The Union Cabinet on Thursday decided to raise the ceiling of gratuity payable to employees in the private sector from Rs. 3.5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh.

The proposal was cleared at the Cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. With this decision, private sector employees have been brought on a par with the Central government employees who were granted hike by the Sixth Pay commission. The Centre is likely to table a bill amending the gratuity law during the current Budget session of Parliament.

Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge held a number of consultations with stakeholders to arrive at a consensus on the issue.

Nursing schools approved

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved setting up 132 nursing and midwifery schools across the country at Rs. 660 crore during the XI th plan. These schools would be set up in high-focus States like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, North Eastern States, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other districts , preferably which do not have auxiliary nursing and midwifery schools.

The institutions will be opened in these States at a total cost of Rs. 660 crore, with a cost sharing pattern of 85:15 between the Centre and the States, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told journalists here. The expenditure on part of the Central government would be Rs. 561 crore and the States will contribute Rs. 99 crore. The effective implementation of the scheme is expected to increase the availability of trained nursing manpower and improve the quality of nursing education in the backward and special category States.

The Cabinet also decided to set up a separate Central Council for Research in ‘Siddha' (science of healing through natural herbs) by bifurcating the existing Central Council of Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), New Delhi. The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS) was established as an autonomous body in 1978. The CCRAS, since its inception as a separate council, has carried out many research activities especially to promote Ayurveda and ‘Siddha' systems of medicine.

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