panchayat polls: A decade after the 73rd amendment to the Constitution, Jharkhand will for the first time hold panchayat elections in December this year. The state government has finally taken the decision in the wake of unrelenting pressure by civil society groups such as the Jharkhand Panchayati Raj Swashasan Samanvay Samiti. Jharkhand remains the only state in India which is yet to hold elections to local bodies after they got constitutional status in 1992. Ironically, empowerment of these institutions was a major issue during the movement that saw the state being carved out of Bihar.
panel for tribals: The Lok Sabha has passed the Constitution (94th Amendment) Bill to set up a separate commission for the Scheduled Tribes. The National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (NCSCST) would be divided to achieve this. While the post of commissioner for SC and STs was created soon after India's independence, the NCSCST was created in 1978. The aim was to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable sections. "Geographically and culturally, the Scheduled Tribes are different from the Scheduled Castes and their problems are also different," the bill states. The realisation appears to have come rather late in the day.
shambolic slaughterhouse: Responding to a writ petition alleging illegal slaughtering of animals at the Idgah slaughterhouse in the capital, the Delhi High Court (HC) recently issued notices to the Union government, Lt-governor of Delhi, commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Police commissioner. They have been told to file their replies by September 2. According to petitioner Mohammad Amjad, who himself works at the abattoir, more than 15,000 animals are slaughtered daily at the site. Many of them are sick or already dead. Health check-ups are non-existent and the MCD is turning a blind eye to the problem (see: "The meat you eat", August 15, 2003).
emission control: Republican as well as Democrat governors of 10 northeast states of the US have joined hands to limit the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. They will begin discussions in September. The aim is to put in place a flexible, market-based programme by April 2005. Each utility will limit its emissions as per its quota. However, it will have the option to buy from other units' unused quota if it exceeds its own allowance to emit.
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