A regulatory black hole- The liquid Gold


 Gargi Parsai, The Hindu

Companies that use the natural resource for profit pay no charge or royalty for the raw water they use — only a nominal ‘cess’ varying from State to State (a few paise per kilolitre).

There are no credible data available in the country on the quantum of the groundwater, surface or spring water that is being extracted and used by the bottled water and beverages industry, even in the authorised sector.

Companies that use the natural resource for profit pay no charge or royalty for the raw water they use — only a nominal ‘cess’ varying from State to State (a few paise per kilolitre).

Officials admit to proliferation of unauthorised manufacturers who are selling “just about any water — be it rainwater, river or nallah water” as ‘treated’ bottled water under different brand names.

The Water Resources Ministry puts the onus of ensuring quality (including display of composition of the packaged natural mineral or drinking water) and quantity on the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which comes the Department of Consumer Affairs. Sources in the Ministry also point out that although “municipal water is cheapest and assured in quality” water pipelines cannot be laid in all nooks and corners of the country. Places devoid of municipal water supply are increasingly getting dependent on water tankers or bottled water for drinking purposes. The situation worsens during drought months.

Of the 5,842 blocks assessed in the country in 2009, 802 were over-exploited for groundwater; 169 blocks were critical; 523 were semi-critical; and 4,277 were safe.

Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) Chairman Sushil Gupta says the Board does not give permission for groundwater extraction in over-exploited zones. In critical areas, permission is given for extracting 50 per cent of the water the company can recharge; in semi-critical, excavation can be done equivalent to 100 per cent rechargeable water; and in safe zones 200 per cent of rechargeable water can be extracted.

The BIS has to ensure that any company or individual seeking quality certification for using groundwater as raw material has a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the CGWB. It also has to ensure compliance with physical, chemical and microbiological standards. But there is no systematic monitoring to ensure that excess quantities are not extracted and standards are being maintained as is obvious from the numerous brand names flooding the markets. The BIS could not be reached for comment.

The 14 States that have adopted the Central Model Ground Water Regulation Bill are free to give permission to beverages and bottled water companies for extraction of groundwater and more often than not, with little monitoring. For the States that do not have the Act in place, permission is taken from the Centre. Again, no permission is required or taken for drawing river, canal or natural spring water for bottling or use in soft drinks.

Union Secretary for Water Resources S.K. Sarkar feels the problem should have a long-term solution like mapping of aquifers to set limits on how much water can be extracted, at what place, with what recharge, at what distance between wells and at what depth.

The 12th Five-Year Plan will see three-dimensional aquifer mapping and participatory management to decide how much water can be allocated to various users, including industry.

 

PRESS RELEASE- #India – House for Every Homeless Families ?


 

PIB Press Release
           
            As per Census 2001, total houseless households in the country stood at 0.45 million.  Census of India 2011 data on houseless households has not been released as on date, therefore, estimation of houseless households as of now and its comparison with the number in 2001 cannot be made at this juncture. However ‘Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage’ has indicated that 0.53 million Households are in homeless condition in urban areas as of 2012.  This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri C. P. Narayanan.
                        The Minister further stated that Land’ and ‘Colonisation’ are State subjects, therefore it is the primary responsibility of State Governments to provide houses/shelters to all citizens. Government of India did not have any scheme for construction of shelters for homeless persons during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. However, in order to complement and supplement the initiatives of State Governments in providing housing for the urban poor, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has been implementing following schemes/programmes:
·         Under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with its two components Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), 1.57 million Dwelling Units have been sanctioned as on date.
·         The scheme of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is at a preparatory phase where Slum Free City Planning is being undertaken.
·         Under Affordable Housing in Partnership Scheme (AHP), 11 projects of 2 States viz., Karnataka & Rajasthan have been sanctioned.
·         The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) is meant to facilitate channelization of credit for the urban poor. As on date, 13,485 beneficiaries have been covered under ISHUP.
                        Under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), ‘Shelters for Urban Homeless’ has been proposed to be taken up during Twelfth Five Year Plan. However, since necessary approvals have not been obtained, no time frame for its finalization can be committed at this juncture.
                     The Minister further stated that given the magnitude of the housing shortage and budgetary constraints of both the Central and State Governments, it is clear that Public Sector efforts will not alone suffice in fulfilling the housing demand. The exact time span to ensure a house to every family in the country cannot be estimated, the Minister added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#India-The Art of Fair Budgeting #Gender


Gender budgeting — by clearly allocating funds for women’s development and protecting their interests with suitable tax policies — boosts female empowerment. But in India this process is simply about the government allocating funds and doing little else. It‘s time that changed

LUBNA KABLY TIMES INSIGHT GROUP

During the run-up to the budget, discussions on tax policies tend to hog the limelight. But little is often heard about improving the lot of Indian women in such proposals or debates. Fortunately, this time around, there’s a fair bit of work going on behind the scenes to ensure that ‘gender budgeting’ is not ignored, whether its via the allocation of funds for women’s development programmes, or in ensuring that tax policies (especially via duties on essential commodities) do not adversely impact a housewife’s purse-strings.
But there are other aspects of gender budgeting to consider as well. As Janet Stotsky, advisor, office of budget and planning (in the office of the managing director), International Monetary Fund, puts it: “Gender budgeting doesn’t require any special tools or techniques, but a recognition that fiscal policies impact women and men differently.”
“Gender budgeting brings a focus towards ensuring that government policies, both on the spending and revenue side, provide greater opportunities for women, a better standard of living and a fairer distribution of income. On the spending side, it could contribute to ensuring a better allocation of funds for programs such as health care, or availability of clean water. While such expenditure typically disproportionately benefits women it also positively benefits the society as a whole,” explains Stotsky.
She adds: “On the revenue side, it could help ensure that the tax code does not discriminate against women’s work effort or products that are the core expenditures of poor families, which are disproportionately headed by women.”
STILL THE SECOND SEX HERE
Gender budgeting’s Indian odyssey is a recent one. Gender sensitivity in allocation of resources and monitoring of select schemes was first introduced during the seventh five year plan (1987-92) when India joined the ranks of as many as 50 countries which had adopted gender budgeting. But formal earmarking of funds, of at least 30 per cent, in all women related sectors both at Central and State level, began only in the ninth five year plan (1997-2002).
However, the focus here continues to be largely on the spending side.
A 2004 expert committee attempted to change that. It made various suggestions, including establishment of gender budgeting cells in all ministries and departments. Today, approximately 56 ministries and departments have set up such cells.
According to the 2011 census, there are 59 crore women in India; they account for 48.46 per cent of India’s total population. Last year’s union budget (2012-13) allocated Rs 18,500 crore to the ministry of women and child development (MWCD — one of the key ministries working for women’s welfare). This allocation was an increase of 15 per cent as against a revised estimate of Rs 16,100 crore in the previous year. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Krishna Tirath, minister for women and child development mentioned that the gross total allocations towards gender budget have steadily increased by 38 per cent over the last three years, from Rs 56,857.61 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 78,251.01 crore in 2011-12. Details of funds allocated and released towards various key schemes were also provided. (Refer Table)
THE TIMING’S THE THING
One may argue about the need for more funds for various programs, but what is equally important is their timely release. Schemes such as Ujjawala (where funds are released to NGOs involved in the prevention of women trafficking, rescue and rehabilitation of women) fared better than other schemes where release of funds was lagging.
In this backdrop, Vibhuti Patel, head, post graduate economics, SNDT Women’s University points out: “Very often, allocations made are not released in time — the reasons could vary from faulty design, antipathy and bureaucratic bungling. Consequently, if the funds remain unutilised, in the subsequent year the allocation is slashed and the scheme fails to meet its objectives. There should be proper monitoring of fund allocation and its utilisation. Ideally, unutilised funds should be allowed to be carried forward next year.”
She also points out that the target of 30 per cent gender allocation under all ministries has not yet been achieved and must be immediately implemented. There is a dire need of greater accountability and transparency.
Even measuring outcomes is vital. “In India, owing to comparatively weak indicators for critical goals such as reduced maternal death rates, a high rate of female literacy and increased job participation, a follow through is essential to evaluate the outcomes,” stresses Stotsky.
The draft of the 12th five year plan (2012-17) has called for improving the mechanism of gender budgeting, beginning with bringing all ministries and government departments within its coverage and tabulation of gender specific MIS data. To aid purposive gender budgeting, a new methodology and format is to be drawn up so that all policies and programs are engendered from the initial stage.
“Women groups have been demanding a review of the format of the gender budgeting statement, for quite some time. The format must cover not only 100 per cent women specific schemes, or those where 30 per cent of funds are allocated for women, but also gender neutral schemes — such as those relating to education or employment and show to what extent the same have benefited women,” states Patel.
BETTER HALF PLANNING
The draft plan also calls for ‘gender audits’, which are to be incorporated within the expenditure and performance audits conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG).
Most important of all, this draft states that formal
pre-budget consultations must be undertaken by the Finance Ministry with women’s groups, as is the practice in several countries. In fact, several countries have benefitted by actively involving women groups in the entire gender budgeting process.
For instance, Philippines introduced gender budgeting in 1996. In the initial period, funds meant for women development were allocated by government agencies towards strange causes such as ballroom dancing training for its female staff. Today, aided by two NGOs the process is better understood and properly monitored. In the UK, the Women’s Budget Group , comprising largely of women academicians, plays an important role in policy formulation.
The draft plan also calls for a task force to be set up under the MWCD to review the functioning of gender budget cells and to vet all new laws, policies and programs for gender inclusiveness. “One hopes that these suggestions are adopted and that the coming Union-Budget 2013-14 with appropriate allocation of funds, introduction of suitable schemes, empower women, economically and socially,” sums up Patel.

MAHILA EXPRESS: Gender budgeting mechanisms work effectively only if they cover all government departments

 

 

#India- The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment- Review 2012 #disability


 

      Press Information Bureau English Releases

 

      28-Dec-2012

 

        The

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

        is entrusted with the empowerment of the disadvantaged and marginalized sections of the society. The target groups of the Ministry are: (i) scheduled Castes, (ii)

Other Backward Classes

      , (iii) Senior Citizens and (iv) Victims of Substance Abuse.

 

        Enhancement in Plan Outlay of the MinistryThere was an unprecedented increase of 136.60% in the plan outlay of the Ministry from Rs.2500 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 5915 crore in 2012-13 which includes the Budget Estimate of Department of Disability of Affairs. The plan Outlay allocated to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for

12th Five Year Plan

      has been enhanced to Rs 32684 crore from Rs 13043 crore in the 11th Five Year Plan…Department of Disability Affairs

 

      Creation of a new Department of Disability Affairs

 

        A new Department of Disability Affairs has been set up vide

Cabinet Secretariat

      ’s notification dated 12.05.2012. The Department has been allocated twenty five (25) subjects. Creation of a new Department would ensure greater focus on policy matters to effectively address disability issues. Having a separate budget would help in strengthening existing schemes, formulation of new schemes as also promotion of technological innovation in the sector. It would further boost greater coordination among stakeholders, organizations, state governments and related central ministries.

 

      New Draft Legislation on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 

        The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (

PwD

      Act) has been in force for over 15 years. In view of the need to review it and harmonize its provision with United Nations Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the Ministry constituted an experts committee, which submitted its report to the Ministry on 30.06.2011. The draft bill was uploaded on the Ministry’s website for comments. The Ministry also initiated consultations with 17 Central Ministries and Departments on provisions of the draft Bill concerning them. Based on the inputs received, a draft Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2012 has been prepared and circulated in September, 2012 to all State Governments/Union Territories for their comments. The Bill will be introduced in the Parliament, after due consultations with the State Governments and other Stakeholders.

 

      Establishment of new District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) and Composite Regional Centres (CRCs)

 

      District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres

 

      To create infrastructure and capacity building at district level for providing rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, awareness generation, training rehabilitation professionals etc, the Ministry provides assistance for setting up of District Disabled Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) in un-served districts of the country. Until March, 2010, 199 DDRCs have been sanctioned.

 

        The Finance Minister had announced in his budget speech for 2010-11 that 100 new DDRCs would be opened during the remaining period of the XIth Five Year Plan. Accordingly, 100 districts in 20 States were identified and the concerned State Governments requested in June 2010 to send proposals for setting up new DDRCs. In the year 2010-11 & 2011-12, sanctions were issued for setting up of 33 new DDRCs. During the current year 2012-13, sanctions have been issued for setting up of four new DDRCs namely (1)

Mehboobnagar

        (Andhra Pradesh) (2) Howrah (

West Bengal

      ) (3) Bankura (West Bengal) & (4) Shivsagar (Assam).

 

      Composite Regional Centres

 

      The scheme of setting up of Composite Regional Centres is a part of overall strategy to reach out to the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the country and to facilitate the creation of the required infrastructure and capacity building at Central, State and District levels and below for awareness generation, training of rehabilitation professionals, service delivery etc. Centres are set up at locations where the existing infrastructure for providing comprehensive services to disabled were inadequate and where such centres are needed the most.

 

        There were eight CRCs functioning at Sundernagar, Srinagar, Lucknow, Guwahati, Patna, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and

Kozhikode

      . The new CRC at Kozhikode has been functional from February, 2012.

 

Rajiv Gandhi

      National Fellowship Scheme for Students with DisabilitiesA new Central Sector Scheme of Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities for persons with disabilities has been launched in November, 2012 to increase opportunities to students with disabilities for pursuing higher education leading to degrees such as M.Phil and Ph.D. The scheme caters to requirements of the students with disabilities for pursuing research degree in universities, research institutions and scientific institutions. The scheme has been made effective from 01.04.2012.

 

        The scheme caters total number of 200 Fellowships (Junior Research Fellows, JRF) per year to students with disabilities. The scheme covers all universities/institutions recognized by

University Grants Commission (UGC)

      and will be implemented by UGC itself. The rates of fellowship for JRF and SRF will be at par with the UGC fellowship.

 

#India-12th Plan will triple spending on health #Election #Vote #Joke


IANS  New Delhi, November 3, 2012 | UPDATED 22:54 IST

12th Plan will triple spending on health: PM

Manmohan Singh
Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singhon Saturday said the 12th Five Year Plan will enhance spending on health up to three times and that more medical and nursing colleges were needed to overcome a shortage of trained human resourcesin the sector.Speaking at the foundation stone laying of the Lady Hardinge Medical Collegeproject here, the prime minister also said that health indicators reflected a country’s overall well-being.”Recognising the need to provide for the complex challenges in the health sector, the allocation for health has been enhanced three times in the 12th Plan as compared with the 11th Plan allocation,” he said.He said the government was paying more attention to medical education. In the last three years, the number of MBBS seats in medical colleges rose by over 30 percent and the seats for post-graduate programmes by 51 percent.

“However, the availability of trained human resources remains a challenge. We need to set up more nursing and medical colleges to increase both undergraduate and postgraduate seats in the 12th Plan,” he said.

The prime minister said that nutrition, drinking water, sanitation, housing and education, particularly of the girl child, were increasingly being underlined as the social determinants of health.

He added that generic drugs would be made available free in all public hospitals across the country to help the poor reduce their out of pocket expenditure on health