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Cabinet Approvals on 18 Oct 2023

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Cabinet approval on 18 Oct 2023The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals on 18 October, 2023

i.Approves Phase-II of GEC for 13 GW Renewable Energy Project in Ladakh

ii.Approves MSP for Rabi Crops for Marketing Season 2024-25

iii.11.07 Lakh Railway Employees to Receive Rs 1968.87 Crores in PLB.

iv.Release of an additional instalment of DA and DR due from 01.07.2023.

Cabinet Approves Phase-II of GEC for 13 GW Renewable Energy Project in Ladakh

Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur announced that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved project on Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II – Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) for the 13 GW renewable energy project in Ladakh.

  • Scheduled completion by FY 2029-30.
  • Estimated total cost: Rs. 20,773.70 crore.
  • Central Financial Assistance (CFA) covering 40% of the project cost (Rs. 8,309.48 crore).

Key Points:

i.The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) will be responsible for implementing this project. Cutting-edge technologies, including Voltage Source Converter (VSC) based High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) systems and Extra High Voltage Alternating Current (EHVAC) systems, will be deployed.

ii.For power distribution, a transmission line will extend through Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, linking with the National Grid in Kaithal, Haryana.

  • An interconnection will be established to provide reliable power to Ladakh and connect to the Leh-Alusteng-Srinagar line for Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The project involves setting up 713 km of transmission lines, including a 480 km HVDC line, and two 5 GW capacity HVDC terminals in Pang (Ladakh) and Kaithal (Haryana).

iii.The ongoing Intra-State Transmission System Green Energy Corridor Phase-II (InSTS GEC-II). InSTS GEC-II is currently in progress in multiple states, focusing on integrating the grid and evacuating power from around 20 GW of renewable energy.

  • This initiative is set to be finalized by 2026. InSTS GEC-II aims to add 10,753 circuit kilometers (ckm) of transmission lines and increase the substation capacity to 27,546 mega volt-amper (MVA).
  • The estimated project cost stands at Rs. 12,031.33 crore, with 33% CFA, equivalent to Rs. 3,970.34 crore.

iv.The work involves construction at altitude of up to 4,700 metre abovesea level.

Background and National Goals

i.Announcement of a 7.5 GW Solar Park in Ladakh in 2020.

ii.The central government in early September decided to provide Viability gap funding for battery energy storage systems.

  • The government will spend Rs 3,760 crore as viability gap funding and it will be a 100% central grant. The viability gap funding is capped at 40% of the total capital cost of the project

iii.Commitment at COP26 summit

  • 500 GW non-fossil electricity capacity, half of energy from renewables, 1 billion ton emission reduction by 2030
  • 45% emissions intensity reduction of GDP, and net-zero emissions by 2070.

iv.The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) formulated a plan to set up 13 GW of renewable energy generation capacity, along with a 12 GWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Pang, Ladakh.

Cabinet approves MSP for Rabi Crops for Marketing Season 2024-25

The Union Cabinet has granted approval for an increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for all mandated Rabi Crops in the Marketing Season 2024-25.

Key Points:

i.The highest increase in MSP has been sanctioned for lentils (masur) about 7.1% at Rs. 425 per quintal.

ii.This adjustment in MSP is consistent with the Union Budget 2018-19 announcement, which aimed to set the MSP at a level of at least 1.5 times the All-India weighted average Cost of Production.

MSP for all Rabi crops for Marketing Season 2024-25:

S.NoCropsMSP 2023-24MSP 2024-25Increase in MSPMargin over cost (%)
& Mustard

iii.The government has initiated various programs such as the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), and the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP).

  • The government has launched initiatives like the Kisan Rin Portal (KRP), KCC Ghar Ghar Abhiyaan, and Weather Information Network Data Systems (WINDS) to expand the reach of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme to all farmers across the nation.

Note: i.MSP is the minimum rate at which the grain is purchased by the government procurement agencies.

ii.India has 3 cropping seasons :

  • Rabi: Sown during October and November and the produce harvested from January.
  • Kharif: Sown during June-July and harvested in October-November.
  • Summer: Produced between Rabi and Kharif are Summer crops.

11.07 Lakh Railway Employees to Receive Rs 1968.87 Crores in PLB

The Union Cabinet has granted a Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) equivalent to 78 days’ worth of wages for the financial year 2022-2023. The Government has approved a total PLB payout of Rs 1968.87 crore to benefit 11,07,346 railway employees.

  • This will be extended to eligible non-gazetted Railway employees, including roles such as Track Maintainers, Loco Pilots, Train Managers (Guards), Station Masters, Supervisors, Technicians, Technician Helpers, Pointsmen, Ministerial Staff, and other Group ‘C’ staff (excluding RPF/RPSF personnel).
  • Railway’s performance in FY23 was marked by a record cargo load of 1509 million tonnes and the transportation of nearly 6.5 billion passengers.

Cabinet approves release of an additional instalment of DA and DR due from 01.07.2023

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to release an additional installment of Dearness Allowance (DA) for Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) for pensioners, w.e.f. July 1, 2023.

  • This installment reflects a 4% increase over the existing rate. With this, the DA will be increased from 42% to 46% of Basic Pay or Pension. This increase aligns with the established formula based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission.

The combined financial implication, will amount to Rs. 12,857 crore annually. This move will directly benefit approximately 48.67 lakh Central Government employees and 67.95 lakh pensioners.