The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting on infrastructure. During the meeting, he reviewed the status of stalled projects in the infrastructure sector.
Besides a broad overview of the infrastructure scenario in the country, the meeting focused on the specific sectors of rural infrastructure, power, coal, renewable energy and petroleum and natural gas.
The Prime Minister stressed on the need for government departments to work towards initializing spending of the budget, in a focused manner right from the start of the financial year.
The Prime Minister asked for specific data to be collected and presented on priority areas such as toilets, affordable housing and smart cities. He said that in the urban areas, one of the priorities should be in creation of waste to wealth, and efficient systems for waste water disposal and solid waste management in 500 cities.
Reviewing rural infrastructure, the Prime Minister directed that the highest priority be accorded to the work envisaged under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. He said irrigation potential of all reservoir projects should be realized to the extent possible.
In the power sector, the Prime Minister reiterated his emphasis on electrification of the unconnected villages at the earliest. Modi also inquired about the progress on renewable energy goals, and directed maximum focus on this area. He said public spaces such as railway stations should be priority areas for adopting energy efficient technologies, and renewable energy.
In a major reform, Finance News suggests that the Union government has decided to permit commercial mining of coal.
Speaking to the media here on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said to introduce competition, transparency and the private sector participation in the coal sector, the government would go for the revenue sharing mechanism instead of the fixed rupee or tonne mechanism.
Earlier, only captive consumers with end-to-end ownership could bid for the coal mines. Now any one can bid and sell the produce in the open market on commercial terms.
Stating that nearly 50 blocks will be offered immediately, Sitharaman said there would be no eligibility conditions apart from upfront payment with a ceiling.
Also, against the earlier provision of auction of fully explored coal blocks, now even partially explored blocks could be auctioned. Production, earlier than schedule, will be incentivised through rebate in the revenue share.
The government will also incentivise coal gasification or liquefaction through rebate in the revenue share. It would significantly lower environment impact and also help India switch to a gas-based economy, she added.
The Rs 50,000 crore infrastructure development will be carried out for it. This will help Coal India (CIL) raise production from 600 million tonnes to 1 billion tonnes by 2023-24.
The announcements are part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. (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)