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Current Events 13 May 2016



13 MAY 2016


Delhi not ‘most polluted’, but dirty air fouls many cities

Delhi is no longer the most polluted city in the world, the latest air quality report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

The national capital, which earned notoriety for the state of its environment, now stands 11th among 3,000 cities in 103 countries in terms of fine particulate matter or PM 2.5. The ‘Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database (update 2016)’ released by WHO placed the capital in the 25th place based on bigger particulate or PM 10 levels. 

‘Positive trend’

Although Delhi improved its ranking, four Indian cities are among the world’s 10 most polluted. Ten out of the top 20 are also in the country. The data are for 2013, but the Delhi government was quick to put out a statement exulting in a “definitive positive trend” in the city.

In 2014, Delhi was ranked the most polluted globally in terms of PM 2.5, for which the WHO had monitored 1,600 cities. Delhi’s place as the most polluted is taken by Zabol, in Iran. Gwalior and Allahabad, meanwhile, come a close second and third in terms of PM 2.5, while Patna and Raipur are ranked 6th and 7th.

The WHO used data from government and research organisations to prepare the database. It is based on ground measurements of annual mean concentrations of particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5) and “aims at representing an average for the city or town as a whole, rather than for individual stations. Years of measurements range from 2010 to 2015, unless the latest available data was older,” the report said.

PM 2.5 refers to atmospheric particulates with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres. Exposure to fine particulates is linked to premature death from heart and lung disease. They trigger or worsen asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Common causes of air pollution include diesel-fuelled vehicles, heavy construction activities, temperature control in large buildings and use of coal or diesel generators.


Geospatial Bill to be toned down

Days after the Union Home Ministry publicised a draft geospatial Bill warning of fines of up to Rs. 100 crore and seven years of imprisonment, other sections of the government are looking to tone down its stringency. The Bill in its current form is likely to be scrapped.

The fine will likely be capped at a “crore or two” and specific to companies that “wrongly depict borders,” a senior official in the Department of Science and Technology told . 

The existing version of the draft Geospatial Information Regulation (GI) Bill will be “significantly changed” as it “goes against the spirit” of the National Geospatial Policy (NGP), 2016, spearheaded by the DST. 

Feedback sought

GDPSS refers to Geospatial Data, Products, Services and Solutions. “Geospatial data of any resolution being disseminated through agencies and service providers, both internationally and nationally be treated as unclassified and made available and accessible by Indian Mapping and imaging agencies,” the policy note adds.


India’s help sought to tackle drugs problem in Jaffna

In a recent meeting with a former Indian diplomat, leaders of fishermen from Jaffna raised the issue of the easy availability of drugs in the region, and sought India’s help to tackle the problem.

Easy victims

The Jaffna youth, many of whom are now unemployed, have became “easy victims” of the drugs which are available in plenty, he said. Alcoholism too is rampant.

Mr. Ponnambalam acknowledged that the former diplomat’s visit was in his private capacity even though Mr. Parthasarathy, also a director of the India-Sri Lanka Foundation, told him and others that he would try to convey their problems to the Indian authorities.

Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray has also emphasised the need for enlisting the support of the Indian government.


SC seeks govt. reply on plea for more judges

The Supreme Court  asked the government to reply on a plea for doubling the number of judges as recommended by the Law Commission of India.

Huge backlog

The petitioner said India had only about 11 judges per million population, which was among the lowest ratios in the world. The cases pending exceed about 30,000 per million population.

Right for faster trial

Expeditious trial is a basic right of every accused, which cannot be trampled upon,” the petitioner said.

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