Cabinet approves Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as national waterways

“The National Waterways Bill, 2015”

Cabinet approves Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as national waterways

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to carry out official amendments in “The National Waterways Bill, 2015”. The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of State Governments. It provides for enacting a Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways, as the national waterways. After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes upto 111.The number of waterways to be declared as new National Waterways is now proposed as 106 and adding the existing NWs, the total number of National Waterways in the bill goes up to 111. The following changes have been effected in the original list of 101 waterways that was introduced with the National Waterways Bill 2015, on 05.05.2015:- 10 waterways of Kerala have been omitted, 17 waterways have been merged with the existing waterways and 18 waterways (5 Karnataka, 5 Meghalaya, 3 Maharashtra, 3 Kerala, 1 each from Tamilnadu and Rajasthan) have been added, thus, making a total of 106 waterways that have been finalized for declaration as new National Waterways in addition to the 5 existing waterways. In order to carry out these changes, an official amendment to the National Waterways Bill, 2015 will have to be moved in the Lok Sabha in the current Session of Parliament.

Declaration of the above additional 106 waterways as National Waterways would not have any immediate financial implications. Financial approval of the competent authority for each waterway would, however, be taken based on the outcome of the techno-economic feasibility studies etc. that are being undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) currently. IWAI will develop the feasible stretch of National Waterways for shipping and navigation purpose through mobilization of financial resources.

The declaration of these National Waterways would enable IWAI to develop the feasible stretches for Shipping and Navigation. The right over the use of water, river bed and the appurtenant land will remain with the State Government. In addition, other benefits to States are: fewer accidents, less congestion on roads, cheaper mode of ferrying passengers, reduced logistics costs in cargo movement and development of adjoining areas.

The expeditious declaration of National Waterways and its subsequent development will enhance the industrial growth and tourism potential of the hinterland along the waterway. This will also provide an additional, cheaper and environment friendly mode of transportation throughout the country.

Background:

Inland Water Transport is considered as the most cost effective and economical mode of transport from the point of view of fuel efficiency. One horse power can carry 4000 Kg load in water whereas, it can carry 150 Kg and 500 Kg by road and rail respectively. Further in a study as highlighted by the World Bank, 1 litre of fuel can move 105 ton-Km by inland water transport, whereas the same amount of fuel can move only 85 ton-Km by rail and 24 ton-Km by road. Studies have shown that emission from container vessels range from 32-36 gCO2 per ton-Km while those of road transport vehicles (heavy duty vehicles) range from 51-91gCO2 per ton-km.

-Cabinet, 09-December, 2015

Cabinet approves Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015

Cabinet approves Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, as reported by the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. The Bill will now be taken up for consideration and passing by the Parliament.

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill is a pioneering initiative to protect the interest of consumers, promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects.

The Bill provides uniform regulatory environment to ensure speedy adjudication of disputes and orderly growth of the real estate sector. It will boost domestic and foreign investment in the Real Estate sector and help achieve the objective of Government of India to provide ‘Housing for All’ by enhanced private participation.

The Bill ensures mandatory disclosure by promoters to the customers through registration of real estate projects as well as real estate agents with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority. The Bill aims at restoring confidence of consumers in the real estate sector; by institutionalizing transparency and accountability in real estate and housing transactions which will further enable the sector to access capital and financial markets. The Bill will promote orderly growth through consequent efficient project execution, professionalism and standardization.

The salient features of the Bill are as under:

1. Applicable both for commercial and residential real estate projects.

2. Establishment of ‘Real Estate Regulatory Authority’ in States/UTs to regulate real estate transactions.

3. Registration of real estate projects and real estate agents with the Authority.

4. Mandatory disclosure of all registered projects, including details of the promoter, project, layout plan, land status, approvals, agreements along with details of real estate agents, contractors, architect, structural engineer etc.

5. Deposit of specified amount in a separate bank account to cover the construction cost of the project for timely completion of the project.

6. Establishment of fast track dispute resolution mechanisms for settlement of disputes through adjudicating officers and Appellate Tribunal.

7. Civil courts jurisdiction prohibited from taking up matters defined in Bill, however, consumer court allowed to hear real estate matters.

8. Promoters barred from changing plans and design without consent of consumers.

9. Provision of Appropriate Government to make rules for the matters specified in the Bill, and the Regulatory Authority to make necessary regulations.

-Cabinet, 09-December, 2015

Bring Motor Bill before Parliament at the earliest: Parliamentary panel

Bring Motor Bill before Parliament at the earliest: Parliamentary panel

At a loss over delays in proposed motor legislation, a parliamentary panel today recommended bringing the Road Transport and Safety Bill before Parliament at the earliest.

“The Committee is at a loss to understand why the Road Transport and Safety Bill is not brought before the Parliament,” Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Kanwar Deep Singh today said in its report.

It suggested earliest recommendation of the Bill which proposes widespread reforms in the sector.

“The Committee recommends that the proposed legislation may be brought before the Parliament at the earliest,” it said.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said that vested interests opposed to transparency and computerisation in the transport sector were against the new road safety bill but government is committed to enacting the law.

“Despite our best efforts, the Bill (Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015) which we made could not be introduced in Parliament. This is a difficult problem for us. The Act falls in the purview of concurrent list and both state governments and the Centre have rights. Different lobbies are there who are opposing the Bill,,” he has said.

He had said, “The Bill will take care of driving licences and there are other things… Vested interest are trying to obstruct this Act. We will implement it effectively.”

Concerned over India accounting for one of the highest global numbers annually of 1.5 lakh road fatalities, out of 5 lakh accidents, the proposed law aims to reduce the road accidents by 50 per cent.

There are adequate provisions for this in the new Bill to penalise heavily those involved in traffic violation but would check faulty driving licences.

Some of the states were opposing the Bill saying that the provisions in it are against the administrative and financial rights of the state.

The Bill incorporates the global best practices and provides for the creation of a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Authority to look after all issues related to vehicle regulation and road safety.

It also seeks to come down heavily on traffic offenders and proposes steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh along with a minimum 7-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.

 -02 December 2015 | PTI | New Delhi

India’s Foreign Trade (Merchandise): September, 2015

India’s Foreign Trade (Merchandise): September, 2015

EXPORTS (including re-exports)

            Exports during September, 2015 were valued at US$ 21844.98 million (Rs. 144652.67 crore) which was 24.33 per cent lower in Dollar terms (17.67 per cent lower in Rupee terms) than the level of US$ 28867.71 million (Rs.175703.03crore) during September, 2014. Cumulative value of exports for the period April-September 2015-16 was US$ 132939.45 million (Rs. 853586.59 crore) as against US$ 161397.35 million (Rs. 971716.43 crore) registering a negative growth of 17.63 per cent in Dollar terms and 12.16 per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.

  1. IMPORTS

    Imports during September, 2015 were valued at US$ 32323.68 million (Rs. 214040.28 crore) which was 25.42 per cent lower in Dollar terms and 18.86 per cent lower in Rupee terms  over the level of imports valued at US$ 43341.75 million (Rs. 263799.12 crore) in September, 2014. Cumulative value of imports for the period April-September 2015-16  was US$ 200934.24 million (Rs.1290218.42 crore) as against US$ 234089.43 million (Rs.1409403.56 crore) registering a negative growth of 14.16 per cent in Dollar terms and 8.46 per cent in Rupee terms over the same period last year.

  1. CRUDE OIL AND NON-OIL IMPORTS:

            Oil imports during September, 2015 were valued at US$ 6626.59 million which was 54.53 per cent lower than oil imports valued at US$ 14573.17 million in the corresponding period last year. Oil imports during April-September, 2015-16 were valued at US$ 48128.96 million which was 41.58 per cent lower than the oil imports of US$ 82378.98 million in the corresponding period last year.

            Non-oil imports during September, 2015 were estimated at US$ 25697.09 million which was 10.68 per cent lower than non-oil imports of US$ 28768.58 million in September, 2014. Non-oil imports during April-September, 2015-16 were valued at US$ 152805.28 million which was 0.72 per cent higher than the level of such imports valued at US$ 151710.45 million in April-September, 2014-15.

  1.                                           TRADE BALANCE

The trade deficit for April-September, 2015-16 was estimated at US$ 67994.79 million which was lower than the deficit of US$ 72692.08 million during April-September, 2014-15.

EXPORTS & IMPORTS  : (US $ Million)
(PROVISIONAL)    
  SEPTEMBER APRIL-SEPTEMBER
EXPORTS(including re-exports)    
2014-15 28867.71 161397.35
2015-16 21844.98 132939.45
%Growth2015-16/ 2014-15 -24.33 -17.63
IMPORTS    
2014-15 43341.75 234089.43
2015-16 32323.68 200934.24
%Growth2015-16/ 2014-15 -25.42 -14.16
TRADE BALANCE    
2014-15 -14474.04 -72692.08
2015-16 -10478.70 -67994.79
     
EXPORTS & IMPORTS  : (Rs. Crore)
(PROVISIONAL)  
  SEPTEMBER APRIL-SEPTEMBER
EXPORTS(including re-exports)    
2014-15 175703.03 971716.43
2015-16 144652.67 853586.59
%Growth2015-16/ 2014-15 -17.67 -12.16
IMPORTS    
2014-15 263799.12 1409403.56
2015-16 214040.28 1290218.42
%Growth2015-16/ 2014-15 -18.86 -8.46
TRADE BALANCE    
2014-15 -88096.09 -437687.13
2015-16 -69387.61 -436631.83

INDIA’S FOREIGN TRADE (SERVICES): August, 2015

(As per the RBI Press Release dated 15th October, 2015)

  1. EXPORTS (Receipts)

Exports during August, 2015 were valued at US$ 13580 Million (Rs. 88368.18 Crore).

  1. IMPORTS (Payments)

Imports during August, 2015 were valued at US$ 7773 Million (Rs. 50580.70 Crore).

  1. TRADE BALANCE

The trade balance in Services (i.e. net export of Services) for August, 2015 was estimated at US$ 5807 Million.

EXPORTS & IMPORTS (SERVICES) : (US $ Million)
(PROVISIONAL)  
  August 2015-16
EXPORTS (Receipts) 13580.00
IMPORTS (Payments) 7773.00
TRADE BALANCE 5807.00
   
EXPORTS & IMPORTS (SERVICES): (Rs. Crore)
   
(PROVISIONAL) August 2015-16
   
EXPORTS (Receipts) 88368.18
IMPORTS (Payments) 50580.70
TRADE BALANCE 37787.48
Source: RBI Press Release dated 15th October 2015

– Ministry of Commerce & Industry, 15-October, 2015 

Fourth International Tourism Mart to be held in Gangtok from 14th-16th October, 2015

Guwahati being developed as a hub to provide improved connectivity to the North-eastern states: Dr. Mahesh Sharma

The 4th International Tourism Mart(ITM)  will be held in Gangtok from 14th – 16th October, 2015. This was announced by the Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma at a press conference in New Delhi today. International buyers and media delegates from 27 countries are participating in this year’s ITM.

Addressing the mediapersons, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the ITM will showcase the rich tourism potential of the North East States. The Minister said that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi gives utmost priority to the North-east and promoting tourism in the region has been the emphasis of the Ministry. It is due to these efforts that the number of Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs) to North Eastern States during 2014 grew by 39.8% , revealing a significant improvement in the growth of 27.9% in FTVs registered during 2013 over 2012, the Minister explained.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that improving connectivity is the key to promoting tourism in the North-east for which the Government has taken new initiatives. One of the major steps in this direction is creating Guwahati as a hub to provide improved connectivity to the North-East. For this purpose, the Government has sanctioned  funds to the tune of  Rs 1200 crore for development of Guwahati Airport. Similarly, Guwahati has already started working as a heli-hub with the help of Pawan Hans services to the North-eastern states, which started working more than two months ago.

Dr Mahesh Sharma informed that  Rs 484 crore have also been sanctioned  for up gradation of Agartala Airport and  Rs 90 crore for Tezu Airport (Arunachal Pradesh). The Ministry of Tourism is working on  3 projects in Majuli, Tawang & Kamakhya  for promoting Tourism in North East States. Rs 250 crore have already been sanctioned for the projects under the Swadesh Darshan(North-east Circuit)  and PRASAD schemes of the Ministry of Tourism.

Dr Mahesh Sharma said that we need to increase India’s share in world tourism from 0.68 to 1 % by 2020 to realize the full potential of this sector. Tourism helps in women empowerment and youth employment. He reiterated the motto of the Ministry of Tourism ‘Cleanliness, Safety and  Hospitality’.  Dr. Mahesh Sharma also said that the facility of e-visas have been extended to 113 countries and the government will extend it to 150 countries by March next year.