Syllabus: GS 3/Defence
Why in News ?
- The Strategic Forces Command conducted a successful training launch of the Agni-1 medium-range ballistic missile.
- The launch took place from APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha, India.
- The missile has demonstrated its precision in striking targets effectively.
- The successful user training launch confirmed the missile’s operational and technical capabilities.
About Agni series missiles
- The Agni series of missiles is India’s primary nuclear delivery system.
- Development of Agni missiles began in the early 1980s under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme led by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
- Agni 1 to 4 missiles, with ranges from 700 km to 3,500 km, have been deployed by India.
Other related Developments
- December 2022: India test-fired Agni-V, a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of up to 5,000 km, enhancing its strategic deterrence.
- October 2022: India test-fired Agni Prime, a medium-range ballistic missile with a range between 1,000 km and 2,000 km.
|Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP)
National Electricity Plan 2022-32
Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy/Energy Sector
Why in News ?
- The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has notified the National Electricity Plan (NEP) for the period of 2022-32.
About NEP 2022-32
- Plan document: Review, detailed plan, and prospective plan.
- NEP: Assessing electricity needs, growth, and sources.
- Peak demand: Projected peak electricity demand and energy requirement.
- Installed capacity: Varying efficiency and availability of energy sources.
- Non-fossil fuel energy: Target of 500 GW non-fossil capacity by 2029-30, increasing share of non-fossil capacity.
- Coal requirement: Domestic and imported coal estimates for power plants.
|The Central Electricity Authority (CEA)
Mekedatu Dam Project
Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, Inter state Relation, Federalism
Why in News ?
- Location: Mekedatu dam project is situated in Ramanagaram district, about 100 km south of Bengaluru.
- Controversial project: The project has been a source of contention for a long time.
What is the Dispute?
- Historical disagreement: Dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Cauvery waters stems from the principle of upper riparian (Karnataka) requiring consent from lower riparian (Tamil Nadu) for construction activities.
- Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal: Established in 1990 to resolve the issue of water sharing between the states.
- Final order: In 2007, the tribunal issued its final order on water allocation. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the order, reducing Karnataka’s share of water to Tamil Nadu.
Mekedatu Dam Project
- Multipurpose project: Mekedatu aims to generate electricity and supply drinking water to Bengaluru and surrounding districts.
- Origin and planning: Initially planned in 1996, the project was announced by the Karnataka government in 2013 and a detailed report was submitted in 2019.
- Location and budget: The reservoir will be constructed at Mekedatu in Ramanagara district, Karnataka, with an estimated budget of Rs 9,000 crore.
- Confluence and size: The reservoir will be built at the confluence of the Cauvery and its tributary Arkavathi and is expected to be larger than the Krishnaraja Sagar project.
- Feasibility study: The project’s feasibility study was cleared by the Central Water Commission in 2018.
Significance of the project
- Water supply objective: The project aims to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and its neighboring regions, addressing the city’s water scarcity issues.
- Reducing dependency on borewell water: With over 30% of Bengaluru relying on borewells, the project would help reduce dependence on this unsustainable water source.
- Power generation: The project also includes plans to generate 400 MW of power, with the revenue earned from this expected to offset the government’s investment in the project.
Dispute over Cauvery Water
- Historical dispute: The Cauvery water dispute originated in 1892 between the Presidency of Madras and the princely state of Mysore over proposed irrigation systems on the river.
- 1924 agreement: An agreement allowed the construction of Krishnaraja Sagar dam and allocated Cauvery waters. The agreement had a 50-year timeline, after which the dispute resurfaced.
- Tribunal and allocation: Tamil Nadu sought a tribunal, established in 1990, which allocated water to Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. Water allocation would be reduced during periods of low rainfall.
- Threatened species: The submergence zone of the project is home to certain endangered species, which will be negatively affected by the project’s impact on their natural habitat.
- Clearances and disputes: The project requires clearances from the central government and courts due to the Cauvery water sharing dispute.
- Tamil Nadu’s opposition: Tamil Nadu opposes any project in the upper riparian without Supreme Court approval, claiming it violates previous tribunal and court orders, potentially harming its interests.
About Cauvery River
- Cauvery/Kaveri: Known as ‘Ponni’ in Tamil, it flows from the Western Ghats to the Bay of Bengal.
- Main tributaries: Amravati, Bhavani, Hemavati, and Kabini.
- Basin: Spread across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry.
- Additional tributaries: Harangi, Lakshmana Tirtha, Noyyal, and Arkavati.
Syllabus: GS 1/3/Natural Resources/Economy
Why In News ?
- The news of potentially significant reserves of lithium in Jammu and Kashmir has been welcomed universally.
- Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries for mobiles, laptops, electric vehicles, and medical devices.
- It is also used in energy storage solutions.
- Lithium is a lightweight, non-ferrous, highly reactive metal.
- Its importance in manufacturing batteries for electric cars and renewable energy infrastructure has led to a global “new era gold rush” for lithium reserves.
Why is Lithium in such demand?
- Transition to low-carbon economies impacts geopolitics.
- Rapid AI expansion reshapes global dynamics.
- 5G networks influence regional power dynamics.
- Rare minerals (lithium, cobalt) crucial for renewable energy and technology development.
|How do other countries manage lithium reserves?
Scenario in India
- EV market growth: India’s EV market was valued at $383.5 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $152.21 billion by 2030.
- Import of lithium batteries: In 2019-2020, India imported 450 million units of lithium batteries worth $929.26 million, highlighting the need to develop domestic lithium reserves.
- Dependency on imports: India currently imports major components for lithium-ion cell manufacturing, emphasizing the importance of domestic production.
- Lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir: Lithium reserves have been discovered in Jammu and Kashmir, attracting interest from Korean and Japanese mining companies for potential auctions.
- Foreign investment in mining: 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed in mining, and foreign companies must participate through an Indian subsidiary or arm.
Supreme Court’s judgments
- Land ownership ruling: In July 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that landowners have rights to everything beneath their land.
- Publicly owned land: Despite the ruling, large areas of land, including forests, hills, mountains, and revenue wasteland, remain publicly owned.
- Ban on mining sensitive minerals: The court noted that the government has the authority to ban private mining of sensitive minerals, such as uranium, under the Atomic Energy Act 1962, and highlighted the growing importance of lithium.
Retain Sedition Law with Amendments: Law Commission
Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, Indian Polity
Why in News ?
- Law Commission suggests retaining sedition law (Section 124A) with amendments.
- Total repeal of the provision is not recommended.
- Home Ministry requested Law Commission to study Section 124A and propose amendments.
- Law Commission clarified that UAPA and NSA do not fully cover the elements of the offense in Section 124A.
Key Highlight report submitted
- Sedition offense seen as a relic of colonial rule.
- Suggested adding a procedural safeguard before filing an FIR for sedition.
- Without Section 124A, incitement of violence against the government would be tried under more stringent counter-terror laws.
What is Sedition Law (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code)?
- Sedition law (Section 124A) was introduced by the British in 1870 to suppress dissent against colonial rule.
- Section 124A criminalizes speech or actions that bring hatred, contempt, or disaffection towards the government.
- The law was used to target Indian nationalists and freedom fighters like Bose, Tilak, Gandhi, Nehru, Azad, and Savarkar.
- Gandhi and Tilak faced trials and imprisonment for sedition-related charges.
- Gandhi protested against the colonial government and served a six-year sentence, while Tilak had multiple trials and was imprisoned twice.
Arguments For Section 124A
- Section 124A combats anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements.
- It protects the elected government from violent attempts to overthrow it.
- Government stability is crucial for the stability of the State.
- Maoist insurgencies and rebel groups advocate overthrowing state governments.
- Retaining the provision is necessary to combat such elements effectively.
- The law, historically used against Gandhi and Tilak, is now seen as a tool to suppress dissent.
Arguments Against Section 124A
- Mahatma Gandhi criticized Section 124A as a tool to suppress citizens’ liberty.
- Jawaharlal Nehru considered it obnoxious and urged its removal.
- The law limits freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
- Dissent and criticism are vital for a vibrant democracy.
- The British abolished sedition laws, and India should consider doing the same.
- Sedition law is misused to persecute political dissent, with executive discretion allowing abuse.
Courts’ validations of the law since Independence
- Punjab and Allahabad High Courts rejected sedition law as an exception to free speech in the 1950s.
- Supreme Court validated the law in Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar (1962), with a caution to use it justly.
- The term ‘public disorder’ was introduced by the court, not present in the law’s provisions.
- Supreme Court’s decision to reconsider the law’s constitutional validity is a significant moment for Section 124A’s future.
- India, being the largest democracy in the world, has to ensure its essential ingredients of free speech and expression. The expression or thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the government of the day should not be considered sedition.
- It is also essential to protect national integrity. Given the legal opinion and the views of the government in favour of the law, it is unlikely that Section 124A will be scrapped soon. However, it should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech.
Nepal PM Visit to India
Syllabus: GS2/International Relations
Why in News ?
Nepal’s PM Prachanda concludes four-day visit to India
Highlights of the Visit
- Projects launched
- Kurtha-Bijalpura railway line section handed over.
- Inaugural run of Indian railway cargo train from Bathnaha to Nepal Customs Yard.
- Integrated Checkposts inaugurated at Nepalgunj and Rupaidiha.
- Ceremony for phase-II facilities of Motihari-Amlekhgunj Petroleum Pipeline.
- Gorakhpur-Butwal Transmission Line construction ceremony in India.
- Treaty of Transit expired, amended treaty allows Nepal access to India’s inland waterways for cargo transportation.
- Cooperation in Petroleum Infrastructure.
- Development of infrastructure at Dodhara Chandani check post.
- MoU between SSIFS and Institute of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.
- MoU between NPCIL and NCHL for cross-border payments.
- Project Development Agreement of Lower Arun Hydroelectric Project.
- MoU for the development of Phukot-Karnali Hydroelectric Project.
- Target of importing 10,000 MW of electricity from Nepal in 10 years.
- Export of up to 50 MW of power from Nepal to Bangladesh via India, agreement to be worked out.
- Expedite projects related to Ramayana Circuit, pilgrimage sites in India and Nepal.
- Pilgrimage sites include Ayodhya, Janakpur, and other locations related to the Ramayana.
- Mutual cooperation to set up a fertilizer plant in Nepal.