The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, today approved the ‘Namami Gange’ Program. With a budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore for the next 5 years, the program incorporates the efforts to clean and protect River Ganga in a comprehensive manner.
Marking a major shift in implementation, the Government is focusing on involving people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results. Drawing from the lessons learnt from previous implementation, the program also focuses on involving the States and grassroots level institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation.
The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). NMCG will also establish field offices wherever necessary.
Major infrastructure investments which fall under the original mandate of other ministries viz. Urban Development (UD), Drinking Water & Sanitation (DWS), Environment Forests & Climate Change (EF&CC) etc., will be undertaken in addition.
Considerably, the approach is sustained by socio-economic gains that the program is anticipated to deliver in terms of job creation, improved livelihoods and health benefits to the huge population that is dependent on the river.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday informed that a corridor of medicinal plants would be created on the banks of the Ganga and for this National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) would identify 800 hectare of land near the river.
It forms an important part of a slew of initiatives announced by the minister towards development of agricultural infrastructure, capacity building, logistics and legislative reforms.
The NMPB has supported 2.25 lakh hectare area under cultivation of medicinal plants. Now, 10,00,000 hectares will be covered under herbal cultivation in next two years with the outlay of Rs 4,000 crore.
The move is expected to lead to Rs 5,000 crore income generation for farmers. It will also develop a network of regional Mandis for medicinal plants. (IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to aid the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which have taken a beating during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Modi tweeted, “Today’s announcements by FM @nsitharaman will go a long way in addressing issues faced by businesses, especially MSMEs. The steps announced will boost liquidity, empower the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitive spirit.
He also used the hashtag ‘Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, which is a reference to self-reliant India, something which he vowed to turn the country into during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday night.
Speaking to the media here on Wednesday, Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit. Another criteria, turnover of the company, has also been added to the required norms for classification of MSMEs.
Sitharaman also announced a collateral-free automatic loan for MSMEs of up to Rs 3 lakh crore, among other liquidity measures.
In a move to provide more scope for Indian companies, including MSMEs, the Centre has decided to disallow global firms from participating in government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.
These were part of a multi-pronged approach of the government to rejuvenate the sector which has been badly hit by the suspension of economic activities in the country in the wake of the nationwide lockdown which is place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. (IANS)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned the country about complacency in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in a Sunday radio address and appealed to people to strictly comply with a nationwide lockdown that has been in effect for over a month.
He stressed the need to sustain India’s “people-driven” war against the coronavirus.
The prime minister, a popular leader in country of 1.3 billion people, urged Indians to wear masks, follow social distancing norms and avoid spitting in public places calling these measures “the biggest medicine to fight this disease in the days to come.”
The message comes as India takes tiny steps to restart the economy, raising worries that this may cause a spike in coronavirus cases. It is also seen as targeted at areas which remain unaffected by the virus — most of India’s infections are racing through densely packed cities while its vast countryside is largely unaffected.
Modi said people should “not be trapped into over-confidence and nurse the belief that in our city, in our village, in our streets, in our office, coronavirus has not reached and that is why it will not reach.”
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Indians have so far adhered zealously to the calls for a stringent lockdown as the dreaded infection spread a wave of fear. Several neighborhoods in cities have imposed their own strict guidelines while volunteer squads in many villages do not allow outsiders to come in.
Whether such strict compliance will continue remains to be seen as the country begins to unlock on Saturday it allowed shops in rural areas and neighborhood stores in cities to open. Farm based businesses and some factories restarted earlier this week.
However not everyone is rushing to open their shutters and some traders remain wary about doing business while the infection is still raging. “Many shop owners told me they may not open immediately because customers are unlikely to come, so why should we expose ourselves,” according to Praveen Khandelwal, the Secretary- General of the Confederation of All India Traders. “It will take time for them to pick up confidence.”
But as calls grow to open up more sectors of the economy, specially from big business, the government is expected to draw up a strategy on Monday about how it plans to exit the lockdown that is due to end on May 3.
India saw its biggest spike in cases of coronavirus infections on Saturday with nearly 2,000 new cases taking the nation’s total to about 26,500. 824 people have died.
Although those numbers are modest compared to many countries, many fear they may not reflect the accurate spread of the infection because testing has been limited so far and is only now being ramped up in areas that are “hotspots.” (VOA)