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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Parliament Highlights: Congress in Rajya Sabha accuses govt of conspiring to end reservation for SCs

Parliament Highlights: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha. The Centre said the bill has been brought to end ambiguity in running the affairs of the national capital, and appealed to everyone not to term it a "political move" since it will be beneficial to the people of the city.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 23, 2021 12:28:17 am
Lok SabhaLok Sabha passes the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that raises the limit of foreign investment in Indian insurance companies from the existing 49% to 74%.

Parliament Highlights: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in Parliament on Monday accused the government of conspiring to end reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) as it had not yet filled 50 per cent vacancies under this category in all government departments. He also slammed the government for bringing an amendment bill to include seven castes in Tamil Nadu under one group of the SC list ahead of Assembly polls in the state despite the demand being made in 2015. Participating in a discussion on The Constitution (Scheduled castes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2021, Leader of Opposition Kharge said, “Reservation is ending gradually in public and private sectors. There is a 50 per cent vacancy in the SC category in every department.”

Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to club seven castes in poll-bound Tamil Nadu under one nomenclature of Devendrakula Vellalars. Replying to a debate on the bill, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot counted steps taken by the Narendra Modi government to give B R Ambedkar his rightful place, including completing projects conceived in his memory.

Earlier on Monday, Lok Sabha passed The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Centre said the bill has been brought to end ambiguity in running the affairs of the national capital, and appealed to everyone not to term it a “political move” since it will be beneficial to the people of the city.

During a discussion on the bill, Bhagwant Mann, the sole Lok Sabha member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that governs Delhi, wondered whether the Centre wants to turn the national capital into a Union Territory without an assembly like Jammu and Kashmir. “The Delhi L-G lives in the house the Viceroy used to stay during the British rule. Maybe, the Centre wants to run Delhi through soul of Viceroy,” Mann said. The AAP MP said if the chief minister of Delhi cannot take any decision, then what’s the point of conducting assembly polls. “The Centre is a specialist in abusing the rights of states, whether it was in the case of farm laws or in running state governments through governors,” he said.

Live Blog

Parliament Highlights: Bill to club seven castes in poll-bound Tamil Nadu under one nomenclature passed in Rajya Sabha; Lok Sabha passes National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill and Insurance (Amendment) Bill; Shiv Sena walks out from Lok Sabha; Anurag Thakur demands action against state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh

22:31 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Congress in Rajya Sabha accuses govt of conspiring to end reservation for SCs

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in Parliament on Monday accused the government of conspiring to end reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) as it had not yet filled 50 per cent vacancies under this category in all government departments.He also slammed the government for bringing an amendment bill to include seven castes in Tamil Nadu under one group of the SC list ahead of Assembly polls in the state despite the demand being made in 2015.

Participating in a discussion on The Constitution (Scheduled castes) order (Amendment) Bill 2021, Leader of Opposition Kharge said: "Reservation is ending gradually in public and private sectors. There is a 50 per cent vacancy in the SC category in every department."

There are 56 per cent SC category vacancies in Railways, 85 per cent in Defence and 28 per cent in posts, he said.“They don't want to fill the vacancies. There is a conspiracy to end the assured job available to SCs. The conspiracy is to prevent SCs from getting jobs and keep them financially weak and as slaves like before. This is the thinking...,” he noted. (PTI)

21:45 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Lok Sabha adjourned

Lok Sabha has been adjourned till 11 am on March 23.

21:44 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Centre not handing over major ports to private parties: Mandaviya

The Centre is not handing over major ports to private parties and has only sought private sector participation in projects on PPP mode, Parliament was informed on Monday.

India has 12 major ports which handle over 60 per cent of the EXIM cargo.

"Central Government is not handing over ports to private parties. Private sector participation has been allowed in Major Ports on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis for specific projects/berths/terminals, through concession agreement for a specific period...," Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

The private sector participation will be by way of bidding process and on a revenue sharing or royalty sharing basis between the developer and the major port authority for specific terminals/assets within the port premises, he said. (PTI)

21:43 (IST)22 Mar 2021
33,552 people have registered on NTSP portal: Rijiju

As many as 33,552 individuals have registered on the National Talent Search Portal (NTSP), a government initiative launched with an aim to attract talented sportspersons from all over the country.

"The awareness among the sportspersons about the portal can be assessed from the fact that so far 17,33,534 individuals have accessed the home page of the portal out of which 33,552 individuals have registered on it," Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The portal was launched by the Vice President of India in August 2017.

"The NTSP allows access to the talented sportspersons from any part of the country to upload their online applications in their desired sports discipline for admission in Sports Centres run by SAI under its various sport's promotional schemes," Rijiju added. (PTI)

21:14 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Around 1.07 lakh posts lying vacant in armed forces: Govt data

Over 1,07,000 positions are lying vacant in the three services with the Army topping the list with around 86,000 vacancies, according to details provided by the government on Monday.

In response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik listed 79,349 positions of junior commissioned officers and other ranks as lying vacant while the number for officers was 6,975.

He mentioned the vacancies under a column "deficiency".

In the Indian Navy, the shortage of officers against the sanctioned strength is 1,044 while the number for sailors and other ranks is 12,317, according to data furnished by the minister.

In the Indian Air Force, the number of vacant posts of officers is 589 while that of airmen is 7,231, the minister noted.

The total number of vacancies comes to 1,07,505 in the three forces out of which 86,324 are in the Army.

"The vacancies in the armed forces are as result of retirements, premature retirements, attrition due to casualties and injuries. However, there is no acute shortage of manpower as recruitment in the armed forces is a continuous process," the minister said. (PTI)

20:48 (IST)22 Mar 2021
NHAI suffers Rs 814 crore toll revenue loss in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan due to farmers' protest

National Highways Authority of India suffered a toll revenue loss of Rs 814.4 crore till March 16 on account of farmers' protest in three states, Parliament was informed on Monday.

Considering the heavy loss, state administrations have been requested to restore the user fee collection, Road, Transport, Highways and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gadkari said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

“Loss of revenue due to farmers' protest has primarily occurred in the States of Punjab and Haryana and at a few plazas in Rajasthan,” the minister said.

The loss at Rs 487 crore was the highest in Punjab, followed by Rs 326 crore in Haryana and Rs 1.40 crore in Rajasthan, he added.

“No loss of revenue is reported on account of farmers' protest in other states,” the minister said. (PTI)

20:13 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha passes bill to club 7 castes in poll-bound Tamil Nadu under one nomenclature

Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill-2021 to club seven castes in poll-bound Tamil Nadu under one nomenclature of Devendrakula Vellalars.

The passage in Rajya Sabha completes the parliamentary approval process. Lok Sabha had passed the bill last week and it will now go to the President for his assent.

Replying to a debate on the bill, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot counted steps taken by the Narendra Modi government to give B R Ambedkar his rightful place, including completing projects conceived in his memory. (PTI)

19:18 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha passes The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021

Rajya Sabha has passed The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021. The bill will help create employment opportunities and allow the private sector with enhanced technology in mining activities.

Union Minister for Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi said the bill will not curb the powers of states, as claimed by some opposition parties. The bill was passed by Rajya Sabha through a voice vote amid the opposition's demand that it be sent to a select committee for scrutiny.

The bill, which amends the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, seeks to create employment opportunities and allow participation of private players in mining activities. (PTI)

19:05 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Lok Sabha passes The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill

The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha.

19:03 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Average daily FASTag collection crosses Rs 100 crore-mark: Nitin Gadkari

The average daily toll collection through FASTag has reached Rs 100 crore daily, Parliament was informed on Monday.

The government has made FASTags mandatory from February 15 midnight and any vehicle not fitted with it will be charged double the toll at electronic toll plazas across the country.

"As on 16th March 2021, more than 3 crore FASTags have been issued. The average daily fee collection through FASTag is more than Rupees 100 crores from 1st March 2021 to 16th March 2021," Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

The government has mandated the fitment of FASTag in all M and N categories of motor vehicles with effect from January 1, 2021, through the amendment in Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, he said. (PTI)

19:00 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Centre wants to rule Delhi through soul of Viceroy: AAP MP Mann on bill on L-G powers

The Centre is "a specialist in abusing the rights of states" and wants to rule Delhi through the soul of the British-era Viceroy, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann said in Lok Sabha on Monday as he vehemently opposed a bill that seeks to make it clear that the "government" in the national capital means the "Lieutenant Governor".

During a discussion on the bill, Mann, the sole Lok Sabha member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that governs Delhi, wondered whether the Centre wants to turn the national capital into a union territory without assembly like Jammu and Kashmir.

"The Delhi L-G lives in the house the Viceroy used to stay during the British rule. Maybe, the Centre wants to run Delhi through soul of Viceroy," Mann said.

The AAP MP said if the chief minister of Delhi cannot take any decision, then what's the point of conducting assembly polls.

"The Centre is a specialist in abusing the rights of states, whether it was in the case of farm laws or in running state governments through governors," he said. (PTI)

18:04 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Marine Aids to Navigation Bill taken up in Lok Sabha

The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 has been taken up for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha.

18:03 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Bill to allow private players in mining activities tabled in Rajya Sabha

The government on Monday introduced in Rajya Sabha a bill to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, which will help create employment opportunities and allow the private sector with enhanced technology in mining activities.

Union Minister for Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi introduced the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 in the Upper House and said this bill aims to bring changes in the mining and coal sector and will generate 55 lakh direct and indirect employment.

"The government has already consulted several state governments and various stakeholders and after that process, we have brought eight major reforms," he said.

The bill has been passed by Lok Sabha on March 19.

Several opposition parties in the Upper House, including the Congress, TDP, and the RJD demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee for discussion. (PTI)

18:01 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Congress says Delhi amendment bill takes away city govt rights

The Congress on Monday dubbed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill "unconstitutional", and said it takes away certain rights of the city government which were given under a constitutional amendment, a charge rejected by the BJP.

Initiating the debate in Lok Sabha on the bill, Congress MP Manish Tewari said the measure is contrary to what the then Union Home Minister L K Advani had perceived some 18 years ago.

He said while the idea was to give the Delhi government rights to make laws on all issues except public order, police and land, the bill takes that away.

Tewari was of the view that the bill seeks to prevent the city government from implementing the decisions taken by the legislative assembly.

"How can you divorce a decision from its implementation," he asked.

BJP's Meenakashi Lekhi, who represents the New Delhi seat in Lok Sabha, said the bill seeks to rectify the alleged mismanagement of Delhi and blamed both the Congress and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party for it.

She maintained that the Constitution is not federal but quasi-federal in nature where the Centre's say cannot be ignored. (PTI)

17:49 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Lok Sabha passes National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill

The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed in the Lok Sabha.

17:24 (IST)22 Mar 2021
GNCTD Bill not 'political', brought to end ambiguity in running Delhi affairs: MoS Kishan Reddy

The Centre on Monday said the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been brought to end ambiguity in running the affairs of the national capital, and appealed to everyone not to term it a "political move" since it will be beneficial to the people of the city.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has opposed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had even urged the central government to take back the bill and said the AAP dispensation was ready to fall at the Modi government's feet for its withdrawal.

Initiating the debate on the bill in Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the bill has become necessary as there have been ambiguity in certain issues related to the functioning of the Delhi government and several cases were also filed in courts. "Please do not say that it is a political bill. It is being brought to end ambiguity in certain issues as Delhi is a Union Territory. It will end certain confusion or technicality and enhance the efficiency of the administration," he said.

Reddy said there has been cordial relations between the central and Delhi governments since 1996 and all differences were resolved through discussions. However, since 2015, some issues have come up and cases were filed before the Delhi High Court, which also gave certain rulings. He added that the court had also ruled that the L-G should be informed on executive issues of the city government. (PTI)

17:06 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Central govt's tax collection on petrol, diesel jumps 300% in six years

Central government's tax collections on petrol and diesel have jumped over 300 per cent in the last six years as excise duty on the two fuels was hiked, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.

The central government collected Rs 29,279 crore from excise duty on petrol and Rs 42,881 crore on diesel in 2014-15 — the first year of office of the Modi government.

The collections on petrol and diesel rose to Rs 2.94 lakh crore in the first 10 months of the current fiscal (2020-21), according to information furnished by Minister of State Anurag Singh Thakur in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

Together with excise duty on natural gas, the central government in 2014-15 collected Rs 74,158 crore which has gone up to Rs 2.95 lakh crore in April 2020 to January 2021 period.

He said taxes collected on petrol, diesel and natural gas as a percentage of total revenue have gone up from 5.4 per cent in 2014-15 to 12.2 per cent this fiscal.

Excise duty on petrol has been raised from Rs 9.48 per litre in 2014 to Rs 32.90 a litre now while the same on diesel has gone up from Rs 3.56 a litre to Rs 31.80. (PTI)

17:05 (IST)22 Mar 2021
Hike in minimum monthly pension under EPS-95 scheme not possible without budgetary support: Govt

Increase in minimum pension payout under Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995 (EPS-95) is not possible without compromising financial viability of the scheme or additional budgetary support, the government said on Monday.

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar in a written reply in the Lok Sabha said the government has constituted a high empowered monitoring committee for complete evaluation and review of the EPS, 1995. The committee has recommended, inter-alia, enhancement of monthly pension with fulfilling of certain conditions, as per the minister's reply.

"It is not possible to increase minimum monthly pension amount without compromising the financial viability of the Scheme (EPS-95) and/or additional budgetary support," Gangwar said.

The government has, for the first time, started providing a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month to the pensioners under EPS, 1995 from September 1, 2014 by providing additional budgetary support keeping the widespread demands although there is no provision in the Scheme for budgetary support. (PTI)

17:03 (IST)22 Mar 2021
27 lakh minority children devoid of education as Bengal did not take benefit of central scholarships: Naqvi

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday said as many as 27 lakh minority children are devoid of education in West Bengal as the state government has not taken the benefits of central scholarships for the last two years.

Replying to a supplementary in Rajya Sabha on minority administered institutes, raised by BJP's Rakesh Sinha, Naqvi said West Benal has refused to take the benefits of scholarships granted to minority students resulting in students of minority communities like Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims and Parsis not getting its advantage.

"Twenty-seven lakh minority students are devoid of education...," he said, adding that this despite the Centre's letter requesting the state to accept the scholarships.

He said, "The National Scholarship Portal was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016-17. We feel sad that in the last two years, West Bengal has not taken their (students) scholarship," Naqvi said. (PTI)

17:01 (IST)22 Mar 2021
NCP member asks govt to enact health guarantee law

Stressing that the government's responsibility of providing healthcare to citizens is enshrined in the Constitution, NCP Rajya Sabha member Fauzia Khan on Monday asked the Centre to enact a health guarantee law and ensure health facilities for all.

Raising the matter through a special mention in House, Khan said it seems that the healthcare sector has become a business sector. She said people are reluctant to go to government-run hospitals because of the casual approach of the staff towards patients in many facilities.

She said people go to a government-run hospital only when they cannot afford treatment in a private facility. She said people prefer to sell off gold or property to go to a private hospital rather than opting for a government-run hospital.

"The government should enact a health guarantee law and guarantee the provision of health facilities to all the people through the government. The criteria for health facilities should be decided by the government," Khan said.

She also stressed that it was necessary to determine a standard operating procedure for the health sector. (PTI)

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal (File Photo)

Parliament Live Updates:

Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that raises the limit of foreign investment in Indian insurance companies from the existing 49% to 74%. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that raising the FDI limit in the insurance sector to 74 per cent was necessary to help insurers deal with issues concerning financial stress. She said this while moving the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha. The amendment bill, which seeks to hike the FDI limit in insurance from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, was passed by the Rajya Sabha last week.

Earlier, Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur in Parliament demanded appropriate action by the Maharashtra government over the allegations of corruption by former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh against state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. Speaking during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha, Thakur noted that the allegation that Deshmukh wanted police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month, is a “matter of concern”. "The MPs not only from Maharashtra, but from all over India are concerned about the serious allegation of corruption (against Anil Deshmukh) in Maharashtra... The state government should take appropriate action on the issue," he said.

Railways created 14.14 lakh mandays employment under Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan: Piyush Goyal

The railways generated 14.14 lakh mandays employment under the Centre’s Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan in identified districts of six states to expeditiously re-start economic activities post-lockdown, Union minister Piyush Goyal told Rajya Sabha on Friday.

In a written reply to a question on estimated job loss or work loss post-lockdown especially for those indirectly dependent on the Railways for their livelihoods, he said the Ministry has not undertaken any such study.

“However, to expeditiously re-start economic activities after lifting of lockdown so as to provide employment opportunities to the contract workers engaged by contractors, Railways took a number of measures…Under the GKRA announced by Government on 20.06.2020 for 125 days, Railways generated 14,14,604 man-days employment in 140 projects,” he said.

LS passes Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill

Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021, which shall remove restrictions of end-use for future auctions of mineral mining rights, allow operators of existing captive mines to sell up to 50 per cent of minerals extracted in a year and empower the central government to conduct an auction of mines if state governments do not conduct auctions in a timely manner.

The Bill amends the MMDR Act, 1957, that provides a framework for the regulation of the mining sector in India.

Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said the amendment Bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 15, aimed at boosting India’s total mineral output, noting that growth in the output of the mining sector would lead to a significant increase in employment opportunities.

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