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Cabinet approves Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015



Cabinet approves Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, as reported by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. The Bill will now be taken up for consideration and passing by the Parliament. 


The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill is a pioneering initiative to protect the interest of consumers, promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects.

The Bill provides uniform regulatory environment to ensure speedy adjudication of disputes and orderly growth of the real estate sector. It will boost domestic and foreign investment in the Real Estate sector and help achieve the objective of Government of India to provide ‘Housing for All’ by enhanced private participation.

The Bill ensures mandatory disclosure by promoters to the customers through registration of real estate projects as well as real estate agents with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority. The Bill aims at restoring confidence of consumers in the real estate sector; by institutionalizing transparency and accountability in real estate and housing transactions which will further enable the sector to access capital and financial markets. The Bill will promote orderly growth through consequent efficient project execution, professionalism and standardization.

The salient features of the Bill are as under:

1. Applicable both for commercial and residential real estate projects.

2. Establishment of ‘Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ in States/UTs to regulate real estate transactions.

3. Registration of real estate projects and real estate agents with the Authority.

4. Mandatory disclosure of all registered projects, including details of the promoter, project, layout plan, land status, approvals, agreements along with details of real estate agents, contractors, architect, structural engineer etc.

5. Deposit of specified amount in a separate bank account to cover the construction cost of the project for timely completion of the project.

6. Establishment of fast track dispute resolution mechanisms for settlement of disputes through adjudicating officers and Appellate Tribunal.

7. Civil courts jurisdiction prohibited from taking up matters defined in Bill, however, consumer court allowed to hear real estate matters.

8. Promoters barred from changing plans and design without consent of consumers.

9. Provision of Appropriate Government to make rules for the matters specified in the Bill, and the Regulatory Authority to make necessary regulations. 
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Cabinet approves Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as national waterways 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to carry out official amendments in "The National Waterways Bill, 2015". The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of State Governments. It provides for enacting a Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways, as the national waterways. After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes upto 111.

The number of waterways to be declared as new National Waterways is now proposed as 106 and adding the existing NWs, the total number of National Waterways in the bill goes up to 111. The following changes have been effected in the original list of 101 waterways that was introduced with the National Waterways Bill 2015, on 05.05.2015:- 10 waterways of Kerala have been omitted, 17 waterways have been merged with the existing waterways and 18 waterways (5 Karnataka, 5 Meghalaya, 3 Maharashtra, 3 Kerala, 1 each from Tamilnadu and Rajasthan) have been added, thus, making a total of 106 waterways that have been finalized for declaration as new National Waterways in addition to the 5 existing waterways. In order to carry out these changes, an official amendment to the National Waterways Bill, 2015 will have to be moved in the Lok Sabha in the current Session of Parliament.

Declaration of the above additional 106 waterways as National Waterways would not have any immediate financial implications. Financial approval of the competent authority for each waterway would, however, be taken based on the outcome of the techno-economic feasibility studies etc. that are being undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) currently. IWAI will develop the feasible stretch of National Waterways for shipping and navigation purpose through mobilization of financial resources.

The declaration of these National Waterways would enable IWAI to develop the feasible stretches for Shipping and Navigation. The right over the use of water, river bed and the appurtenant land will remain with the State Government. In addition, other benefits to States are: fewer accidents, less congestion on roads, cheaper mode of ferrying passengers, reduced logistics costs in cargo movement and development of adjoining areas.

The expeditious declaration of National Waterways and its subsequent development will enhance the industrial growth and tourism potential of the hinterland along the waterway. This will also provide an additional, cheaper and environment friendly mode of transportation throughout the country.

Background:

Inland Water Transport is considered as the most cost effective and economical mode of transport from the point of view of fuel efficiency. One horse power can carry 4000 Kg load in water whereas, it can carry 150 Kg and 500 Kg by road and rail respectively. Further in a study as highlighted by the World Bank, 1 litre of fuel can move 105 ton-Km by inland water transport, whereas the same amount of fuel can move only 85 ton-Km by rail and 24 ton-Km by road. Studies have shown that emission from container vessels range from 32-36 gCO2 per ton-Km while those of road transport vehicles (heavy duty vehicles) range from 51-91gCO2 per ton-km. 
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Memorandum of Understanding between India and United Kingdom in the field of cooperation in the energy sector 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on cooperation in the energy sector. The areas of cooperation include the following:

(i) Market reforms, regulatory structures and the role of competition in the supply and distribution of electricity, including regulations and incentives for Renewable Energy deployment;

(ii) The integration of renewable energy into the grid;

(iii) Energy efficiency policies and practice, including industrial energy efficiency and vehicular fuel efficiency ;

(iv) Off-shore wind energy and solar energy;

(v) Smart grids;

(vi) Energy storage and new energy technologies;

(vii) Capacity building of renewable energy institutions;

(viii) Off-grid renewable energy services ;

(ix) Tidal energy;

(x) Any other area of co-operation approved in writing by the Participants.

The MoU will provide an enabling framework for technical assistance, including in-kind grant, and other support, as mutually agreed, through relevant projects initiated by the United Kingdom. Project specific agreements may also be developed, from time-to-time. The focus will be the electricity market structure and the integration of renewable energy into the grid. The programme would work at both central and state levels to improve energy security and reliability of supply, improve energy access and facilitate sustainable economic growth. 
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Memorandum of Understanding between India and Indonesia in the field new and renewable energy cooperation 
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Indonesia in the field of new and renewable energy. The MoU was signed in Jakarta last month during Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari’s visit to Indonesia.

The objective of the MoU is to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional framework to encourage and promote technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy issues on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity.

The areas of cooperation will focus on capacity building, exchange of scientific and technological information and data, transfer of technology on non-commercial basis, development of joint research or technical projects on subjects of mutual interest, encouragement and promotion of investment, encouragement of policy dialogue and other areas as may be agreed upon by the two countries. 
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Long term measures to increase production of pulses and for creation of buffer stock of pulses 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for creation of buffer stock of pulses. The buffer stock will be created in current year itself. It has approved procurement of about 50,000 ton pulses from the kharif crop 2015-16 and one lakh ton out of arrivals of rabi crop of 2015-16. Procurement of pulses will be done at market prices through Food Corporation of India (FCI), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) and any other agency as may be decided. SFAC will undertake procurement through Farmer Producer Organisations. The procurement in kharif and rabi 2015-16 will be done at market price above Minimum Support Price (MSP) out of the Price Stabilisation Fund.

The CCEA also decided to import pulses, if necessity arises, through a public sector enterprise of Ministry of Commerce. In case the prices fall below MSP, pulses for buffer stock will be procured at MSP under Price Support Scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

The decision to create a buffer stock of pulses to deal with wide fluctuation in prices is an important step for checking food inflation. This will also encourage farmers to take up pulses production on a larger scale and will enable India to help achieve self-sufficiency in pulses in a few years.

Pulses production is dependent on rainfall as pulses are mostly grown in rainfed areas. Pulses witness huge fluctuations in prices depending upon rainfall. It is necessary to create a buffer stock of pulses to reduce price fluctuations. This will also help in providing remunerative prices to farmers in times of excess production.

The Ministry of Agriculture has identified gaps in the present strategy to increase production of pulses and has identified lack of availability of new varieties of seeds as an important hindrance in increasing productivity of pulses. In addition, more focus has to be given on Integrated Nutrient Management, Integrated Pest Management and Farm Mechanisation. Steps will be taken to expand the scope of National Food Security Mission (NFSM) from 2016-17 so that additional interventions for increasing production of pulses may be initiated.

Background: 

Although India is the highest producer of pulses in the world, its domestic demand outstrips domestic production. The shortfall is met from imports. Long-term solution to meet demand for pulses lies in increasing pulses production in the country. The government promotes cultivation of pulses mainly through NFSM which covers 622 districts in 27 states for Pulses. Around 50% allocation of NFSM is made for pulses. Under NFSM financial assistance is given for various interventions like demonstration of improved technology, distribution of quality seeds of new varieties, integrated pest management, water saving devices and capacity building of farmers.

The following steps have been taken to promote cultivation of pulses in rabi 2015-16 and summer 2016-17 such as:

a) allocation of additional Rs.440 crore for rabi and summer pulses;

b) inclusion of cluster demonstrations in rice fallows for pulses cultivation in rabi season from 2015-16 under BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution in Eastern India) scheme in order to increase production of pulses in Eastern India in states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Eastern U.P. and West Bengal;

c) a special programme for demonstration of new varieties of pulses through Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) has been taken up from Rabi 2015-16 in order to increase availability of seeds of new varieties of pulses and promote adoption of new varieties;

d) substantial increase in the MSP for gram from Rs.3175 to Rs.3425 and for lentil (Masur) from Rs.3075 to Rs.3325 for the rabi marketing season 2016-17. 
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Mandatory use of jute in packaging for the Jute Year 2015-16 (1st July, 2015 to 30th June, 2016) 
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for mandatory use of jute in packaging for the Jute Year 2015-16 (1st July, 2015 to 30th June, 2016).  The decision will provide relief to 3.7 lakh workers employed in Jute Mills and ancillary units as well as support the livelihood of around 40 lakh farm families. Besides, it will help to protect the environment because jute is natural, biodegradable and reusable fibre.

Under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987 (JPM Act), the Government is required to consider and provide for the compulsory use of jute packaging material in the supply and distribution of certain commodities in the interest of production of raw jute and jute packaging material and of persons engaged in the production thereof and for matters connected therewith.

In pursuance of the JPM Act, the Government has decided that the following:-

1)   The following commodities may be reserved for jute packaging for the Jute Year 2015-16 (1st July, 2015 to 30th June, 2016), to the extent mentioned below:

Commodity

Minimum percentage to  be reserved for packaging in Jute

Foodgrains

*90% of the production

Sugar

20% of the production



*With the stipulation that in the first instance, the indents for the whole requirement would be placed for jute bags and in case jute mills would not be able to provide jute bags as per requisition, then a dilution upto 10% would be permissible by the Department of Food & Public Distribution.

2)   Sugar packed for export but which could not be exported, sugar fortified with vitamins, packing for export of commodities, consumer packs of 10 kgs and below for foodgrains and 25 kgs and below for sugar and bulk packing of more than 100 kgs may be exempted from the reservation order under JPM Act. Further, Ministry of Textiles may relax the provisions for reservation upto a maximum of 30% of the foodgrains, over and above the norms prescribed.

3)   Consumer packs of quantity of above 10 kgs and upto 25 kgs for packing of foodgrains should be done in jute bags for distribution of foodgrains under Foodgrains Security Act subject to such bags being cost competitive as compared to HDPE/PP bags factoring in the subsidy/reimbursement provided by Government of India for packing of foodgrains.

4)   With a view to reducing the cost of jute bags all future orders of the Government shall be for lighter weight bags of 580 and 600 gms subject to conformity with relevant BIS standards.


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