35th GST COUNCIL
The 35th GST Council Meeting was held under the chairmanship of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman.
Key decisions taken by the council during the meeting:
- The Council took a decision regarding location of the State and the Area Benches for the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) for various States and Union Territories with legislature. It has been decided to have a common State Bench for the States of Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The tenure of National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAPA) has been extended by 2 years. NAPA deals with complaints by consumers against companies for not passing on GST rate cut benefits.
- Electronic invoicing system to be introduced in a phase-wise manner for B2B transactions. The Phase 1 is proposed to be voluntary and it shall be rolled out from January 2020.
- E-invoicing would help taxpayers in backward integration and automation of tax relevant processes.
- It would also help tax authorities in combating the menace of tax evasion.
- It has simplified rules for registration and Aadhaar will now be used by businesses for registration under GST. In the earlier system, people had to give various documents.
KALESHWARAM LIFT IRRIGATION PROJECT (KLIP)
The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) was inaugurated by Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao at Medigadda, in Jayashankar-Bhupalapally district, where the first barrage of the project is located.
- Type: The Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP) is claimed to be the world’s largest multi-stage and multi-purpose lift irrigation scheme.
- Names: KLIP was previously known as Pranahita-Chevella Lift Irrigation Project.
- Location: It is located at the confluence point of Pranhita River and Godavari River i.e, at Kaleshwaram village in Telangana. Pranahita river in itself is a confluence of various other smaller tributaries like Wardha, Penganga and Wainganga Rivers.
- Project Highlights:
- It is meant to irrigate over 37 lakh acres of new and existing ayacuts and supply drinking water to Hyderabad and villages en route.
- Under the scheme, 89 cumecs (cubic metres per second) of water will be lifted to a height of 106 metres from the Sripada Yellampalli reservoir to Medaram reservoir and will be used for irrigation and water supply in nearby drought-prone areas
- Executing agency: The Central Public Sector undertaking Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).
About Lift irrigation-
- What is it? Lift irrigation is a method of irrigation in which water instead of being transported by natural flow (as in gravity-fed canal systems) requires external energy through animal, fuel based or electric power using pumps or other mechanical means.
- Components: Lift irrigation schemes must accomplish two main tasks –
- First, to carry water by means of pumps from the water source to the main delivery chamber, which is situated at the top most point in the command area. The source is mainly groundwater, river streams, contour canals, ponds and lakes.
- Second, they must distribute this water to the field of the beneficiary farmers by means of a suitable and proper distribution system.
- Application: Lift irrigation schemes are useful where the target land is at higher level.
- Advantage: The advantage of lift irrigation is the minimal land acquisition problem and low water losses.
- Concerns: Unplanned development of lift irrigation systems have the potential to have its adverse impact on the groundwater levels.
Other Water related Project in state are –
- NITI Aayog had recommended special assistance of ₹19,205 crore to Mission Bhagiratha, intended to supply piped drinking water to every household, and ₹5,000 crore to Mission Kakatiya, meant to restore over 45,000 tanks in the State.
- Mission Bhagiratha: It is a project for safe drinking water for every village and city household in Telangana State.
- Mission Kakatiya: It is a programme for restoring all the minor irrigation tanks and lakes in Telangana State.
The air strike by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on a terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, was code-named ‘Operation Bandar (monkey)’.
- Operation Bandar (monkey) was the code-name given by IAF to the air strikes conducted by its Mirage-2000 fighters against the major Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26, in response to the Pulwama terror attack which claimed the lives of 40 security personnel.
- The idea behind the name ‘Operation Bandar’ was to give a nondescript, mundane tag to the air strikes to maintain operational secrecy. It was chosen to make it sound like a routine, small-time affair.
- The Army, in turn, code-named its heightened operational alert and shoring up of defences along the border to thwart a possible Pakistan retaliation to the air strikes as “Operation Zafran” (saffron flowers used in cooking).
- The Navy, however, did not give any specific name to the deployment of its warships and submarines in the north Arabian Sea because they were already there as part of Tropex-2019 (theatre level operational readiness exercise) underway at that time.
The Supreme Court has ordered that further construction of the Kandi road inside Uttarakhand’s Rajaji tiger reserve be stopped forthwith and issued notice to the state government.
- An unpaved stretch of the old Kandi road that once connected Haridwar and Ramnagar runs through Rajaji tiger reserve.
- Construction of a highway along the entire Laldhang-Kotdwar-Kalagarh alignment has been an emotive issue in Uttarakhand as this will cut travelling distances and also skip detours through Uttar Pradesh.
- In December 2018, Uttarakhand Forest Minister laid the foundation stone for the 11-km Laldhang-Chillarkhal stretch after forest land from Rajaji tiger reserve buffer was transferred to the state public works department without seeking statutory wildlife clearance.
Recent stay by Supreme Court:
- The stay comes two days after an interim report was submitted to the court on June 19 by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) that advises the apex court on forest matters.
- The CEC filed its interim report after obtaining the views of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- According to NTCA, the Kandi road was within the tiger reserve and cut through a wildlife corridor between Rajaji and Corbett, and that “due process as per law. has been overlooked by the state concerned”.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (TIP) REPORT, 2019
The U.S. State Department has released its 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, citing International Labour Organisation (ILO) data. India continued to be placed in Tier 2 on the country trafficking scale.
Key highlights of the report:
- Total numbers: There are 25 million adults and children suffering from labour and sex trafficking all over the world.
- Domestic trafficking:
- In 77% of the cases, victims are trafficked within their own countries of residence, rather than across borders.
- Victims of sex trafficking were more likely to be trafficked across borders while victims of forced labour were typically exploited within their own countries.
- Palermo Protocol: While much has been done since the Palermo Protocol (an international framework to tackle trafficking) in terms of countries building legal frameworks, more needs to be done to tackle domestic trafficking.
- Categorisation of countries:
- The report categorises countries into three groups based on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), U.S. legislation enacted in 2000.
- The categorisation is based not on the magnitude of a country’s trafficking problem but on efforts to meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
- Indian scenario:
- India was placed (i.e., remained) in Tier 2.
- It recommended India to include amending the definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the Penal Code to “include forced labour trafficking and ensure that force, fraud, or coercion are not required to prove a child sex trafficking offence.”
- Palermo protocols?
- The Palermo protocols is an international framework to tackle trafficking which was established in 2000.
- It comprises three protocols that were adopted by the United Nations to supplement the 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention).
- They are:
- the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; and
- the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
- the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition
- These protocols and convention fall within the jurisdiction of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Indian Navy has launched Operation Sankalp in the Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman.
- The Indian Navy has launched Operation Sankalp in the Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman to re-assure Indian flagged vessels transiting through the area following the recent maritime incidents in the region.
- INS Chennai and INS Sunayna have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to undertake maritime security operations.
- While the INS Chennai is a destroyer, the INS Sunayna is an offshore patrol vessel.
- The Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region, which was inaugurated by the Navy in December 2018 at Gurgaon, was also monitoring the movement of ships in the Gulf region.
- The move was announced after US President Donald Trump declared that “Iran made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Before that, the US blamed Iran for the attacks on the oil tankers, a charge denied by Tehran.
- India’s strategic and security interests are closely linked to the Indian Ocean Region. The country’s energy security is also linked to the safety and security of ships while operating and transiting in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.
PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS TO JOINT SESSION
President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament (i.e. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha).
Articles 86 and 87 of the Constitution deals with the Address by the President.
- Article 86 confers a right on the President to address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members.
- However, since the commencement of the Constitution, the President has not so far addressed a House or Houses together under this provision.
- Article 87 of the constitution provides two instances when the President of India specially addresses both Houses of Parliament (Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha).
- The President addresses both the houses at beginning of the first session of each year.
- The President also addresses both the houses at the beginning of the first Session after each general election when the reconstituted Lok Sabha meets for the first time
- The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year. The address provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.
LAPSING OF BILLS
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu called for a debate on a Constitutional provision that provides for automatic lapsing of any Bill passed by Lok Sabha but remains pending in Rajya Sabha on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
On continuation of Bills:
- Vice President of India called for a debate on a Constitutional provision that provides for automatic lapsing of any Bill passed by Lok Sabha but remains pending in Rajya Sabha on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha as this will save Lok Sabha’s time.
- Under Article 107 of the Constitution “a Bill which is pending in the House of the People, or which having been passed by the House of the People is pending in the Council of States, shall subject to the provisions of Article 108, lapse on a dissolution of the House of the People”.
- He pointed out that 22 Bills lapsed after the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha since these had been introduced in the Lower House first.
On automatic lapse of Bills:
- He also suggested that a Bill which is not taken up for consideration and passage within five years of introduction should automatically be treated as lapsed.
- Since Rajya Sabha is a permanent House, Bills introduced there do not lapse, and remain pending, sometimes for decades.
An animal rights group filed a PIL petition in the Gauhati High Court challenging the Assam government’s decision to transport four juvenile elephants in railway wagons to Ahmedabad in Gujarat for the annual Rath Yatra festival at the Jagannath temple on July 4.
Arguments by petitioners:
- The decision of the State government is in violation of the relevant provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The Indian elephant is a Schedule-I animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Section 9 of the Act prohibits their capture from the wild.
- Capturing of wild elephants is permitted only under very limited circumstances as provided in Section 11 and 12 of the Act.
- The dispatch of the elephants in railway wagons in the prevailing heatwave conditions in north Indian States, would subject the animals to extreme stress, pain and cruelty.