Cabinet okays hike in subsidy for sulphur-based fertilizers
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday gave its nod for raising the subsidized prices of sulphur-based fertilizers.
The move is aimed at discouraging rampant use of nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium fertilizers, which impacts soil quality. “For sulphur-based fertilizer, the government will provide a subsidy of ₹350/100kg against ₹277 earlier. The government’s total subsidy burden for nutrient-based fertilizers is ₹22,875.50 crore," information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said at a press briefing.
“The move is part of steps taken by the Modi-led government to improve agricultural productivity and ease agrarian distress during its second consecutive term," he said.
The Narendra Modi government is focussed on “Gaon, Garib, Kisan", finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said while presenting the budget proposals on 5 July. The finance minister had announced a slew of schemes to boost investment in the rural sector and uplift farmers. In the interim budget on 1 February, then finance minister Piyush Goyal had announced an income support scheme for 125 million farmers. The scheme was extended to 145 million farmers after the Modi government took office for the second term on 30 May.
The cabinet also cleared the bill raising the number of judges in the Supreme Court from 30 to 34, including the Chief Justice of India. “There are scores of cases pending in Indian courts. The government wanted to tackle this problem so we increased the number of judges," said Javadekar.
The CCEA also cleared the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to reduce the compliance burden of registered chit funds and protect the interest of subscribers. The Centre’s decision to regulate collective investment schemes was taken in the aftermath of the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam of April 2013. The Saradha group had collected ₹20,000-30,000 crore from more than 1.7 million depositors before it collapsed.
Javadekar also said that India will sign the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements, which will be yet another step to improving ease of doing business and boosting the confidence of businesses looking to set up shop in India. “The move aims to send a positive signal to foreign investors about India’s commitment to adhere to international practice on alternative dispute resolution," the government said.
The cabinet also extended the term of the commission, constituted under Article 340 of the Constitution to examine the sub-categorization within other backward classes (OBCs) in the central list, by six months for up to 31 January 2020. The proposed extension of tenure shall enable the “commission" to submit a comprehensive report on the issue of sub-categorization of OBCs, after consultation with various stake holders," the government said.
The cabinet approved the setting up of Isro Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) at Moscow, Russia. The ITLU Moscow office will be managed by an Isro scientist/engineer designated as “counsellor (space)" on deputation, and supported by a staff sourced locally. The process will be completed in six months from the date of approval.
“Isro will be able to collaborate with space agencies/industries in Russia and neighbouring countries for mutually synergetic outcomes. Isro’s Gaganyaan programme requires development of some of the key technologies and establishment of specialized facilities, which are essential to support life in space," the government said.
“Keeping in view the 15th August 2022 timeline for realization of the Gaganyaan human space programme, it is prudent to avail technical cooperation from international space agencies, which have already demonstrated their technical capabilities in specific areas. Russia, being one of the space faring nations, it is envisaged to collaborate with Russia extensively in various fields of relevance," it added.
The cabinet also gave its ex-post facto approval to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between India and Bolivia on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes.
The cabinet also approved the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019, which will pave the way of extending the benefit of reservation of up to 10% for “economically weaker sections (EWS)" in educational institutions and public employment alongside existing reservations