Wednesday, June 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Insurance scheme for poor
Policy on grains storage cleared
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 20 — The Union Cabinet today decided to start a new “Janashree” insurance policy for persons below poverty line residing in both rural and urban areas, approved the holding of the 15th Asian Games and cleared the national policy on handling, storage and transportation of foodgrains.

Briefing correspondents, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said the new insurance scheme will cover all persons in age group of 18 to 60 and people forming groups of 25 or above will be eligible for it.

Under the scheme, the premium payable would be Rs 200 per person of which the Centre will pay Rs 100 out of the social security fund of the LIC while the rest of the amount will have to be borne by the beneficiary.

The Centre also decided to appeal to state governments to contribute the maximum possible so as to reduce the premium burden of the beneficiary.

Under the scheme, insurance cover of Rs 20,000 will be paid in case of natural death, Rs 25,00 in case of partial permanent disability due to accident and Rs 50,000 in case of death/total permanent disability.

Details of the scheme to be implemented by the national insurance companies will be worked out by the policy providers and the Centre estimates to spend Rs 150 crore during the current year of the Rs 302 crore available under the social security fund set up by the LIC in eighties.

The Union Cabinet also approved the bilateral promotion and protection agreement with Portugal which will be signed during the visit of Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to Lisbon where he attends the Indo-European Summit between June 27 and 29.

India had started the process in 1994 and negotiations were started with 37 countries of which agreement has been signed with five countries, he said.

In another decision, the Cabinet approved to restore 15 days casual leave to personnel of Central paramilitary forces and Intelligence Bureau posted in field units outside headquarters. The leave was reduced to 10 days earlier after the Centre accepted the recommendations of the fifth Pay Commission.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which also met today, approved the policy for the upgradation and modernisation of infrastructure for storing, handling and transporting the foodgrains.

Mr Mahajan said the thrust of the policy would be to improve household level storage by introducing schemes to encourage use of metal bins and construction of RCC bins at community level.

Modernisation and upgradation of bulk grain handling infrastructure by encouraging use of especially designed truck/railway wagons for the transportation of foodgrains and construction of chain of silos at procurement as well as distribution points, develop infrastructure facilities at ports and dedicated modern foodgrain handling facilities at selected ports, speedy clearance of projects, enter into bilateral agreements with other countries for technical and financial assistance, promote research for development of alternate storage technologies are also on anvil. The State governments would help in acquiring land, he said.

He said foodgrains production in 1998-99 which was 202.54 million tonnes was expected to touch 234 million tonnes next year and 300 million tonnes by 2020.

The CCEA also approved a detailed scheme for the securitisation of dues of the state electricity boards (SEB) to Central Public Sector Units of the Power Ministry and the Department of Coal, in order to unlock outstanding dues of about Rs 10,000 crore owed to NTPC and Coal India.

The SEBs concerned would issue tax-free bonds to the public sector units of the Power Ministry and Coal Department to cover the principal amount due to December 31, 1999, the bonds would be backed by state government guarantee with specific allocations to be made by the states in their budgets for servicing the bonds in the event the SEBs are unable to do so and the Centre would use the existing authorisation to deduct up to 15 per cent of Central Plan allocations for the State in case it is unable to meet the guarantee obligations for redemption of bonds.

The CCEA also approved foreign-equity participation of Rs 1604.75 crore in enhanced paid-up capital of Rs 3,275 crore of Birla-ATT Communications which provides cellular service in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The original proposal was accepted in 1995 at paid-up capital of Rs 525 crore of which ATT had Rs 257.25 crore which went up to Rs 1200 crore paid-up capital of which ATT’s share was Rs 588 crore.

The CCEA also approved the investment of $ 969 million Oman-India fertiliser project with Kribhco and IFFCO as partners. Oman Oil will invest $ 160 million while Kribhco and IFFCO will invest $ 80 million each in the project that is expected to go onstream in 35 months. Oman oil will supply natural gas at $ 0.77 MMBBU for 10 years for the production of urea and merchant grade ammonia.

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