Story 1– Bhutan to place bill for ratification of BBIN initiative at its upper senate
The Bhutan government has decided to send the bill for ratification of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative for road and rail connectivity to its upper senate.
The BBIN is a big initiative in the region, which is aimed at improving rail and road connectivity in the region.
The agreement for the initiative – the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement -was signed by the four member nations in June 2015.
However, only Bangladesh, India and Nepal have implemented the agreement, Bhutan is yet to accord its ratification of the agreement.
The landmark MVA was signed by the transport ministers of the BBIN countries in Thimphu, Bhutan on June 15, 2015.
The trial runs for cargo vehicles under the MVA were conducted along the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka routes in the past. The trials were successful in establishing the Agreement’s economic benefits.
Bangladesh, India, and Nepal ratified the pact and agreed to start its implementation among the three signatory countries, with Bhutan joining after it ratifies the agreement.
• Under the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement, Bangladesh, India and Nepal agreed on the text of the passenger protocol, the document detailing procedures for cross-border movement of buses and private vehicles in the sub-region.
• The nations completed the internal approval processes for the signing of the passenger protocol.
• The participating countries also agreed to conduct more trial runs for cargo vehicles along scheduled routes from April 2018 onwards, before finalizing the protocol for cargo vehicular movement.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been providing technical, advisory, and financial support to the BBIN MVA initiative as part of its assistance to the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, which is a project-based economic cooperation initiative that brings together the BBIN countries as well as Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Story 2– NGT forms Central Monitoring Committee to check river pollution
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches across the country pollution free.
The committee would comprise a representative of NITI Aayog, secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment, the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board.
The Chairman of CPCB will be the nodal authority for coordination.
Objective : The committee has been composed to monitor pollution of rivers, as it has caused serious threat to the safety of water and environment.
• Besides checking river pollution, the central monitoring committee will coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors.
• The chief secretaries of the states will act as the nodal agency at the state level.
• According to NGT bench, the chief secretaries may undertake review of the progress of the river rejuvenation committees by involving the concerned secretaries of the department of urban development, environment, industries, irrigation and public health and health.
• The green tribunal also directed the Ministry of Environment to consider a policy for giving environmental awards to outstanding persons (natural and juristic) and institutions or states and introducing “dis-incentives” for non-compliant states. The tribunal has given the Ministry time till June 30 to frame such a scheme.
• As per the tribunal, the Central Monitoring Committee may consider identifying experts, best practices and models for use of treated water, including plan to supply untreated sewage for a price or otherwise so that the concerned needy party can treat and utilise such water.
• The use of treated water for agriculture or other purposes may save potable surface and groundwater.
• The first meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee may be held by June 30. The NGT has directed the panel to submit its report by July 31.
The NGT also directed the CPCB and the state pollution control boards to launch a nationwide programme on biodiversity monitoring and indexing of the rivers to assess the efficacy of river cleaning programme.
Further, for the safety of human health and maintaining the sanctity of the rivers, the tribunal suggested that regular hygienic surveys of the rivers should be carried out with reference to fecal coliform and fecal streptococci, as indicated in the primary water quality criteria for bathing waters.
The tribunal also noted that due to the use of polluted water in irrigation, there is threat to the health of human beings apart from the aquatic flora and fauna.
Hence, it stated that it is necessary to have a regular hygienic survey of the rivers particularly with reference to pathogenic organisms having an impact on human health directly or indirectly.
Besides this, while noting biological health of the rivers as an important aspect, the tribunal observed the need for a regular study of the Indian rivers with regard to biological health and its diversity.
In a news report published recently by a reputed media firm, it was pointed out that around 351 polluted river stretches have been noted by the CPCB and 117 such stretches are in the states of Assam, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
The CPCB has apprised the concerned states of the extent of pollution in the rivers.