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Overview of Cabinet Approvals on 8th January, 2020 

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) Chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the following proposals on January 08, 2020. The approval in detail are as follows:Cabinet DecisionInstitute of national importance status to the cluster at Gujarat Ayurved University campus:
i.
CCEA has approved to confer status of Institution of National Importance (INI) to the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda by conglomerating cluster of institutes at Gujarat Ayurveda University campus, Jamnagar. The institutes include

  •  Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda
  •  Shri Gulabkunwerba Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya and
  • Institute of Ayurveda Pharmaceutical Sciences including Pharmacy Unit.

ii.Apart from this, the Maharshi Patanjali Institute for Yoga & Naturopathy Education & Research will be subsumed into the Department of Swasthvritta of the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda.

iii.Benefits of providing national importance status: Providing national importance status will provide these institutions the autonomy to upgrade standard of Ayurveda education, frame various courses in Ayurveda as per national and international demand, adopt advanced evaluation methodology, etc.

Cabinet apprised of information about amendments to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019:
i.The CCEA has been apprised of information about the amendments moved to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 as passed by the Rajya Sabha.

  • The amendments will ensure concurrence of state govts when National Transport Policy is formulated and will also make schemes for national, multimodal and inter-state transportation of goods and passengers by the central govt.

ii.Background: The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was approved by the Cabinet on June 24, 2019 after being passed in the lok sabha. The bill was again sent into the rajya Sabha on 31st July 2019 for reconsideration.  Again the amendments were placed before lok sabha and was passed there on August 5, 2019.

MoC between India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on cooperation in the field of Health approved:
The CCEA has given its approval for the Memorandum of Cooperation(MoC) between the Department of Health & Family Welfare (DOHFW) of the govt of India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) for cooperation in the field of health. The MoC was signed in November 2019 during visit of Mr. Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of BMGF  to New Delhi.
The MoC areas covered include:

  • Reduction in neonatal and child morbidity and mortality and improvement in health services.
  • Increasing quality for family planning methods.
  • Reduction of burden of select infectious disease like Tuberculosis(TB), Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) etc.
  • Strengthen health systems and manage skills of human resources for health etc.
  • PAC: A Program Action Committee (PAC) will be set up to elaborate the cooperation and see the implementation of MoC.

Capital Grant for setting up the North East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid approved:
CCEA  has approved the North East Gas Grid project of Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL) with viability Gap Funding(VGF)/ Capital Grant at 60% of the estimated cost of Rs 9265 crore (Including interest during construction). The VGF capped at 60% of estimated cost will not be linked with upward capital cost variation.

  • Pipeline length: The total length of the pipeline is 1656 Kilometers.
  • Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas(MoPNG) will identify milestones for major activities for this project and also link the same for releases of capital grant of the project.

i.Project implementation: For monitoring the project implementation a committee will be set up. Officials from MoPNG, Ministry of   Development of North East Region (DoNER), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change(MoEFCC)may be the members of the committee.

ii.Gas pipeline development: In 8 states of the North-eastern region, gas pipeline will be developed. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

iii.Benefits: Some of the major benefits include reduction in kerosene usage, wood usage etc due to increased use of natural gas. Exploration and production activities will be boosted.

  • Installing LPG(Liquefied petroleum gas) bottling plants can be explored at reduced transport cost

iv.Background: Govt has taken various steps to increase the share of natural gas for the economy enhancement. Some of the initiatives are City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks and Re-gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (R-LNG) Terminals as well as development of Gas market etc. The government had earlier announced the plan to raise the share of natural gas in the country’s primary energy mix to 15% by 2030 from the present level of 6%.

  • On 10th August 2018, IGGL set up a Joint Venture(JV) of 5 companies to develop and operate Natural gas pipeline grid in North-East region. These 5 companies are Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation(ONGC), Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), Oil India Limited (OIL) and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).
  • Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has also issued provisional authorization to IGGL on 14 September 2018 for the development of North-East Gas pipeline grid.

Strategic disinvestment in MMTC, NMDC, BHEL and others approved:
i.The CCEA has given its ‘in principle’ strategic disinvestment of equity shareholding of various companies in NINL. These include

  • Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation Limited (MMTC) at 49.78%.
  • National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) at 10.10%.
  • MECON (formerly known as Metallurgical & Engineering Consultants (India) Limited) at 0.68%.
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) at 0.68% and
  • 2 Odisha State Government PSUs (Public Sector Undertaking) namely  Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Ltd.(IPICOL) at 12.00%  and Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) at 20.47% in Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited (NINL) to a strategic buyer, identified through a 2 stage auction procedure.
  • NINL: it is a Joint Venture company, in which four CPSEs namely MMTC, NMDC, BHEL and MECON and 2 State PSUs of Odisha Government, namely IPICOL and OMC are the shareholders.

ii.The disinvestment of NINl would unleash resources to be used to finance the social sector/ developmental programmes of the government and may also generate more employment opportunities.

Amending Mines and Minerals Act, 2015 approved:
The CCEA has approved the promulgation of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020. This ordinance will provide an allocation of coal blocks for composite prospecting license-cum-mining lease. This ordinance will amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Coal Mines(Special Provisions) Act, 2015.
i.Ordinance Outcomes:

  • Captive coal auctions: The ordinance will end captive coal block auctions in the future.
  • Bidding & developing coal blocks: The ordinance allows any India-registered company to bid and develop coal blocks. Section 11A of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act provides power to the central government to auction coal and lignite mining licences only to companies engaged in iron and steel, power and coal washing sectors. These companies should also have prior experience of mining in India to bid for the blocks.
  • Auction by govt: The govt also proposes to start commercial coal mining auction process with release of bid rules and consultations with stakeholders.

ii.Coal imports: India has imported 235 million tonnes coal worth Rs 1.75 lakh crore in 2019. Out of this quantity, 100 million tonnes was non-substitutable coking coal.
iii.Coal production target: The govt has targeted to produce one billion tonnes by 2023-24.

About Union Cabinet:
The Union cabinet exercises the executive authority in India. The senior minister in the cabinet are called as cabinet ministers, junior minister as minister of state and rarely deputy ministers. The cabinet is led by the Prime Minister.