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IWAI Signs Contract with DST, Germany for Designing Special Vessels for NW-1
Sep 22,2016

With its objective of providing safe, environment friendly and economical mode of transportation through National Waterway-1 (NW-1), The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Ministry of Shipping signed a contract with M/s DST, Germany to design vessels, especially suited to navigate the 1620 km stretch of NW-1.

Speaking on the occasion a senior IWAI official said it is a revolutionary step and a milestone in the journey of NW-1. n++The objective of IWAI is to go along with nature and disturb the river minimally. The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts and will be of high carrying capacity, and most importantly, will be environment friendly,n++ he said.

Considering the expected growth of the Inland Waterways sector in India, DST, Germany is expected to develop a combination of standardised vessels to meet the requirement of various types of cargo. One of the most important navigational challenges for NW-1 is the kind of vessels that will play on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly stretch. Keeping in view the difficult hydro-morphological characteristics of the river in the upper reaches between Patna and Varanasi, it is important to have vessels which can ply on low draft, with high carrying capacity, and are economically viable and environment friendly.

Earlier in August 2016, the Honble Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Sh. Nitin Gadkari flagged off the trial run of two cargo vessels from Varanasi on NW-1(River Ganga). Keeping in view the demand for transportation of cars through NW-1, M/s DST,Germany has been initially tasked to develop low draft vessels that can carry up to 150-200 vehicles.

Government is developing NW-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,200 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 tons.Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch. The project includes development of fairway, Multi-Modal Terminals at Varanasi, Haldia, and Sahibganj, strengthening of river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking, construction of a new state of the art navigational lock at Farakka etc.

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Indian Oil and GAIL sign MoU for taking equity stake in upcoming Dhamra LNG terminal
Sep 22,2016

Indian Oil Corporation and GAIL (India) signed an MoU with Dhamra LNG Terminal (DLTPL) for taking equity in the 5 MMTPA capacity LNG Receiving, Storage and Regasification Terminal, being put up at Dhamra Port, Odisha. The agreement was signed in New Delhi in the presence of Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Sh Dharmendra Pradhan.

As per the MoU, DLTPL shall be an equal Joint Venture of IndianOil and GAIL on one hand and Adani Group on the other. IndianOil and GAIL would acquire 39% and 11% equity respectively in DLTPL, with the balance 50% being held by Adani group. Going forward, IndianOil and Adani group will each divest 1% of their respective stake to a credible financial institution which will then have 2% stake in the terminal. Apart from equity, IndianOil and GAIL intend to book regasification capacity of 3.0 and 1.5 MMTPA respectively in the terminal.

The development comes in the backdrop of Governments consistent focus on undertaking welfare and growth measures in eastern India so as to bring this hitherto underdeveloped region into the economic mainstream of the country. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has maintained that India cannot develop till the eastern part of India progresses.

Presently, the states in eastern India viz. Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are not able to get the benefits of natural gas in sectors like Domestic, Transport, Industries etc., as the region does not have gas infrastructure by way of LNG Terminals and cross-country gas pipeline grid. The LNG Terminal at Dhamra would provide the potential customers in these states a clean and economically viable alternative which will also help in reducing the carbon footprint. This will also provide momentum to the economic growth of this region by attracting new industrial projects.

The LNG Terminal would also meet the gas requirements of three oil refineries of IndianOil situated in Barauni, Haldia and Paradip. The three fertilizers plants at Barauni, Sindri and Gorakhpur which are being revived by Govt. of India will also benefit from this terminal. The natural gas from the terminal would also be supplied to various City Gas Distribution networks coming up in eastern India, which in turn would cater to the requirements of piped gas for households, CNG for automobiles and clean fuel requirements of commercial establishments and industries. It is, therefore, expected that once operational, Dhamra LNG terminal will emerge as a bridge to prosperity for the entire eastern India.

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved Capital Grant of 40%, amounting to Rs. 5,176 Crores over 5 years, for Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL) project, which is being implemented by GAIL (India) at a total capital outlay of Rs. 12,940 Crores. This is the first time ever that Govt of India has extended Capital Grant to a Natural Gas pipeline project.

The 2,539 km long JHBDPL is expected to be completed by December 2020 and will connect UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. The project will also see City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks being set up by GAIL in 7 important towns in eastern India, namely, Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack. The JHBDPL gas pipeline will be used for gas supply to 3 fertilizer plants in eastern India, namely Barauni, Sindri and Gorakhpur.

The Dhamra LNG Terminal project and JHBDPL project, cumulatively, are expected to bring investments to the tune of Rs 51,000 Crores into the economy of eastern India. Of this, about Rs. 13,000 Crores will be spent on JHBDPL pipeline infrastructure; Rs. 6,000 Crores on CGD projects in 7 cities; Rs. 6,000 Crores on Dhamra LNG Terminal and Rs. 26,000 Crores on revival of Gorakhpur, Barauni, Sindri & Talcher fertilizer units.

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MHA sanctions additional 10,000 SPOs for J&K
Sep 22,2016

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sanctioned the engagement of additional 10,000 Special Police Officers (SPOs) in the Police Department of Jammu and Kashmir.

The orders have been implemented with immediate effect and the additional numbers is over and above the existing strength of the SPOs. The additional SPOs will be utilized especially for the security related requirements. The reimbursement of expenditure to the State Government by the Centre in respect of 10,000 SPOs will be as per existing approved Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Guidelines.

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Indias current account deficit narrows to US$ 0.3 billion in Q1FY2017
Sep 21,2016

Indias current account deficit (CAD) narrowed to US$ 0.3 billion (0.1% of GDP) in Q1 of 2016-17, significantly lower than US$ 6.1 billion (1.2% of GDP) in Q1 of 2015-16. The contraction in the CAD was primarily on account of a lower trade deficit (US$ 23.8 billion) than in Q1 of last year (US$ 34.2 billion) and in the preceding quarter (US$ 24.8 billion). On a BoP basis, merchandise imports declined sharply (by 11.5%) against merchandise exports (which declined by 2.1%), leading to a lower trade deficit in Q1 of 2016-17.

Net services receipts declined on a y-o-y basis, largely due to a fall in net earnings on account of travel, financial services and other business services.

Net payment on account of primary income (dividend, interest and profit) increased marginally in Q1 of 2016-17 from its level a year ago.

Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, amounted to US$ 15.2 billion, declining from their level in the preceding quarter as well as from a year ago.

Net foreign direct investment moderated to US$ 4.1 billion in Q1 of 2016-17 from US$ 10.0 billion in Q1 of 2015-16 and US$ 8.8 billion in the preceding quarter i.e. Q4 of 2015-16.

On the other hand, portfolio investment, recorded a net inflow of US$ 2.1 billion in Q1 of 2016-17 as against a marginal outflow in the corresponding period of last year and an outflow of US$ 1.5 billion in the preceding quarter, primarily reflecting net inflow in the equity component.

Accretion to non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits at US$ 1.4 billion moderated in Q1 of 2016-17 from their level in Q1 last year as well as in the preceding quarter.

Higher repayments under external commercial borrowings led to a net outflow under loans to India in Q1 of 2016-17 as against net borrowings in the same period last year.

Foreign exchange reserves (on a BoP basis) increased by US$ 7.0 billion in Q1 of 2016-17 as compared with an accretion of US$ 11.4 billion in Q1 of 2015-16 and US$ 3.3 billion in the preceding quarter.

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Push for Aquaculture as India targets marine products exports worth $5.6 bn in 2016-17
Sep 21,2016

Marine product exports from India are projected to increase nearly 20% to USD 5.6 billion in 2016-17, particularly with strides in aquaculture diversification, quality control, value addition and improved production infrastructuren++ all of which will be demonstrated at the upcoming biennial India International Seafood Show (IISS) in Vishakhapatnam.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the broad fisheries sector coordinating agency under the Ministry of Commerce, expects the industry will reverse the decline from last fiscal when total seafood exports stood at 945,892 MT worth US$ 4.7 billion.

IISS 2016, the 20th edition of one of the oldest and largest seafood events in Asia which will be on from September 23-25, is focusing on Safe and Sustainable Indian Aquaculture to highlight the technological advances and sustainable practices followed in capture & culture fisheries in India, to ensure quality of seafood produced for both domestic and export market.

The USA and South East Asia are the major importers of Indian seafood and frozen shrimp continued to be the major export item last year, followed by frozen fish.

Small and marginal farmers in India, who contribute to the bulk of coastal aquaculture are organising to stave off competition from countries such as Thailand and Vietnam by boosting production and adopting global standard marketing strategies such as certification, traceability and eco-labelling.

n++Aquaculture is a very significant area for marine exports as far as India is concerned and our efforts are geared towards greater technology inputs and product diversification in this area,n++ said Dr A Jayathilak, MPEDA Chairman, n++Our higher target for exports this year is in part due to increased production of globally in-demand seafood produce such as Whiteleg Shrimp and Black Tiger Shrimp, and diversification of aquaculture species particularly of Mangrove Crab and Tilapia.n++

The MPEDA is actively supporting shrimp culture through cluster farming approach. More than 10,000 farmers have been organized into aquasocieties that implements Better Management Practices. The aquasocieties also help the farmers access credit, quality seeds, feeds and other inputs, reducing the burden of diseases and improving product quality.

While Aquaculture will be in the spotlight at the IISS 2016, the show will also focus on new technologies, production infrastructure and value-added products. The MPEDA says increasing export of value added exports to about half of the total quantity is a key component of the marine products export plan of India.

IISS 2016, organised by the MPEDA in partnership with the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) at the Port Trust Diamond Jubilee stadium in Vishakhapatnam, will also be a major platform for business interactions. It is expected to pave the way for foreign direct investment in India and contribute significantly to the Make in India programme.

The event will see participation from countries including USA, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Vietnam, The Netherlands, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Germany and China.

International and domestic exhibitors will showcase their products and services to a potential global market and explore leads and partnerships. Of the 290 stalls booked at the exhibition, more than 70 are from foreign companies.

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Major Boost for Coastal Transportation of Vehicles Through Ro-Ro Vessels
Sep 21,2016

Promotion of costal shipping is one of the major thrusts of the Ministry of Shipping. In order to promote transportation of automobiles through coastal shipping, Ministry of Shipping has decided that all Major Ports will provide discount of 80 per cent for two years on Vessel Related Charges (VRC) & Coastal Related Charges (CRC) for coastal transportation of vehicles through Ro-Ro Ships. This discount is also extended to other similar ships such as Ro-Pax, PCC, PCTC, PTC etc. An order in this regard has been issued on 20th September, 2016. In order to make this discount sustainable for the Shipping Service Providers, the Major Ports will also carry out intensive marketing for demand generation.

As per the earlier scheme, coastal vessels including Ro-Ro vessels used to get a discount of 40 per cent over that of the foreign going vessels. With increase in discount to 80 per cent, it is expected that the Shipping Service Providers will be able to attract more auto-mobile cargo through the coastal route and decongest the already congested roads and railways and also make the Ro-Ro ship service operations more sustainable.

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Cabinet approves merger of rail budget with general budget
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposals of Ministry of Finance on certain landmark budgetary reforms relating to (i) the merger of Railway budget with the General budget, (ii) the advancement of the date of Budget presentation from the last day of February to the 1st of February and (iii) the merger of the Plan and the Non-Plan classification in the Budget and Accounts. All these changes will be put into effect simultaneously from the Budget 2017-18.

Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget:

The arrangements for merger of Railway budget with the General budget have been approved by the Cabinet with the following administrative and financial arrangements-

(i) The Railways will continue to maintain its distinct entity -as a departmentally run commercial undertaking as at present;

(ii) Railways will retain their functional autonomy and delegation of financial powers etc. as per the existing guidelines;

(iii)The existing financial arrangements will continue wherein Railways will meet all their revenue expenditure, including ordinary working expenses, pay and allowances and pensions etc. from their revenue receipts;

(iv)The Capital at charge of the Railways estimated at Rs.2.27 lakh crore on which annual dividend is paid by the Railways will be wiped off. Consequently, there will be no dividend liability for Railways from 2017-18 and Ministry of Railways will get Gross Budgetary support. This will also save Railways from the liability of payment of approximately Rs.9,700 crore annual dividend to the Government of India;

The presentation of separate Railway budget started in the year 1924, and has continued after independence as a convention rather than under Constitutional provisions.

The merger would help in the following ways:

n++ The presentation of a unified budget will bring the affairs of the Railways to centre stage and present a holistic picture of the financial position of the Government.

n++ The merger is also expected to reduce the procedural requirements and instead bring into focus, the aspects of delivery and good governance.

n++ Consequent to the merger, the appropriations for Railways will form part of the main Appropriation Bill.

Advancement of the Budget presentation:

The Cabinet has also approved, in principle, another reform relating to budgetary process, for advancement of the date of Budget presentation from the last day of February to a suitable date. The exact date of presentation of Budget for 2017-18 would be decided keeping in view the date of assembly elections to be held in States.

This would help in following ways:

n++ The advancement of budget presentation by a month and completion of Budget related legislative business before 31st March would pave the way for early completion of Budget cycle and enable Ministries and Departments to ensure better planning and execution of schemes from the beginning of the financial year and utilization of the full working seasons including the first quarter.

n++ This will also preclude the need for seeking appropriation through Vote on Account and enable implementation of the legislative changes in tax; laws for new taxation measures from the beginning of the financial year.

Merger of Plan and Non Plan classification in Budget and Accounts:

The third proposal approved by the Cabinet relates to the merger of Plan and Non Plan classification in Budget and Accounts from 2017-18, with continuance of earmarking of funds for Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan/Tribal Sub-Plan. Similarly, the allocations for North Eastern States will also continue.

This would help in resolving the following issues:

n++ The Plan/Non-Plan bifurcation of expenditure has led to a fragmented view of resource allocation to various schemes, making it difficult not only to ascertain cost of delivering a service but also to link outlays to outcomes.

n++ The bias in favour of Plan expenditure by Centre as well as the State Governments has led to a neglect of essential expenditures on maintenance of assets and other establishment related expenditures for providing essential social services.

n++ The merger of plan and non-plan in the budget is expected to provide appropriate budgetary framework having focus on the revenue, and capital expenditure.

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Cabinet approves the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approval the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016. The Order lays down a new institutional structure for policy and implementation in fast track manner and empowers National Mission for Clean Ganga to discharge its functions in an independent and accountable manner. It has been decided to grant a Mission status to the Authority with corresponding powers under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to take cognizance of the provision of the said Act and follow up thereon. Similarly, there is adequate delegation of financial and administrative powers which will distinctly establish NMCG as both responsibility and accountability centre and effectively accelerate the process of project implementation for Ganga Rejuvenation.

Salient Features:

Briefly, the Order envisages:

1. Creation of the National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management), as an Authority under the Chairperson of Honble Prime Minister, in place of the existing NGRBA for overall responsibility for superintendence of pollution prevention and rejuvenation of river Ganga Basin.

2. Setting up of an Empowered Task Force chaired by Honble Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to ensure that the Ministries, Departments and State Governments concerned have:

An action plan with specific activities, milestones, and timeliness for achievement of the objective of rejuvenation and protection of River Ganga.

A mechanism for monitoring implementation of its action plans.

It will also ensure co-ordination amongst the Ministries and Departments and State Governments concerned for implementation of its action plans in a time bound manner.

3. Declaration of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as an Authority with powers to issue directions and also to exercise the powers under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to enable it to carry out efficiently its mandate. The NMCG will have a two-tier management structure with a Governing Council (GC), to be chaired by DG, NMCG. Below the GC, there will be an Executive Committee (EC) constituted out of the GC, to be chaired by the DG, NMCG.

NMCG will comply with the decisions and directions of the National Ganga Council and implement the Ganga Basin Management Plan approved by it; co-ordinate and carry out all activities necessary for rejuvenation and protection of River Ganga and its tributaries.

4. At the State level, it is proposed to create the State Ganga Committees in each of the defined States as Authority, to function as Authorities in respect of each State and perform the superintendence, direction and control over the District Ganga Protection Committees under their jurisdiction.

5. Similarly, the District Ganga Committees in each of the Ganga Bank Districts will carry out the assigned tasks as an Authority at the district level, to take cognizance of local threats and needs of river Ganga and conceptualise such measures as necessary to ensure overall quality of water in river Ganga and monitor various projects being implemented.

The proposed structure is to be implemented through the subordinate legislation route by issue of an Order invoking the provisions under Section 3 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) relating to creation of authorities to achieve its objectives.

The other main features of the proposal are as follows:

This will give more teeth to the NMCG for Clean Ganga for the environmental protection/rejuvenation of River Ganga. It will also ensure proper co-ordination with the local bodies and compliance with the directions of NMCG for pollution abatement of the river Ganga.

NMCG will, however, take action only in the event when required action is not taken by CPCB. CPCB shall also take action jointly with NMCG under the provisions of said Act.

A special focus of the revamped structure would be to maintain required ecological flows in the river Ganga with the aim of ensuring water quality and environmentally sustainable development.

For taking up fast track creation of sewerage treatment infrastructure in Ganga basin, an innovative model based on Hybrid Annuity has also been approved. This will ensure that the infrastructure created under the project is operational on a sustainable basis.

In order to ensure transparency and cost effectiveness, a provision for concurrent audit, safety audits, research institutions and financial framework has been made.


The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-I was launched in 1985 and later GAP Phase-II was initiated in 1993 with the objective of improving the water quality of river Ganga and was later expanded to include some of its tributaries also. In May, 2015, the Government approved the Namami Gange programme as a comprehensive mechanism to take up initiatives for rejuvenation of river Ganga and its tributaries as a Central Sector Scheme with hundred per cent funding by the Union Government. The programme, despite making moderate gains in arresting the declines in water quality, had certain limitations in implementation.

Although, the NMCG has been functional as a registered Society since 2012 its role has been largely limited to fund the projects to implementing organisations. It neither had the mandate to take cognizance of various threats to river Ganga nor the powers to issue directions to the concerned authorities/polluters. While the organisation has been made responsible as custodian of river Ganga in both public eye as well as various courts, the mission is grossly ill-equipped to handle such expectations.

It is expected that the move will ensure effective abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of the River Ganga; maintain ecological flows in the River; impose restrictions on polluting industries; and carry out inspections to ensure compliance. In addition, it is proposed to maintain and disseminate data and carry out research on the condition of the river.

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Cabinet approves USOF support to BSNL for Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal to extend subsidy support of Rs. 1,250 crore to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), as compensation for deficit incurred by BSNL in operating the Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1st April, 2002. The eligible rural wire-line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002 is 32.32 lakh, across India as on 31.3.2014.

The Cabinet also approved that the above subsidy support would be the last and final payment and no further request from BSNL for financial/subsidy support from USOF on this count shall be considered.

In order to make Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) eligible for subsidy funding on nomination basis from USOF, amendment will be required in Rule 526 of the Indian Telegraph Rules (ITRs), 1951. It stipulates that the criteria for selection of Universal Service Providers shall be made by bidding process from amongst eligible entities for implementation of USOF schemes. Corresponding Amendment in Rule 525 will also be required.

Full/lump-sum amount of Rs. 1,250 Crore shall be disbursed, consequent to necessary amendment of the ITRs and signing of USOF agreement with BSNL. Utilization certificate of the USOF subsidy disbursed towards operation and maintenance of the rural wire-line connections would be submitted by BSNL.


USOF since its inception in 2002 has been providing subsidy for BSNL for the rural wire line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002. A total of Rs. 8,692 crore has been extended as USOF subsidy support till date, for the rural wire-line connections, installed by BSNL prior to 1.4.2002. The details are as follows:

USOF Scheme




Amount (Rs. crore)


Period of support




Difference between regulated rental and actual rental




1st April 2002 to

31st January 2004




TRAI recommendations dated 27.03.2008




18th July 2008 to 17th July 2011




TRAI recommendations dated 14.05.2012




18th July 2011 to 17th July 2012

The TRAI in its report dated 14.05.2012 had recommended amount of subsidy support-of Rs. 1,500 crore for the period 18th July 2011 to 17th July 2012 and Rs. 1,250 crore for the 18th July 2012 to 17th July 2013.

Telecom Commission, in its meeting dated 11.12.2012, considered the views of the TRAI and USOF and directed that an assessment be carried out of the current status of the infrastructure.

Telecom Commission/EFC in its meeting dated 14th July 2015 considered the findings of the evaluation/assessment study conducted by National Institute of Communication Finance and recommended the subsidy support of Rs. 1250 crore to BSNL from USOF, as compensation for deficit incurred by BSNL in operating the Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1st April 2002 Telecom Commission also recommended that the subsidy support of Rs. 1250 crore would be the last and final payment and no further request from BSNL for financial/subsidy support from USOF on this count shall be considered.

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Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Samoa for exchange of information with respect to Taxes
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of Agreement between India and Samoa for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes.

The Agreement will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and Samoa for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.

There is no financial implications at present. Only in the event of extraordinary costs exceeding USD 500, the same will be borne by India. India has similar provisions in other such tax information exchange agreement.

Salient features of the Agreement:

1. The Agreement enables the competent authorities of India and Samoa to provide assistance through exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the two countries concerning taxes covered by this Agreement.

2. The information received under the Agreement shall be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts or administrative bodies) concerned with assessment, collection, enforcement, prosecution or determination of appeals in relation to taxes covered under the Agreement. Information may be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or jurisdiction with the prior written consent of the information sending country.

3. The Agreement also provides for Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving any difference or for agreeing on procedures under the Agreement.

4. The Agreement shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Agreement.


The Central Government is authorized under section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961. Negotiations for entering into an Agreement for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes were finalized between India and Samoa in June, 2016 and both countries have agreed on the text of the Agreement.

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Cabinet gives ex-post facto approval to enhancement of Pension for Freedom Fighters
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to enhancement of Pension for Freedom Fighters and for the spouses (widows/widowers), eligible daughters and dependent parents of deceased Freedom Fighters, under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme (SSSPS), 1980.

The existing pension scheme for Central freedom fighter pensioners and their eligible dependents has been restructured as follows:-

No.Category of Freedom FightersPresent amount of pension (per month)Enhanced amount of pension (per month)1.Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners/ spousesRs. 24,775Rs. 30,000/-2.Freedom fighters who suffered outside British India/spousesRs. 23,085/-Rs. 28,000/-3.Other Freedom Fighters / spouses including INARs. 21,395/-Rs. 26,000/-4.Dependent parents/eligible daughters (maximum 3 daughters at any point of time)Rs. 3,380/-50% of the sum that would have been admissible to the Freedom Fighter i.e. in the range of Rs. 13,000/- to Rs. 15,000/-

(i)                    The revised scale of pension has taken effect from 15.O8.2016. Further, the revised total amount of pension will be taken as basic pension for the respective categories of Freedom Fighter pensioners for calculating Dearness Relief.

(ii)                  The existing Dearness Relief system based on All India Consumer Price Index for Industrial workers, which was so far applicable to freedom fighter pensioners on annual basis, is being discontinued and replaced by the Dearness Allowance system applicable to Central Government employees twice a year. This will be termed as Dearness Relief, the appropriate term in case of pensioners.

All freedom fighters and spouses and dependent parents/eligible daughter pensioners of deceased freedom fighters drawing pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 would be benefitted by the decision.


.                        Government of India introduced in 1969, the Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Pension Scheme to honour the freedom fighters who had been incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Port Blair. In order to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Independence in 1972, a regular scheme for grant of freedom fighters pension was introduced. Thereafter, with effect from 1.8.1980, a liberalized scheme, the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme is being implemented. Besides the freedom fighters, spouses (widows.widowers), unmarried and unemployed daughters (up to maximum three at any point of time) and parents of deceased freedom fighters are eligible for pension under the Scheme. Till 2016, a total of 1,71,605 freedom fighters and their eligible dependents have been sanctioned pension under the scheme. At present, 37,981 freedom fighters and their eligible dependent pensioners are covered under the scheme. Out of these, 11,690 are freedom fighters themselves, 24,792 are spouses (widows/ widowers) and 1,490 are daughter pensioners. Instructions have been issued to all the authorized banks for ensuring Aadhar linked disbursement of Freedom Fighter pension as early as possible.

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Varanasi seeks to become Suramya, Samunnat, Sanyojit Kashi under Smart City Plan
Sep 21,2016

One of the ancient cities of the world, Varanasi seeks to acquire smart city features through retrofitting of an area of 1,389 acres in the iconic old city area along the Ganga River besides enabling e-governance for the benefit of the people of the entire city. Based on the Rs.2,520 cr Smart City Plan submitted by the city government, Varanasi was yesterday declared by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu as one of the new batch of 27 cities selected for financing smart city development plans.

The Smart City Plan of Varanasi aims at turning the city into a Suramya, Samunnat, Surakshit, Sanyojit, Nirmal and Ekikrit Kashi by addressing the present bottlenecks in infrastructure and city governance.

After considering nine locations of the city and based on voting by over four lakh citizens n++old city with Ganga as its pivot and Kashi Vishwanath Temple defining the awe, ethos, beliefs and the preferences of the masses, emerged as the forerunner for Area Based Developmentn++ said the city government in the smart city proposal. E-governance and integrated traffic management were prioritized for technology based Pan-city solutions.

The old city area chosen for area based development accounts for 7% of citys geographical area, 31% of population and 38% of citys GDP. Rs.1,659 cr will be spent on area development and Rs.618 cr on Pan-city solutions. The rest includes technical and administrative expenses and other contingencies.

With about 65 lakh tourists visiting the city every year, the proposal for Varanasi seeks to leverage the citys rich cultural heritage by enhancing the citys presentation and appeal (Suramya) to take full advantage of tourism potential and ensure socio-economic growth (Samunnat) for increased employment opportunities, ensuring security (Surakshit), enabling hassle free movement (Sanyojit), cleanliness (Nirmal) and integrated, technology based governance (Ekikrit) for Simple, Modern, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent services.

Under retrofitting of the area chosen for development through necessary interventions, works proposed to be taken relate to rejuvenation of ghats and temples, ensuring assured supply of power and water, waste management, improvement of waterways, development of 11 parks, smart multi-level parking spaces, cultural-cum-convention centre, Kahsi Kala Dham, Town Hall, Silpi Haat, Centre of Excellence with Hall of Fame, Light and Sound Show, Night Bazar, rejuvenation of water bodies, pedestrian pathways, Non-motorised transport, Energy Efficient Street Lighting etc, underground cabling, improved sign boards etc.

With citizens voting for improving of city governance and quick urban mobility as the two priorities for technology based Pan-city Solutions, the Varanasi Municipal Corporation has proposed Optic Fibre Connectivity across the city, online payment of utility bills and service delivery, intelligent traffic management systems including GPS on buses, e-booking of boats, guides, taxis etc, CCTV based monitoring and surveillance, e-Suvidha centres, information delivery on Mobile Apps, Smart Card for all services etc.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model has been proposed for smart multi-level parking spaces, upgradation of stadium, Internet Modal Hubs, battery operated buses, e-auto for last mile connectivity etc.

The Smart City Plan of Varanasi aims at increasing tourist inflow by over 25% and increase in revenue generation from international tourists and pilgrims by over 30%.

In addition to the support from central and state government, costs of Varanasis smart city proposal are to be met with resources of Rs.1,290 cr through convergence of various schemes, Rs.505 cr from the Corporations own resources and Rs.140 cr from PPP.

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Cabinet approves extension of the validity of Central Orders in respect of edible oils & edible oilseeds, pulses
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for extension of the validity of the existing Central Orders dated 28.09.2015 in respect of edible oils and edible oilseeds and Central Order No. S.O. No. 2857(E) dated 18.10.2015 in respect of pulses for a further period of one year from 01.10.2016 to 30.09.2017.

The main objective of the decision is to enable the State Governments to issue control orders with the prior concurrence of Central Government, for fixing stock limits/licensing requirements in respect of pulses, oilseeds and edible oils, whenever need is felt by them. This is expected to help in the efforts being taken to improve the availability of these commodities to general public especially the vulnerable sections and control the tendencies of hoarding and profiteering.


Vide Central Governments Order dated 15.2.2002, certain categories of foodstuffs were removed from the licensing, stock limits and movement restrictions. From time to time thereafter, Government has been issuing notifications with the approval of the Cabinet, amending/keeping in abeyance the operation of the 2002 Order, whenever there is any abnormal price rise in any of the specified food commodities, for certain period. Restrictions regarding pulses were first imposed in August 2006 and are extended from time to time. Oils and oilseeds were added later in April, 2008 and the same were extended from time to time. The validity of the current Order is expiring on 30.9.2016 seeking further extension considering the prevailing current situation.

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Cabinet approves conversion of Government of India loan into equity and waiver of interest in respect of Richardson & Cruddas (1972)
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Department of Heavy Industry for enabling M/s Richardson & Cruddas (1972) Limited (R&C), a Central Public Sector Enterprise, to come out of purview of Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). For this purpose Cabinet approved the conversion into equity of the Government of India loan of Rs 101.78 crores given to the Company, alongwith the interest amounting to Rs 424.81 Crore accrued on this loan.

The Cabinet further approved in principle, the strategic disinvestment of Nagpur and Chennai units of the Company and shifting of operations from Mumbai land to other locations of company. However the Companys land at Mumbai will be converted from lease hold to Occupation Class II so as to enable the company to identify the best use of this piece of land for optimal utilization as per Government guidelines.

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Cabinet approves provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between mainland (Chennai) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Mainland (Chennai) and Port Blair & five other islands viz. Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Havelock, Kamorta and Great Nicobar.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 1102.38 crore including operational expenses for 5 years. The project is likely to be completed by December 2018.

The approval would equip Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI) with appropriate bandwidth and telecom connectivity for implementation of e-Governance initiatives; establishment of enterprises & e-commerce facilities. It will also enable the provision of adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing, availability of job opportunities and fulfil the vision of Digital India.


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are of immense strategic significance for India. The geographical configuration and the location of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands chain in the Bay of Bengal safeguard Indias eastern seaboard. Provision of secure, reliable, robust, and affordable telecom facilities in these islands is of importance from a strategic point of view to the country and also an important requirement for the socio-economic development of the islands.

Currently the only medium of providing telecom connectivity between Mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is though satellites, but the bandwidth available is limited to 1 Gbps. Satellite bandwidth is very costly and its availability is limited due to which future bandwidth requirement cannot be met solely through it. Then, there is an issue of redundancy, that is, no alternate media is available in case of any emergency. Lack of bandwidth and telecom connectivity is also hampering socio-economic development of the islands. Hence it is essential to have submarine OFC connectivity between the Mainland India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, being the only option for catering to projected future bandwidth requirements.

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