Current Affairs 2 April 2019 Digest 5: 'Disturbed Area' tag extended for 3 Arunachal districts; NCR districts switch to Euro-VI fuels
The "disturbed area" tag under the AFSPA was extended for three districts of Arunachal Pradesh for another six months. These 3 districts are Tirap, Changlang and Longding. The supply of Euro-VI grade fuel began in cities adjoining the National Capital Region (NCR).
Story 1: 'Disturbed Area' tag extended for 3 Arunachal districts
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on April 1, 2019 extended the "disturbed area" tag under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for three districts of Arunachal Pradesh for another six months. These 3 districts are Tirap, Changlang and Longding.
“Disturbed Area" tag partly removed from three other districts of Arunachal Pradesh
The Government withdrew the "disturbed area" tag partly from three other districts bordering Assam including Namsai, Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit district.
The tag was withdrawn from the other four police station areas of the Arunchal's districts on Assam border, due to the improvement of law and order situation there.
The designation will continue for the four police stations areas in these districts. They include Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations in Namsai district, Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district and Sunpura in Lohit district.
The decision was taken after considering the present law and order situation in the six districts of the state.
What is AFSPA?
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is one of the most draconian legislations that gives unrestricted and unaccounted power to all security forces to carry out their operations, once an area is declared ‘disturbed’.
Even an officer, who is not on duty, is granted the right to shoot to kill, just on the basis of mere suspicion to ‘maintain the public order’.
The Act was first applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and was amended in 1972 to extend to these ‘seven sisters’ states in the north- eastern region- Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
What is a ‘disturbed area’ and how is an area declared as ‘disturbed’?
The government considers those areas to be ‘disturbed’ that witness differences or disputes between members of different religions, races, languages, regional groups, castes or communities.
Under this Act, the State or the Central Government has the power to demarcate an area in the Indian Union as ‘disturbed’. The decision of the State Government as to whether or not an area is ‘disturbed’ can be overruled by the Governor or the Centre.
Section (3) of the AFSPA, 1958 empowers the Governor of the State or Union territory to issue notification on The Gazette of India about the 'disturbed' area, following which the centre will send in armed forces for civilian aid.
Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
Where AFSPA can be invoked?
The Section (3) of the AFSPA states that the act can be invoked in places ‘where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary’.
Powers conferred on the armed forces under AFSPA
• The AFSPA gives the wide powers to armed and central forces to shoot and arrest anyone acting in contravention of law and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits, all in the name of aiding civil power.
• At first, officer has to give a warning and after giving warning, an officer can shoot or use other kinds of force, even if it causes death.
• He can seize any unauthorised arms storage, hide-outs, shelter or training camp which is supposed to be used by the militants.
• He can arrest anyone, without a warrant, who has committed cognisable offences or is suspected of having committed such a crime.
• He can search any place to recover any suspect or confiscate unauthorised arms and ammunition.
• He can stop and search any vehicle or vessel, suspected to be carrying such a person or weapons.
• The arresting officer needs to present the suspect to the nearest police station with least possible delay.
• No Army officer can be held against any arrest under the AFSPA. No prosecution or any other legal proceeding can be made against the arrest or seize. Even the state government cannot question his action.
Story 2: NCR districts switch to Euro-VI grade fuels (BS-VI fuels)
The supply of ultra-clean Euro-VI grade fuel (also known as Bharat Stage VI grade fuel) began in cities adjoining the National Capital Region (NCR) on April 1, 2019.
Several cities in the 12 neighboring districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh including Agra switched over to the cleaner fuel.
The Bharat Stage VI grade fuel, both petrol and diesel containing 10 parts per million (ppm), is being supplied in Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli and Dholpur in Rajasthan and Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Baghpat, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Shamli and Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
However, the supplies to Gurugram and Faridabad, which were to get Euro-VI grade fuel from April 1, have been postponed.
The Euro-VI grade fuel will be rolled out across India from April 2020. The Supreme Court on October 24, 2018 ruled that no Bharat Stage-IV vehicle shall be sold across the country with effect from April 1, 2020.
Delhi became first city to roll-out BS-VI fuel
Delhi in April 2018 became the first city in the country to roll-out ultra-clean Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) grade fuel, both petrol and diesel.
Transition from Euro-IV grade to Euro-VI grade
India had in 2015 decided to leapfrog to Euro-VI emission norm compliant petrol and diesel from April 2020, from the Euro-IV grade at present. These norms are based on similar norms in Europe called Euro 4 and Euro 6.
One of the major differences between BS-IV and BS-VI fuel is the presence of sulphur. The BS-VI fuel is expected to reduce the amount of sulphur released from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm.
Moreover, the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from diesel and petrol engines is also expected to reduce by nearly 70 percent and 25 percent respectively.
Why BS-VI grade fuel?
The Bharat stage emission standards were instituted by the Government to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The BS-IV norms were in force across the country since April 2017.
The Union Government decided to switch over to BS-VI grade fuel directly from BS-IV skipping BS-V, after Environment Pollution Control Authority in its April 2017 report told the apex court that only BS-VI emission standards complaint vehicles should be allowed to be sold from April 1, 2020.
India had switched over to BS-IV grade fuel in April 1, 2017 following the directions of the court banning BS-III grade fuel.
What are Bharat Stage norms?
• Bharat Stage emission standards were introduced in year 2000 in line with recommendations made by RA Mashelkar Committee.
• These emission standards were set up by the Union Government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
• The different norms are brought into force in accordance with the timeline and standards set up by the Central Pollution Control Board which comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
• The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) in its ‘The Auto Fuel Policy 2003’ had recommended implementing BS-VI norms by 2023 by compressing the technology development time by one year.