DEPwD – Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities , has launched the Accessible India Campaign as a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for the PwDs.
For PwDs , universally is critical for enabling them to gain for equal opportunity and live independently.
Persons with Disabilities(Equal opportunities, Protection of rights and Full participation ) Act ,1995 under section 44,45,46 categorically provides for non-discrimination in transport and non-discrimination in built environments.
UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory , under article 9 casts obligations on the governments for ensuring the PWDs accessibility to :-
Accessibility to services as well as emergency services
Keeping this in view and creating India as a more inclusive and accessible society , the Government of India has launched this program.
2)Chennai Floods – What has gone wrong-
The recent floods in Chennai and the unprecedented inability to deal with it , shows that in our way towards economic growth , environment has taken a back seat.
The flood is akin to Mumbai flood of 2005 . Both the cities are coast facing and both have grown enormously as a city in the last few decades.
Chennai , its soil and rock types suggest that the city is historically a flood plain.
Chennai had more than 600 waterbodies in the 1980s, but a master plan published in 2008 said that only a fraction of the lakes could be found in a healthy condition. According to records of the State’s Water Resources Department, the area of 19 major lakes has shrunk from a total of 1,130 hectares (ha) in the 1980s to around 645 ha in the early 2000s, reducing their storage capacity. The drains that carry surplus water from tanks to other wetlands have also been encroached upon.
Chennai has only 855 km of stormwater drains against 2,847 km of urban roads. Thus, even a marginally heavy rainfall causes havoc in the city.
Urban sprawls such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Srinagar etc. have not paid adequate attention to the natural water bodies that exist in them. In Chennai, each of its lakes has a natural flood discharge channel which drains the spillover. But we have built over many of these water bodies, blocking the smooth flow of water. We have forgotten the art of drainage. We only see land for buildings, not for water.
Chennai’s human-made drainage is no replacement for its natural drainage systems — analysis shows that there are natural canals and drains that directly connect the city with wetlands, waterbodies and rivers such as the Cooum and the Adyar that run through Chennai.However real-estate has been built upon the flood plains, and with a slight heavy rain, poorly constructed drainage system which are silted , the water stays on the road and it has no where to go in the concrete jungle.
Also , the freak weather is predicted as an extension of climate change. The data vindates this stance. The rains in Chennai have broken a 100-year record (374 mm in just 24 hours). In November, the city had received 1,218 mm of rain, which was almost three times more than the average the city receives (407 mm).
Urban planning withe out due consideration for environment has been a major cause of worry in India. Many coastal cities have been lost to the times of history and major cause of disappearance of coastal cities is attributed to either climate change or bad urban planning, focusing mainly on drainage system.
Environmental swings are inevitable , and improper planning accentuates the devastating capacity of the calamities.
Way Forward :-
Every city has it’s carrying capacity and once it’s overrun , it becomes almost impossible for the city to sustain life.Hence , pro-active measures needs to be taken to release the stress of the mega cities of India.Satellite cities can be built which can release the stress of our urban sprawl.
Though we have a flood plain zoning and management , it has not been adhered to.Political class need to listen to the environmentalists and engage not only the civil engineers but environmental engineers in the planning process.
SMART CITY in this regard is an ambitious project , which not only aims retrofitting the existing cities but also plans to build new cities which could take the demographic pressure of our mega cities.
However the project has came too late, we are not in the brink of climate change , we are already in it, thus this needs speedier implementation.
It was often cited in the time of relief and rescue work that our Air force could not find a high ground to land and carry on the rescue work. In this regard , as a short term measure , high ground structure and homes has to be built so as to, not only provide shelter in the times of disaster but also give the rescue team a base to operate from.
3)Toda tribe of Nilgiris :-
The Nilgiris, (blue mountains) first explored by British writer John Sullivan in 1819 is the pride of South India. Everything about the hills is amazing; more so its name which is derived from a wild flower called Neela Kurinji (bluish-violet colour) that blossoms once in every 12 years.
Even more exotic is the first ever tribal natives of Nilgiris, the Toda (Thuda) clans who were first spotted by the British.
The Toda clan to this day are distinctly different from the rest of the Tamil tribes or plainsmen. They are an exotic race, whose facial features (barring gene mutations) are very un-south Indian. For one, they are generally not dark; they are fair-skinned, ruddy with constant exposure to sunny to rainy weather.
The Englishmen who resided in Nilgiris then were amazed and also appreciative of the Toda’s good looks as also their pride, as has been written in their analogies. The Toda would never turn his head and admire the foreigner as we would even today.
There are 15 Toda clans presently in Nilgiris, each having its own temple and head priest. They are close to the Hindus in religion.
The language is Proto Dravidian, their prayer is not in their spoken tongue. Even linguist Emino in 1930s was unable to decipher their prayer lingo. The Toda culture is unlike other tribal cultures across India
Todas are totally vegetarian; their diet is milk and milk products. They are pastoral by birth but now many have moved to agriculture too.
4)Agra to host first ever international bird fete:-
In a bid to promote Uttar Pradesh as an international bird-watching destination, the State Forest department, in collaboration with FICCI, is planning to hold a three-day international festival on birds at the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS) in Agra.
The festival starts on December 4 and will end on December 6.As many as 25 top international bird experts and over 80 Indian ornithologists are expected to attend the first-of-its-kind festival.
Birdman of India- Salim Ali
Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali was an Indian ornithologist and naturalist. Sometimes referred to as the “birdman of India”.
Salim Ali was among the first Indians to conduct systematic bird surveys across India and his bird books helped develop ornithology
He became the key figure behind the Bombay Natural History Society after 1947 and used his personal influence to garner government support for the organisation, create the Bharatpur bird sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and prevent the destruction of what is now the Silent Valley National Park. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1958 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1976.
His magnum opus was however the 10 volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan written with Dillon Ripley.
5)Change of guard – Chief Justice of India :-
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur was sworn in as 43rd Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee recently.
Appointment of CJI:-
According to the convention, the present Chief Justice recommends the name of his successor to the government.
After the Law Ministry clears his name, the file will go to the Prime Minister’s Office and finally reaches the President, after whose approval the Warrant of Appointment will be issued
Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court.
Though no specific provision exists in the Constitution for appointing the Chief Justice, who, as a result, is appointed like the other judges.
Usually the seniority take precedence.However, this convention has been breached on a number of occasions, most notably during the premiership of Indira Gandhi, who appointed A.N. Ray superseding three judges senior to him allegedly because he supported Gandhi’s government, during the Emergency, a time when her government was becoming increasingly mired in a political and constitutional crisis.
Question Of the Day (150-200)
What is urban sprawl ? In your view, can the mega cities of India withstand natural calamities.What are the different types of disaster vulnerability of our Mega cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata ?
What is the state of affairs for PwDs in India ? What measures are required to make India more accessible to the PwDs.