Carbon Pricing


Recently, Pennsylvania becomes the first major fossil fuel-producing state in the US to adopt a carbon pricing policy to address climate change. It joins 11 states where coal, oil and natural gas power plants must buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Carbon pricing?
  2. Types of carbon pricing mechanisms
  3. India and Paris Agreement

What is Carbon pricing?

Carbon pricing is an instrument that captures the external costs arising from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ties them to the sources of emissions through a price, usually in the form of a price on the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted

Types of carbon pricing mechanisms:

  • Emissions Trading Systems (ETS): It is a system where emitters can trade emission units to meet their emission targets. By creating supply and demand for emissions units, an ETS establishes a market price for GHG emissions.
  • The two main types of Emission Trading Systems are:
    • Cap-and-trade systems:  which apply a cap or absolute limit on the emissions within the ETS and emissions allowances are distributed, usually for free or through auctions, for the amount of emissions equivalent to the cap.
    • Baseline-and-credit systems: where baseline emissions levels are defined for individual regulated entities and credits are issued to entities that have reduced their emissions below this level. These credits can be sold to other entities exceeding their baseline emission levels.
  • Carbon tax: It directly sets a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on GHG emissions or more
  • commonly – on the carbon content of fossil fuels.
    • For example, the carbon tax on production and import of coal in India.
  • An offset mechanism designates the GHG emission reductions from project- or programme based activities, which can be sold either domestically or in other countries. Offset programmes issue carbon credits according to an accounting protocol and have their own registry. These credits can be used to meet compliance under an international agreement, domestic policies or corporate citizenship objectives related to GHG mitigation.
  • Results-Based Climate Finance (RBCF): It is a funding approach where payments are made after pre-defined outputs or outcomes related to managing climate change such as emission reductions, are delivered and verified. Many RBCF programmes aim to purchase verified reductions in GHG emissions while at the same time reduce poverty, improve access to clean energy and offer health and community benefits.
  • Internal carbon pricing: It is a tool an organization uses internally to guide its decision-making process in relation to climate change impacts, risks and opportunities.

India and Paris Agreement

  • India, as a party to the Paris Agreement, has made commitments which include
    • reduction in the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030
    • creation of an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030.
Carbon pricing can help India achieve its objectives in the following ways:
  • It provides an opportunity to shift the burden on those responsible for it by allowing them to decide to either transform their activities and lower their emissions or continue emitting and paying for their emissions.
  • Internalizing the external cost of climate change in the economic decision making would incentivize businesses to invest in clean technology and market innovation.
  • It would fuel new, low carbon drivers of economic growth and help India to reduce emission intensity.
  • Long-term investors may use carbon pricing to analyze the potential impact of climate change policies on their investment portfolios, allowing them to reassess investment strategies and reallocate capital toward low- carbon or climate-resilient activities.
  •  It would help to evaluate the impact of mandatory carbon prices on the operations of businesses and to identify potential climate risks and revenue opportunities. Overall, these actions would promote the adoption of clean technologies and investment in green projects.
  • Considering the developmental needs and economic constraints, if businesses decide to pay for emissions, it would help the government to mobilize finances which can be used for adaptation and mitigation measures such as reforestation, energy efficiency, evacuation plans etc.

GO 111


Environmentalists and activists are criticising the Telangana government for withdrawing an over 25-year-old government order protecting the historic Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs in Hyderabad, which they say will destroy the fragile surrounding ecosystem.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About GO111
  2. When and why were these reservoirs constructed?
  3. Government’s stand

About GO111

  • On March 8, 1996, the government of erstwhile (undivided) Andhra Pradesh had issued ‘Government Order (GO) 111’ prohibiting development or construction works in the catchment area of the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar lakes up to a radius of 10 km.
  • The GO prohibited the setting up of industries, residential colonies, hotels, etc. which cause pollution. The total catchment area covers around 1.30 lakh acres, spread over 84 villages.
  • The aim of the restrictions was to protect the catchment area, and to keep the reservoirs pollution-free.
  • The lakes had been supplying water to Hyderabad for nearly 70 years, and were the main source of drinking water for the city at the time.

When and why were these reservoirs constructed?

  • The reservoirs were created by building dams on the Musi (also known as Moosa or Muchkunda) river, a major tributary of the Krishna, to protect Hyderabad from floods.
  • The proposal to build the dams came after a major flood during the reign of the sixth nizam Mahbub Ali Khan (1869-1911) in 1908, in which more than 15,000 people were killed.
  • The lakes came into being during the reign of the last nizam Osman Ali Khan (1911-48).
  • Osman Sagar was completed in 1921, and Himayat Sagar in 1927.
  • The nizam’s guesthouse at Osman Sagar is now a heritage building.

Government’s stand:

  • Chief Minister said  that the city no longer depends on these two reservoirs for water supply, and there was no need to continue with the restrictions on development in the catchment radius.
  • Hyderabad’s drinking water requirement has increased to more than 600 million gallons per day (MGD), which is being drawn from other sources including the Krishna river; water from the two reservoirs amounts to just about 1 per cent of the daily requirement.
  • However, officials said the government would continue to take measures to ensure that the water flowing into the reservoirs is not polluted, and would not allow unauthorised development or construction.
  • The government has set up a committee headed by the chief secretary to frame rules and regulations of development around the two lakes.
  • Several sewerage treatment plants are proposed in the area, and pipelines or canals will be dug to divert the treated water away from the lakes.
  • The government also proposes to establish large green zones throughout the area, which will remain free of any development.
  • The committee will recommend ways to create infrastructure in the area, especially the laying of roads and drainage pipelines, without causing too much damage.
  • Construction activity will be strictly monitored and regulated.

Phone Tapping


Recently, a political leader claimed that the Centre is protecting an Indian Police Service officer who is facing a First Information Report (FIR) in Mumbai and is being probed for allegedly tapping the phones.


GS II- Government Policies and Interventions, Transparency and Accountability

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Phone tapping
  2. How are phones tapped in India?
  3. Who can tap phones?
  4. Who authorises phone tapping?

What is Phone tapping?

  • Phone tapping or cell phone tracking an activity where a user’s phone calls, and other activities are tracked using different software.
  • This procedure is majorly carried out without the targeted person being notified of any such activity.

Phone tapping in India is governed by the The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

  • Section 5(2) says that “on the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of the public safety”, phone tapping can be done by the Centre or states if they are satisfied it is necessary in the interest of “public safety”, “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence”.
  • There is an exception for the press: “press messages intended to be published in India of correspondents accredited to the Central Government or a State Government shall not be intercepted or detained, unless their transmission has been prohibited under this sub-section”.
  • The competent authority must record reasons for tapping in writing.

How are phones tapped in India?

  • In the era of fixed-line phones, mechanical exchanges would link circuits together to route the audio signal from the call.
  • When exchanges went digital, tapping was done through a computer.
  • When most conversations happen through mobile phones, authorities make a request to the service provider, which is bound by law to record the conversations on the given number and provide these in real time through a connected computer.

Who can tap phones?


Police have the powers to tap phones.


  • 10 agencies are authorised to do so: Intelligence Bureau, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, National Investigation Agency, R&AW, Directorate of Signal Intelligence, and the Delhi Police Commissioner.
  • Tapping by any other agency would be considered illegal.

Who authorises phone tapping?

  • Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2007, says phone tapping orders “shall not be issued except by an order made by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs in the case of Government of India and by the Secretary to the State Government in-charge of the Home Department in the case of a State Government”.
  • The order has to conveyed to the service provider in writing; only then can the tapping begin.

What happens in an emergency?

  • In unavoidable circumstances, such an order may be issued by an officer, not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who has been authorised by the Union Home Secretary, or the State Home Secretary.
  • In remote areas or for operational reasons, if it is not feasible to get prior directions, a call can be intercepted with the prior approval of the head or the second senior-most officer of the authorised law enforcement agency at the central level, and by authorised officers, not below the rank of Inspector General of Police, at the state level.
  • The order has to be communicated within three days to the competent authority, who has to approve or disapprove it within seven working days. “If the confirmation from the competent authority is not received within the stipulated seven days, such interception shall cease,” the rule says.

Understanding the Olga Tellis Judgment


A 37-year-old Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court which held that pavement dwellers are different from trespassers. This may become a game-changer in the Jahangirpuri case.


GS I- Indian Society (Urbanization, Their Problems & Remedies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Olga Tellis judgment?
  2. What led to the judgment?
  3. What were the questions discussed before the Supreme Court?
  4. What was the State government’s defence?
  5. How did the Supreme Court rule?

What is the Olga Tellis judgment?

The judgment, Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation, in 1985 by a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India agrees that pavement dwellers do occupy public spaces unauthorised.

Key takeaways of the judgement:

  • The court maintained they should be given a chance to be heard and a reasonable opportunity to depart “before force is used to expel them.”
  • The Supreme Court reasoned that eviction using unreasonable force, without giving them a chance to explain is unconstitutional.
  • Pavement dwellers, too, have a right to life and dignity. The right to life included the right to livelihood.
  • A welfare state and its authorities should not use its powers of eviction as a means to deprive pavement dwellers of their livelihood.

What led to the judgment?

  • Sometime in 1981, the State of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal Corporation decided that pavement and slum dwellers in Bombay city should be evicted and “deported to their respective places of origin or places outside the city of Bombay.”
  • Some demolitions were carried out before the case was brought to the Bombay High Court by pavement dwellers, residents of slums across the city, NGOs and journalists.
  • While they conceded that they did not have “any fundamental right to put up huts on pavements or public roads”, the case came up before the Supreme Court on larger questions of law.

What were the questions discussed before the Supreme Court?

  • One of the main questions was whether eviction of a pavement dweller would amount to depriving him/her of their livelihood guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The Article mandates that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty EXCEPT according to procedure established by law.”
  • The Constitution Bench was also asked to determine if provisions in the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, allowing the removal of encroachments without prior notice, were arbitrary and unreasonable.
  • The Supreme Court also decided to examine the question whether it was constitutionally impermissible to characterise pavement dwellers as trespassers.

What was the State government’s defence?

  • The State government and the corporation countered that pavement dwellers should be estopped (estoppel is a judicial device whereby a court may prevent or “estop” a person from making assertions.
  • Estoppel may prevent someone from bringing a particular claim from contending that the shacks constructed by them on the pavements cannot be demolished because of their right to livelihood.
  • They cannot claim any fundamental right to encroach and put up huts on pavements or public roads over which the public has a ‘right of way.’

How did the Supreme Court rule?

  • The Bench threw out the government’s argument of estoppel, saying “there can be no estoppel against the Constitution.”
  • The court held that the right to life of pavement dwellers were at stake here.
  • The right to livelihood was an “integral component” of the right to life. They can come to court to assert their right.
  • If the right to livelihood is not treated as a part of the constitutional right to live, the easiest way of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation.
  • Any aggrieved person can challenge the deprivation as offending the right to life.
  • Removal of encroachments without prior notice was arbitrary; the court held that such powers are designed to operate as an “exception” and not the “general rule.”
  • The procedure of eviction should lean in favour of procedural safeguards which follow the natural principles of justice like giving the other side an opportunity to be heard.
  • Finally, the court emphatically objected to authorities treating pavement dwellers as mere trespassers.
  • The encroachment committed are involuntary acts in the sense that those acts are compelled by inevitable circumstances and are not guided by choice.


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