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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Parliament Highlights: India only G-20 country implementing Paris Accord commitments, says Prakash Javadekar

Parliament Today Highlights: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday that India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2021 8:52:02 am
Rajya SabhaIndia is the only country in the G-20 forum implementing the Paris accord commitments on renewable energy and afforestation, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Parliament Today Highlights: Rajya Sabha has been adjourned for the day after concluding discussion on the working of Ministry of Jal Shakti. Lok Sabha has also been adjourned till 11 am on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said in the Rajya Sabha, “India is the only country in the G-20 forum implementing the Paris accord commitments on renewable energy and afforestation.”

Also, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha that India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain. Describing India as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, he said it can never turn its eyes away from racism.

Meanwhile, AAP MP Sanjay Singh Monday gave a Suspension of Business Notice in Rajya Sabha under rule 267 over the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders and in at least four states. BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav has given Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over the “epidemic proportion of cancer in the country” while BJP MP Ashok Bajpai has given a similar notice over the demand for inclusion of Awadhi language in 8th schedule to the Constitution.

Live Blog

S Jaishankar says that India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain; AAP MP Sanjay Singh gives suspension notice in Rajya Sabha due to ongoing farmers' protest; Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla inaugurates CGHS health camp in Parliament House Annexe. Follow this space for the latest updates.

21:27 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Both Houses adjourned

Rajya Sabha adjourns for the day after concluding discussion on the working of Ministry of Jal Shakti. Government’s reply to take place tomorrow. Lok Sabha also adjourned till 11 am on Tuesday.

20:05 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Railway 'privatisation' very dangerous, should not be allowed: E T Mohammed Basheer

Lok Sabha member E T Mohammed Basheer Monday expressed concerns over certain railway services being handed over to private players, saying it was "very dangerous" and the government should not do so.

He was participating in a discussion in Lok Sabha on demands for grants for the railways for 2021-22.

The railways is a national property and its "privatisation is very dangerous", The IUML MP said. "We should not hand over our national property to private sector."

During the discussion, Hanuman Beniwal of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party asked as to how the "privatisation" of railways will impact its employees. (PTI)

20:01 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Govt has collected Rs 26,457 crore by decreasing stakes in six DPSUs in last 5 years

The government has collected Rs 26,457 crore by decreasing its shareholding in six defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) in the last five years, according to details provided by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Responding to a question, Naik said a total of Rs 14,184.70 crore was collected by decreasing stakes in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) while the amount was Rs 8,073.29 crore from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Rs 2,371.19 crore from Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

Similarly, Rs 434.14 was fetched from Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI), Rs 420.52 crore from Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRESE) and Rs 974.15 crore was collected from Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL).

He said the policy of disinvestment of minority stake without transfer of management control is being followed for priority sector including defence to unlock value, promote public ownership. (PTI)

19:22 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Bill defining LG's role, power democratically, constitutionally dangerous: Manish Sisodia

The Centre's bill that seeks to define certain role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is democratically and constitutionally "dangerous", Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday, and accused the BJP of trying to rule the national capital from the "backdoor".

His remarks came after the Centre introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

"Its a very dangerous amendment democratically and constitutionally. It will render the elections and elected government in Delhi meaningless," Sisodia said at a press conference.

The deputy chief minister said the Delhi government will look into the matter and explore options after consulting legal experts.

"This amendment by the BJP and its government at the Centre upturns the decision of the Supreme Court and thus the Constitution. After badly loosing elections in Delhi and getting zero seat (in municipal bypoll), the BJP is now trying to rule Delhi from the backdoor," Sisodia said. (PTI)

19:19 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Rs 13.73 crore released till date for para-sportspersons: Kiren Rijiju

The government has released Rs 13.73 crore for the disabled sportspersons till date under the Khelo India Scheme, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Despite sports being a 'state subject' under the Indian Constitution, the union government has been allocating funds scheme-wise since 2016-17, Rijiju said in a written reply.

"Funds are allocated by the Union Government Scheme-wise, not State/Union Territory-wise. Under one of the verticals of the Khelo India Scheme, namely ?Promotion of sports among persons with disabilities' funds to the tune of ? 13.73 crore have been released till date for promotion of sports among disabled sportspersons," Rijiju said. (PTI)

19:18 (IST)15 Mar 2021
World class winter sports academy in Gulmarg, 100 sports centres across J-K to be set up soon: Govt

The government on Monday informed the Rajya Sabha that it would soon set up a world class winter sports academy in Gulmarg and 100 small sports centres under the 'Khelo India' mission across Jammu and Kashmir.

Replying to supplementaries during question hour, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge) Kiren Rijiju said the government will also hold the national camp for winter games in Gulmarg this year and his ministry will fund it.

"The government has decided to institute a world class winter sports academy in Gulmarg and its approval has also been given. By next year, after consultancy, you would soon see a renowned world-class winter sports institute in Gulmarg," he told the house. 

The minister also said the government is taking a number of initiatives to promote sports, including football which has an amazing potential in the Union Territory. (PTI)

19:17 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Sitharaman introduces Bill in Rajya Sabha to allow 74% FDI in insurance sector

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday introduced a Bill in Rajya Sabha that seek to amend the Insurance Act to pave the way for 74 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday had gave its nod for amendments in the Insurance Amendment Bill 2021.

Finance Minister Sitharaman introduced the Bill for amendments in the Insurance Act, 1938.

Currently, the permissible FDI limit in the life and general insurance stands at 49 per cent with ownership and management control with Indian.

Sitharaman presenting the Union Budget for 2021-22 had said, "I propose to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in insurance companies and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards." (PTI)

19:14 (IST)15 Mar 2021
No proposal under consideration to use CSR funds for govt projects: Anurag Thakur

Union minister Anurag Singh Thakur on Monday said there is no proposal under consideration to use CSR funds for government projects.

Under the companies’ law, certain class of profitable companies are required to shell out at least 2 per cent of their three-year annual average net profit towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in a particular fiscal.

To a query in the Lok Sabha on whether the government is also considering to divert CSR funds for government projects, the minister replied in the negative.

"No such proposal is under consideration of the government. CSR is a board-driven process and the Board of the company is empowered to decide the activities to be undertaken as per Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 taking into consideration the recommendation of its CSR committee," Thakur said in a written reply. (PTI)

18:57 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Pokhriyal rules out possibility of conducting NEET twice in 2021

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' on Monday ruled out the possibility of conducting medical entrance exam NEET twice this year.

National Testing Agency (NTA) under the Ministry of Education conducts Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate programme in medical sciences, in consultation with Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. “In 2021, the NEET (UG) will be conducted by NTA only one time,” Pokhriyal told Lok Sabha in response to a written question.

He, however, did not comment whether it will be conducted twice next year.

Request for conducting the National Eligibility cum entrance test (NEET) twice a year began after the Ministry of Education announced that engineering entrance exam JEE-Mains will be conducted four times a year starting 2021. (PTI)

18:48 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Shiv Sena MP says Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum under threat; BJP members counter

Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant on Monday raised in Parliament the issue of alleged attacks on his party workers in Karnataka's Belgaum district and alleged that Marathi-speaking people in the region were under threat.

Speaking during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha, Sawant said states were organised after independence on the basis of language and Belgaum was not merged with Karanataka.

Sawant's remarks evoked strong response from BJP MPs from Karanataka who got up from their seat and started protesting.

BJP member from Karanataka Shivkumar Udasi said the Shiv Sena compromised its Hindutva ideology for the sake of power and now its MP raising the issue to distract the attention of Maharashtra people from his party's misrule in the state. (PTI)

18:38 (IST)15 Mar 2021
No plan to split GAIL: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

The government is not considering any proposal to bifurcate state-owned gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd, and the company is focused on building pipelines to connect gas sources to consumers to accelerate gas usage, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

GAIL is India's biggest natural gas marketing and trading firm and owns 60 per cent of the country's 26,284-km gas pipeline network, giving it a stranglehold on the market.

To resolve the conflict of a transporter also being the marketer, it was proposed that GAIL's pipeline business should be hived off into a separate entity. But the proposal has been dropped for now.

"There is no such proposal under consideration at present," Pradhan said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on bifurcation of GAIL.

He said the share of natural gas in India's primary energy basket is targeted to be increased to 15 per cent by 2030 from the current 6.3 per cent.

18:30 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Bill to define role, powers of Delhi LG introduced in Lok Sabha

With the objective of giving a proper "interpretation" of a Supreme Court ruling, the government on Monday introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to define certain role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

According to proposed amendments, Section 21 of the Act -- dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative assembly with respect to certain matters -- is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression 'government' referred to in any law to be made by the legislative assembly shall mean the 'Lieutenant Governor'. A sub-section shall be inserted to this effect in Section 21.

In section 24 of the principal Act -- which requires a Bill passed by the Delhi legislative assembly to be presented to the LG who may assent, withhold or reserve it for consideration of the President -- an additional clause will be inserted to cover any of the matters that fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the legislative assembly.

In Section 33 of the principal Act, in sub-section (1) after the words "conduct of its business", the words "which shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People" shall be inserted. (PTI)

16:21 (IST)15 Mar 2021
EPFO closed 71.01 lakh EPF accounts in April-December 2020

Retirement fund body EPFO closed 71.01 lakh employees' provident fund (EPF) accounts during April-December in 2020 post pandemic which is higher than 66.66 lakh in the same period year ago, Parliament was informed on Monday.

The government had imposed lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic on March 25, 2020. 

"The number of Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) accounts closed during the period from April to December, 2020 is 71,01,929," Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Monday.

According to the reply, the number of closures of EPF account in April-December 2019 was 66,66,563.

The EPF account is closed for many reasons including superannuation, job loss or changing jobs.

The minister also stated that the number of EPF accounts with partial withdrawal also rose to 1,27,72,120 in April-December 2020 from 54,42,884 in the same period in 2019. (PTI)

16:20 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Bill to amend Mines and Mineral Development Act introduced in Lok Sabha

Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi on Monday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

The amendments proposed in the Bill are aimed at bringing mega reforms in the mines sector with resolution of legacy issues, and making a large number of mines available for auctions. It will help strengthen the auction-only regime and boost transparency in the system.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor opposed the introduction of the bill, saying he has three objections to the bill. 

The bill fails to acknowledge the adverse impact on environment and bio-diversity, it is a threat on lives of people residing close to the mines, and also impinges on the federal structure of the states, Tharoor said.

Joshi said the regulation of mines, mineral development is under the control of central government as per the Constitution.

The reforms as part of the bill include removing the distinction between captive and non-captive mines and introduction of an index-based mechanism by developing a National Mineral Index (NMI) for various statutory payments, among others. (PTI)

16:17 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha passes bill to declare two food tech institutes as national institutes

The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved a bill which declares two food technology institutes at Kundli in Haryana and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu as national institutes.

The Rajya Sabha passed The National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019 by voice vote on Monday. 

The Bill declares National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Kundli, and the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur as National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management.  (PTI)

16:13 (IST)15 Mar 2021
India only G-20 country implementing Paris accord commitments: Prakash Javadekar

India is the only country in the G-20 forum implementing the Paris accord commitments on renewable energy and afforestation, the government informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Replying to supplementary queries during the Question Hour, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said there has been a net increase of 15,000 square kilometres of tree cover in the last six years.

He said the pace is likely to increase as the central government has distributed Rs 48,000 crore to states last year with the direction that 80 per cent of the money be spent on afforestation.

"India is the only G-20 country which is implementing the Paris commitments given through our nationally determined contributions, be it renewable energy, be it reducing (emission) intensity as well as creating more forest area. On all three commitments, we are much ahead than any other country," he told the House. (PTI)

16:12 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Govt to take care of job loss, other facilities in strategic divestment: Anurag Thakur

The government on Monday said that concerns related to job loss and other facilities will be taken care of when a central public sector company, working in a strategic sector, is divested.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, said the government has a "clear and transparent" disinvestment policy.

Four sectors of atomic energy, space and defence; transport and telecommunications; power, petroleum, coal and other minerals; and banking, insurance and financial services would be strategic sectors. The rest will be non-strategic sectors, he said.

"If central public sector enterprises are given for privatisation or for strategic sale, in the sale purchase agreement to be entered, it will be decided that there won't be job loss of people and all these facilities are provided," Thakur said.

The minister further said he personally believes and the policy also clearly states that the divestment will bring investment, technology infusion, job opportunities. (PTI)

16:09 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Shiv Sena member raises issue of press freedom in Rajya Sabha

Shiv Sena member Priyanka Chaturvedi on Monday raised in Rajya Sabha the issue of a group of ministers reportedly formed in mid-2020 to suggest ways to  "neutralise" media outlets questioning the government.

Raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Chaturvedi said the group of nine ministers was reportedly formed to suggest ways to "neutralise some media agencies which were speaking up against the government." (PTI)

"Not against the nation but against the government," she said, adding that the group was asked "How to neutralise them. And how to promote those agencies which are talking pro-government."

16:07 (IST)15 Mar 2021
Road projects worth Rs 7.89 lakh crore underway: Nitin Gadkari

Highway projects worth Rs 7.89 lakh crore are under construction across the country and a number of steps have been taken to expedite work that was delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament was informed on Monday.

These 2,084 projects pertain to construction of 63,523 km of national highways in the country.

"Two thousand eighty-four projects on National Highways are under construction in the country as on date. ... Projects are given a time period of 2 to 3 years for completion from the date of commencement," Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gadkari said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

The cost of these projects for construction of 63,523 km of highways is Rs 7.89 lakh crore, he said. (PTI)

16:05 (IST)15 Mar 2021
RS MP makes case for categorising teachers as frontline workers for COVID-19 vaccination

Rajya Sabha MP Narendra Jadhav on Monday suggested categorising teachers as frontline workers for COVID-19 inoculation and use of mobile ambulance services to vaccinate senior citizens who are bedridden.

Raising the issue as part of his special mention in the House, Jadhav said as the vaccination drive progresses and society returns to normalcy, the next challenge is to overcome the loss of learning during the pandemic.

In most states, the new school year will start in April, and there is a need to accelerate the process of safe reopening of the schools, colleges and universities, he added.

This, the MP said, will be possible only if teachers, their supporting staff and childcare workers are "prioritised to get the vaccine".

"Given the potentially huge adverse multiplier effect, I strongly feel that the government should categorise teachers as frontline workers and take measures to vaccinate teachers at all levels, anganwari, balwari, from primary school to the university level and associated school and college staff, irrespective of their age or comorbidities," Jadhav said. (PTI)

In Lok Sabha, discussion and voting on the demands for grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways is likely to take place today. Discussion and voting on The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for 2021-22 are also scheduled to take place.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar is scheduled to move a Bill to declare certain institutions of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management to be the institutions of national importance

Discussions on the working of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Tourism are also scheduled to take place in the Rajya Sabha.

Both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned on Friday amid protests by Opposition members over the rising fuel prices.

Last week, several Congress members were in the Well, demanding a rollback of the fuel price hikes. DMK members were seen standing at their seats while Trinamool Congress (TMC) members did not protest. Earlier, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised an issue of what he called the “digital divide” in the house. Chowdhury alleged that the Lok Sabha television doesn’t show what the opposition says while only broadcasting the treasury benches’ statements. Speaker Birla asked him if he wanted the people in the country to see the slogan raising and disruptions. Chowdhury said protests were also part of parliamentary proceedings.

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