1 . Ad hoc measures not enough to preserve Taj – SC
- Noting that temporary steps conceived in haste to conserve the Taj Mahal will only be counter-productive, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to prepare a comprehensive plan which will secure the world heritage site for the next century or more.
- A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur frowned upon the State government’s “haphazard” measures taken unilaterally and asked it to include experts in evolving a plan that will protect the Taj Trapezium Zone from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation.
- The court said the State should submit a vision document to preserve the Zone, spread over six districts of U.P. and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.
WHAT IS TAJ TRAPEZIUM ZONE ?
- Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) is a defined area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution.
- There are seven districts in the TTZ – Mathura , Aligarh , Hathras , Kasganj , Firozabad , Agra and Bharatpur.
- The Supreme Court of India delivered a ruling on December 30, 1996 regarding industries covered under the TTZ, in response to a PIL seeking to protect the Taj Mahal from environmental pollution.
- It banned the use of coal/ coke in industries located in the TTZ with a mandate for switching over from coal/ coke to natural gas, and relocating them outside the TTZ or shutting down.
- The TTZ comprises over 40 protected monuments including three World Heritage Sites- the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
- TTZ is so named since it is located around the Taj Mahal and is shaped like a trapezoid.
2 . India enters Wassenaar Arrangement
- After its entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime in June 2016, India was on Thursday (7th Dec 2017) admitted as the 42nd member of the Wassenaar Arrangement – a global grouping that regulates transfer and access to conventional weapons and dual-use technologies.
- In the coming months, India expects to be included in the Australia Group as well, leaving the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – where it faces stiff opposition from China – as the last non-proliferation regime that India expects to enter.
- This is the second of four non-proliferation regimes India has joined after the India-US nuclear deal was cleared.
- The important aspect of three out of the four regimes is that China is not a member of them except for the NSG.
- The formal application to Wassenaar was made by India in 2016, although the work to align Indian rules and munitions lists to Wassenaar rules began in 2014.
SIGNIFICANCE FOR INDIA
- India’s membership to MTCR opened doors for its space programme and its ability to source high-end missile systems and technologies as well as surveillance drones.
- The Wassenaar membership is important for India, giving it a leg up as a responsible player in the world of dual-use goods and technologies and transfer of conventional arms.
- It gives India an important voice in shaping global response to regional and global security developments, advances in technology and market trends
- India’s membership (in Wassenaar Arrangement) is expected to facilitate high technology tie-ups with Indian industry and ease access to high tech items for our defence and space programmes.
- The membership would create the grounds for realignment of India in the export control policy framework or other WA members, including eligibility for certain licensing exemptions.
WHAT IS WASSENAAR ARRANGEMENT ?
- The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 42 participating states .
- The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
- Participating states seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.