The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved a Rs2,000 crore assistance package to help settle 36,384 displaced families from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Chamb.
A cash amount of Rs5.5 lakh will be given to each family “to enable them to earn an income..,” a central government statement said.
“The amount will be released to the government of Jammu and Kashmir to be disbursed to eligible families through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT),” it said, adding that the announcement follows from a Rs80,000 crore development package announced by Modi for the border state in November last year.
The government statement said that in the aftermath of Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, thousands of families from Pakistan-occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir migrated to Jammu and Kashmir.
Later, families were also displaced by the wars of 1965 and 1971—especially from the Chhamb Niabat area of Kashmir, it said.
Relief and rehabilitation packages have been extended by the central government to Kashmir “from time to time to mitigate the hardship of displaced persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Chhamb and to rehabilitate them,” it said, indicating that the package approved by the cabinet on Wednesday was part of this.
In another decision, the cabinet gave its “approval for liberalization, simplification and rationalization of the existing visa regime in India, and incremental changes in the visa policy” to make it easier for foreigners to enter the country for tourism, business and medical purposes, another government statement said.
“This is expected to stimulate economic growth, increase earnings from export of services like tourism, medical value travel and travel on account of business and to make ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and other such flagship initiatives of the government successful,” it said.
“This will also considerably ease the travel of foreigners to India for the above-mentioned legitimate purposes,” it added.
The cabinet also approved the Mumbai Urban Transport Project Phase-III, which entails a total completion cost of Rs10,947 crore. The project will be completed in the next five years and help improve the suburban rail commute in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts of Maharashtra.
The cabinet approved the closure of the loss-making Kota unit of Instrumentation Ltd and handing over of the company’s Palakkad division to the Kerala government. Employees of the 52-year-old Kota unit will be offered a voluntary retirement or voluntary separation scheme package as per the 2007 notional pay scale.
The cabinet cleared 28 changes in the Central List of Other Backward Classes in respect of eight states. The changes include the addition of 15 new castes, nine sub castes and four corrections in lists pertaining to Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
The changes will enable people belonging to these castes or communities to avail the benefits of reservation in government services and posts as well as in central educational institutions.
On the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), a total of 2,479 entries for inclusion in the Central List of OBCs have been notified in 25 states and six Union territories. More such suggestions for inclusion of castes or communities and corrections in the existing list of OBCs for Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand have been received from NCBC, the cabinet said.
Under Section 9 of the NCBC Act 1993, the Commission examines requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists, and hears complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and tenders such advice to the central government.
Prashant K. Nanda contributed to this story.