Indian Express Editorial Analysis
06 December 2021

1) My right to breathe

GS3: Environment & Pollution related


Context:

  • The author talks about Delhi's pollution.

Editorial Insights:

  • Every year (in the recent past) arrival of winter marks the arrival of nightmares for Delhi.

    • Because in current winter millions in the NCR choking in the gas chamber & gasping for the fresh air.

  • Against this backdrop, the author talks about the few steps to tackle Delhi's pollution.

Delhi Pollution:

  • As per the World Air Quality Index Project, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) during Nov 1-15 is the worst at 312 compared to other global cities like Beijing, Canberra, etc.

  • Further India has much deeper raising doubts about the quality of its urbanization because among the 30 most polluted cities in the world 22 are in India.

  • Recently MoEFCC has submitted a report to the UNFCCC regarding factors of pollution:

    • Energy generation (largely coal-based) major culprit that has a 44% share in GHG emissions.
    • Manufacturing & Construction 18%,
    • Agriculture 14%,
    • Transport 13%,
    • Industrial processes & product use 8%,
    • Waste burning 3%.
  • Further, the reasons for poor air quality for Delhi as per SAFAR is:

    • 30% was due to stubble burning,
    • 22% transport,
    • 18% external burning,
    • 12% industries,
    • 4% bio-fuels,
    • 8% dust &
    • 6% others.

Steps & Challenges:

  • India to replace coal in energy generation, solar & wind is the way to go.

    • In this regard, the Indian PM has committed that 50% of India’s energy will be from renewable sources by 2030.

      • However Indian solar energy model is heavily tilted towards corporate solar farms, whereby setting up large solar farms on degraded or less fertile lands.

      • Though the current solar farms are efficient in producing energy, experts vie that govt needs encourage fixing solar trees in fertile land at equal spacing & at a height of 10 feet.

      • The benefit is that solar trees become the third crop for the farmers earning them regular income throughout the year.

      • The projects like Delhi’s Ujwa KVK land will help farmers go for solar farming & help in achieving the ambitious doubling farmers income by 2022-23.

  • Tackling the stubble burning:

    • The Centre needs to sit down with neighboring states & come up with a plan

    • to reduce the rice area in the Punjab-UP-Haryana belt which is already :

      • depleting the water table,

      • creating methane & nitrous oxide,

    • to incentivize farmers to switch to other crops through better returns tan in rice cultivation.

  • Tackling Vehicular Pollution:

    • India needs a massive drive towards electric vehicles (EVs) & later towards green hydrogen when it becomes competitive with fossil fuels.

    • Scaling up, EVs quickly demands creating charging stations on a war footing like the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

    • At the same time, lawmakers need to expedite the process by changing the rules & regulations & providing upfront subsidies on EVs.

  • Lastly, Delhi also needs a good carbon sink by rejuvenating the ridge area with dense forests & developing thick forests on both sides of the Yamuna.

Concluding Remarks:

It is high time for all the stakeholders to take up the responsibility in tackling Delhi pollution. Without robust, resilient & rigorous policy & mechanism, tackling Delhi’s pollution sustainably is difficult.

 

1) What’s in ART, Surrogacy Bills?

GS2: Health Related


Context:

  • The author talks about ART & Surrogacy Bills.

Editorial Insights:

  • Recently, LokSabha passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020, which makes provisions for the safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology (ART) services in the country.

  • In 2019 another bill to safeguard the reproductive rights of women i.e. the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha.

    • However, the Select Committee, recommended that the ART Bill should be brought first, so that all the highly technical and medical aspects could subsequently be addressed in the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019.

Difference between Both:

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill relates to surrogacy, an infertility treatment, where a third person, a woman, is the surrogate mother.

    • In ART, treatments can be availed by the commissioning couple themselves and it is not always necessary that a third person is involved.

  • Surrogacy is allowed for only Indian married couples. A 2015 notification prohibits the commissioning of surrogacy in India by foreigners or OCI or PIO cardholders, but NRIs holding Indian citizenship can avail of surrogacy

    • ART procedures are open to married couples, live-in partners, single women, and also foreigners. Foreigners can visit India under medical tourism to avail ART services.

  • Under the Surrogacy Bill, there will be a National Surrogacy Board that will be involved in policymaking and act as a supervisory body, and State Boards that will act as executive bodies.

    • The ART Bill provides for a National Board, with the powers vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure.

Need for ART Bill:

  • The growth of ART clinics in India is among the highest in the world, and these are a key part of medical tourism which offers from gamete donation to pre-implantation genetic diagnostic.

  • India does not have standard protocols for ART clinics yet. Against this backdrop,  Lok Sabha passed the Bill that provides for regulation and supervision of ART clinics and ART banks.

Features of ART Bill:

  • Under the Bill, ART will include all techniques that attempt to obtain a pregnancy by handling the sperm or the oocyte outside the human body, and transferring the gamete or the embryo into the reproductive system of a woman.

  • It defines an ART bank as an organization set up to supply sperm or semen, oocytes, or oocyte donors to ART clinics or their patients.

  • Regulatory Mechanism:

    • NATIONAL BOARD:

      • It will advise the Centre on policy matters.

      • It will review and monitor rules and regulations, and recommend any changes.

      • It will set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks. State boards will coordinate the implementation of the guidelines.

    • NATIONAL REGISTRY:

      • It will have a central database on all clinics and banks in the country, including the nature and types of services provided, and the outcome of these services.

      • The registry will provide the data to National Board for making policies and guidelines.

    • REGISTRATION AUTHORITY’s functions will include:

      • to grant, suspend, or cancel the registration of ART centers;

      • to enforce the standards and supervise the implementation of the law;

      •  to investigate complaints of any breach of provisions, to take legal action against the misuse of ART and initiate independent investigations; and

      • to recommend to the National and State Boards on modifying the regulation with changes in technology and social conditions.

  • Clinics have to comply with rules:

    • They have to ensure that the commissioning couples & donors of gametes are eligible for ART procedures.

    • They will have to provide professional counseling about all the implications & chances of success & inform the couples about the outcomes.

    • They will have to establish a grievance cell.

    • The clinics shall not perform any treatment or procedure without the written consent of all the parties seeking ART.

    • The Bill mandates insurance coverage in favor of the oocyte donor by the commissioning couple.

  • Other Rules & Regulations:

    • The woman cannot be treated with gametes or embryos derived from more than one man or woman during one treatment cycle.

    • A clinic cannot mix semen from two individuals for the procedures.

    • The embryos shall not be split and used for twinning to increase the number.

    • Also, there will be regulations for the harvest of oocytes or embryos, and the number of oocytes or embryos that may be placed in the uterus of a woman during the treatment cycle.

Concluding Remarks:

It is the need of the hour that India establish a robust & stringent ART ecosystem.