From greater autonomy to oil PSUs for crude procurement, highway construction and expansion to the National Hydrology Project and enhancing technical expertise for Indian Railways, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved several decisions in a bid to boost economic growth. We take a look at some decisions that the Cabinet took:
National Hydrology Project: The National Hydrology Project will be a central sector scheme with a total outlay of Rs 3679.7674 crore. This includes Rs 3,640 crore for National Hydrology Project (NHP) and Rs.] 39.7674 crore for National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC) to be taken up in two stages.
The NHP will result in the improvement of:
1. Data storage, exchange, analysis and dissemination through National Water Informatics Centre.
2. Lead time in flood forecast from 1 day to at least 3 days
3. Mapping of flood inundation areas for use by the disaster management authorities
4. Assessment of surface and ground water resources in a river basin for better planning & allocation for PMKSY and other schemes of the government
5.Reservoir operations through seasonal yield forecast, drought management, SCADA systems, etc.
6.Design of SW & GW structures, hydropower units, interlinking of rivers, Smart Cities.
7.Fulfilling the objectives of Digital India.
8. People Centric approach: The programme envisages ultimate aim for water management through scientific data collection, dissemination of information on water availability in all blocks of the country and establishing of National Water Information Centre. The automated systems for Flood Forecasting is aimed to reduce water disaster ultimately helping vulnerable population. It is people and farmer centric programme as information on water can help in predicting water availability and help farmers to plan their crops and other farm related activities. Through this programme India would make a place among nations known for scientific endeavours.
The NHP will help in gathering Hydro-meteorological data which will be stored and analysed on a real time basis and can be seamlessly accessed by any user at the State/District/village level. The project envisages to cover the entire country as the earlier hydrology projects covered only 13 states.
Boost for Indian Railways: Ex-post facto approval to an MoU signed between India and Sweden on technical cooperation in the railway sector was given. The MoU will enable technical cooperation in the following areas: Benchmark railways policy development, regulations, organization and specific characteristics for each country; exchange of knowledge, technical expertise, innovation, technology, sustainable solutions and research; other cooperation projects agreed between the participants, such as, freight operations in cold regions, tilting coaches/trains, capacity allocation (time tabling) and optimisation of maintenance and improved freight/combination traffic; training and continuing education program in reliability and maintenance of rail transport system for railway engineers and managers.
Ministry of Railways has signed MOUs for technical cooperation in the Railway sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways. The identified areas of cooperation include high speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc.
Revised Policy on crude oil import for oil PSUs: An approval has been given to replace the existing policy on crude oil import by Oil PSUs and vest the oil PSUs with the power to evolve their own policies. “This will provide a more efficient, flexible and dynamic policy for crude procurement, eventually benefiting the consumers,” says the PIB release.
“This measure, which is in keeping with the principle of “Minimum Government Maximum Governance”, will increase the operational and commercial flexibility of the oil companies and enable them to adopt the most effective procurement practices for import of crude oil.”
The existing policy for import of crude oil was approved by the Cabinet in the year 1979. In 2001, the Cabinet approved some amendment to the policy. The current market practices for purchase of crude oil on spot basis need to be adopted to compete effectively in the market. The current policy has certain limitations and restrictions in this regard, which limit the potential sources and methods of procurement, adds the release.
Spectrum: Modifications in the policy for liberalisation of administratively allotted spectrum where market determined prices were not available have been given a nod. This will facilitate optimal utilisation of spectrum by introducing new technologies, sharing and trading of spectrum, says the PIB release.
The most recent recommended reserve price will be taken as the provisional price for liberalisation of administratively allocated spectrum where auction determined price is not available. Subsequent to the completion of the ensuing auction and with the availability of auction determined price, the provisional price already charged will be adjusted with the auction determined price with effect from the date of liberalisation on pro-rata basis.
This decision was taken on the basis of the recommendations of the sector regulator, TRAI and approximately and a sum of Rs 1300 crore is likely to accrue by this process, the release added.
Infrastructure boost for Karnataka: The CCEA has given its approval for development of the four laning of the Hospet-Bellary-Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh Border section of National Highway – 63 in Karnataka.
“The main object of the project is to expedite the improvement of infrastructure in Karnataka and also reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying on the Hospet-Bellary-Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh Border sector of NH-63. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of the concerned regions of the State and would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities,” said the release.
The cost is estimated to be Rs 1621.96 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road will be approximately 95.37 km.
Apart from the above decisions, the Cabinet also agreed to recommendations on fiscal deficit targets and additional fiscal deficit to states during Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) award period 2015-20. FFC has adopted the fiscal deficit threshold limit of 3 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for the states. Further, FFC has provided a year-to-year flexibility for additional fiscal deficit to States.
ATC buying 51% stake in Viom: The proposal of ATC Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. Singapore for acquisition of 51% of shareholding in Viom Networks Limited by way of transfer from existing shareholders has also been given a nod.
The approval would result in a total foreign direct investment inflow of Rs 5,856.51 crore into the telecom infrastructure of the country which will spur economic growth, besides fostering inclusiveness and equity, says the release.
Funding of exports to Iran from India: Yet another big decisions came with regards to increasing the framework agreement between Exim Bank of India and a consortium of Iranian banks lead by Central Bank of Iran for financing the purchase of goods and services from India to Rs 3000 crore from Rs 900 crore. This will be done by utilising the Export Development Fund (EDF). The proposal provides for domiciling two contracts of export of steel rails by STC and for the Chabahar Port Development project previously approved by the Cabinet under EDF.
The proposal will promote the country’s exports with Iran. It will also deepen India’s relationship with Iran as a strategic partner, says the PIB release.