Agriculture export policy, 2018

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

India is a country which is acknowledged for the variety of materials exported across the globe. The nation is among the world’s leading producer of perishable goods; the agriculture sector stands as a pillar for the economy as the largest share of the gross domestic product is contributed by this sector. India is a unique country with a population of 1.3 billion, the preponderance segment of the population depends on agriculture sector for livelihood; The main objective behind the formulation of Agricultural Export Policy is to encourage producers to produce more amount of agricultural products which can be exported to other nations across the globe and hence increase the gross domestic product and double farmers’ income by 2022.

The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Honorable Prime Minister approved the Agriculture Export Policy in the year 2018. Exports of agricultural products would play a pivotal role in the growth of the economy; to provide growth in agricultural exports, the Government has come out with a comprehensive policy aimed at augmenting the agricultural exports and connecting Indian farmers and agricultural products with the global market.

All strategies related to the agriculture sector in India are planned and actualized by an intricate arrangement of organizations. State legislature plays a significant role in formulating policies in respect of agriculture sector, but the central government has an upper hand when it comes to the policies which affect the country at whole; funds are allocated by the central government to the state government for the development of each and aspect of the society. At the central level, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has responsibility for agricultural policy, many other ministries and agencies have important roles. There is, therefore, significant risk of fragmentation, overlapping and unclear attribution of responsibilities.

The main and broad objectives are as follows:

  • Firstly, to increase the exports and reach US $ 60 plus billion by the year 2022.
  • To diversify the exports in the terms of a variety of supplies, to target as many markets possible and enhancement of international relations and boosting the economy.
  • To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional products across the global channels.
  • To strive to double India’s share in agricultural exports by integrating with the global value chain at the earliest and enable farmers to explore international markets.

Salient features

The above-mentioned policy has some salient features, categorised under two heads; Strategic and operational, the explanation of the said heads is as follows-

Strategic features-

  1. Policy measures: Under this salient feature, both the public and private stakeholders highlighted the amendments which were necessary to increase exports of the country; the ambit of this measure in quite broad and further include general and commodity-specific measures. This feature is imperative for the overall growth of the economy as it covers both private and public stakeholders.
  2. Infrastructural logistics: Good infrastructure irrespective of any field adds value to the business; the main reason behind having a good infrastructure is smoothness in trade facilitation. Infrastructure in agricultural business involves pre-harvest and post-harvest handling facilities, storage & distribution, processing facilities, roads and world class exit point infrastructure at ports facilitating swift trade. Agricultural exports are determined by supply side factors, food security, processing facilities, infrastructure bottlenecks and several regulations. This involves multiple ministries and state departments. Strategic and operational synergy across ministries will be key to boosting productivity and quality.
  3. Holistic approach to boost exports: the said policy will promote the organizations with reference to agricultural production to make take necessary steps to promote exports on international platform.
  4. Greater involvement of State Governments in Agriculture Exports: Every state government can formulate agriculture policies according to their suitability. The Central Government make policies for the whole country and thus have an upper hand when it comes to formulation of policy.

Operational features-

  1. Focus on clusters: There is a need to develop and set up an institutional system for powerful inclusion and commitment of little and medium farmers for a whole worth chain as gathering enterprise(s) inside the bunch of towns at the square level for select produce(s). This will assist with acknowledging real advantage and strengthening of the cultivating network to twofold their pay through the whole worth chain.
  2. Promoting value added exports: Promotion of a product impacts the sale of the product. The government aims to promote indigenous products at an international platform to attract more foreign investment and increase the export of the Indian farmers. The government also encourages for new products and hence placing importance to research and development.
  3. Marketing and Promotion of Brand India: A product when represented at an international platform represents the whole country; the government promotes products with good quality and set standards in accordance with those qualities.
  4. Attract private investments into production and processing: The agriculture export policy, recently drawn up by the Ministry of Industry & Commerce, is poised to add momentum to this pace of growth. Designed with the aim of easing trade restrictions, establishing clusters, encouraging small businesses and private sector participation, it is poised to shape a more stable regime.
  5. Establishment of Strong Quality Regimen: The role of FSSAI, EIC, plant and animal quarantine and different Commodity Boards in setting standards, enforcing such standards and a robust accreditation and certification arrangement to identify export worthy establishments will be facilitating further exports. As the major focus of our country is towards setting up of a quality system for smooth governance, the centre will focus more on research and development.

Constitutional basis

Under the Constitution agriculture is a state subject; the central government formulates a plan on one ground that this subject is of national significance. The central government both acts as a policy-making authority and policy implementing authority. The Indian Constitution has provided the state with the powers to delegate in certain matters. Every state gets fund to raise and improve the standards of the occupation. As government both at central level and state level are involved it results in complexity at times; these policies are not only central or state subject, they also involve other ministries and local government (herein referred as Panchayat). From 1950 until 2014 India’s Planning Commission, a senior body chaired by the prime minister, outlined national plans and policy priorities.

In the year 1951, the first five-year plan was launched with to rehabilitate refugees, agricultural development, and self-sufficiency in food along with controlling inflation; till the year 2015, a chain of these plans were in operation. Planning Commission was replaced by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog in the year 2015; NITI Aayog aims to foster great involvement of government at the state level. The last five-year plan was the 12th plan and served for a period from 2012 to 2015.

Constitution of India rests powers and responsibilities in the hand of Finance Commission of India regarding the balance between taxation power and expenditure responsibilities among the government at both central level and state level. The recommendations of the fourteenth Finance Commission cover a five-year period from 2015. The central government accepted the Commission’s recommendation about increasing the share of the states in the pool of central taxes that can be divided between the centre and the states, the so-called devolution of taxes (Government of India, 2016). This would give the states greater autonomy in designing and financing schemes according to local priorities.

Critical analysis                                                                              

The agriculture sector is important as 65% of this population is dependent on them for their livelihood, to regulate trade smoothly; the government on both state level and central level have to formulate policies. The objective behind the introduction of agriculture policy of 2018 is to double the income of the farmers by the year 2022. The consequent policy approach has evolved over a while; the said policy is targeting larger market strength. According to ministry during 2018-19* crop year, food grain production is estimated at record 283.37 million tonnes. In 2019-20, Government of India is targeting food grain production of 291.1 million tonnes. Milk production was estimated at 176.3 million tonnes during FY18, while meat production was 7.4 million tonnes. Such a large number of markets need to be regulated by a mechanism.

NITI Aayog, the policy “think tank” of the central government, provided in April 2017 an analysis of recent and projected expenditures. It suggested that expenditure on agriculture (including livestock, forestry, fishery, and rural development) could more than double from 2015-16 to 2019-20 in nominal terms. The food subsidy might increase by about 25%, while the fertilizer subsidy might decline slightly, in both cases taking into account better targeting of the expenditure. Since total expenditure by the central government (revenue and capital) might increase by about 58% between 2015-16 and 2019-20, the share of the food subsidy and particularly the share of the fertilizer subsidy in total expenditure might decline over that period.

The policy seeks to diversify the country export basket and destinations, by boosting high value and value- added agricultural exports, including focus on perishables. Currently, rice, meat and marine products account for more than 50 per cent of Indian agriculture exports. To accomplish this, the administration intends to give an institutional component that would seek after market get to, handle hindrances and manage sterile and phytosanitary issues that surface now and again.

Conclusion

The Policy targets tending to an entire scope of issues which might drive India into the top section of horticultural fares. It has frequently been perceived that Integration in the worldwide worth chain is one of the most certain techniques for embracing the best agrarian practices alongside accomplishing efficiency gains and cost intensity. The target of multiplying the rancher’s pay will perpetually require elevated levels of pay just as improving in the nourishment esteem chain.

The farming area in India is relied upon to create better energy in the following barely any years because of expanded interests in agrarian foundation, for example, water system offices, warehousing and cold stockpiling. Moreover, the developing utilization of hereditarily changed harvests will probably improve the yield for Indian ranchers. India is relied upon to act naturally adequate in beats in the coming barely any years because of deliberate endeavours of researchers to get early-developing assortments of heartbeats and the expansion in the least help cost.

Author: Pratyush Arora from The Northcap University, Gurugram.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

India produced 729 million tonnes of coal in the year 2018-19. Despite these numbers and economic growth, the quantity of imports have increased indicating that the country’s massive domestic reserves are not being utilised properly. To combat this, the Rajya Sabha recently passed the Mineral Laws  (Amendment) Act, 2020 on March 12th, which alters the existing Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) [MMDR] Act, 1957 and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) [CMSP] Act, 2015. The MMDR Act regulates the overall mining sector in India. The CMSP Act provides for the auction and allocation of mines whose allocation was cancelled by the Supreme Court in 2014. Under this amendment, the Environment Ministry has allowed the lessees to mine for two years before getting fresh environmental clearances for mining.

Companies with no prior experience in coal mining, along with companies in other nations as well, have now been allowed to participate in auctions for coal/lignite blocks. These highlight features of the amendment are aimed at promoting ease of doing business and ensuring continuous supply of minerals to industries, both of which shall eventually reduce the import quantities eventually. These changes will also lead to an increase in participation and will facilitate implementation of the FDI policy in this sector.

Since coal is responsible for 72% of the power generated in India and is also the basic building block for manufactured products and many agri-inputs, it is safe to say that this industry plays a pivotal role in ensuring raw material and energy security for the nation. Hence, this is a positive step towards improving the general economic condition of the nation after it was hard by the current pandemic.

Salient features of the Bill

Apart from the highlighted features mentioned above, this amendment also makes other significant changes. All of the changes have been listed below:

  1. Presently, companies purchasing coal mines under Schedule II and Schedule III through auctions may only use the coal extracted for particular end-use purposes such as power generation and steel production. The Amendment lifts this constraint on the use of coal mined by these companies. Companies will be permitted to carry out coal mining operations for their own use, sale, or for some other reason, as the central government can decide. They can also use this coal at the plants of their subsidiaries.
  2. The Amendment clarifies that to participate in the auction of coal and lignite blocks, companies do not need to have previous coal mining experience in India. In addition, the preferential bidding process for auctioning coal and lignite blocks does not extend to mines considered for allocation to firstly, a government company or its joint venture for own use, sale or any other defined purpose; and secondly, a company which has been awarded an electricity project on the basis of a competitive tariff offer.
  3. Presently, to prospect and mine coal, two licences are provided, known as prospecting and mining licence respectively. However, a third type of licence is added by this amendment which includes the lessee to prospect and mine coal, called the prospecting license-cum-mining lease.
  4. The holders of non-exclusive reconnaissance permits for the discovery of identified minerals do not currently have the ability to acquire a prospecting license or mining lease. Reconnaissance operations include initial prospecting of a mineral by certain surveys. The Amendment provides that holders of these permits can apply for a license-cum-mining lease or mining lease for prospecting purposes. This clause shall extend to all licensees as laid down in the Amendment.
  5. Upon expiry, mining leases for specified minerals (minerals other than iron, lignite, and atomic minerals) will usually be passed to new people by auction. These new people are expected to obtain statutory clearances before mining operations commence. The Amendment specifies that for a term of two years, the various permits, licenses and clearances granted to the previous lessee shall be transferred to the effective bidder.
  6. In some cases the CMSP Act allows for the termination of coal mining allotment orders. The Amendment adds that these mines may be reallocated by auction or allocation as the central government can decide. A designated custodian would be named by the central government to oversee those mines until they are reallocated.
  7. State governments need prior central government approval under the MMDR Act to issue recognition permits, prospecting licenses, or coal and lignite mining leases. The amendment specifies that, in certain situations, prior central government approval would not be necessary to issue certain coal and lignite licenses. Those include situations where, firstly, the central government has made the allocation, and secondly, the federal or state governments have reserved the mining block for the protection of a resource.
  8. At the expiry of the lease term, mining leases for listed minerals (minerals other than iron, lignite, and atomic minerals) are auctioned under the MMDR Act. The Amendment provides that prior to its expiry, state governments can take advance action to auction a mining lease.

Reasons behind introduction of the Bill

In September 2019, the Government of India started the process of liberalizing the long-standing restrictions imposed on mining activities in India by enabling 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in coal mining operations to be sold. Nevertheless, the Coal Mine Act, 2015 (Coal Mines Act) and the Mines and Minerals Act, 1957 (MMDRA) continued to include end-use limits on minerals mined from a large number of coal mines, which did not bode well for attracting investment.  In addition, firstly, reduced demand for power from conventional sources; secondly, decreased growth in the cement, iron and steel sectors; and thirdly, approval processes resulted in a scenario where, even if mines were allocated, mineral extraction would be limited and the development of mines stagnated. By way of the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020, amendments were made to the Coal Mines Act and the MMDRA in order to address the same and to provide operational flexibility for persons engaged in mining.

Pralhad Joshi, minister of coal and mines said the bill was necessary as India would use its own natural reserves, rather than importing Rs 2.7 lakh crore-value coal. “We need to produce coal and reduce imports,” he said adding more domestic production would lead to more generation of electricity and cut bills for oil imports as well. “The amendments would open up new growth areas in the industry,” he added. The law would introduce a “sea shift” in the industry Joshi said. The stress should be on reserve exploitation, without harming the environment. The government is proposing to kick-start this month’s commercial coal mining auction process, with release of bid rules and stakeholder consultations.

The minister said Coal India was tasked with producing one billion tons by 2023-24 but output will still fall short of demand and private players need to be introduced into coal mining. Joshi also said the amendment would help in gaining further interest in coal block auctions. In addition to mining majors such as Peabody, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the Government plans to draw investments from other Indian and global corporations too. For commercial coal mining auctions that the Center expects to conduct in the near future, the passage of this act is considered necessary. The automatic transfer of environment and forest clearances for iron-ore mines authorized by this legislation is intended to ensure domestic industry supplies of raw materials.

Critical analysis

Major Concerns about the Amendment itself:

No guarantee is provided that these amendments will allow large multinational miners to invest in India’s coal sector. This may be because pricing is not obvious. Few will be able to invest trillions of dollars in the new mining technologies without a remunerative offer. On top of that, miners actually have to pay large sums in order to get a mine after winning an auction. Regardless of this, auction bidders just don’t exist. Coal also has a ‘dirty fuel’ stigma and only a few multinational lenders are willing to put their money into the field.

Other Relevant Concerns:

  1. Although many countries are moving away from fossil fuels, especially coal, to fight climate change, India is stepping up its demand in this field, putting the environment in danger.
  2. It allows for an increase in rivalry in the mining industry, paving the way for increasing chances of resource overexploitation.
  3. Fostering the development of the coal sector is jeopardizing India’s Paris Agreement commitments.
  4. There are also health issues with mining sector growth as carbon-burning releases particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and mercury, and this will endanger the health of people living in the region.
  5. Private businesses have a tremendous potential to compromise labor standards to increase their income and increased production costs. It can impact employee safety and wellness.

Probable future of the Bill

During the course of the most recent couple of years, exploration by private players has almost reached a stand still. Interventions, for example, introducing a seam­less transition from exploration to mining license, permitting the offer of license at any stage, and allowing private companies to proactively approach administration of India for exploration areas will help over­turn this pattern.

Streamlining the auction procedure will likewise prompt more prominent efficiency and increasingly effective outcomes.

Min­ing companies in India are subject to a lot of higher financial demands than different nations, (because of high royalty rates, multiplicity of duties and double taxation). Thus, royalty rates ought to be reduced in accordance with international benchmarks.

The government should ascertain that all policy interventions take cognisance of rising worldwide patterns in mining, for example, savvy mines, remote ocean mining and the changing composition of the mining workforce.

Conclusion

The amendments are an appreciated step towards the progression of the mining part and attracting the genuinely necessary outside speculation. While the Ordinance is a positive decision to give operational proficiency, the conforming rules and bidding procedures must be evaluated in detail to guarantee that these liberal steps according to the Ordinance are safeguarded and given full impact. The changed approach will permit worldwide players to search for venture openings which will permit the nation to use their specialized abilities for successful usage of regular assets to support individuals on the loose.

Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020 is a noteworthy decision towards encouraging simplicity of working together and expanding the commitment of private players in the mining segment. As this additionally advances the development of coal creation inside the nation, it expands coal utilization. This, thus, leads to an upsurge in pollution levels and other detrimental effects on the earth. Hence, steps must be taken to protect the earth while guaranteeing the financial development of the nation.

Author: Kabir Chaturvedi from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Analysis: UN World Water Development Report

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

UN World Water Development Report 2020 or UN-WWDR, compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in association with the inter-agency mechanism on water and cleanliness issues called the UN-Water, was released online on 22nd March, 2020, which is observed as International World Water Day every year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the launch event which was scheduled to be held in Geneva on 23rd March, 2020 has been postponed.

UN-WWDR is the official, theme-based “flagship report” of the United Nations Organization that engages in analysis of the state and conditions of the global freshwater resources, projecting an extensive and authentic representation of the same. Its primary objective is to provide an apparatus to decision-makers for the preparation and execution of the sustainable water policies. Originally conceived as a triennial report in 1998 by the Sixth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development that recognised the necessity for a regular and periodic evaluation of the international freshwater resources, the first report was released in the year 2003.

For the first four editions, the report was published triennially when in 2012, the decision was taken for the revision and improvisation of the report, making it more fact-intensive, concise yet all comprehensive in nature with a focussed thematic approach to its readers. The annual publication of the report commenced from 2014 and is continuing till date.

Significance of World Water Development Report 2020

The World Water Development Report 2020, titled and themed “Water and Climate Change”, focuses on the impact of sustainable conservation and management of the limited global water resources on tackling climate change issues faced by the entire world. There is a direct correlation of climate change with water, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Water is an essential need of human beings, and its unceasing exploitation because of factors emanating out of climate change crisis can lead to grave deprivation of “basic human rights to water and sanitation” for possibly billions of people worldwide. The rapid changes which are been observed in the water cycle poses jeopardies for “energy production, food security, human health, economic development and poverty reduction, thus seriously jeopardizing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Keeping in perspective the aforementioned issues, the UN-WWDR 2020 emphasizes on the difficulties, prospects and probable responses to climate change, “in terms of adaptation, mitigation and improved resilience that can be addressed through improving water management.”

Salient features of the report

The major and key takeaways, based on the “Main Messages” of UN-WWDR 2020 released simultaneously, can be enlisted as follows:

  1. Water is regarded as “climate connector” that facilitates enhanced association and harmonization across major goals for “sustainable development (2030 Agenda and its SDGs), climate change (Paris Agreement) and disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework).” The report proposes that the interlinkage of these three could help incorporate the climate change issues into other SDGs.
  2. Major emphasis has been given on the importance of corresponding policies of “Adaptation and Mitigation” for the supervision and reduction in the perils of climate change through water. Greenhouse gas emissions could actually be decreased by the accurate implementation of “water efficiency measures” which have an unswerving impact on energy savings.
  3. It has been well accepted that water-related plans are mostly included merely as policy statements or wide strategies, and are often kept out of the Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs which are submitted by individual countries in pursuance of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  4. The gross insufficiency of financial funds for the water intervention plans such as those for management, sanitation and supply and the necessity of increased attention from different governments across the world is well recognised in the report. In the ‘Main Messages’ released for the report, it is mentioned that “although there are significant sources available from the Climate Change funds, most of that has been earmarked for mitigation, and has thus not been available for financing water interventions which have generally been considered from an adaptation perspective.”
  5. The need of technological innovation has been recognised in the report, which proposes the promotion of advanced research and development and speeding up the execution of the already existing knowledge and technology across the world. Scientific technologies like satellite-based earth observation and remote sensing, when supported with “national statistics, field-based observations and numerical simulation models” can greatly contribute to the comprehensive assessment of climate change impacts related to water.
  6. The report embraced the measures of adaptation and mitigation through water as a “triple win proposal” as firstly, it helps contribute towards the achievement of SDGs. Secondly, there is an explicit addressal of the issues of climate change. Lastly, there is a discussion on the protection of basic human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and it is valuable for the maintainable supervision of water resources.

WWDR on the situation of India

According to the World Water Development Report ’20, by the year 2050, more than 52% of the human population will be living in water-stressed regions. The worst affected would be the mountainous, tropical, island and extreme north-located nations. India, home to more than a dozen Himalayan states and bisected into two halves by the Tropic of Cancer should definitely be alarmed with the findings of the report. The report also estimated the extreme impoverishment of a 100 million people by 2030. India Spend, an India based “agency of record”, reported in 2017 that how over 7 states in the country are already affected by the erratic variations in the rain cycle, and this is impacting industries like fisheries and agriculture. It was also reported by them in December 2019 that out of 181 countries, India is the fifth-most susceptible nation to the dangers of climate change.

Regional cooperation has been mentioned in the report, particularly by analysis of NDCs of various countries. As far as India’s NDCs are concerned, they do contain references for improvisation of wastewater treatment and ramping up of water supply to urban areas.

According to the report, in the last 100 years, there has been a six-fold increase in the water consumption levels across the world, and there is a steady one percent increment in the same per year. Additionally, it was also reported that how poor water management aggravates the climate change problems. The report also estimated that across the world, approximately 80% to 90% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment.

The tropical zones are predicted to be affected the worst in future because of these climate change issues since majority of the developing world countries are located here. These countries, with their maximum population being economically poor and vulnerable and the absence of suitable responsive mechanism, are most vulnerable. The effects of climate change on the accessibility of water resources over time affect the impoverished excessively through its impact on sectors like “agriculture, fisheries, health and natural disasters”, the report noted. Amongst these, the main sufferers are women and girls, who get to face discrimination in the access to water, cleanness and hygiene, widening gender disparities and risking their health, well‐being, incomes and education.

Abou Amani, the coordinator of the report observed, “Women in developing countries play a key role in water management. Women will be among those people who will be impacted by the issue of water stress.” In another study undertaken by IndiaSpend in March 2020, similar results were obtained in the Himalayan towns across four countries, including India. The UN report also added that the indigenous people and tribes are also quite susceptible to effects of climate change as their systems, totally adaptable to environment, in all probability will not be able to resist the external damages.

While financing has been accepted as a key feature in this year’s report, it was well acknowledged by Amani, “Developing countries are facing issues related to lack of investment. They have the lack of means to mobilise the resources.” India, being a developing country, is privy to all these vulnerabilities and should strive for better, far-fetched and cutting edged policies and take up this cause with more seriousness.

Schemes regarding water resources in India

The apex policy ‘think tank’ of the Government of India, NITI Aayog, has already acknowledged that the country is in the midst of a major water crisis and if precautionary steps are not taken with earnestness, the demand for drinkable water will exceed its supply by the year 2030. Moreover, the Think Tank in its Composite Water Management Index 2.0 released in 2019 sensitised about the surge in excessive and inefficient usage of water resources. As a response to the mounting water crisis in the country, a combined Ministry of Jal Shakti was introduced by the NDA-2 government in May 2019. The government also focuses on “Nal se Jal” scheme which intends to deliver potable water to every rural household by the year 2024.

The proposal to revise and update the National Water Policy with crucial amendments in the water governance structure and regulatory framework has been passed by the government. The last NWP or National Water Policy was introduced by the UPA-II government in the year 2012. After 8 years, there are definitely substantial changes which need to be catered to and “prioritization of the water usage needs to be defined”. There are also plans to establish a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency under the new NWP.

Analysing the recent schemes rolled out by the present regime, it can be concluded that the government of the day is majorly focusing on ground water and rain water harvesting. Government of India has enunciated Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal Jal), a Rs. 6000 Crore Central Sector Scheme, for “sustainable management of ground water resources with community participation in water stressed blocks of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh”.

NITI Aayog in 2018 also released a “Strategy for New India @75” which enlisted and elucidated the objectives of 2022-23. In the same document, the section on “water resources” laid down the objectives “to facilitate water security so as to safeguard suitable availability of water for life, agriculture, economic development, ecology and environment.” However, the document was a failure because there was not much novelty and it was a mere repetition of already failed ideas and did not recognise the key priority areas.

Similarly, Jan Shakti Ministry has got limited role to play when it comes to handling of the water crisis situation in the country without the participation of the people. The Groundwater (Sustainable Management) Bill, 2017, which was drafted by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, has completely gone off the table and is forgotten. What’s required for tackling India’s water issues are the already prevailing knowledge, requisite technology and current funds. NITI Aayog has prescribed only an extension of past failed policies. There is a need for India’s water establishment to accept that the strategy pursued so far has not worked. Only then can a realistic vision emerge.

Conclusion

As Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has rightly observed, “Water does not need to be a problem – it can be part of the solution [to the climate crisis]. Water can support efforts to both reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.”

This is the general pervasive rationale present throughout the entire World Water Development Report of the present year. It aptly points out the requirement for investing concerted efforts to address rising water stress and enhancing the efficiency of water usage in sectors like agriculture and industries. It delves into the aspect of regional cooperation and plans out the methods by which different continents and geographical blocs of the world can contribute to the cause. The report does not only merely propose a namesake argument about the importance of science and technology in water management issues but also suggests methods to boost the advantages practically.

More than anything, it calls for the inevitability of adequate investments and funding for the suitable implementation of the proposals offered. In the process, the possibility of human rights violations and the impact of possible events arising out of climate change convulsions on the developing, poor economies has also been appropriately represented in the report.  In and all, it offers pragmatic solutions and showcases a comprehensive association of both the burning issues of global interest that are there to vex the world for the coming decades. 

Author: Dhawal Srivastava from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala.

Editor: Sweksha from Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Explained: Functioning of NIA

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

Last month, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh alleged that the actions of the Central Government directed the National Investigation Agency to investigate the offenses committed regarding Bhima Koregaon case was against the Constitution. He condemned the Central Government of not receiving the consent of the Maharashtra Government before transferring the investigation to the agency.

He stated that the case was closely tied to sensitive issues and the Maharashtra Government was probing the case to find the root of the matter. Suspicion was also stated by the minister as the investigation was in the process and there was no apparent reason the Central Government to act in such a way.

Significance of this development

When the investigation of the case is transferred to the National Investigation Agency, the State Government and police officers under the government cannot continue the investigation. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had stated that the action of the Central Government is questionable as the right to investigate the issue was suddenly taken away from the Maharashtra Government.

The reaction of Maharashtra Government can be seen as questioning the possibility of the Central Government misusing the power the Centre has regarding the NIA system and need to justify for taking away the right to investigate the issue from the State Government.

What is NIA?

The National Investigation Agency is an agency established by the Government of India which came to existence on December 31st, 2008 when the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 was enacted. It is headquartered in New Delhi, and its branches are located in Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. It works as a central agency that enforces counter-terrorism laws and prosecutes offenses that fall under Scheduled Offences specified by the Act.

The agency aims to investigate and prosecute offenses which potentially affect security, sovereignty and integrity of India, and its foreign relations, smuggling of large quantities of counterfeit Indian currency, and atomic or nuclear facilities. NIA also takes responsibility for implementing international treaties or agreements made in the United Nations or other international organizations to facilitate international procedures.

The goals of NIA are to uphold the values inscribed in the Constitution and abide by the law while facilitating the process of investigation and prosecution for an effective and speedy trial. NIA seeks to keep a professional relationship with governments of States and Union and other law enforcement organizations to maximize the effectiveness of cooperation through assisting them with investigations in terror cases and working as a database of all terrorists related information. 

The powers and functions of NIA

National Investigation Agency is established to fight back terrors and investigate various offenses. For the agency to properly carry out its duties, it is necessary for the agency to be empowered to investigate and prosecute without unnecessary intervention of the third parties. National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 empowers the agency to investigate and prosecute. Chapter III of the NIA Act empowers the agency to investigate offences, when the agency is directed by the Central Government.

The State Government may also request Central Government to transfer the investigation to NIA. Once the investigation is transferred to the agency, the State Government and police officers under the government cannot proceed with the investigation and it is their duty to transfer all the relevant documents and data to the agency.

For the investigation of the case, officers of the agency will have same powers of the police officers with the investigation across India. The power of the agency will also have power to investigate matters outside India subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. The agency can also into offenses that are potentially connected with the offences under the Scheduled Offence list.

As for the prosecution of NIA, the agency can prosecute scheduled offences committed through Special Courts of NIA. Special Courts, which are constituted along with the appointment of a judge by Central Government and State Government from the recommendation list provided by the Chief Justice of the High Court, have all powers of the court of sessions provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

When there are any questions regarding the jurisdiction of Special Courts, it can be referred to the Central Government and depending on the discretion of the Centre, Special Courts will have jurisdictions over such cases. Further, trials held in Special Courts will have precedence over any other trials held in courts that are not Special Court. Special Courts can also hold the trial for the offenses that are connected to the Scheduled Offences, which is provided under section 14 of the NIA Act. The trial will be carried out with the presence of a public prosecutor who will be appointed by the Central Government.

Allocations of cases to NIA

Cases are allocated to National Investigation Agency through the process of informing the higher administrative bodies until it reaches the Central Government. The local police station can inform the State Government about the case relating to Scheduled Offence which can be then forwarded to the Central Government. If the Central Government finds it to be Scheduled Offence within 15 days, the Central Government can allocate the case to NIA for investigation. Moreover, a case can be transferred from one Special Court to another.

The transfer of such cases can be done by both Supreme Court and High Court, with latter restricted to within that specific state. NIA Act has enabled the transfer of cases between Special Courts to ensure that the case is investigated and heard by the most appropriate Special Court. It has also ensured that trial of Special Courts take priority over trials in courts that are not Special Courts as cases Special Courts prosecute often are very important or serious incidents.

Relevant landmark cases

The case of State of Maharashtra vs Ravi Dhiren and Ors. is one of the important cases heard by Special Court. The case was prosecuted against the group of criminals who tried to transport large quantity of counterfeit Indian currency. The court stated that such acts threaten the unity, integrity security and sovereignty of the country and thus needs to be halted, which is specifically the reason for the existence of NIA.

The Special Court refers specifically to the evidence provided by NIA to convict the criminals. The evidence produced by NIA is documents and data collected from letters or testimonies or organizations such as banks. This case proves that NIA plays a vital role in trials held by Special Courts as the court refers to the evidence collected by the agency. It is the case that proved the function of NIA and the reason for its existence.

Conclusion

National Investigation Agency is an independent institution that combats terrors and other crimes which endangers security, integrity, and sovereignty of the country. Although there is dependency on the Central Government as the Centre has the discretion to transfer the case to the agency, NIA Act allows effective and speedy trial through enabling transfer of cases to ensure the issue is dealt by the most appropriate Special Court while enabling reasonable intervention of Supreme Court and High Court for the matter of equity.

Author: Byeongwoo Park from National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala