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Australia/Oceania


Australia and New Zealand Oceania

Australia and New Zealand

AUSTRALIA
The 7,686,850 km² Australian landmass is on the Indo-Australian Plate and is surrounded by the Indian, Southern and Pacific oceans, and separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas, with total of 25,760 km of coastline.
Facts about Australia:
• The land area of Australia is about 3 million square miles (7,773,000 km2). It is similar in size to the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
• More than one-third of the country lies within the Tropics and overall it extends from 10° S latitude to nearly 45ºS latitude.
• The Foveaux Strait flows between Stewart Island and South Island.
• A portion of the south Pacific known as the Tasman Sea separates Australia and New Zealand.
• Mawson is Australia’s oldest Antarctic station, established in 1954 and named after Antarctic explorer and geologist Sir Douglas Mawson.
• Australia is currently moving north east at a rate of 73 millimetres per year. Geoscience Australia monitors regional earthquake risk by measuring the movement of tectonic plates. The Australian continent is part of the Indian-Australian tectonic plate, which is slowly moving, carrying the continent with it.
• Tasmania is separated from mainland Australia by Bass Strait and is the smallest state in Australia.
• Western Australia is the largest state in area. The east of the state is mostly desert while on the west, the state is bound by 12, 889 kilometres of the world’s most pristine coastline.
• Located just off the coast of southern Queensland, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
• South Australia is known as the ‘Festival State’, with more than 500 festivals taking place there every year.
• Mt. Kosciusko (7,328 feet, or 2,234 m), in the southeastern corner of the continent, is the highest point in Australia.
• New South Wales is Australia’s oldest and most populous state. Its capital, Sydney, is the nation’s largest city.
• Hot summers and mild winters characterize the temperature patterns of Australia. The location straddling the Tropic of Capricorn assures much intense sunshine for the entire continent, especially during the high sun period.

Physiographic regions of Australia
The three major physiographic regions of Australia are:
A. The Great Dividing Range
• The Eastern Highlands region of Australia is the highest part of Australia, being a series of hills, mountains and plateaux. This area is also known as the Great Dividing Range.
• These ranges include the New England Plateau, the Australian Alps, the Snowy Mountains (which are considered to be a part of the Australian Alps), the Blue Mountains and the Grampian Mountains.
• These landforms were made due to uplifting, folding and volcanic processes in the Earth’s crust.
• Australia’s tallest mountain is Mount Kosciuszko, which is found in New South Wales in the Australian Alps.
• Mount Kosciuszko stands at 2228 metres (m), which is less than half the height of the tallest mountain found in Europe.
B. The Central Lowlands
• The Central Lowlands are very dry because rainfall is blocked by the Eastern Highlands.
• The Central Lowlands region consists of a series of basins, low-lying land, lakes, and old lakebeds. Most of the land lies below 500 feet (153 m) elevation.
• The surface of Lake Eyre is the lowest point in the region, at about 40 feet (12 m) below sea level. The region contains two large basins: the largest is the Great Artesian Basin, the other is the Murray Basin.
• The Simpson Desert, which extends for 170 000 square kilometres (km2), is in the Central Lowlands. This desert is famous for its large red sand dunes and salt pans, which are intermittent (occasionally appearing) lakes that only have water in them when it rains. When there is no rain, however, the salt pans dry up, leaving behind white salts.
• The Central Lowlands have few tall mountains, but Flinders Range is located about 1100 km north of Adelaide and extends for 800 km. Its tallest peak, St. Mary Peak, is 1171 m tall.
C. The Western plateau
• The Western Plateau is also home to many deserts. Due to cold water currents off the coast of Western Australia, this region is very dry.
• Some of the deserts in this region include the Gibson, Tanami, Canning, Great Sandy and Great Victoria Deserts.
Climate
Australia is considered to be one of the driest continents on earth. However, because of its insular position and lack of natural features such as high mountain ranges, there are generally no extremes of climate. Climate varies because of the size of the continent.
The temperature ranges from 23°-26°C above the Tropic of Capricorn to 38°C in the arid plateaus and deserts of the interior. The southern areas are more temperate, although subject to wide variations such as high rainfall, great heat and irregular flooding and drought.
El Nino usually occurs in summer. Cold currents flow up the Peruvian coast from Antartica and are warmed by equatorial currents circulating across the Pacific from Australia. Warmed winds blowing across the current’s surface pick up moisture and deposit it on the Peruvian coast. The warm winds proceed across the central Pacific and in turn deposit rain on eastern Australia.
Every three to eight years the equatorial current is exceedingly strong and noticably warmer off the coast of Peru, resulting in strong winds bringing heavy rains and floods. At this time, waters off Australia become noticably cooler and winds weaken and are turned towards the Pacific, reducing the rain-bearing clouds across eastern Australia, resulting in drought.
La Nina is the opposite phenomenon, which results in abnormally strong winds over the western Pacific blowing across unusually warm currents off the east coast of Australia, resulting in flooding rains.
Rivers
Australia’s major rivers flow through the Central Lowlands region.
NEW ZEALAND
In New Zealand, about four-fifths of south Island and one-fifth of North Island contain mountain landforms. Most of the remainder of North Island consists of steep hills and dissected plateaus. Plains are not prominent features of either island.
The mountains of the Southern Alps of south Island are the highest of Australasia. The tallest peak, Mount Cook, and numerous other mountains in the range exceed 10,000 feet.
The highest point of North Island is Mount Ruapehu, which reaches 9,175 feet (2,797m).
Most of New Zealand receives between 40 and 80 inches (100-200 cm) of precipitation annually, with little seasonal variation. The west coast of South Island is the wettest part of the country. The prevailing westerly winds push moist Pacific air onto the southern Alps, and the resulting uplift caused by the mountains produces precipitation that totals more than 120 inches (300 cm) a year.
The temperature patterns of New Zealand are cooler than those for Australia and, as with precipitation, there are fewer extremes. New Zealand has no hot regions like Australia’s deserts, but the higher island mountains get much colder than anywhere in Australia.

Summers in New Zealand are relatively short and cool, but the winters in the inhabited areas are mild.
The natural vegetation on New Zealand is about half temperate rainforest and half grassland. The forest includes such trees as conifers, beech, and tree ferns, as well as lianas (vines) and epiphytes. Areas of scrub vegetation are found between the forests and the grasslands.
Lakes of the New Zealand

Regulatory Bodies


Regulatory Bodies

Regulatory Bodies

1) Reserve Bank of India
• When established? On April 1, 1935 under RBI Act, 1934 (recommended by Hilton Young Commission)
• Headquarter – The Headquarter of the RBI is in Mumbai and it has offices at 31 locations throughout India.
• Composition – General superintendence & direction by 21-member Central Board of Directors: the Governor, 4 Deputy Governors, 2 Finance Ministry representatives, 10 government-nominated directors to represent important elements of India’s economy, and 4 directors to represent local boards headquartered at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi
Role of the RBI
A) Bank of Issue – Issuing bank notes of all denominations. As an agent of the government it has right to distribute one rupee notes & the small coins throughout the country.
B) Banker to Government – Act as an agent of Central Government and of all State Governments except that of J & K. Right to receive and make payments, and other banking operations, helps both the Union and the States to float new loans and to manage public debt.
C) Banker’s Bank & Lender of the Last Resort – The scheduled banks can borrow from the RBI on the basis of eligible securities & expect the RBI to come to their help in times of banking crisis.
D) Controller of Credit – Power to influence the volume of credit through changing the Bank rate or open market operations, to ask not to lend to particular groups or persons, to inspect the accounts of any commercial bank.
E) Custodian of Foreign Reserves – Responsibility to maintain the official rate of exchange & to act as the custodian of India’s reserve of international currencies.
F) Supervisory Functions – Powers under the Reserve Bank Act, 1934, and the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to supervise and control commercial and co-operative banks, relating to licensing and establishments, branch expansion, management, and liquidation.
G) Adviser to Government – To advice the government on the banking and financial matters, planning, resource mobilization, international finance etc.
H) Monetary Data & Publications – To maintain & publish the monetary data and the data relating to banking for framing the economic and banking policies.
I) Banking Ombudsman Scheme – To provide an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of their grievances regarding banking services.
J) Promotional Functions – Building up and strengthening financial infrastructure, ensuring the allocation of credit in the socially desired directions like cooperative banking, agriculture & rural credit, industrial finance etc.
2) Security & Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
• When established? In 1988 through an executive resolution. Subsequently it was upgraded as a fully autonomous body (a statutory Board) in 1992 with the passing of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act on 30th January 1992.
• Headquarter – in Mumbai & has Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Regional Offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad respectively. It also has local offices at Jaipur and Bangalore.
• Composition – Following members:
a) a Chairman
b) two members from the Ministry of the Central Government dealing with Finance and administration of Companies Act, 1956
c) one member from the Reserve Bank of India
d) five other members – at least three shall be whole time members to be appointed by the Central Government
• Functions of SEBI – It has three important functions as follows:
a) Protective Functions – To protect the interest of investor, provide safety of investment, check price rigging, prohibit insider trading, fraudulent and unfair trade practices etc.
b) Developmental Functions – Increase the business in stock exchange, training of intermediaries of the securities market, adopting flexible and adoptable approach by permitting internet trading, making underwriting optional to reduce the cost of issue etc.
c) Regulatory Functions – To frame rules, regulations and a code of conduct for the intermediaries such as merchant bankers, underwriters, etc. To register and regulates the working of stock brokers, merchant bankers. Regulate the working of mutual funds, takeover of the companies, conducts inquiries and audit of stock exchanges.
• Powers of SEBI – The SEBI has following powers:
a) To call periodical returns from recognized stock exchanges.
b) To compel listing of securities by public companies.
c) To levy fees or other charges for carrying out the purposes of regulation.
d) To call information or explanation from recognized stock exchanges or their members.
e) To grant approval to by laws of recognized stock exchanges.
f) To control and regulate stock exchanges.
g) To direct enquiries to be made in relation to affairs of stock exchanges or their members.
• In any country, the financial system plays as a mediator between lenders and borrowers. The investors always need adequate protection to encourage more savings and investments. The SEBI is one of such institutions.
• In general, the financial market is divided into two parts, one is money market and another one is capital market. Money market is a market which provides short term finance while capital market provides medium and long term finance. Securities market is an organized capital market. Securities market is divided into as primary market and secondary market.
3) Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA)
• When established? Constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.
• Headquarter – Hyderabad, Telangana.
• Composition – A Chairman & nine members of whom five are whole-time members and four are part-time members. All the members including the Chairman are appointed by the government of India.
• Objective – An autonomous, statutory agency to regulate and promote the insurance and re-insurance industry. The key objectives of the IRDA include promotion of competition so as to enhance customer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and lower premiums, while ensuring the financial security of the insurance market.
• Role of IRDA –
a) Safeguard the interest of and secure fair treatment to insurance policy holders.
b) Bring quick and systematic growth of the insurance industry, to provide long term funds for accelerating growth of the economy.
c) To set, promote, monitor and apply high standards of integrity, fair dealing, financial viability and capability.
d) To make sure that insurance policy holder receives precise, accurate, clear & correct information about the products & services; make customers aware about their duties & responsibilities.
e) To ensure quick settlement of genuine claims, prevent insurance frauds, scams & and put in place a grievance redressal machinery.
f) To boost transparency, fairness, and orderly conduct in market & build a trustworthy management information system in order to enforce high standards of financial soundness amongst market players.
• Functions of IRDA –
a) Issue a certificate of registration, & renew, modify, withdraw, suspend or cancel such registration
b) Specifying requisite qualifications, code of conduct and practical training for insurance intermediaries and agents
c) Specifying the code of conduct for surveyors and loss assessors
d) Promoting and regulating professional organisations connected with the insurance and re-insurance business
e) Calling for information from, undertaking inspection of, conducting enquiries and investigations including audit of the insurers, insurance intermediaries etc.
f) Specifying the form and manner in which books of account shall be maintained
g) Regulating investment of funds by insurance companies
h) Adjudication of disputes between insurers and intermediaries or insurance intermediaries
4) Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
• When established? On 20 February 1997 to regulate telecom services and tariffs. Earlier it was done by the Central Government.
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition – TRAI shall have a Chairman, at least two and at the most six members, all appointed by the Central Government
• Mission – To create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in a manner and at a pace to enable India play a leading role in emerging global information society. It also has jurisdiction over the broadcasting sector.
• According to the TRAI act, amended in 2000, the functions of the TRAI have now been divided between two separate bodies namely:
a) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
b) The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal
• The recommendatory and regulatory functions are vested with the TRAI while dispute settlement & adjudicatory functions are handled by the Appellate Tribunal.
• Recommendatory Functions of TRAI – It can make recommendations either on its own initiative or on a request from a licensor on the following:
a) The need, timing for introduction & terms and conditions of license to a service provider
b) Revocation of license for Non-compliance with its terms and conditions
c) Measures to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in the operation of telecommunication services
d) Technological improvements in the services provided & type of equipment to be used by the service providers
e) Efficient management of available spectrum
• Regulatory Functions of TRAI –
a) To ensure compliance of terms and conditions of license by either issuing directions or recommending termination of license for non-compliance. Limited powers in this regard because any action under the license can only be taken by the licensor which is the Central government. But TRAI has the freedom to issue any kind of directions to the service providers.
b) Ensure technical compatibility and effective inter-connection between different service providers
c) Lay down the standards of quality of service to be provided to protect the interest of the consumers
d) Ensure effective compliance of universal service obligation
• Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal – Performs the adjudicatory functions as follows:
a) Adjudicate disputes between a licensor and a licensee, two or more service provider and a group of consumers.
b) Dispose of appeal against any direction, decision or order of the TRAI
• This function of tribunal is alternative to filing an appeal in the High Court. An appeal from order of the tribunal lies with the Supreme Court.
5) Competition Commission of India (CCI)
• When established? On 14th October 2003 under the Competition Act, 2002
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition – A Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
• Functions of CCI –
a) To eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade.
b) Give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from any statutory authority, competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training.
• Powers of CCI –
a) Inquire into certain agreements and abuse of dominant position of enterprises likely to have adverse effect on competition.
b) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath
c) Requiring the discovery and production of documents, receiving evidence on affidavit
• In discharge of its functions, the Commission shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and shall have the powers to regulate its own procedure.
6) Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA)
• When established? On August 23, 2003. The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Act was passed on 19th September, 2013.
• Headquarter – New Delhi
• Composition – The Authority consists of a Chairperson and not more than five members, of whom at least three shall be whole-time members, to be appointed by the Central Government.
• Functions of PFRDA – It performs promotional, developmental and regulatory functions relating to pension funds as follows:
a) Regulating the NPS
b) Approving the schemes, the terms and conditions, management of the corpus of the pension funds
c) Issue investment guidelines
d) Educating the subscribers and the general public on issues relating to pension, and training of intermediaries
e) Adjudicating disputes between intermediaries as well as between intermediaries and subscribers
f) Establishing mechanisms for grievance redressal of the subscribers
7) Central Electricity Regulatory Commission
• Recognizing that electricity is one of the key drivers for rapid economic growth and poverty alleviation Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), a key regulator of power sector in India, has been set up in 1998 as a statutory body functioning with quasi-judicial status.
• The Commission intends to promote competition, efficiency and economy in bulk power markets, improve the quality of supply, promote investments and advise government on the removal of institutional barriers to bridge the demand supply gap and thus foster the interests of consumers.
• In pursuit of these objectives the Commission aims to – Improve the operations and management of the regional transmission systems through Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC), Availability Based Tariff (ABT), etc; Formulate an efficient tariff setting mechanism, which ensures speedy and time bound disposal of tariff petitions, promotes competition, economy and efficiency in the pricing of bulk power and transmission services and ensures least cost investments; to facilitate open access in inter-state transmission; to facilitate technological and institutional changes required for the development of competitive markets in bulk power and transmission services.
• The National Electricity Policy has been evolved in consultation with and taking into account views of the State Governments, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) and other stakeholders.
• Recently CERC announces Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) system for fulfillment of its mandate to promote renewable sources of energy and development of market in electricity. REC mechanism is aimed at addressing the mismatch between availability of Renewable Energy resources in state and the requirement of the obligated entities to meet the renewable purchase obligation (RPO).

Surrogacy Regulation Bill


Surrogacy Regulation Bill

Surrogacy is when another woman carries and gives birth to a baby for the couple who want to have a child.
What are the types of surrogacy?
• Straight (or traditional) surrogacy
The surrogate mother uses an insemination kit to become pregnant using the intended father’s semen. The baby will therefore be conceived using the surrogate’s egg.
• Host (or gestational) surrogacy
Host surrogacy is when IVF is used, either with the eggs of the intended mother, or with donor eggs. The surrogate mother therefore does not use her own eggs, and is genetically unrelated to the baby. It is physically more complicated and considerably more expensive than straight surrogacy.
What is the objective of the new draft bill?
• The Bill aims to prevent exploitation of women, especially those in rural and tribal areas.
• The Bill promises to ensure parentage of children born out of surrogacy is “legal and transparent.”
What are the salient features of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill?
• The new Bill proposes complete ban on commercial surrogacy but allows ethical surrogacy to needy infertile couples.
• It also prohibits Single parents, homosexual couples, live-in relationships couples to opt for altruistic surrogacy.
• The bill effectively bans foreigners to seek an Indian surrogate mother. This includes non-resident Indians (NRIs). The Associated Press reported that the Indian surrogacy industry is at “around $1 billion a year and growing”.
• For the surrogacy the couple should be married for at least five years before approaching a surrogate mother, according to the proposed legislation. Further, the woman has to be between 23-50 years of age and the man should be 26-55 years old.
• A surrogate child would have equal inheritance rights as a biological or adopted child.
• The surrogate mother has to be a close relative.
• 10 years of imprisonment, up to Rs 10 lakh fine for abandoning surrogate child, mistreatment of surrogate mother.

Social Audit


Social Audit

Social Audit is a tool through which government departments can plan, manage and measure non-financial activities and monitor both internal and external consequences of the departments’ social and commercial operations. Social Audit gives an understanding of the administrative system from the perspective of the vast majority of people in the society for whom the very institutional/administrative system is being promoted and legitimised. Social Audit of administration means understanding the administrative system and its internal dynamics from the angle of what they mean for the vast majority of the people, who are not essentially a part of the State or its machinery or the ruling class of the day, for whom they are meant to work.
Social Audit is an independent evaluation of the performance of an organisation as it relates to the attainment of its social goals. It is an instrument of social accountability of an organisation.
Objectives of Social Audit:
1. Accurate identification of requirements
2. Prioritization of developmental activities as per requirements
3. Proper utilization of funds
4. Conformity of the developmental activity with the stated goals
5. Quality of service
A social audit will generally examine the organisation’s policies and practices in the following key areas:
• Ethics – what the organisation’s policies are, whether or not they are being upheld or undermined by the enterprise’s day-to-day activities.
• Staffing – how the enterprise rewards, trains and develops its staff, as well as the way in which the enterprise ensures that it is non-discriminatory, fair and equitable to everyone working there.
• Environment – the enterprise’s policies relating to caring for the environment, waste management and disposal, and damage reduction, and whether or not the enterprise is adhering to these policies.
• Human rights – how it ensures that it does not violate human rights, or deal, trade with or support any organisation that violates human rights.
• Community – the organisation’s policies relating to the local community, and community involvement; these policies might, for example, cover community partnerships or community projects, and checks will be made during the social audit to ensure that agreements are being upheld.
• Society – the organisation’s policies relating to society as a whole, and the way in which the enterprise seeks to improve or benefit society.
• Compliance – how the organisation complies with statutory and legal requirements, such as health and safety, employment law, environmental law, criminal law and, of course, financial and tax laws.

Sutlej-Yamuna Link Issue


Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal


Sutlej-Yamuna is a proposed 214-kilometer (133 mi) long canal in India to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers of which 122 km was to be in Punjab and 92 km in Haryana.
SYL canal was envisaged in 1976. Centre allocated 3.5 MAF of water to Haryana, 3.5 MAF to Punjab and 0.2 MAF to Delhi. Haryana constructed portion of SYL in its territory, and moved SC seeking direction to Punjab to construct SYL; then Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal challenged validity of Section 78 of Reorganization Act.
Recently the issue came up as the Supreme Court has scrapped Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act, 2004 which unilaterally allows Punjab to stop sharing Ravi, Beas waters with other States. Ruling in this regard was given by a five-judge SC Constitution Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave.
The SC bench gave its opinion on a Presidential Reference made by then President APJ Kalam in 2004 to the apex court under Article 143 (1) of the Constitution questioning the constitutional validity of the Act.

Direction of Supreme Court:
The law unilaterally enacted by Punjab was illegally designed to terminate a 1981 agreement entered into among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to re-allocate waters of Ravi and Beas. By introducing the 2004 Act, Punjab defied two back-to-back apex court verdicts, pronounced in 2002 and 2004. Punjab exceeded its legislative power in proceeding to nullify the decree of this court and therefore. State Legislative Assembly cannot through legislation do an act in conflict with the judgment of the highest court which has attained finality.
Timeline of dispute
1966: The creation of Haryana from Punjab in 1966 threw up the problem of giving Haryana its share of river waters.
Since then, Punjab has opposed sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas Rivers with Haryana, citing riparian principles, and arguing that it had no water to spare.
1976: After dividing Punjab, Union Government allotted Haryana 3 million acre-feet (MAF) of water of the Ravi and Beas in 1976.
1981: CMs of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan signed an agreement for allocation of surplus Ravi-Beas waters in presence of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. According to this agreement, available supplies of the Beas and Ravi Rivers were recalculated to be 17.17 MAF. Rajasthan. Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi got 0.65 MAF and 0.20 MAF.
1982: Gandhi inaugurates digging of SYL canal at Kapuri in Patiala, leading to SAD launching its Dharma Yudh Morchas. To enable Haryana to use its share of waters of Sutlej and its tributary Beas, Union Government started Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal Project in 1982 to link Sutlej with the Yamuna.
July 24, 1985: Rajiv-Longowal Accord signed, includes agreement to construct canal by August 15, 1986
April 2, 1986: Eradi Tribunal for settling water disputes constituted. Submits interim report, Punjab files review; matter pending.
1996: However, the work of canal was completely stopped after local political issues and militant attack on workers in Punjab. In 1996, Haryana approached Supreme Court for the early completion of the canal.
Jan 15, 2002: SC tells Punjab to make canal functional in a year.
June 4, 2004: SC asks Centre to take control of SYL canal works within a month and get it constructed from a central agency
July 12, 2004: Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, passed, terminating the 1981 agreement and other agreements with non-riparian states for allocation of Ravi-Beas waters.
2016: Ever Since, SYL has been a bone of content between Haryana and Punjab. But on 15th March, 2016, Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land ((Transfer of Property Rights) Bill 2016 unanimously. This bill aims at transferring 3,928 acres of land free of cost to the original landowners.
Punjab Assembly unanimously passes Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 to return 3,928 acres of acquired land. However, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has directed Punjab to maintain status quo.
Supreme Court started hearings into a presidential reference to decide on the legality of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. The presidential reference was made by the Centre days after the Punjab Assembly passed the Act.
As the hearings resumed, the Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the Centre, took a pro-Haryana stance, saying the Centre stood by the SC’s orders asking Punjab to complete the work on SYL in its territory. The development has triggered a political storm in Punjab.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh — who was Chief Minister when the 2004 Act was passed — had launched a blistering attack on the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, the alliance partner of the BJP, which leads the government at the Centre, and had announced a march to protect Punjab’s waters.
Punjab demanded a fresh tribunal to ascertain the present flow of waters and decide the entitlement of each state on the basis of the rights of riparian and non-riparian states under national and international law.
The Congress moved an adjournment motion in the Assembly on the issue, but the Akali Dal pre-empted the move, with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal moving a resolution against sharing any water, and the attempts to force Punjab to build the SYL canal.

Sai Praveen

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