Citizens' Issues
Our oceans worth $24 trillion: WWF

The report titled "Reviving the Ocean Economy" attempts to estimate the value of the oceans and proposes steps for its safeguarding


Ocean assets such as fisheries, shipping lanes and tourism are worth $24 trillion and produce an annual value of $2.5 trillion from their outputs, says a latest report by the conservation group World Wide Fund (WWF).
The report titled "Reviving the Ocean Economy" attempts to estimate the value of the oceans and proposes steps for its safeguarding.
"If the oceans were a country it would be the seventh-largest economy on the planet. I do not think that is surprising to any marine scientist but it may come as a surprise to a lot of people outside marine science," said marine scientist and lead author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute in St Lucia.
"Being a natural scientist, I am suspicious of economists."
"But when you look at different numbers, this is not too far off what other people have found in terms of components of the total value," Hoegh-Guldberg noted.
The report looks at the oceans as one system which has not been the case in previous efforts.
"In the past, we have missed that opportunity to look at the interactions between local and global factors, between fishing and ocean chemistry and so on," he added.
The report comes up with a very large number despite the fact that we can not value the many intangibles such as the production of sand along coastlines, the value of oceans in terms of their contribution to cultures, and so on.
"We do not make any apologies for the fact that we cannot get the real value. But we can get a number which we know is the minimum, and in this case it is a very large number," he continued.
The eight proposed actions in the report include committing to ocean targets in the UN sustainable development goals, agreement on avoiding damage from climate change and a new alliance of maritime states.
"The eight actions are achievable. We have already had a big push at the international level to establish sustainable development goals focused on the ocean," the authors emphasised.


Mumbai DP fiasco: Blacklist, recover Rs12 crore from consultant, demands activist
The companies, which prepared the controversial and now scrapped development plan for Mumbai, should be blacklisted and the government must recover Rs12 crore paid to them, demands activist Anil Galgali
Following the hue and cry from political parties, non-government organisations (NGOs) and several citizens, the Maharashtra government decided to scrapped the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2015-2034. However, activists are demanding to blacklist and recover the money paid to consultant companies involved in preparation of the. Surprisingly, while all mainstream media are highlighting the DP issue, no one is naming the companies that prepared it.
Right to Information activist Anil Galgali, in a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, said, "The company, which was contracted to create a futuristic Development Plan for Mumbai, came out with a draft plan which could have destroyed Mumbai and led to a crisis should be black listed and the payment of Rs12 crore made out to them should be immediately recovered."
According to Galgali, the BMC started the process of the new DP in 2009 onwards, when initially SC India Ltd was appointed as consultant. "Since the performance of the company was far from satisfaction, the job of DP was given over to another company Aegis Geo Plan. Both the companies cost Rs12 crore to the BMC. In spite of receiving the payment, the companies did not perform on the basis of practicality and ground reality, due to which the DP conceived by them was error prone and disastrous," the activist said.
In his letter, a copy marked to chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya and BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte, the RTI activist drew attention to the previous 'error free' DP for 1991-2011 that was prepared by about 80 engineers and officials from the municipal corporation.
The state government has asked the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to draft a fresh development plan within four months. 



D S Ranga Rao

2 years ago

I feel the Commissioner and the Mayor, MCGM should take the hit and resign forthwith besides penalising the Consultant for such a faulty report.

Jaitley moves goods, services tax bill for Lok Sabha debate

Jaitley said it was a win-win situation for both the states and the centre


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday moved a bill for debate and passage to amend the constitution and allow a single goods and services tax regime for the cuntry that will subsume all central and state levies and create a single Indian market.
The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014, was placed before the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliamment for consideration and passage, even as the opposition demanded that it be sent to the relevant standing committee since some of its provisions had undergone a change. 
But Jaitley took the stand that he had already introduced it in Lok Sabha on Dec 19, 2014 and suggested that the house take it up for discussion and its eventual passage. "No one has the monopoly to prevent India's progress," the finance minister said.
The discussion is slated for next week.
The government has targeted the new regime to come into force from the next fiscal. Jaitley told the house that in his limited intervention that the new regime will remove certain anomalies in the existing indirect tax terimes that were imposing a tan on tax already collected.
He said it was a win-win situation for both the states and the centre. As an example he said: "At the moment, the states do not get any shares of service tax. It entirely goes to the centre. But under the new regime, states will also get a share of services tax."
The finance minister also said every decision in terms of levies under the goods and services tax will have to be ratified by 70 percent majority of a new council proposed in the amended bill, adding this will prove to be a much-desired example of cooperative federalism.
For the Constitution to be amended, it needs two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and then its ratification by at least 15 state legislatures. It will then to the president for his final signatures.
Once this far-reaching amendment is carried out, India will have a new goods and services tax regime that will fo away with central indirect taxes such as excise duty, countervailing duty, and serice tax, as also state levies such as value added tax, octroi, and luxury tax.
The tax, thus, collected will be divided between the central government and states on the basis of formulae approved by Parliament, based on the recommendations of a Goods and Services Tax Council to be set up under the new statute.
The union cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had last month approved the payment of compensation to states for the loss they would incur on account of a reduction in the central sales tax from 4 percent to 2 percent for three years from fiscal 2010-11.
Finance ministry sources said preliminary estimates indicate that Rs.33,000-crore could be the amount payable to states and union territories for the entire period, and settling these claims will help create an enabling environment for rollout of the new regime.


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