Cabinet approves liberalization, simplification and rationalization of Visa regime in India


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Cabinet approves liberalization, simplification and rationalization of Visa regime in India
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for liberalization, simplification and rationalization of the existing visa regime in India, and incremental changes in the visa policy decided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with various stakeholders and with approval of the Home Minister. 

The approval will facilitate entry of foreigners for tourism, business and medical purposes. This is expected to stimulate economic growth, increase earnings from export of services like tourism, medical value travel and travel on account of business and to make ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and other such flagship initiatives of the Government successful.

This will also considerably ease the travel of foreigners to India for the above-mentioned legitimate purposes. 

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Cabinet approves inclusion/Amendments in the Central List of Other Backward Classes notified in respect of States of Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to notify inclusion/Amendments in the Central List of Other Backward Classes notified in respect of States of Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

On the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), a total of 2479 Entries for inclusion, including its synonyms, sub-castes, etc. in the Central List of Other Backward Classes have been notified in 25 States and 6 Union Territories. The last such notification was issued till September, 2016. Meanwhile more advices for inclusion of castes/communities and corrections in the existing list of OBCs for the State of Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand have been received from NCBC. Accordingly, a total of 28 changes recommended by NCBC in respect of 8 states including Jammu and Kashmir (15 new entries, 09 synonyms/sub-castes and 04 corrections) have been notified.

The changes will enable the persons belonging to these castes/ communities to avail the benefits of reservation in Government services and posts as well as in Central Educational Institutions as per the existing policy. They will also become eligible for benefit under the various welfare schemes, scholarships etc. being administered by the Central Government, which are at present available to the persons belonging to the Other Backward Classes.

Background 

The NCBC was set up in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgement in the Indra Sawhney case as per the NCBC Act 1993. Section 9 ("Functions of the Commission") of the NCBC Act 1993 states as under:

(i) The Commission shall examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tender such advice to the Central Government as it deems appropriate.

(ii) The advice of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding upon the Central Government. 

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Cabinet approves Rehabilitation Package for Displaced Families from Pakistan occupied Jammu &Kashmir and Chhamb under the Prime Minister's Development Package for Jammu & Kashmir, 2015
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved Central Assistance of Rs. 2000 crore for 36,384 displaced families from Pakistan occupied areas of Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb following an announcement of Prime Minister's Development Package for Jammu & Kashmir-2015 in November, 2015

As per the package, Rs. 5.5 lakh cash benefit per family will be disbursed to the displaced families to enable them to earn an income and subsist their livelihood. The amount will be released to the State Government of J&K to be disbursed to eligible families through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

In the aftermath of partition of the country in 1947, thousands of families from Pakistan occupied areas of Jammu & Kashmir migrated to the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Subsequently, during Indo-Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971, a large number of families were displaced from Chhamb Niabat area of Jammu & Kashmir. Series of relief and rehabilitation packages have been extended by the Government of India/State Government of J&K from time to time to mitigate the hardship of displaced persons from PoJK and Chhamb and to rehabilitate them. 

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Cabinet approves the negotiating position adopted by the Government at the Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention for Protection of Ozone Layer held at Kigali, Rwanda
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating position adopted by the Government of India at the recent Meeting of Parties (MoP) to the Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention for Protection of Ozone Layer that took place during 6-14 October, 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda.

The negotiations at Kigali were aimed at including Hydrofluoro Carbons (HFCs) in the list of chemicals under the Montreal Protocol with a view to regulate their production and consumption and phase them down over a period of time with financial assistance from the Multilateral Fund created under the Montreal Protocol. HFCs are not ozone depleting but global warming substance and if controlled, can contribute substantially to limiting the global temperature and advance actions for addressing climate change.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to argue for adoption of an appropriate baseline years from out of 3 options within a range of 2024 to 2030 with freeze in a subsequent year. The Cabinet approved the flexibility of using any of the options within this range with a combination of the features of the proposed options in consultation with the Government. During negotiations held at Kigali India successfully negotiated the baseline years and freeze years which will allow sufficient room for the growth of the concerned sectors using refrigerants being manufactured domestically thus ensuring unhindered growth with least additional cost and maximum climate benefits.

  It was agreed at Kigali that there would be two set of baselines or peak years for developing countries and India will have baseline years of 2024, 2025, 2026. This decision gives additional HCFC allowance of 65% that will be added to the Indian baseline consumption and production. The freeze year for India will be 2028, with a condition that there will be a technology review in 2024/2025 and, if the growth in the sectors using refrigerants is above certain agreed threshold, India can defer its freeze up to 2030. On the other hand, developed countries will reduce production and consumption of HFCs by 70% in 2029. As per the decisions taken in Kigali, India will complete its phase down in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 85% in 2047.

The Kigali amendments to the Montreal Protocol will also, for the first time, incentivise improvement in energy efficiency in case of use of new refrigerant and technology. Funding for R&D and servicing sector in developing countries has also been included in the agreed solutions on finance. 

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Cabinet approves closure of Kota Unit of Instrumentation Limited and Transfer of its Palakkad Unit to Government of Kerala
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved closure of Kota Unit of Instrumentation Ltd. and transfer of Palakkad Unit of Instrumentation Ltd. to Government of Kerala.

In this connection, the Cabinet has approved attractive VRS/VSS package at 2007 notional pay scales to employees of Kota Unit of Instrumentation Ltd. including the payment of pending salary, statutory dues etc., which amounts to approximately Rs.438 crore. 

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Cabinet approves Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)- Phase III
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Mumbai Urban Transport Project Phase-III.

The estimated cost of project is Rs.8,679 crore with completion cost of Rs.10,947 crore. The project is expected to be completed in the next 5 years during 13th Plan period.

Western Railway is running suburban services on the existing busy double line between Virar-Dahanu Road which is a part of main line Mumbai –Ahmedabad / Delhi route. Main line is already over saturated and there is no scope for supplementing suburban services on this line. Construction of additional double line between Virar-Dahanu Road will address the demand of commuters in this region. This will provide extension of suburban services from Churchgate to Dahanu Road. Panvel-Karjat double line suburban corridor will cater to the significant urbanization and population growth in recent years in this area. This will also provide alternate route from Karjat to CSTM via Panvel which will be shorter by 23 Km than the existing route via Kalyan and will reduce travel time between CSTM to Karjat by 35 to 40 minutes by slow trains.

Presently, passengers commuting from Kalyan to Vashi/ Panvel or in reverse direction, have to get down at Thane and take Trans Harbour link. This results in congestion at Thane which is already a busy station on Central Railway. Airoli-Kalwa corridor will reduce congestion at Thane station and will also save time as these passengers can travel bypassing Thane. Procurement of new coaches will enhance the quality of service and reduce congestion. The works proposed under trespass control at 22 locations shall significantly reduce trespass and will provide safer environment for the public.

The areas covered by this project are Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Mumbai districts of Maharashtra.

Background:

The Mumbai suburban railway network on Central and Western Railways has 376 route Kms. There are five corridors, two on Western Railway, two on Central Railway and one on Harbour Line of Central Railway. Everyday approximately 8 million people travel in suburban section in more than 2900 train services. There is severe overcrowding in the suburban trains specially during peak hours. Due to geographical constraints, spread of the population and location of business areas, the rail network will continue to be the principal mode of mass transport in Mumbai. To meet the demands of the ever growing commuter traffic, new suburban corridor between Panvel-Karjat (28 Route km), new elevated corridor between Airoli-Kalwa( 3 Route km ), quadrupling of Virar-Dahanu Road (63 Route km), procurement of 565 new coaches and trespass control measures in mid sections have been included in Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)- Phase III. 

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