Is the Swachh Sarvekshan Survey effective?; IMF: Increasing Coal tax will reduce deaths and inrease GDP; Pollution of Nilgiris and more…

GS III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Higher Coal Tax May benefit economy: IMF

It will boost GDP, cut mortality.

  • India has introduced the Clean Environment Cess on coal i.e. on production and imports, amounting to INR 400 ($6.00) per ton of coal in 2016.
  • As per an IMF paper “Reforming Energy Policy in India: Assessing the Options”, an annual ₹150 per tonne increase in tax on coal from 2017 to 2030 could:
    • prevent over 2.7 lakh deaths from air pollution;
    • raise GDP by 1% by 2030;
    • reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12% and
    • generate net economic benefits of about 1% of GDP.

IMF Report

  • Revenues from broader taxes on labor, capital, and consumption are insufficient due to a large concentration of economic activity occurring in the informal sector hence fossil fuel taxes can provide a significant source of easily-collected revenue.
  • Moreover, outdoor air pollution from fossil and non-fossil sources prematurely killed an estimated 0.53 people per 1,000 of the population in 2010 in India, or about 6.5 lakh in total.
  • Reflecting domestic health costs in fossil fuel prices promotes a more efficient allocation of India’s scarce resources, by helping to curb use of polluting fuels that would otherwise be excessive.
  • If there are political constraints on higher coal prices, the tax might be supplemented with a tax/subsidy scheme to strengthen switching away from coal generation.
    • In India’s case subsidies for kerosene and LPG already exist.

Conclusion :

Indian policy makers must view this report in consideration to the promises made in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)  at the Paris Summit in 2015. The highlight of the INDC is to:

Reduce emission intensity by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

To achieve this, fiscal measures by way of increasing carbon tax in a gradual and phased manner by way of educating the stakeholders such as villagers, businessmen, investors etc. (For eg: how a small increase in the rate of coal tax annually would mean more investments made in hospitals, schools etc in their district) may prove to be effective.

Source: The Hindu, IMF Working Paper

Prelims Facts

GS I: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanisation, their problems and remedies.

Rise and fall of Swachh cities.

Their ranking is heavily influenced by public feedback.

Swachh Survekshan 2017

Illustration: Swachh Survekshan Survey Result 2017


  • Cities are the engines of growth and urban India contribute to about 70% of country’s GDP.
  • Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) started the “Swachh Survekshan” survey to foster a healthy competition between cities for improving cleanliness standards.
  • Launched in January 2016 to assess 73 major cities in India (comprising 40% of India’s total urban population) – including 53 cities with a population of above 10 lakhs each, and state capitals.
  • The performance evaluation is conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body established by Government of India in 1997 for Quality assurance in all spheres of activities including Governance.
  • Objectives of the mission include:
    1.Elimination of open defecation.
    2.Eradication of manual scavenging.
    3.Modern and Scientific Municipal Solid Waste Management.
    4.To effect behavioral change regarding healthy sanitation practices.
    5.Generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health.
    6.Capacity Augmentation for Urban Local Bodies (ULB). (Increase and optimal use of resources)
    7.To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operation and maintenance).
  • Survey Methodology:
    • Total Score: 2000 Marks
    • Distribution:
      • Self Assessment by Municipalities (1000 Marks)
        • Swachh Bharat parameters.png
      • Independent Observation (500 marks)
        • As part of direct observation, the whole municipal jurisdiction was divided into 4 zones. Assessors visited the following places in each zone in each city:
          » Zone 1: Slum areas : informal settlements and urban villages
          across the different parts of the city.
          » Zone 2: Neighbourhoods (non-slum locations) including:
          •Planned colony under municipal jurisdiction
          •Unplanned colony
          » Zone 3: Commercial/Main public locations:
          •Main market area
          •Religious Places
          »Zone 4: Bulk waste generators: hotels, banquet halls, weekly vegetable market areas (one of them)
          »Community Toilets (2 community toilet complexes in each zone)
          »Public Toilets (2 public toilet complexes in each zone).
        • Additionally, assessors also visited the following places under each municipality:
          •Main Bus Station
          •Main Railway Station
      • Citizen Feedback Data (500 Marks): Sample of 1000 surveys or 0.1% of the population with 6 questions asked on cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene.
        • This seemed to be the main reason for Chandigarh slipping from the 2nd position last year to the 11th.
        • Citizen participation from Hyderabad was the highest among all metros.
  • Conclusion:
    • The survey offers a comprehensive assessment of the level of cleanliness, and the respective Municipal Corporation’s level of preparedness in urban India.
    • It will help the ULB in assessing their performance vis-a-vis other ULBs and identify areas of improvement.
    • The findings will also enable the ULBs to learn about best practices being implemented in other cities and to adopt them, tailored to their own requirements.
    • An effective reform involves a sustained and knowledge based process that requires benchmarking, consultation, sharing of information and most importantly monitoring and evaluation.
    • Citizen engagement makes it a democratic process and checks municipal bodies from over-rating themselves.


  • An analysis done by Centre For Science And Environment on the results of the Swachh Survekshan, 2017 shows that the top 3 cities in the survey – Indore, Bhopal and Vishakhapatnam – have adopted environmentally unsustainable practices for waste management.
  • The cities are focussing on collection of unsegregated waste and transporting it to landfills, with a very minimal quantum of waste being processed.
  • All three cities are dumping unsegregated waste. These cities are, therefore, not meeting the statutory requirements of the Municipal Solid Waste Rules (MSW Rules), 2016.
  • The MSW Rules, 2016 clearly state that waste needs to be segregated into three categories at the household level – wet, dry and domestic hazardous waste.

  • Further the Rules stipulate that waste to energy plants shall not burn mixed waste. The Rules also put disposal at landfills as the least preferred option.

  • Cities that are working towards household-level segregation and decentralised recycling and reuse of waste have been given very poor ranking. Alappuzha (Kerala), which has a decentralised model for waste management, ranks 380th.Panjim city, which has adopted five point segregation, ranks 90th.

  • Both Alappuzha and Panjim have no landfill sites or waste-to-energy incineration plants. Most of their waste is converted into compost or biogas.

  • Inorganic wastes like plastic, glass, metals and papers  are sent for recycling.

  • These cities make money from solid wastes rather than spending crores in collecting and transporting wastes to landfills. Still, Swachh Survekshan 2017 has not given any recognition to these cities.

Facts to remember:

  • First Open Defecation Free Village: Girja Tola, Odisha
  • First Open Defecation Free City: Mysuru, Karnataka
  • First Open Defecation Free State: Sikkim followed by Himachal Pradesh and then Kerala

Image Source:

Source: The Hindu,, Down To Earth

GS III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Nilgiris rivers hit by pollution: Study

‘Domestic and industrial pollutants in water bodies are a threat to people’

  • World Wildlife Fund – India : The study analyzed two areas of concern – the Kallar River and the Bhavani river at Mettupalayam, besides Ooty Lake, Pykara and Moyar affected by domestic and industrial pollutants and pose a threat to both people and animals dependent on their waters.Water Pollution.png
  • In the Kallar, the study found five million litres per day (MLD) of sewage released from Coonoor town going into the river in the absence of infrastructure to treat the waste.
  • Coliform bacteria in the Kallar river was 14 times higher than Central Pollution Control Board norms.
  • The presence of coliform bacteria indicates the dumping of faecal matter.
  • Apart from sewage inflow into the Kallar, the Cordite Factory in Aravankadu, which manufactures nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine for defence, was found to be a source of pollution, discharging its process effluent into a small stream, eventually reaching Kallar River.
  • Coliform bacteria levels in Ooty Lake were even higher than in the Kallar River even though Ooty has Sewage Treatment Plant. Clearly, it has far exceeded its capacity.
  • The Pykara Lake empties directly into the Moyar river and indirectly, through underground piping, the Singara river. Both rivers are lifelines for Mukurthi National Park, Mudumalai National Park, Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.


Note to students: Check atlas to locate rivers, towns, National Parks and Reserves.

Image Source: Google Maps

Source: The Hindu

GS III: Role of external state and non state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Security forces hunt for ultras in Shopian district
Drones, choppers used in 12 villages in eight-hour operation

  • Due to heightened militancy observed in Shopian District of South Kashmir, an 8 hour counter-insurgency operation was conducted by the armed forces.
  • Terrorists outfits namely Hizbul Mujahideen and Laskar-e-Taiba hold sway in the districts.

More locals take to militancy.

Once zero-militancy districts, Srinagar and Ganderbal are home to 23 ultras now.

  • At least 224 militants are active in central, south and north Kashmir.
  • These numbers are alarming because the ranks have swelled in the winter,
    when most passes on the Line of Control remain closed.
  • Only points to the swelling of militants internally i.e. local recruits.
  • Slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani infused new strength in the ranks by galvanising ground support in south Kashmir in 2013, after the hanging of the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Source: The Hindu

Prelim Facts

  • GSAT-9 was planned years ahead to augment Internet broadband and DTH activities within the country.
  • The communication spacecraft carries 12 Ku-band transponders that can drive telecommunication, disaster management, broadcasting and direct to home TV, Internet activities, tele-education and telemedicine across the region.
  • It was first announced as a SAARC Satellite by the Prime Minister in July 2014 and as India’s gift to regional neighbours.
  • After Pakistan declined to participate, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka remain in the plan to reap its uses.

2. Asia’s largest chilli yard is at Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

Source: The Hindu



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