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Rail stations, power, expressways & FDI feature in big cabinet decisions today

Economic Times:  July, 2015

New Delhi: Approving major decisions in sectors ranging from railways and infrastructure to power and investment, the Cabinet on Thursday gave nod to several key decisions such as redevelopment of railway stations and Eastern Peripheral Highways.

Here's what it said yes to:

1) Modernisation of 400 railway stations: Cabinet cleared redevelopment of 400 railway stations on 'as is where is' basis, through open invitation from interested parties with their designs and business ideas, including permitting commercial development of real estate by the zonal Railways. 

These stations shall be offered for redevelopment under the Swiss Challenge method, which is by inviting open bids from interested parties. These stations are to be developed by leveraging real estate development of land and air space in and around the stations. 

These category of stations are generally located in metros, major cities, pilgrimage centres and important tourist destinations. 

2) Composite cap for foreign investment: Cabinet cleared a proposal to do away with the distinction between different types of foreign investments through a composite cap on all kinds of foreign investments. The simplification is aimed at promoting ease of doing business in India. The composite foreign investment caps will encompass all types of foreign investments. These will include foreign portfolio investment, NRI investment and depository receipts, and also include foreign currency convertible bonds and fully and mandatorily convertible preference shares or debentures. 

3) Boost for highways: The Cabinet gave its nod for the development of the six-laning of Eastern peripheral expressway in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The cost is estimated to be Rs 7,558 crore, including Rs 1,795.20 crore for land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road will be approximately 135 kms. 

4) More power to states: The Cabinet approved the creation of an intra state transmission system in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan at an estimated cost of Rs 8548.68 crore with the Centre contribution from National Clean Energy Fund of Rs 3,419.47 crore (40% of the total estimated cost of project). The plan will see setting up of 48 new grid sub-stations of different voltage levels in these seven states. 

5) Obsolete laws to go: The Cabinet approved introduction of a new Bill, the Repealing and Amending (Fourth) Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha for the repeal of 295 Acts, identified for repeal by the concerned Ministries/Departments and the Legislative Department. The Repealing and Amending (Third) Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 13th May, 2015 containing the proposal for repeal of 187 obsolete Acts. 

6) E-courts mission: Cabinet approved the second phase of eCourts Mission Mode Project at an estimated cost of Rs 1,670 crore. It envisages enhanced ICT enablement of courts through universal computerisation, use of cloud computing, digitization of case records and enhanced availability of e-services through e-filing, e-payment gateways and mobile applications etc 

7) SAARC fund gets boost: The Cabinet approved a proposal to permit utilization of India's capital contribution to the SAARC Development Fund for its Economic and Infrastructure Windows, in addition to the existing approval for utilizing India's capital contribution for the Social Window of SDF. The approval will help in promoting projects such as cross border infrastructure. Such projects will help improve intra-SAARC trade and growth potential of the SAARC region. 

8) Cyclone relief: Cabinet cleared a revised cost estimates for Phase-I of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project for Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The original cost has been enhanced by Rs 835 crore to Rs 233,171 crore from Rs 1,496.71 crore. 

9) Caste census: Cabinet said yes to an expert group under Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairperson, NITI AAYOG, to classify the caste names returned in the Socio Economic and Caste Census, 2011. 

10) Recapitalisation of rural banks: The Cabinet said yes to an extension for the next three years of recapitalisation of weak Regional Rural Banks. These banks are unable to maintain their minimum Capital to Risk weighted Assets Ratio of 9%. This decision will help them improve this ratio.