NATIONAL

Bharat stage-II grade diesel in many States from April 1

NEW DELHI, MARCH 24. The Union Cabinet today decided to introduce the Bharat Stage-II grade diesel in all but seven States from April 1. The States where the introduction of the better quality diesel has been deferred are: Rajasthan, west Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. In these States too, the new grade of diesel will be introduced by October 1.

Announcing this, the Union Minister and Cabinet spokesperson, Jaipal Reddy, said the two-stage introduction of the BS II diesel had become necessary due to constraints of production at refineries and the non-availability of products of the required grade from abroad as well as from Reliance. Under the national policy on automobile fuel, the BS-II grade diesel was to be introduced throughout the country by April 1.

There would, however, be no change in the schedule on introduction of the BS-II grade petrol. The Cabinet decided to introduce it throughout the country from April 1 as mandated by the national auto fuel policy.

e-projects

It also gave the nod for the introduction of the Euro-III grade petrol and diesel in 11 major cities in line with the policy. The cities are: the National Capital Region of Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Agra, Kanpur, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Surat.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the Cabinet also approved the establishment of a National Institute for Smart Government to provide consultancy for structuring and implementing e-governance projects in collaboration with the private sector.

The Institute would be set up as a not-for-profit company, with the Government providing 49 per cent of the equity and the private sector the remaining 51 per cent. The Department of Information Technology and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances would each contribute Rs. 1 crore towards the equity.

The main aim of the NISG would be to channel private sector competencies and resources for e-governance projects. It would provide services for project development, including induction of appropriate consultancy organisations, identification of funding and implementing agencies, establishment of necessary institutional structures and monitoring the implementation of the projects.

The amendment to Article 1 of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was ratified to extend its scope to cover armed conflicts of international and non-international character. It also ratified protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to address the problems associated with unexploded or abandoned explosive ordnance in a post-conflict scenario.

It approved the signing of an agreement with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and gave ex-post facto approval for the extradition treaties with Bulgaria and Oman. The treaty with Bulgaria was signed in October 2003 and that with Oman in December last.

Court computerisation

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which also met here today, approved a Rs. 385-crore scheme for computerisation of the 13,500 district and subordinate courts in the country by March 2007. Following the implementation of the scheme, judges in these courts would be able to access the legal and judicial database, including precedents and details on cases adjourned on a given day, while the Registry officials would be able to record judgements and orders more effectively.

The National Informatics Centre will implement the project.

It was also decided to reduce the manpower of the National Jute Manufacturers Corporation by offering VRS to all employees of the organisation, including those at the head office.

A budgetary support of Rs. 978 crores will be extended to the corporation to liquidate its statutory arrears, gratuity and secured liabilities, besides meeting the cost of providing the VRS.

The VRS will be offered after approval of the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction and the Ministry of Labour within three months.

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