakes the European Union as the world’s third-biggest energy consumer by 2030.
      • Presently, India is the fourth-largest global energy consumer behind China, the United States and the European Union.
    • India’s energy consumption is expected to nearly double as the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expands to an estimated USD 8.6 trillion by 2040 under its current national policy scenario.
    • Prior to the global pandemic, India’s energy demand was projected to increase by almost 50% between 2019 and 2030, but growth over this period is now closer to 35%.
  • Industrialisation is a Major Driving Force:
    • Over the last three decades, India accounted for about 10% of World Growth in Industrial Value-added [in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms].
    • By 2040, India is set to account for almost 20% of Global Growth in Industrial value-added, and to lead global growth in industrial final energy consumption, especially in steelmaking.
  • Reliance on Imports:
    • India’s growing energy needs will make it more reliant on fossil fuel imports as its domestic oil and gas production has been stagnant for years despite government policies to promote petroleum exploration and production and renewable energy.
    • Rising oil demand could double India’s oil import bill to about USD 181 billion by 2030 and nearly treble it to USD 255 billion by 2040 compared with 2019.
  • Oil Demand:
    • India’s oil demand is seen rising by 74% to 8.7 million barrels per day by 2040 under the existing policies scenario.
    • A five-fold increase in per capita car ownership will result in India leading the oil demand growth in the world.
    • Its net dependence on oil imports – taking into account both the import of crude oil and the export of oil products – increases to more than 90% by 2040 from the current 75% as domestic consumption rises much more than production.
  • Gas Demand:
    • India will become the fastest-growing market for Natural gas, with demand more than tripling by 2040.
    • Natural gas import dependency increased from 20% in 2010 to almost 50% in 2019 and is set to grow further to more than 60% in 2040.
  • Coal Demand:
    • Coal currently dominates India’s electricity sector, accounting for over 70% of overall generation.
    • Coal demand is seen rising to 772 million tonnes in 2040 from the current 590.
  • Renewables Energy Resources Demand:
    • India’s share in the growth in renewable energy is the second-largest in the world, after China.

Following reasons can be listed for Coal sector abysmal condition:

  • Delayed environment and forest clearances: Environment ministry in past has classified ecological sensitive areas in ‘Go and No Go areas’ and there was total prohibition on mining in no go areas.
  • Further there are other clearances required from State and Central Governments.
  • Land Acquisition problems.
  • Lack of adequate technology.
  • Allocation process was arbitrary, discretionary and non-transparent.
  • There was no consideration of Merit, no Price discovery mechanism for national resources.
  • Till now, the PSU, Coal India was the only commercial miner in the country for more than four decades which has shown monopolistic tendencies in the sector. Monopoly in mining sector was incapable of meeting domestic demands.
  • Low productivity of Coal India is still a concern.
  • Coal plants have higher operation and maintenance costs because of strict regulatory issues.
  • India’s power regulators are not regularly updating prices to accommodate increases in operational costs due to regulation.
  • State Pollution Control Boards are ineffective at monitoring or enforcing compliance.
  • Expansion in power generation in India has been largely based on state financing i.e many coal power plants in India are constructed through massive debt financing from state-owned banks.

Challenges faced by the Power Sector:

  1. Fuel Security Concerns: Thermal capacity addition is plagued by the growing fuel availability concerns faced by the Industry. A significant natural gas based capacity of more than 20,000 MW is idle due to non-availability of natural gas. Coal supply is restricted, leading to increased dependence on imported coal with the cascading result of high power generation costs.
  2. Transmission & Distribution Losses: High distribution-line losses are among the most vexing problems in the Indian power sector. India’s aggregate technical and commercial losses average about 32% of electricity which is very high as compared to those of the developed countries (6-11%).
  3. Financial Health of State Discoms: Years of populist tariff schemes, mounting losses and operational inefficiencies have adversely affected the financial health of State Discoms which are currently plagued with humongous out-standing debts. As of June 2017, NPAs in the electricity sector amounted to Rs 37,941 crore.
  4. Aging Power Plants and Transmission network: Since most of the power plants and transmission lines have been installed immediately after independence, they have become old and inefficient. This is the main reason for low growth and transmission rate in electricity generation and transmission during the recent years. About half of the power plants need to be upgraded or shut down as quickly as possible.
  5. Under-procurement of Power by States: Increasing power generation costs due to limited fuel availability, poor financial health of State Discoms, have contributed in suppressed demand projections by State Discoms.
  6. Interstate Disputes: India is a federal democracy, and because rivers cross state boundaries, constructing efficient and equitable mechanisms for allocating river flows has long been an important legal and constitutional issues. Due to this there is not availability of water all the time to operate hydro plants. Inter- state disputes also restrict the excess power exchange between the states. For example, Mahanadi water dispute.
  7. Policy Paralysis: The micro level policies governing the fuel cost pass-through, mega power policy, competitive bidding guidelines are not in consonance with the macro framework like The Electricity Act 2003 and the National Electricity Policy.
  8. Coordination Issues: Multiple ministries and agencies are currently involved in managing energy-related issues, presenting challenges of coordination and optimal resource utilisation, hence undermining efforts to increase energy security, as reported by the Kelkar Committee in 2013.

Solutions to tackle the Foregoing Challenges:

  1. Fuel Reforms: Various aspects like ramping up coal production by both public and private sector in a time-bound manner, increased participation of private sector in coal production and easing of regulatory framework, clearances and approvals for allocation and development of coal blocks & gas infrastructure need to be addressed while formulating such reforms.
  2. Balanced Regulatory Interventions: Regulators need to be sensitised to the challenges faced by the sector and policy framework needs to be crafted and enforced to ensure a win-win situation for all the stakeholders. They must pro-actively intervene to resolve the immediate issues ailing the power sector.
  3. Increased Financing Facilities for Energy Sector: A robust and sustainable credit enhancement mechanism for funding in Energy Sector needs to be put in place through increased participation by global funding agencies like The World Bank, ADB etc. in the entire value chain.
  4. Public private partnership: There is a strong need to push for wider-scale implementation of public private partnership models. The private sector has been playing a key role in generating power, a more supportive environment will help in bridging the energy deficit of the country.
  5. Taxation: Power-generating companies should not be saddled with the burden of cross-subsidising the renewable sector. This can be borne by the society (through taxation) and not by the entities that are already in trouble.
  6. Cooperative federalism: To resolve water disputes, government must help states to come to a common ground. Emphasis should be on cooperative federalism with shared benefit to all the states.
  7. Merger of ministries: There should be only one energy ministry to make coordination and implementation of policies better. It will remove policy paralysis too.
  8. Reduction of transmission losses: This should be achieved by better infrastructure and technological efforts. Old plants should be shut and should be replaced with new.

2.  NIA arrests 2 militants in searches in Valley

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper III – Internal Security
Sub Theme:  NIA | UPSC

National Investigation Agency (NIA) was constituted through National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, 2008.

Central Counter-Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency. to Investigate and prosecute offences:

  • affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States.
  • against atomic and nuclear facilities.
  • smuggling in High-Quality Counterfeit Indian Currency.

NIA amendment act has extended powers and jurisdiction of NIA to:

  • Human trafficking
  • Offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes
  • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
  • Cyber-terrorism, and
  • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908

Mandate of NIA

  • The investigation of the cases is done by the Agency independently.
  • After investigation, the cases are placed before the NIA Special Court.
  • For prosecuting the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and certain other scheduled offences, the Agency seeks the sanction of the Central Government.
  • The sanction is granted under the UAPA based on the report of the ‘Authority’ constituted under section 45 (2) of the UAPA.
  • It is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.

3.  Ashish Mishra sent to 14-day judicial custody

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme:  Judicial Custody | UPSC

Understanding Custody and Arrest

  • The word ‘custody’ means apprehending someone for protective care and words “custody” and “arrest” are not synonymous. So, in every arrest there is custody but every custody does not amount to arrest.
  • Arrest, remand and bail are components related to investigation. Arrest directly curtails personal liberty of an individual affecting his/her freedom.
  • Therefore, many times, unwarranted arrests have reached courts of law. There have been occasions when unlawful detention has been considered as a violation of fundamental right and compensation thereof has been paid.

Understanding Police Custody

  • When following to the receipt of an information/complaint/report by police about a crime, an officer of police arrests the suspect involved in the crime reported, to prevent him from committing the offensive acts further, such officer brings that suspect to police station, it’s called Police Custody.
  • It is actually the custody of a suspect with the police in a jail at the police station, to detain the suspect. During this detention, the police officer in charge of the case, may interrogate the suspect and this detention is not supposed to be longer than 24 hours.
  • The officer in charge of the case is required to produce the suspect before the appropriate judge within 24 hours, these 24 hours exclude the time of necessary journey from the police station to the Court. (Article 22)

Understanding Police Custody and Judicial Custody

  • Police Custody means that police has the physical custody of the accused while Judicial Custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned Magistrate.
  • In Police Custody, the accused is locked in police station, while in judicial custody, the accused is sent to jail by an order of the Judicial Magistrate.
  • Once the accused is presented before a Judicial Magistrate, then the Magistrate can either
  • release him on bail or
  • send the accused to judicial custody or
  • send the accused back to police custody.

Interrogation by Police during Judicial Custody

  • During Judicial Custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect.
  • However, the court may allow the interrogations to be conducted if it is of the opinion that the interrogation is necessary for further investigation.

When a person can be sent back to police custody by the Judicial Magistrate?

  • The provisions for holding a person in custody for the purpose of furthering investigation, in India are governed by Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC)
  • Section 167 of CR.PC allows that a person may be held in the custody of the police for a period of 15 days on the orders of a Magistrate.
  • A person may be send to judicial custody for a period of 90 days or 60 days.
  • Crime for which an accused can be sent to judicial custody of 90 days – crime which entails a punishment of death, life imprisonment or period of imprisonment exceeding 10 years and 60 days
  • Crime for which an accused can be sent to judicial custody of 60 days – all other crimes
  • Release on Bail – If the Magistrate is convinced that sufficient reasons exist, then the accused or suspect can be released on bail.

Constitutional and Legal Rights of the Accused

    • Protection of life and liberty have been given a pre-eminent position in our Constitution by enacting Article 21 as a fundamental right and imposing a duty on the State to protect life and personal liberty of every citizen. Any deprivation or breach of this valuable right is not permissible unless the procedure established by law for that purpose is just, fair and reasonable.
    • As per Article 20, a person shall be convicted only for violation of a law which is in force at the time of the commission of crime and penalised accordingly. It means that he shall not be penalised more for any crime committed by the person. Further, No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once and no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.  Article 20(3) – No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

 

  • Section 161(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure – Implements the constitutional right against self-incrimination: “Every person who the police is authorised to examine orally, is bound to answer truly all questions relating to such case put to him by the police officer legally authorised to examine him, other than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture.

 

  • Under Article 22, constitution also provides for protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.  Every person who is arrested shall be informed of the grounds of arrest and shall have a right to consult and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest. However, these provisions under Article 22 shall not be applicable to –
  • any person who for the time being is an enemy alien
  • any person who is arrested or detained under any law providing for preventive detention.
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