Key takeaways from Union Cabinet decisions on July 17

Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal during a Cabinet briefing, in New Delhi on July 17, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday extended the 15th Finance Commission’s term by a month and cleared amendments to other important bills.

Cabinet clears bill to amend companies law

The government on Wednesday approved a bill to amend the Companies Act, 2013 that would replace an ordinance issued earlier this year.

“The proposed amendments will lead to further promotion of ease of doing business, de-clogging of National Company Law Tribunal and Special Courts,” an official release said.

The focus would be on serious cases of violations of the Act and ensuring enhanced compliance by corporates.

“The amendments will benefit law abiding corporates while simultaneously plugging gaps in the corporate governance and compliance framework enshrined in the Companies Act, 2013,” the release said.

Centre proposes common MBBS exit exam; NEET to apply to AIIMS also

In a bid to streamline medical education in the country, the Union government plans to convert the final year examination of the MBBS course into a licentiate examination, which will also be used for entrance into postgraduate medical courses, and act as a screening test for foreign medical graduates. It will be called the National Exit Test (NEXT).

These proposals are part of the National Medical Commission Bill approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday. If enacted, the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 would be repealed. The current Medical Council of India would be replaced by a National Medical Commission.

The Commission will have four autonomous boards: Undergraduate Medical Education Board, Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and Ethics and Medical Registration Board. It will also be responsible for regulating fees and all other charges for half the seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities.

The Bill proposes to unify all entrance procedures for medical courses. NEXT, as well as NEET – the common entrance test for MBBS admissions – as well as admission counselling will now apply to AIIMS and other institutes which have followed their own procedures thus far. — reports our Special Correspondent Nistual Hebbar

Govt. approves 7 amendments to insolvency law

In a significant move, the government Wednesday cleared seven amendments to the insolvency law that seek to put in place a 330-day deadline for corporate resolution process, including litigation and other judicial processes, as well as make resolution plan binding on all stakeholders.

Experts said the changes would help in clearing various road blocks for resolution process and smoothen the process as well as save time.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has been amended twice so far.

The amendments would “enable the government to ensure maximisation of value of a corporate debtor as a going concern while simultaneously adhering to strict timelines,” an official release said.

Centre extends 15th Finance Commission’s term by a month till Nov. 30

The 15th Finance Commission’s term will be extended by a month till November 30. The cabinet also broadened the ambit of its recommendation to include funds for defence and internal security.

The government on November 27, 2017, notified the 15th Finance Commission, headed by N.K. Singh, to suggest, among other things, the formula for devolution of funds to States by the Centre for five years commencing April 1, 2020.

The commission was scheduled to finalise its report by October 30 this year.

Cabinet approves NID amendment bill

The government approved a bill to amend the National Institutes of Design (NID) Act, 2014, to include four new such centres within the ambit of the law and declare them as institutions of national importance, sources said.

Sources said granting the status of institutions of national importance to new NIDs will ensure that design education becomes socially inclusive and address the needs of design in various sectors including agriculture, health care, and transportation.

The four new NIDs which would be included are in Amaravati, Bhopal, Jorhat, and Kurukshetra.

These institutes would also be able to grant a degree, diploma, and other academic distinctions.

Cabinet approves bill to scrap 58 redundant laws

In its effort to weed out archaic and dead statutes, the Union Cabinet approved a bill to scrap 58 laws which have lost their relevance.

The NDA government in its two terms has sent to the chopping block 1,824 old laws which had become redundant.

After the Repealing and Amendment Bill, 2019 gets parliamentary nod, 137 laws, which, according to the government, have lost their relevance will be scrapped in the next lot.

The list of the 58 laws which will be repealed was not immediately available, but sources in the government said most are Acts which were enacted to amend principal or main laws.

“Once the principal Act was amended, these amendment laws have lost relevance. Their presence in the statute books as independent laws is unnecessary and they are only clogging the system,” said a government functionary.

Centre approves ₹1,600 cr for Dibang Multipurpose Project

The Centre approved ₹1,600 crore for pre-investment activities of the Dibang Multipurpose Project (MPP) in Arunachal Pradesh.

The project is envisaged as a storage-based hydro-electric project with flood moderation as the key objective.

The CCEA has approved the expenditure on pre-investment activities and various clearances for the Dibang Multipurpose Project in Arunachal Pradesh for an amount of ₹1,600 crore, it stated.

Govt approves doubling of train track connecting Guwahati with New Bongaigaon

The Centre approved the doubling of a vital railway line connecting Guwahati with New Bongaigaon at a cost of ₹2,042 crore.

The CCEA gave its approval to construct the New Bongaigaon and Agthori via Rangiya railway line, doubling (142.97 km) of Northeast Frontier Railway in Assam with an estimated cost of ₹2,042.51 crore, an official statement said.

The project will be completed by 2022-23 and will be executed by the construction organisation of the Northeast Frontier Railway.

The line capacity utilisation of the section between New Bongaigaon and Agthori via Rangiya is more than 100%.

Traffic on this section will further increase as Rangiya-Murkongselek Broad Gauge line has already been commissioned in 2015-16 and the Bogibeel Bridge new line has been commissioned recently.

To remove the capacity constraints of the existing network and to handle the increasing freight and passenger traffic, doubling of New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya is required, the statement said.

Dam Safety Bill gets nod from CCEA

The Centre is set to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019 in Parliament after it was cleared by the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday.

A version of the Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2018 (and which subsequently lapsed). It aims to put in place a systematic procedure to ensure that India’s 5,600 dams are made and maintained safely.

Cabinet okays ₹330cr loan to 3 pharma PSUs for clearing staff liabilities

The Union Cabinet approved loans of ₹330.35 crore to three State-owned pharma companies to help them clear employees’ liabilities, and announced setting up of a ministerial panel to decide on the closure or sale of four PSUs.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took the decision to provide budgetary support as loan to the tune of ₹330.35 crore for meeting the employees’ liabilities of Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL), Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (RDPL) and Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd (HAL).

“Budgetary support of ₹330.35 crore would help in disbursing the unpaid salaries and providing support for VRS of employees of IDPL, RDPL and HAL. The decision would mitigate sufferings of more than 1,000 employees of these PSUs,” an official statement said.

Of the ₹330.35 crore, ₹158.35 crore will be utilised to clear unpaid salary and ₹172 crore for meeting the VRS liability.

The cabinet also approved constitution of a committee of ministers for taking all decisions pertaining to closure/ strategic sale of four public sector undertakings, including the sale of assets and clearance of outstanding liabilities, it added.

“Setting up of a Committee of Ministers would expedite in process of implementation of the earlier Cabinet decision dated December 28, 2016 for closure of IDPL and RDPL and strategic sale of HAL and BCPL (Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd),” the statement said.

In 2016, the cabinet had decided to sell surplus land of HAL, IDPL, RDPL and BCPL through open competitive bidding to government agencies and clear the outstanding liabilities from the sale proceeds, it added.

“It was decided that after meeting the liabilities, IDPL and RDPL would be closed and HAL and BCPL put up for strategic sale,” the statement said.

The government said that efforts were made to sell surplus land, but it could not find buyers, despite issuing tenders more than once.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has issued revised guidelines on June 14, 2018 in respect of disposal of land of the PSUs, it added.

“As funds could not be generated through sale of surplus land, the employees in few of the PSUs (HAL and RDPL) could not be paid salaries and VRS scheme floated. As such, it was decided to dispose of the land as per revised DPE’s guidelines and seek up-front budgetary support for meeting employees’ liabilities,” the statement said.

CCEA nod to 3 railway projects in Assam, Uttar Pradesh

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved two railway projects in Uttar Pradesh and one in Assam to ease traffic on the busy Delhi-Kolkata route and through the northeastern States.

The CCEA has given its approval to lay 150 km-long third railway line between Allahabad and Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction (formerly Mughalsarai) at an estimated cost of ₹2,890 crore. The project will be completed by 2023-24 and will be executed by the Construction Organisation of North Central.

Two important bridges to be built on the line include an 880-metre bridge on the Yamuna river at a cost of ₹237 crore and a 370-metre bridge on Tons river estimated to cost around ₹96 crore.

“The project will help cope up with the future traffic and remove capacity constraints. At present, the number of passenger and goods trains in this section are far more than its capacity, resulting in heavy detention to trains. This project will enhance capacity, reduce detention and cater for future growth of traffic. Construction of approved third Line between Allahabad and Mughalsarai will also ease traffic congestion at Chheoki, Naini and improve the punctuality of goods and passenger trains on vital route connecting National capital,” the railways said.

The CCEA has also approved the construction of a new railway line between Sahjanwa and Dohrighat (81.17 km) in the state with an estimated cost of ₹1,442 crore. The project will be completed by 2023-24 and will be executed by Construction Organisation of North Eastern Railway.

Alignment from Sahjanwa to Dohrighat lies mostly in Gorakhpur district and very small area in Mau district in Uttar Pradesh. The Indara-Dohrighat gauge conversion has already been sanctioned and this approval for new line for Dohrighat- Sahjanwa will complete the missing link and provide an alternate route avoiding Gorakhpur.

After completion of this connectivity, alternate route connecting Chhapra to Lucknow avoiding congestion at Gorakhpur will be available. Hence, this project is needed for better socio-economic development of the hinterland of this backward area with the help of rail transport.

The committee has also approved the doubling of New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya railway line in Assam of 142.97 km length at a cost of ₹2248 crore. It will be completed by 2022-23.

The line will have 131 bridges and will reduce travel time between Guwahati and Delhi.

(With inputs from PTI)

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