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NEW DELHI : The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the withdrawal of the three controversial farm laws after almost a year of protests. The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, will be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, beginning 29 November. 

On 19 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the government would repeal the three central laws—Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act—which were billed as historic reforms for the agriculture sector. 

“The Cabinet has approved the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, to roll back the three laws passed by Parliament in September last year. The Cabinet has completed the formalities to repeal the laws. In the upcoming session of Parliament, it will be our priority to take back the three laws," said Union minister Anurag Thakur at a press briefing. 

While announcing his decision, Modi had said that the government had failed to convince the protesting farmers about the benefits of the agriculture sector reforms, and requested the farmers to end the protest and return home. 

The Union cabinet also approved the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana for another four months. According to Thakur, 16.3 million metric tonnes of foodgrain will be distributed among beneficiaries for an estimated cost of 53,344.52 crore in Phase V of the scheme. 

All the beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) will receive 5 kg of rice per month till March 2022. 

The cabinet also approved the formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to privatize the electricity distribution business in Union territories (UTs) of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu, and the sale of equity shares of the new entities to the highest bidder. Trusts will be also be set up to take care of the  liabilities of serving employees. 

The privatization process is expected to fulfil the desired outcomes of better service for over 145,000 consumers of the UTs, improve operational and functional efficiencies in distribution and provide a model for emulation by other utilities across the country. This will further lead to an increase in competition and strengthen the electricity industry and lead to recovery of unrealized dues, Thakur said. 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs  (CCEA) approved the continuation of the umbrella scheme “Atmosphere’ and Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems and Services" from the 14th Finance Commission to the next Finance Commission Cycle (2021-2026) for an estimated cost of 2,135 crore, the government said in a statement. 

In yet another decision, the CCEA also approved continuation of the umbrella scheme “Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology", at a cost of 2,177 crore, the government added. 

The CCEA also approved the continuation of the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme for another five years. Stipendiary support of around 3,054 crore will be provided to those who undergo apprenticeship training. Approximately 900,000 apprentices will be trained by the industry and commercial organizations under the scheme, the government said.

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