8L tribals get job dole for 50 more days

Tags: News
As a pre-election bonanza, the Congress-led UPA government has extended the rural job guarantee scheme to 150 days from the existing 100 days per year.

The Union rural development ministry notified the extension of the scheme on Monday ahead of the election code that will kick in next month.

To begin with, an additional 50 days of guaranteed work will be available to families from scheduled tribes living in the forest areas of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

The Mahatma Gandhi job guarantee scheme is a major plank for the Congress party that is fighting with its back to the wall in the wake of massive anti-incumbency against the UPA government, especially on corruption, price rise and perceived non-performance.

Official estimates suggest 48 million people have benefited from the rural job guarantee scheme till date. It is billed as the world’s largest anti-poverty measure undertaken by any government.

The stake sale in Balco can fetch about Rs 4,000 crore.

The PMO had earlier asked the mines ministry to seek the opinion of the attorney-general, who cleared the move, saying there is no hitch in the government selling its stake as HZL has ceased to be a public sector entity.

Attorney-general GE Vahanvati also backed the move for Balco stake sale. “The querist (ministry of mines) is at liberty to dispose of its residual stake in Balco through the offer of sale route,” he said. The attorney-general attended Monday’s CCEA meet in person to clarify that there was no need to amend the Metals Corporation Act to sell stake in Hindustan Zinc.

The cabinet panel, headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh, also cleared an industry ministry proposal to source $4.5 billion soft loan from Japanese Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA) to implement the ambitious Delhi–Mumbai industrial corridor.

Japan will advance the funds at a nominal interest rate of 0.1 per cent with a moratorium of 10 years. In lieu of this, Japanese companies will get priority access to the industrial corridor. India plans to utilise the loan under the special terms of economic partnership between the two nations. The industrial corridor is expected to attract investment up to $100 billion over the years.

The CCEA also approved developing of infrastructure in two industrial cities at Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh) along the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor with an investment of Rs 808 crore and Rs 1,714 crore, respectively. The centre’s contribution in the latter project would be Rs 617 crore.

The centre has floated special purpose vehicles with the state governments to bring in an estimated Rs 46,000 crore infrastructure investments to these cities.

Another Rs 2,727 crore project for the resurrection of the ages-old Nalanda University in Bihar as a centre for universal learning also got the CCEA nod. This investment will be made over 10 years.

The big infrastructure push is seen as the UPA’s last-ditched effort to woo voters and win allies in these states in the face of an anti-incumbency wave.

The government also cleared the setting up a model solar power project at Neemrana in Rajasthan, where the Congress party faced electoral reverses in the recent Assembly polls. The project will be implemented through a fully-owned subsidiary of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC)

The CCEA okayed another proposal allowing Federal Bank to hike foreign investor holding to 74 per cent, the second bank to get that clearance after Axis Bank.

However, the much-awaited announcement of hiking subsidised cylinder limit to 12 from existing nine per year per family didn’t materialise. Oil minister Veerappa Moily said the proposal was not discussed. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had made this demand during the AICC session over the weekend.

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