20 Feb 2018: UPSC Exam PIB Summary & Analysis

Cabinet approves India-Morocco Cooperation Agreement in Railway Sector

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to the Cooperation Agreement between India and the Moroccan National Railways Office (ONCF).
  • This agreement helps to develop long-term cooperation and partnership in different areas of railway sector.

The Cooperation Agreement will enable technical cooperation in the following areas:- 

  • Training and staff development;
  • Expert missions, exchange of experience and personnel; and
  • Mutual technical assistance, including exchanging of experts.


Cabinet approves proposal for adjudication of dispute on Mahanadi River Waters.

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for adjudication of dispute on Mahanadi River Waters.
  • The Tribunal shall determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, the present utilization of water resources in each State and the potential for future development.
  • As per provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other Members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.
  • It is expected that with adjudication of dispute by the Tribunal, the long-pending dispute between States of Odisha and Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi River will come to a final settlement.


Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Israel on Film Co-production

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to an Agreement on Film Co-production between India and Israel signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu to India.
  • Co-production of an Indian film with an international party means that Indian producer can access international funds and can collaborate on the script, talent and distribution at international level.
  • Co-production of a film under this treaty will qualify it to be national production both in India and Israel.
  • he co-produced films will also be eligible for their participation as domestic productions in film festivals of both the countries and any other incentives which are available for carrying out production and post-production work in any of the countries.


Cabinet approves New Bill to ban Unregulated Deposit Schemes and Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018

  • The Finance Minister in the Budget Speech 2016-17 had announced that a comprehensive central legislation would be brought in to deal with the menace of illicit deposit taking schemes.

The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2018

The salient features of the Bill are as follows:

  • The Bill contains a substantive banning clause which bans Deposit Takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme.
  • The Bill creates three different types of offences, namely, running of Unregulated Deposit Schemes, fraudulent default in Regulated Deposit Schemes, and wrongful inducement in relation to Unregulated Deposit Schemes.
  • The Bill has adequate provisions for disgorgement or repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally.
  • The Bill provides for attachment of properties/ assets by the Competent Authority, and subsequent realization of assets for repayment to depositors.
  • The Bill enables creation of an online central database, for collection and sharing of information on deposit taking activities in the country.
  • The Bill defines “Deposit Taker” and “Deposit” comprehensively.

The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018

Following amendments to the Chit Funds Act, 1982 have been proposed:

  • Use of the words “Fraternity Fund” for chit business under Sections 2(b) and 11(1) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982, to signify its inherent nature, and distinguish its working from “Prize Chits” which are banned under a separate legislation;
  • While retaining the requirement of a minimum of two subscribers for the conduct of the draw of the Chit and for the preparation of the minutes of the proceedings, the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2018 proposes to allow the two minimum required subscribers to join through video conferencing duly recorded by the foreman, as physical presence of the subscribers towards the final stages of a Chit may not be forthcoming easily. The foreman shall have the minutes of the proceedings signed by such subscribers within a period of two days following the proceedings;
  • Increasing the ceiling of foreman’s commission from a maximum of 5% to 7%, as the rate has remained static since the commencement of the Act while overheads and other costs have increased manifold;
  • Allowing the foreman a right to lien for the dues from subscribers, so that set-off is allowed by the Chit company for subscribers who have already drawn funds, so as to discourage default by them; and
  • Amending Section 85 (b) of the Chit Funds Act, 1982 to remove the ceiling of one hundred rupees set in 1982 at the time of framing the Chit Funds Act, which has lost its relevance. The State Governments are proposed to be allowed to prescribe the ceiling and to increase it from time to time.


Cabinet approves methodology for auction of coal mines / blocks for sale of coal

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the methodology for auction of coal mines / blocks for sale of coal under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
  • The methodology gives highest priority to transparency, ease of doing business and ensures that natural resources are used for national development.
  • The auction will be an ascending forward auction whereby the bid parameter will be the price offer in Rs. /tonne which will be paid to the State Government on the actual production of coal. 
  • There shall be no restriction on the sale and/or utilization of coal from the coal mine.
  • This reform is expected to bring efficiency into the coal sector by moving from an era of monopoly to competition.


IWAI engages KPMG as consultants for asset management and market development under Jal Marg Vikas Project

  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has engaged KPMG, a reputed consultant, to study and devise a framework for operationalization and maintenance of the assets being built on NW-1 under the World Bank funded Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).
  • This framework will include various institutional and operational models ranging from outsourcing to Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formulation with participating states and other authorities like Railways and Ports.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project for capacity augmentation of navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (Ganga) on 3rdJanuary, 2018.
  • The JMVP is being implemented by the IWAI with technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank.
  • The project is expected to boost the Inland Waterway Transport on NW-1, create/improve integration opportunities with road and rail transport, promote economic growth in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal


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