20, April 2018

Zinc–carbon battery

  • A zinc–carbon battery is a dry cell primary battery that delivers about 1.5 volts of direct current from the electrochemical reaction between zinc and manganese dioxide. A carbon rod collects the current from the manganese dioxide electrode, giving the name to the cell. A dry cell is usually made of a zinc can which also serves as the anode with a negative potential, while the inert carbon rod is the positive cathode. General purpose batteries may use an aqueous paste of ammonium chloride as electrolyte, possibly mixed with some zinc chloride solution. Heavy duty types use a paste primarily composed of zinc chloride.
  • Zinc–carbon batteries were the first commercial dry batteries, developed from the technology of the wet Leclanché cell. They made flashlights and other portable devices possible, because the battery can function in any orientation. They are still useful in low drain or intermittent use devices such as remote controls, flashlights, clocks or transistor radios. Zinc–carbon dry cells are single-use primary cells.

The Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan will strengthen the Panchayati Raj system across the country and address critical gaps that constrain its success. RGSA seeks to:

  • Enhance capacities and effectiveness of Panchayats and the Gram Sabhas;
  • Enable democratic decision-making and accountability in Panchayats and promote people’s participation;
  • Strengthen the institutional structure for knowledge creation and capacity building of Panchayats;
  • Promote devolution of powers and responsibilities to Panchayats according to the spirit of the Constitution and PESA Act;
  • Strengthen Gram Sabhas to function effectively as the basic forum of peoples participation, transparency and accountability within the Panchayat system;
  • Create and strengthen democratic local self-government in areas where Panchayats do not exist;
  • Strengthen the constitutionally mandated framework on which Panchayats are founded

  1. Environment Ministry frames new draft Coastal Regulation Zone Notification

Source: PIB

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has framed a new draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.  The draft notification has been uploaded on the Ministry’s website on April 18, 2018.  Comments have been sought from the public within 60 days of the uploading of the draft Notification

The salient features of the draft CRZ Notification, 2018 and changes with respect to CRZ Notification, 2011, are as under:-

  • The High Tide Line (HTL) has been demarcated by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) and shall be reckoned as a universal standard for the HTL for all regulatory purposes under the CRZ Notification, 2018.
  • Hazard line mapping has also been carried out by Survey of India. The Hazard Line has, however, been delinked from the CRZ regulatory regime and shall be used only as a tool for Disaster Management and planning of adaptive and mitigation measures.
  • CRZ limits on land along the tidal influenced water bodies has been proposed to be reduced from 100 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less, to 50 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less.
  • A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been proposed to be stipulated for all Islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land.
  • CRZ-III A – Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have an NDZ of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011.
  • CRZ-III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL
  • The procedure for CRZ clearances has been simplified and delegations have been made at various levels for recommending/according CRZ clearances to the projects/activities. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I & IV areas, shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the MoEF&CC.  For all other project activities located in CRZ-II/III areas, CRZ clearance shall be considered at the level of the CZMA.
  • As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen at 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the Draft CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been proposed to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects, as prevailing on the date of the new Notification.
  • Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have been proposed in Beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also proposed to be permissible in the No Development Zone (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas.
  • Wherever there is a National or State Level Highway passing through the NDZ in CRZ-III areas, temporary tourism facilities have been proposed to be taken up on the seaward site of the roads. On the landward side of such roads in the NDZ, Resorts/Hotels and other tourism facilities have also been proposed to be permitted subject to the extant regulations of the concerned State.
  • Regulated limestone mining is proposed to be permitted, subject to strict Environmental safeguards, in areas adequately above the height of HTL, based on recommendations of reputed National Institutes in the Mining field.

Key facts:

  • The relaxations/amendment proposed in the CRZ Notification, 2018 shall, however, come into force only after the respective Coastal Zone Management Programme (CZMP) framed to the CRZ Notification, 2011 have been revised/updated by the States/UTs, as per the provisions of the CRZ, 2018 Notification and approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
  • The MoEF&CC had received representations from various coastal states/UTs, besides other stakeholders, for a comprehensive review of the provisions of the CRZ Notification, 2011, particularly related to the management and conservation of marine and coastal eco-systems, development in coastal areas, eco-tourism, livelihood option and sustainable development of coastal communities etc.

  1. Uniform road tax

Source: PIB

A group of ministers (GoM) on transport constituted by the roads ministry has recommended a uniform road tax structure for vehicles across states.


  • The group was constituted to find a solution to the various problems plaguing the road sector in the country. It was also asked to suggest ways to improve road safety and facilitate ease of transport.

Important recommendations made:

  • One national bus and taxi permit: The GoM has recommended one national bus and taxi permit on the lines of permits for goods transporters. Public transport in the country is growing annually at a rate of just about 2%, as against a 20% annual growth in private transport. Therefore, a national permit will give the much-needed fillip to public transport and help reduce road congestion.
  • Boost to electric vehicles: The GoM proposed to liberalize the permit system for electric vehicles to promote alternative fuels. It suggested raising the tax on diesel vehicles by 2% while lowering the tax on electric vehicles.

Benefits of uniform road tax:

  • It will end the practice of people registering their vehicles in low-tax states and using them in other states. The move will also bring relief to consumers moving across states.
  • If the states agree to One Nation, One Permit, One Tax then the revenues of the states will increase. This will also reduce the chances of one operator taking a few permits and running a large number of buses.
  • It will also go a long way in improving the interstate transfer of used cars making the lengthy and rather a cumbersome process that exists today into a much more streamlined and less complicated one.
  • The One Nation – One Permit proposal will have farther fetching results. With an easier structure to transport goods across the country, the struggling road transport segment will see a most certain boost in morale, which could also lead to a reduction in prices of essential commodities like food, etc. The standardized permit will be an additional boost to the industry that already has seen a big improvement since GST came along and scrapped the state excise policies.

  1. Defence Planning Committee (DPC)

Source: The Hindu

The Centre has set up a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) chaired by National Security Advisor (NSA) to facilitate “comprehensive” planning for the defence forces besides focusing on military doctrines to deal with emerging security challenges.


  • The DPC will be a permanent body chaired by the National Security Advisor.

The committee will comprise:

  • National Security Advisor (NSA).
  • Foreign secretary.
  • Chairman of chiefs of staff committee.
  • The Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs.
  • Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
  • The chairman of the DPC can co-opt experts into it depending on requirement.

Functions of the committee:

  • Prepare drafts of national security strategy and doctrines, international defence engagement strategy and roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem.
  • Work on strategy to boost defence exports, and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.
  • Analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning and foreign policy imperatives besides focusing on defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans including the 15-year-long integrated perspective plan.
  • Work on development of Indian defence industry and technology advancements.

 Benefits of having DPC:

  • Because the Prime Minister’s Office, the defence ministry, the finance ministry and the three services are part of the same committee, decisions on military purchases could now happen much faster.


  • The DPC would submit its draft reports to the Defence Minister according to “given timelines” following which further approvals will be obtained as required.

Significance of the move:

  • While India does have a defence planning architecture in place, this is the first time it is creating a body that will factor in everything from foreign policy imperatives to operational directives and long-term defence equipment acquisition and infrastructure development plans to technological developments in other parts of the world while coming up with a plan.
  • The move, which is a significant change in India’s defence strategy architecture, comes as the country faces several potential threats in a highly militarised neighbourhood; is trying to balance budgetary constraints with its need for arms; and is working on increasing its own expertise in manufacturing and exporting defence equipment. Until now, defence planning has been synonymous with hardware acquisition.

  1. PIL misuse

Source: The Hindu

While rejecting a bath of PILs in a case, the Supreme Court has observed that Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been brazenly misused by people with political agenda and they pose a grave danger to the entire judicial process.


  • It is a travesty of justice for the resources of the legal system to be consumed by an avalanche of misdirected petitions purportedly filed in public interest that are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda. This has spawned an industry of vested interests in litigation.
  • Frivolous or motivated petitions, detract the time and attention that courts must devote to genuine causes. Besides, such petitions pose a grave danger to the credibility of the judicial process.
  • Also, PILs have been used to seek publicity, instituted at the behest of business or political rivals to settle scores behind the facade of public interest.


  • ‘Public Interest Litigation’ denotes a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest where the rights of an individual or a group have been affected.
  • In Public Interest Litigation (PIL) vigilant citizens of the country can find an inexpensive legal remedy because there is only a nominal fixed court fee involved in this.
  • Further, through the so-called PIL, the litigants can focus attention on and achieve results pertaining to larger public issues, especially in the fields of human rights, consumer welfare and environment.

Demerits of PIL:

  • The genuine causes and cases of public interest have in fact receded to the background and irresponsible PIL activists all over the country have started to play a major but not a constructive role in the arena of litigation. Of late, many of the PIL activists in the country have found the PIL as a handy tool of harassment since frivolous cases could be filed without investment of heavy court fees as required in private civil litigation and deals could then be negotiated with the victims of stay orders obtained in the so-called PILs.
  • The flexibility of procedure that is a character of PIL has given rise to another set of problems. It gives an opportunity to opposite parties to ascertain the precise allegation and respond specific issues.
  • The credibility of PIL process is now adversely affected by the criticism that the judiciary is overstepping the boundaries of its jurisdiction and that it is unable to supervise the effective implementation of its orders.
  • It has also been increasingly felt that PIL is being misused by the people agitating for private grievance in the grab of public interest and seeking publicity rather than espousing public cause.

 Way ahead:

  • PIL now does require a complete rethink and restructuring. Anyway, overuse and abuse of PIL can only make it stale and ineffective. Since it is an extraordinary remedy available at a cheaper cost to all citizens of the country, it ought not to be used by all litigants as a substitute for ordinary ones or as a means to file frivolous complaints.
  • It is, indeed, time that the PIL was reclaimed for its original constituents by limiting it to matters concerning the protection of fundamental rights of the disadvantaged and underprivileged. This would help restore the legitimacy and efficacy not only of the PIL as a means of providing access to justice to the poorest of the poor, but also of the judiciary as an institution.

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