On August 16, 2017, Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved following bilateral agreements and initiatives:
Cabinet approves new Metro Rail Policy
Union Cabinet has approved a new Metro Rail Policy that seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities but in a responsible manner.
Salient Features of Metro Rail Policy:
- The policy opens a big window for private investments across a range of metro operations making public–private partnership (PPP) component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects.
- The new Metro Rail Policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals and proposes an independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the Government.
- Seeking to ensure that least cost mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the new policy mandates Alternate Analysis, requiring evaluation of other modes of mass transit like BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System), Light Rail Transit, Tramways, Metro Rail and Regional Rail in terms of demand, capacity, cost and ease of implementation.
- Seeking to ensure financial viability of metro projects, the new Metro Rail Policy requires the States to clearly indicate in the project report the measures to be taken for commercial/property development at stations.
- The new policy empowers States to make rules and regulations and set up permanent Fare Fixation Authority for timely revision of fares.
Cabinet approves creation of a single non-lapsable corpus fund for Secondary and Higher education
Union Cabinet has accorded its approval for creation of a non-lapsable pool in the Public Account for secondary and higher, education known as “Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh” (MUSK) into which all proceeds of “Secondary and Higher Education Cess” will be credited.
About Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh:
- Administration and maintenance of the above pool will be under Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- Accruals from the Cess would be utilized in the ongoing schemes of Secondary and Higher Education.
- The MUSK would be maintained as a Reserve Fund in the non-interest bearing section of the Public Accounts of India.
- The major benefit will be enhancing access to secondary and higher education through availability of adequate resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.
Cabinet approves MoU between India and Sweden on IPRs
Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property (IPRs).
About MoU between India and Sweden on IPRs:
- The MoU establishes a wide ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights.
- The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses on both sides.
- A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with members from both sides will be formed to decide cooperation activities to be taken under the MoU in areas related to Intellectual property.
Quick Facts about Sweden:
Currency: Swedish Krona
Current Prime Minister: Stefan Löfven
Cabinet approves completion of balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project
Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal to complete the balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in Jharkhand and Bihar at an estimated expenditure of Rs.1622.27 crore to be incurred during three financial years from the start of the project.
About North Koel Reservoir Project:
- The project is situated on North Koel river which is a tributary of Sone river finally joining the river Ganga.
- The North Koel Reservoir is located in the most backward tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand State.
- The construction was originally started in the year 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department, Govt. of Bihar. Since then, the work on dam is at a standstill.
- The total cost of the project as assessed on date is Rs 2391.36 crore. An expenditure amounting to Rs. 769.09 crore has been incurred on the project till date.
- The Cabinet has also approved storage of water in dam restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.
Cabinet approves closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair
Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair, a Central Government Undertaking
- The ANIFPDCL, a Government of India Public Sector Undertaking was set up in 1977, with the objective of development and managing forestry plantations in the Islands.
- Due to suspension of the forestry activities in view of the order dated 10.10,2001 and 07.05.2002 of Supreme Court, the ANIFPDCL has become an overall loss making venture since 2001 onwards.
More Details pertaining to closure of ANIFPDCL:
- The closure would be achieved by offering Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) / Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) package to willing employees and by retrenchment under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 of those not opting for VRS/VSS including settlement of other liabilities.
- This move will help to stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL from Government and would enable a more productive utilization of assets.
Cabinet approves raising Rs.9020 cr for long term irrigation fund
Union Cabinet has given its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) of upto Rs. 9020 crore as per the requirement during 2017-18 by NABARD through issuance of Bonds in respect of borrowings for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritized irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
- A large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds.
- During 2016-17, 99 ongoing projects under PMKSY- AIBP were identified for completion in phases by December-2019.
- To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister, during his Budget speech 2016-17, announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD.
- During 2017-18, it is estimated that an amount of Rs 29,000 Crore may be required through LTIF, for which EBR of Rs 9020 cr would be required.