Evening digest: Cabinet removes land cost from infra project costs to fast track approvals

GN Bureau | November 18, 2015


#cabinet   #IDEAS   #David Coleman Headley   #terror attacks   #Nitish Kumar   #oath ceremony   #Intel   #Facebook   #Swachh app   #Delhi   #Kerala   #Kiss of Love   #Rahul Pashupalan  

In a spate of decisions, union cabinet has approved 10% stake sale in Coal India, initial public offer of Cochin Shipyards, approved 3% interest subsidy for exports, empowered roads ministry to revive 34 stalled projects by appropriate measure and cleared big ticket railway projects adding up to Rs 10,000 crore. For the first time, cabinet also approved direct payment of part of the sugarcane subsidy to the farmers, potentially opening the possibility of the entire subsidy being paid through this mechanisms later.

The union cabinet also allowed separation of land and construction cost of road projects to empower the highways ministry to clear more projects without going to cabinet.

It also authorized national highway authority of India (NHAI) to allow extension of concession period for all current projects in BOT (Toll) mode with certain conditions and also pay compensation.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs has approval for second  extension  to  the  Indian  Development  and  Economic Assistance  Scheme (IDEAS) to African and other developing countries for another five years i.e. from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

The cabinet brought back interest subvention scheme for exports providing for 3% subsidy to both pre-shipment and post-shipment credit to exports.

This will be available from April 1, 2015. Interest subvention for exports was discontinued in 2013-14 by the previous UPA government.

India's exports declined for eleventh month running in October, falling 17.5% in the month. For the period April-October exports are down 17.6% in dollar terms.

David Coleman Headley to be made an accused in 26/11 terror attacks case
A Mumbai court on Wednesday allowed the city police's plea to make Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist David Coleman Headley an accused in 26/11 terror attack case. Issuing summons to Headley, the court directed that he be produced via video-conferencing on December 10. The sessions court had earlier this month reserved its order on the Mumbai Police's plea. The prosecution had told the sessions court that Headley had not been tried under Indian law for 26/11 conspiracy. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam informed that Headley has been asked to appear before the court via video link on December 10. Further proceeding will be decided after that, Nikam said after the court verdict.

Nitish Kumar invites PM Modi for oath ceremony on Friday
Bihar Chief Minister designate Nitish Kumar today extended invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the oath ceremony of his new government on Friday. Kumar talked to the PM over telephone and extended his invitation for the oath function at Gandhi Maidan at 2 pm on November 20, sources in the Chief Minister's office said. With the four-day Chhath festival ending this morning, Kumar telephoned prominent leaders personally to invite them for the swearing-in ceremony of the new government. Bihar JD(U) President Basistha Narayan Singh said inviting the Prime Minister was a political etiquette and it was now on him whether to come or not. Meanwhile, it was announced in the evening that  PM Modi won't attend the swearing-in ceremony. Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Rajiv Pratap Rudy to represent the PM at the ceremony.

Intel India launches initiative to boost rural digitisation
Intel India today announced the launch of 'Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur', an initiative aimed at working with the government to create the blueprint for the digitisation of rural India. The first such Digital India 'Unnati' Kendra has been set up at a Common Services Center (CSC) in Nadimpalle village of Mahabubnagar district of Telangana and will be used to create the framework for the Telangana Model Digital Village. Intel will work closely with entities like Common Services Centers (CSCs) that provide last mile citizen services across the country. Digital India Unnati Kendras will provide devices, relevant local content and training for citizens thereby creating opportunities for development and empowerment.

Facebook can legally block content: US Court
In a major victory for Facebook, a US court has ruled that it can block content without any explanation after a Sikh group filed a lawsuit challenging the blocking of its social media page. The ruling by the US Court in San Francisco came in response to the lawsuit filed against the Silicon Valley- headquartered company by Sikh for Justice, which alleged that its Facebook page, which advocated Sikh separatism, was blocked by the social media giant.

India wants a global convention on terrorism
United Nations: India has said the multiple terror attacks in Paris and Beirut highlight the urgent need to finalise a global convention on terrorism, asserting that the financingbeing provided to terrorist groups such as ISIS and LeT needs to be addressed collectively.

"The terrible events of last week, in Beirut and Paris, demonstrate to us that the greatest threat to peace and security comes from violent extremism and religious fanaticism, not from the absence of economic and social development," India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi said here yesterday.

He told the UN Security Council that the terror attacks also highlight the international community's unfinished business in the fight against terrorism.
"Leaders had, in the 2005 Summit, decided that expeditious action would be taken to finalise the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. That has not happened. The price that we pay for procrastination is often in human lives.

Delhi raises stink: Swachh app receives 2,200 plaints in a day
On Tuesday afternoon, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to thank people. What was he thanking Delhi people for?  Swachh Delhi app has managed to get huge response within 24 hours of its launch on Monday. The mobile app, a joint initiative between the BJP-led corporations and the AAP government, received over 2,000 pictures by Tuesday. Kejriwal's tweet said: "Thank you Delhi for the huge response. 2,200 pictures of garbage/malba received in less than 24 hours," he said. North Corporation mayor Ravinder Gupta also tweeted, "It is wonderful to know people have started using our app." The mobile app—for which the corporations and the government have come together after being at loggerheads for the past few months over release of funds—offers Delhiites a platform to file complaints regarding garbage/malba collection in their area. It was launched by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal along with the mayors of the three corporations.

Kerala's 'Kiss of Love' organizer arrested over alleged involvement in sex racket
Kerala's 'Kiss of Love' campaign organizers Rahul Pashupalan and his wife Resmi R Nair, who took on moral police, have been arrested for allegedly helping a paedophile group.  Police said some of those arrested in a statewide raid conducted on Tuesday night, had allegedly uploaded pictures of school- and college-going girls on a Facebook page and posted derogatory comments. They added that the cyber police wing got information about an online sex racket that was operating through websites and social media platforms like Facebook. "Rahul and Resmi have allegedly helped a group which is into supplying children for paedophiliacs. It's too early to comment on their roles in the group," said DIG S Sreejith who led the raids.
The "Kiss of Love" campaign started as a movement against moral policing. It was begun after a mob of attackers demolished a coffee shop in North Kerala's Kozhikode city alleging it was a venue for "immoral activity" like the public display of affection by couples.

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