Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Free LPG for 50 million poor women

Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Rs8,000 crore has been earmarked for providing 50 million LPG connections to poor households

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday approved a scheme to give free cooking gas connections to poor women.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, 8,000 crore has been earmarked for providing 50 million LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households, according to an official statement.

Each beneficiary will get financial support of 1,600 for securing an LPG connection. Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme will be implemented over the next three years.

The Union cabinet also cancelled the award of the Ratna and R-Series oil and gas field to Essar Oil Ltd and Amguri oilfield in Assam to Canada’s Canaro Resources, reverting them to state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd.

Pushing policy reforms in the fertilizer sector, the cabinet approved a proposal for removing the minimum capacity utilization criteria for single super phosphate (SSP) units for availing subsidies.

SSP is a phosphatic multi-nutrient fertilizer, which contains 16% phosphate, 11% sulphur, 16% calcium and some other essential micronutrients. Because of the simple production technique, it is one of the cheapest chemical fertilizers available. Due to the minimum 50% capacity utilization criteria, small SSP units which failed to reach this level were not able to avail subsidies, in spite of the fact that the subsidy benefit was passed on to farmers in the form of lower minimum retail prices.

The cabinet also approved a special swap of $700 million to Sri Lanka for a period of three months or till the time Sri Lanka avails the International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility.

Approval of this proposal will help Sri Lanka strengthen its economic stability and official reserves which have witnessed a downward trend in 2015 due to the adverse impact of interest rate hikes in the US.

The cabinet cleared an IMF proposal to set up a South Asia regional training and technical assistance centre in India. It also authorized the finance minister to approve related decisions in respect of India’s contribution to setting up the centre.

The centre will be a collaborative venture between the IMF, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka and development partners for supporting the capacity development needs of the members. It will also selectively cater to capacity building needs at the state level, especially in India.

Other cabinet decisions

• Ratification of the Bimstec Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

• Memorandum of understanding signed between India and United Arab Emirates on technical cooperation in cyberspace and combating cybercrime

• No objection to the proposed change in shareholding in the container terminal projects of Dubai Port World Ltd in major ports

• Memorandum of understanding between India and Bahrain on cooperation for prevention of human trafficking, especially trafficking of women and children