The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi approved the following important initiatives on November 24, 2021.
- Approved Farm Laws Repeal Bill
- Extension of PMGKAY from December 2021 to March 2022
- Privatization of Electricity Distribution Business in DNH&DD
- Continuation of ACROSS Scheme for 5 years till 2026
- Continuation of NATS for 5 years till FY26
- Continuation of O-SMART Scheme
Approved Farm Laws Repeal Bill
The Union Cabinet approved a bill to repeal the 3 farm laws, which were passed by Parliament in September 2020, with an objective to bring reforms in the agriculture sector, especially the marketing of farm produce.
Process of Repealing a Law:
Laws can be repealed in two ways, either through an ordinance, or through legislation.
i.Ordinance – In case an ordinance is used, it would need to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament within six months under the article 123 of the constitution (President promulgate Ordinances).
ii.Legislation– Article 245 of the Constitution gives the power to the Parliament to make laws and also gives the power to repeal them through the Repealing and Amending Act, 2019.
- Bills titled Repealing and Amendment will be introduced for repealing all three farm laws through a single legislation.
- The bill has to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, and receive the President’s assent before it comes into effect.
- The bill to scrap the farm laws would be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament, which starts on November 29, 2021.
Note – The Repealing and Amending Act was first passed in 1950 when 72 Acts were repealed.
a.The 3 farm laws:
i.Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020: It permits the sale of agricultural produce outside regions regulated by Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC), which is constituted by respective state legislations.
ii.Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020: It provides the framework for contract farming, through Farming Agreement before production or rearing of farm produce.
iii.Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020: It is aimed at removing commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potato from the list of essential commodities.
i.On September 27, 2020, President Ram Nath Kovind approved 3 farm bills passed by Parliament after which the 3 farm acts came to effect.
ii.The 3 farm laws had triggered massive protests by around 40 farmer unions (including the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM)) mainly from Punjab and Haryana, in New Delhi for more than a year with the demand to repeal 3 farm legislations.
iii.In the backdrop of the protest, the PM had announced the withdrawal of the 3 farm laws on November 19, 2021, saying the government could not convince protesting farmers the benefits of those reforms.
-Approved Extension of PMGKAY from December 2021 to March 2022
Cabinet has approved the extension of the free foodgrain distribution scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)- Phase V for another 4 months i.e. from December 2021 to March 2022, with an estimated additional food subsidy of Rs 53344.52 Crore.
- The total outgo (in terms of food-grains) for PMGKAY-Phase V is likely to be about 163 LMT (lakh metric tonnes).
- The Government of India (GoI) will be incurring an expenditure of nearly Rs 2.60 lakh Crore in PMGKAY Phase I- V.
i.In March 2020, the GoI announced the distribution of additional free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat) to about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries at the scale of 5 Kg per person/month under the PMGKAY to ensure food security of poor/vulnerable beneficiaries/households during COVID-19.
ii.Under PMGKAY food grains will be provided over and above the regular monthly NFSA foodgrains i.e., regular entitlements of their ration cards.
iii.The beneficiaries covered under the NFSA (Antodaya Anna Yojana & Priority Households) also includes those who are covered under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
b.Execution of PMGKAY Phase I- IV:
i.Phase-I and Phase-II of the scheme were operational from April to June 2020 and July to November, 2020 respectively. Phase-III of the scheme was operational from May to June 2021. Phase-IV of the scheme is currently being operational from July to November, 2021.
ii.So far, a total of around 600 LMT foodgrains (equivalent to about Rs 2.07 Lakh Crore in food subsidy) had been allocated to the States/Union Territories (UTs) under the PM-GKAY (Phase I to IV).
iii.As per the reports available from States/UTs, 93.8 percent of foodgrains have been lifted and nearly 37.32 LMT (93.9% of July 2021), 37.20 LMT (93.6% of August 2021), 36.87 LMT (92.8% of September 2021), 35.4 LMT (89% of October 2021) and 17.9 LMT (45% of November 2021 (ongoing)) foodgrains have been distributed to about 74.64 Crore, 74.4 Crore, 73.75 Crore, 70.8 Crore and 35.8 crore beneficiaries respectively.
-Approved Privatization of Electricity Distribution Business in DNH&DD
Cabinet approved the formation of a Company (Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)) to privatise electricity distribution and Retail Supply Business in the UT of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (DNH&DD).
- Cabinet also approved the sale of equity shares of the newly formed company to the highest bidder and formation of trust for serving employees’ liabilities.
- The privatisation process will increase the competition, strengthen the electricity industry, and lead to recovery of unrealized dues.
i.Privatisation will also fulfill the desired outcomes of better services to over 1.45 lakh consumers of DNH&DD, operational improvements and functional efficiencies in distribution and provide a model for emulation by other utilities across India.
ii.The DNH-DD Power Distribution Corporation Limited would be incorporated as a wholly owned Government Company and Trust(s) to manage the terminal benefits of the personnel transferred to the newly formed company.
iii.Transfer of assets, liabilities, personnel etc to the newly formed company will be done as per the DNH&DD Electricity (Reorganization and Reforms) Transfer Scheme, 2020.
Note – In May 2020, GoI had announced ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, to make India self-reliant through structural reforms and to reform the power distribution and retail supply in UTs through privatization of the power distribution utilities.
-Approved Continuation of ACROSS Scheme for 5 years till 2026
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the PM approved the continuation of the umbrella scheme ‘Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)’ along with its 8 sub-schemes to the next finance cycle of 5 years i.e. from 2021 to 2026 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,135 crore.
i.ACROSS scheme is related to the atmospheric science programs of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and addresses different aspects of weather and climate services through various services like Public weather service, Agro-meteorological Services, Aviation services, Environmental monitoring services, etc.
ii.The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) through its units such as India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).
iii.The 8 sub schemes of ACROSS which is being implemented by IMD, IITM, NCMRWF and INCOIS:
- Commissioning of Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radars (DWRs)-IMD
- Upgradation of Forecast System-IMD
- Weather & Climate Services-IMD
- Atmospheric Observations Network – IMD
- Numerical Modelling of Weather and Climate -NCMRWF
- Monsoon Mission III- IITM/NCMRWF/INCOIS/IMD
- Monsoon Convection, Clouds and Climate Change (MC4)- IITM/NCMRWF/IMD
- High Performance Computing System (HPCS)-IITM/NCMRWF
-Approved Continuation of NATS for 5 years till FY26
CCEA approved the continuation of the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) of Ministry of Education for the next 5 years from i.e. from FY22 (financial year 2021-22) to FY26.
- The cabinet has also approved expenditure of Rs 3,054 crore (which was 4.5 times the expenditure made during the previous 5 years) for stipendiary support to those who would undergo the apprenticeship program under NATS.
i.The apprentices who have completed graduate and diploma programmes in Engineering, Humanities, Science and Commerce will be given a stipend of Rs 9,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively.
ii.Under the scheme, ~9 lakhs apprentices will be trained by industry and commercial organisations.
iii.The NATS will provide apprenticeships in the emerging areas under ‘Production Linked Incentive’ (PLI) such as mobile manufacturing, medical devices manufacturing, pharma sector, electronics/ technology products, automobile sector etc.
-Approved Continuation of O-SMART Scheme
CCEA approved continuation of the umbrella scheme of MoES, ‘Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART)’ for implementation from 2021-26 at an overall cost of Rs 2177 crore.
i.The 7 sub-schemes of the schemes include
- Ocean Technology
- Ocean Modelling and Advisory Services (OMAS)
- Ocean Observation Network (OON)
- Ocean Non-Living Resources
- Marine Living Resources and Ecology (MLRE)
- Coastal Research and Operation
- Maintenance of Research Vessels
ii.The 7 sub schemes are being implemented by autonomous institutes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences such as National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, and Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, etc.
iii.Objective: To provide forecast and services based on the continuous observation of oceans, development of technologies and exploratory surveys for sustainable harnessing of oceanic resources (both living and non-living), and promotion of front-ranking research in ocean sciences.
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