New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a Union Cabinet meeting here with his colleagues in which a few important decisions were landed upon including one on the civil aviation policy.
The significance of this meet becomes high as the ministers looked upon the key issues and made some major announcements.
The 11 key decisions taken by Cabinet are:
Cabinet approves new Civil Aviation Policy
The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the much-awaited Civil Aviation Policy. This is the first time since Independence that an integrated Civil Aviation Policy has been brought out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The new civil aviation policy is aimed at increasing regional connectivity, boosting cargo operations and making it easier and possibly cheaper for passengers to fly.
The new policy could propel India as the world's third-largest civil aviation market by 2022, behind the US and China.
Among key measures, the aviation policy caps airfares at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour flight between small towns and cities, and offers incentives to airlines to fly those routes. The government would refund 80 per cent of the losses incurred by airlines due to the fare caps.
Cabinet approves merger of five associate banks, Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI
The Union Cabinet today gave its in-principle approval to a proposal for the merger of five associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank with the State Bank of India.
The five banks include the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.
The merger will create a behemoth with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore, over 50 crore customers, 22,500 branches and nearly 60,000 ATMs. SBI alone has 16,500 branches including 199 offices in 36 countries. SBI first merged State Bank of Saurashtra with itself in 2008. Two years later, State Bank of Indore was merged.
SBI, country’s largest commercial bank, is still not among the top 50 banks in the world. It is ranked only 67th among its global peers.
Cabinet appraisal of MoU between ISRO and CSA
The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Space / Indian Space Research Organization (DOS/ISRO) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on cooperation in the field of outer space. The MoU was signed in Ottawa, Canada on April 15, 2015.
The MoU would lead to establishment of joint team, drawing members from ISRO and CSA, which will further work out the plan of action including examination and defining cooperative projects and the time-frame. This will also provide opportunities for diverse research in the field of peaceful uses of space technologies.
Cabinet approves MoU with Taiwan for cooperation in Agriculture and Allied Sectors
The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the MoU between Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India and India Taipei Association in Taipei, Taiwan for cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Allied Sector.
The MoU provides for cooperation in the fields of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Food Processing, Genetic Resources as well as Environmental Sustainability. Both sides will encourage the private sector in both countries to enter into cooperation in these areas. The cooperation between the two sides involves exchange of visits, information, technology and training and also expansion of agricultural trade while reducing trade barriers.
Under the MoU, a Joint Working Committee will be constituted to identify priority areas of mutual interest and follow up on the progress of implementation of the activities identified by both sides. The MoU will be initially signed for a period of five years and shall be automatically renewed for a subsequent periods of five years unless either party expresses its desire/intention to terminate it.
Cabinet approves signing of Air Services Agreement between India, Taiwan
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Air Services Agreement between India-Taipei Association in Taipei (India’s representative office in Taiwan) and Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (Taiwan’s representative office in India).
Presently, there is no formal Air Services Agreement between India and Taiwan and the Air Services are governed by an MoU exchanged between Air India Charters Limited (AIRL) and Taipei Airlines Associations (TAA).
The Air Services Agreement signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and Taiwan, and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two parties.
Cabinet approves India’s Membership of the ICDP
The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for Indian membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) consortium by signing an MoU with the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for geosciences. This is a government-funded, Public Law Foundation of the State of Brandenburg, Germany.
By signing the MoU on the membership for a period of five years with ICDP, India would enable engaging internationally renowned experts with profound expertise in different aspects of scientific drilling in order to accomplish deep drilling and associated investigations in Koyna region.
As a member of ICDP, scientists/engineers from India would have right to submit proposals, to participate in all ICDP co-funded workshops and drilling projects and have access to all data results from ICDP projects. This will shed new light on the genesis of seismicity and better understanding of earthquake processes.
Cabinet approves pact with Saudi Arabia on labour cooperation
The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the Agreement on Labour Co-operation between India and Saudi Arabia. The Agreement was signed in Riyadh on 2-3 April, 2016 during the visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia.
The agreement would benefit the Indian emigrant workers, especially in the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled categories of workers who are working in Saudi Arabia without consideration of caste, creed, religion or gender.
Cabinet approves disinvestment of 10% paid up equity of HUDCO
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its nod for disinvestment of 10% paid up equity of Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO) out of Government of India’s shareholding of 100% through Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the domestic market as per the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Rules and Regulation.
The paid up equity capital of HUDCO is Rs 2001.90 crore and Government of India owns 100% 0f the equity at present. Net worth of the Company is approximately Rs 7,800 cr.
Cabinet raises retirement age for doctors to 65 years
The Union Cabinet approved an increase in the retirement age of Central government doctors from 62 to 65 years.
The Cabinet decision comes in the wake of an announcement to the effect made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Uttar Pradesh last month.
“Central Government has decided to enhance superannuation age of all doctors in Central Health Service to 65 years with effect May 31, 2016. With this step, we retain our experienced doctors for a longer period and provide quality health services to citizens, particularly the poor," the PM had said last month while addressing a rallu in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur.
Cabinet approves Rs 2,070 cr highway project in Punjab
The Union Cabinet approved a Rs 2,070-crore highways project in Punjab under its hybrid annuity mode to ensure faster movement of traffic between Chandigarh and Ludhiana.
The project is part of Chandigarh-Ludhiana section. Six/four laning of Kharar to Ludhiana section of NH 95 (New NH 5) has been approved by the Cabinet.
The 76-km highway stretch will be constructed at a cost of Rs 2,069.70 crore and land required for it is 383.22 hectare, majority of which has been acquired and remaining 145 hectares will be acquired soon, he added.
The highway at present is only two-lane. The project is scheduled to be completed in 30 months. Out of the total, 54 km will be widened to six lane and the remaining 22 km will broadened to four lanes.
Cabinet approves contract for Exploration of Poly metallic Sulphides
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of 15 years contract by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for undertaking exploration and other developmental activities related to Polymetallic Sulphides in the allotted area of 10,000 sq km.
It will be done in parts of Central and South - West Indian Ridges (SWIR), located in the Indian Ocean.
By signing the 15 year contract, India's exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in Indian Ocean will be formalized. Further, it will enhance India's presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.
The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation from various national institutes and research laboratories/ organisations.