New Delhi: The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Urban Development and Bloomberg Philanthropies (BP), New York to support the development of Smart Cities.
The proposal entails Bloomberg Philanthropies to work as Knowledge Partner and support the development and execution of a Cities Challenge under the Smart Cities Mission. The Union Cabinet has already approved the Smart Cities Mission in its meeting held on 29th April 2015 and subsequently, the Prime Minister launched this Mission on 25th June 2015, when the Mission Statement and Guidelines were also released.
The Proposal under the Smart Cities Mission seeks to facilitate creation of quality urban infrastructure which will lead to improvement in the quality of urban life. Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation Initiatives equip mayors and local leaders with practical tools and approaches to solve major challenges and enable public sector innovation to flourish.
As Knowledge Partner, Bloomberg Philanthropies will also support the Ministry of Urban Development in helping design and manage the cities challenge. There is no financial implication to the Government of India as the cost implications to the activities done in supporting the Mission will be incurred by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Union Cabinet has also approved the exchange of Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) land measuring 11.45 acres at Visakhapatnam Airport with an equivalent area of land offered by Visakhapatnam Port Trust for setting up of Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) by M/s Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) at Visakhapatnam.
The exchange of land measuring will be beneficial to both AAI and VPT. The land offered for exchange by VPT is in continuation to existing AAI land and will be useful for AAI, in view of future developmental plans for Visakhapatnam Airport. The setting up of the MMLP and other customer related facilities by M/s CONCOR will also help in substantial development of Andhra Pradesh by enhancing the cargo handling capacity and development of an integrated railroad logistics hub, thereby facilitating a boost in the economy and trade of the State.
M/s Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Railways is setting up a Multi Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) near Visakhapatnam on 98 acres (approx.) of land, taken on lease from Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), which is a port handling trust under the Ministry of Shipping. Handing over the full extent of 98 acres for the CONCOR project involves exchange of 11.45 acres of land between VPT and AAI.
The same day, the Cabinet approved the formation of joint venture companies with various State governments to mobilise resources for undertaking various rail infrastructure projects in the States. The initial paid up capital of Ministry of Railways would be limited to Rs 50 crore for each State.
The joint venture companies will be formed with equity participation of Ministry of Railways and concerned State Government(s). Each joint venture will have an initial paid up capital of Rs 100 crore based on the quantum of projects to be undertaken. Further infusion of fund/equity for the purpose of the projects shall be done after approval of the project and its funding at the level of appropriate competent authority.
A joint venture can also form project-specific SPVs with equity holding by other stakeholders like banks, ports, public sector undertakings, mining companies, etc. This would ensure greater participation of State Governments in implementation of railway projects both in terms of financial participation as well as decision making process. This will also facilitate in faster statutory approvals and land acquisition.Besides travelling people, various cement, steel, power plants etc. would get the necessary rail link for transportation of their raw material and finished products.
This would ensure greater participation of State governments in implementation of railway projects both in terms of financial participation and decision-making process. This will also facilitate in faster statutory approvals and land acquisition.Besides travelling people, various cement, steel, power plants etc. would get the necessary rail link for transportation of their raw material and finished products.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet has further approved the signing and ratification of an agreement for the exchange of information between India and Maldives with respect to taxes. It also approved the signing of a Protocol amending the Convention between India and Slovenia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The agreements will stimulate effective exchange of information between the countries which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet has approved the construction of 69 bridges including approach roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar at a cost of Rs.371.58 crore.
This will impart all-weather usability to the TKK road section, which is also part of the route for the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service. It will improve connectivity between India and Myanmar and facilitate movement of goods and traffic.
During the visit of Prime Minister to Myanmar in May 2012, it was agreed, at the request of Government of Myanmar, to undertake construction of 71 bridges in the TKK road section of the Trilateral Highway. The Government of Myanmar has started work on constructing two bridges, on its own, as these bridges needed urgent attention. As a result, construction of the balance 69 bridges will be undertaken under Government of India’s assistance.
The project will be implemented in Engineering Procuring and Construction (EPC) mode through Project Management Consultant (PMC). It will be closely monitored by the Indian Embassy in Yangon, PMC and the Ministry of External Affairs. The project is envisaged to be completed by mid-2019.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of MoU among BRICS countries on BRICS Network University. The negotiations were held on this during the 3rd BRICS Education Ministers meeting and Senior Officials meeting in November, 2015 at Mosco, Russia.
The MoU will help in developing pro-active cooperation among the BRICS nations for the purpose of enhancement of scientific research, higher education, information exchange, analysis and implementation of best practices, joint research programmes and mobility of students, researchers and educators.
The Cabinet has also approved the renewal of MoU between India and Canada for cooperation in higher education. This MoU was signed in June 2010 for a period of 5 years. As per terms of the MoU, at the end of the five years, the MoU was to be renewed for a possible renewal for a further 5-year period.
Recognizing the immense potential of collaboration between higher education institutions of Canada and India and to further develop the existing bilateral relations in the field of higher education and research, it has been proposed to further strengthen the educational ties between India and Canada by renewing the MoU.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet has given its approval to sign an MoU)on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, also called the ‘Raptor MoU’ with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). With the signing of this MOU, India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU.
Raptor MoU was concluded on 22 October 2008 and came into effect on 1 November 2008. It is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS and is not legally binding. The MoU seeks willingness of the signatory range states for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats. An action plan has been formulated which primarily envisages the conservation action for Raptor species. The MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out of which 46 species including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India.
Considering that the MoU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, wherein the birds have been accorded protection, India would gain domain knowledge which would be helpful in effectively managing the habitats of these Raptors, including concerted trans-boundary efforts for conservation through interaction with other range countries by signing of the MoU with the CMS. Pakistan and Nepal are the other neighbours who are signatories to this MoU.
The CMS or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. India had become a party to the CMS since 1 November 1983.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the introduction of “Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS)” in place of the existing Revised Restructured Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (RR-TUFS), for technology upgrade of the textiles industry, with effect from the date of notification of the scheme.
The new scheme specifically targets:
- Employment generation and export by encouraging apparel and garment industry, which will provide employment to women in particular and increase India’s share in global exports.
- Promotion of Technical Textiles, a sunrise sector, for export and employment
- Promoting conversion of existing looms to better technology looms for improvement in quality and productivity
- Encouraging better quality in processing industry and checking need for import of fabrics by the garment sector.
The amended scheme would give a boost to “Make in India” in the textiles sector; it is expected to attract investment to the tune of one lakh crore rupees, and create over 30 lakh jobs.
A budget provision of Rs.17,822 crore has been approved, of which Rs. 12,671 crore is for committed liabilities under the ongoing scheme, and Rs. 5,151 crore is for new cases under ATUFS.
All cases pending with the office of the Textile Commissioner (TXC) which are complete in all respects, shall be provided assistance under the ongoing scheme and the new scheme will be given prospective effect. The TXC is being reorganised; its offices shall be set up in each state. Officers of the TXC shall be closely associated with entrepreneurs for setting up the industry, including processing proposals under the new scheme, verifying assets created jointly with the bankers and maintaining close liaison with the State government agencies.
The implementation of the scheme would be executed and monitored online under iTUFS, launched in April, 2015. Under the new scheme, there will be two broad categories:
- Apparel, Garment and Technical Textiles, where 15 percent subsidy would be provided on capital investment, subject to a ceiling of 30 crore rupees for entrepreneurs over a period of five years.
- Remaining sub-sectors would be eligible for subsidy at a rate of 10 percent, subject to a ceiling of Rs.20 crore on similar lines.
The Technology Upgradation (sic) Fund Scheme was introduced by the Government in 1999 to facilitate new and appropriate technology for making the textile industry globally competitive and to reduce the capital cost for the textile industry. A sum of Rs 21,347 crore has been provided as assistance to the industry during 1999 – 2015. It has led to investments worth Rs. 2,71,480 crore, and created job opportunities for nearly 48 lakh people.
The scheme was earlier amended for continuation during the 12th Plan. A sum of Rs.11,952 crore was provided for attracting investment of Rs. 1,51,000 crore during the period 2012-2017. Out of this, Rs. 9,290 crore was meant for committed liabilities and Rs. 2,662 crore for new investment. The amount provided for new investment has been exhausted and therefore the Ministry of Finance was approached for enhancing the allocation.
The amendments in the scheme are expected to plug the loopholes in the earlier scheme and improve Ease of Doing Business. It will also give a boost to employment generation and exports in the textile sector in a big way.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he CCEA has approved the scaling up of budget from Rs 600 crore to Rs 5,000 crore for implementation of grid-connected rooftop systems over a period of five years up to 2019-20 under National Solar Mission (NSM). This will support Installation of 4200 MW solar rooftop systems in the country in next five years.
A capital subsidy of 30% will be provided for general category States/UTs and 70% for special category States i.e., North-Eastern States including Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
There will be no subsidy for commercial and industrial establishments In the private sector since they are eligible for other benefits such as accelerated depreciation, custom duty concessions, excise duty exemptions and tax holiday etc.
This capacity of 4200 MWp will come up through the residential, Government, Social and institutional sector (hospitals, educational institutions etc.). Industrial & commercial sector will be encouraged for installations without subsidy. This will create the market, build the confidence of the consumers and will enable the balance capacity through market mode to achieve the target of 40,000 MW power by 2022.
The government has revised the target of NSM from 20,000 MWp to 1,00,000 MWp by 2022. Out of the 40,000 MWp is to come through grid connected solar rooftop systems. This approval will boost the installations in a big way and will act as a catalyst to achieve the goal of 40,000 MWp.
A large potential is available for generating solar power using unutilized space on rooftops in buildings. Solar power generated by each individual household, industrial, Institutional, commercial or any other type of buildings can be used to partly fulfil the requirement of the building occupants and surplus, if any, can be fed into the grid. So Tar, 26 States have notified their regulations to provide Net Metering/Gross metering facilities to support solar rooftops installations.
Today it is possible to generate solar power from the solar rooftop systems at about Rs.6.50/kWh. This is cheaper than the diesel gen-sets based electricity generation. It is also cheaper than the cost at which most DISCOMs would make power available to the industrial, commercial and high-end domestic consumers.
With the new initiative, India will emerge as a major country utilizing the roof space for solar rooftop systems on such a. large scale: This 40 GW will result in abatement of about 60 million tonnes of CO2 per year and will help to fulfil the commitment of India towards its contribution in mitigating the effect of climate change.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Cabinet has been apprised of the MoU signed in October 2015 between India and Jordan for promoting cooperation In the field of information technology and electronics. The MoU will develop and strengthen industrial, technological and commercial cooperation between the two countries in Information Technology and Electronics (IT&E) sector and to implement institutional and capacity building cooperation programme aimed at fostering partnerships between the two countries.
The main areas of co-operation between the parties include:
- Identifying Capacity Building areas and specific needs of Jordanian IT sector, Design, Plan and implement IT Capacity Building Programmes for the benefit to Jordan;
- Cooperation among private and public entities of both countries in the areas of investment and business promotion;
- Strengthening of collaboration in the IT&E sector in the areas of e-education, e-governance, m-governance, e-health, tele-medicine etc;
- Sharing of best practices in the areas of regulatory policy and the institutional framework with special emphasis on developing internationally competitive IT&E manufacturing and services industry;
- Participation in international events organised by each country, as appropriate, exchange of experts etc. and
- Other areas as jointly decided by the parties.
The above areas of cooperation will be realized through establishing a working group on IT&E composed of representatives of the parties.