As told to Parliament (February 8, 2023): No starvation death reported by states or UTs, Smriti Irani tells Rajya Sabha

All that was discussed in the House through the day

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 09 February 2023
संसद में आज:देश में लगभग 337 करोड़ लीटर की इथेनॉल उत्पादन क्षमता वाली 126 अनाज आधारित भट्टियां हैं

No data of starvation or deaths related to starvation was reported by any state or Union Territory (UT), Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, told the Rajya Sabha on February 8, 2023. 

The government has addressed the issue of food security at the household level by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food grains at subsidised rates to tackle hunger and starvation in the country, she added. 

Separate toilets for girls and boys

Over 400,000 toilets, including 191,000 for girls, were constructed or reconstructed under the Swachh Vidyalaya Initiative (SVI) to provide separate toilets for girls and boys in all government schools within one year, Subhas Sarkar, Minister Of State for the Union Ministry Of Education told the Rajya Sabha.

Department of School Education and Literacy under the ministry had launched the initiative in response to the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2014.

Under the initiative, the gaps in the availability of toilets were addressed. Construction or re-construction of 417,796 toilets, including 191,000 girls’ toilets, were completed in 261,400 government elementary and secondary schools, states and UTs reported, Sarkar said.

Grain-based ethanol plants

There are 126 grain-based distilleries in the country at present with an estimated ethanol production capacity of about 337 crore litres, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution And Textiles, told the Lok Sabha.

A total of 39 grain-based ethanol projects from Uttar Pradesh have been approved under the interest subvention scheme of the Department of Food and Public Distribution. The projects are expected to create an estimated capacity of about 155 crore litres of ethanol, Goyal said.

Lithium mining

Scientific agency Geological Survey of India (GSI) has carried out 20 projects on lithium and associated elements in the last five years, Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister Of Mines, Coal And Parliamentary Affairs, told the Lok Sabha.

GSI operates under the Union Ministry of Mines. The projects were carried out in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan. 

The agency took up 18 projects on lithium and associated elements in Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Rajasthan during the field season programme 2022-23.

However, the lithium resource has not yet been augmented by GSI, Joshi said.

Microplastics in coastal regions

The coastal sediment in the Chennai to Puducherry region has the maximum amount of microplastic concentrations in January, followed by July, Jitendra Singh, Minister Of State (Independent Charge) for Union Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, told the Lok Sabha. 

The Ministry of Earth Sciences, through National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), Chennai, carried out several scientific cruises along the east coast of India. It looked into the spatio-temporal variation of microplastics concentrations in the water column covering a 1-10 kilometre distance from the river mouth and coastal sediment, Singh said. 

Microplastic concentration in the water was higher during the northeast monsoon than in the southwest monsoon season, he said.

Month-wise, there was a higher abundance of microplastics in the coastal sediment in the Chennai to Puducherry region during January (19±12.9 particles/50 grammes dry weight), followed by July (10±4.5 particles/50g dry weight), the minister further said. 

The majority of microplastics were less than a millimetre in size and mostly in fibrous and fragment forms, primarily from fishing nets and waste, Singh added.

Monitoring of Himalayan glaciers

Accelerated heterogeneous mass loss in Himalayan glaciers has been reported by several Indian institutes, universities and organisations, Singh told the Lok Sabha. The institutions are monitoring Himalayan glaciers for scientific studies, including glacier melting.

Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Union Ministry of Mines (MoM) and Union Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) fund these studies on behalf of the Government of India. 

The mean retreat rate of Hindu Kush Himalayan glaciers is 14.9 ± 15.1 meter/annum (m/a); which varies from 12.7 ± 13.2 m/a in Indus, 15.5 ± 14.4 m/a in Ganga and 20.2 ± 19.7 m/a in Brahmaputra river basins, Singh said. 

Glaciers in the Karakoram region have, however, shown comparatively minor length change (-1.37 ± 22.8 m/a), indicating the stable conditions, he added.

Effects of climate change on Sundarbans

Ministry of Earth Sciences through Indian Institute of tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, is working on high-resolution regional climate change projections until 2100, Singh told the Lok Sabha. The projections are at 50-km spatial resolution for the overall South Asian region using global and regional climate models. 

Some scientific studies reported that endemic species of the Sundarbans are impacted by climate change due to an inadequate supply of fresh water, Singh said. This leads to the intrusion of salinity and, thereby, disturbing the forest vegetation. 

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 report showed that hypersalinity, storm effects on sediment deposition, fishery development and land erosion are responsible for most of the Sundarbans’ mangrove degradations leading to loss of livelihood, he added.

Increase in landslides

There has been no increase in the number of landslides observed in India, Joshi told the Lok Sabha. GSI conducts regular landslide zoning analysis, he added.

Reservations for women in local bodies

There are provisions in the state Panchayati Raj Acts or Rules for 50 per cent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions in 21 states and two UTs, Kapil Moreshwar Patil, Union Minister Of State For Panchayati Raj, told the Rajya Sabha.

The two UTs are Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Constitutional provisions as prescribed in Article 243D apply to the rest of the states and UTs under Part IX of the Constitution, he added.

Scrapping old vehicles

In accordance with Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India guidelines, 5,359 private and 67 commercial vehicles have been scrapped at registered vehicle scrapping facilities between January 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister Of Road Transport And Highways, told the Rajya Sabha.

The facilities were set up as per a September 23, 2021 notification vide General Statutory Rules 653 (E) under Vehicle Scrapping Policy. 

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