NEW DELHI: The government has made FASTag mandatory to allow users avail any discount at the highway toll plazas across the country. The decision has been taken to promote the digital mode of payment and ensure seamless travel on the National Highways.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways amended the National Highways Fee Rules, 2008 to allow a discount for users making a return journey within 24 hours and other local exemptions only in cases where vehicle carries a valid functional FASTag.
The Ministry has also informed that the amendment would also enable automatic discount and no prior receipt or intimation will be necessary if return journeys are completed within 24 hours.
“In order to promote usage of digital payments for availing all discounts on the Fee Plazas of national highways, the amendments to the Rules are made which would enable- discount on a return journey within 24 hours, it would be through FASTag or such other device and automatic. There will be no requirement for a pass,” a ministry official said.
“The fee payable towards discounts shall be paid through pre-paid instruments, smart card or through FASTag or on board unit (transponder) or any other such device only. The amendment would also enable that in cases where there is a discount available for a return journey within 24 hours, there is no need for a prior receipt or intimation and the citizen would get the discount automatically if the return journey is made within 24 hours with a valid and a functional FASTag on the vehicle,” the official added.
FASTag is a radio frequency identification sticker typically fixed to a vehicle’s windscreen that allows for the deduction of toll wirelessly and automatically without requiring a vehicle to stop at plazas. The tags were introduced to encourage digital payments and to end congestion and reduce waiting time at toll plazas.
Railways Generates 10 Lakh Man-Days Of Employment Under Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan
Rs 2190.7 crores have been released to the contractors for the projects being implemented.
NEW DELHI: Indian Railways has generated 10,66,246 man-days of work till September 25, 2020, under Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan in 6 States viz. Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry is closely monitoring the progress made in these projects and generation of work opportunities for the migrant labours of these states under this scheme. Around 164 Railway infrastructure projects are being executed in these states.
Till September 25, 2020, 12,276 workers have been engaged in this Abhiyaan and the payment of Rs 2190.7 crores has been released to the contractors for the projects being implemented.
Railway has appointed nodal officers in each district as well as in the States so that close coordination is established with the State Government.
Railway has identified no. of Railway works which are being executed under this scheme. The works are related to
(i) construction and maintenance of approach roads for level crossings
(ii) development & cleaning of silted waterways, trenches and drains along the track
(iii) construction and maintenance of approach road to railway stations
(iv) repair and widening of existing railway embankments/cuttings
(v) plantation of trees at the extreme boundary of railway land
(vi) protection works of existing embankments/ cuttings/bridges
It may be noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched massive employment-cum-rural public works campaign named Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan to empower and provide livelihood opportunities in areas/villages witnessing a large number of returnee migrant workers affected by the devastating COVID-19 on June 20, 2020.
The PM announced that an amount of Rs 50,000 crores would be spent for building durable rural infrastructure under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan.
This Abhiyaan of 125 days, is being undertaken in mission mode and involves focused implementation of 25 categories of works/ activities in 116 districts, each with a large concentration of returnee migrant workers in 6 states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Public works are being undertaken during this campaign will have a resource envelope of Rs. 50,000 crores.
The Abhiyaan is a convergent effort between 12 different Ministries/Departments, namely; Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Road Transport & Highways, Mines, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Environment, Railways, Petroleum & Natural Gas, New & Renewable Energy, Border Roads, Telecom and Agriculture, to expedite implementation of 25 public infrastructure works and works relating to augmentation of livelihood opportunities.
REFORM: Historic, ‘Game Changer’ Labour Laws Passed
Transparent and simple mechanism reducing to one registration, one license and one return for all codes.
NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha in its sitting today passed the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020, and Social Security Code, 2020. With this, the decks for the enactment of these codes have been cleared as Lok Sabha had passed these Bills yesterday.
The Bills can be termed as historic game-changers, which will harmonize the needs of workers, industries and other related parties.
Speaking during the discussions on the bills, Union Minister Santosh Gangwar said that these Labour Codes will prove to be an important milestone for the welfare of the workers in the country.
The OSH Code envisages a safe working environment for workers especially women. The Minister added that an effective dispute resolution mechanism is being ensured through the Industrial Relations Code providing for time-bound dispute resolution system in every institution.
The Social Security Code provides a framework to include organized and unorganized sector workers under the ambit of comprehensive social security.
The Social Security Code contains provisions relating to EPFO, ESIC, building construction workers, maternity benefits, gratuity and social security fund for unorganized sector workers. “Through this Code, we are moving towards fulfilling the Prime Minister’s vision of Universal Social Security”, Shri Gangwar added.
He added that unprecedented steps were taken by Government and launched many welfare measures such as increasing the maternity leave for our sisters from 12 weeks to 26 weeks; women were allowed to work in mines under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana. Formal employment was increased with portability in EPFO and welfare schemes and expansion of ESIC facilities to our fellow citizens.
It may be noted that extensive consultation was undertaken by the Government before finalizing the Labour Codes. These include discussions in nine Tripartite Meetings, 4 sub-committees, 10 inter-ministerial consultations, Trade Unions, Employers’ Associations, State Governments, Experts, International Bodies and also invited public suggestions/comments from people by placing them in the public domain for 2-3 months.
The objective of labour reforms is to have their labour laws in line with the changing world of workplace and provide an effective and transparent system, balancing the needs of workers and industries.
Gangwar emphasized that the structure of welfare and rights of Atmanirbhar Shramik is based on four pillars.
The first pillar is ‘Salary Protection‘. The Minister said that even after 73 years of independence, and despite having 44 labour laws, only about 30 per cent of India’s 50 crore workers had the legal right to minimum wages and all the workers were not paid on time.
“For the first time, our government has worked to correct this discrepancy and has given the legal right to all the 50 crore organized and unorganized sector workers to get minimum wages and timely wages.”
The second pillar is ‘Labour Safety‘. Gangwar said is to give him a safe working environment to protect his health and lead a happy life. For this, he said, for the first time in the OSH Code, annual health check-up has been provided for workers above a certain age. Additionally, to keep the standards related to safety effective and dynamic, they can be replaced with changing technology by the National Occupational Safety & Health Board. In order to provide a safe environment, workers and employers should decide together, for this, a safety committee has been provided for in all institutions.
He also informed the House that the OSH Code reduced the minimum qualification from 240 days to 180 days for leave. The Bill also provides for the payment of at least 50 per cent of the penalty imposed on an employer for injury or death at the workplace, to the aggrieved worker, in addition to other benefits. With all these provisions, an effort has been made to give workers a safe working environment.
Stating that women should have the freedom to do the same work as men, he said that for the first time, a provision has been made that women can work in any type of institution at night as per their choice. “However, the employer will have to make all necessary security arrangements, as determined by the appropriate government”, he added
The third pillar for workers is ‘Comprehensive Social Security‘. In line with this resolution, the scope of ESIC and EPFO is being extended in the Social Security Code. To increase the scope of ESIC, a provision has been made that now its coverage will be in all 740 districts of the country.
In addition to this, the option of ESIC will also be for plantation workers, unorganized sector workers, gigs and platform workers, and institutions with less than 10 workers. If there is a risky work in an institute, that institute will inevitably be brought under the purview of ESIC even if it is a sole labourer.
Similarly, to increase the scope of EPFO, the schedule of the institutions has been removed in the current law and now all those institutions which have 20 or more workers will come under the ambit of the EPF.
Apart from this, the option of EPFO for institutions with less than 20 workers and self-employed workers is also being given in the Social Security Code.
To provide social security to 40 crore unorganized sector workers, he informed, provision for “Social Security Fund” has been made. Through this fund, social security schemes will be made for workers and gigs and platform workers working in the unorganized sector and plans will be formulated to provide all kinds of social security benefits such as death insurance, accident insurance, maternity benefit and pension etc. to these 40 crore workers.
The fourth pillar is ‘Simplified and Effective IR Code‘. Fixed Term Employment to the IR Code, engaged for a short period of their time and do not get service conditions, leave, salary, social security, gratuity etc. like regular employees, he said we have also ensured that Fixed Term Employees’ service conditions, salary, leave and social security will also be the same as a Regular Employee for.
In addition, the Fixed Term Employee has also been given the right to pro-rata Gratuity.
The provisions of Strike in the IR Code do not take back the right of any workers to go on strike.
Prior to going on the strike, the 14-day notice period obligation has been imposed on every institution to attempt to end the dispute through amicable negotiations during this period. Neither the workers nor the industry has any benefit from the workers going on the strike”, he added.
As far as raising the threshold in Retrenchment, Closure or Lay-off in the IR Code from 100 workers to 300 workers, he pointed out that labour is the subject of the concurrent list, and the concerned state governments have right to change the laws. As many as 16 states, using this right, have already increased this limit. Parliamentary Standing Committee also recommended that this limit be increased to 300.
The Minister also informed that according to the Economic Survey 2019, after increasing this Threshold from 100 to 300 in the state of Rajasthan, along with the number of large factories, there has also been an increase in employment generation of workers and an unprecedented reduction in layoffs.
“This makes it clear that changing this one provision will motivate investors to set up large factories in the country, and by setting up more factories, more employment opportunities, more workers in our country will be generated for”, he opined.
For the first time in law, Trade Unions are being recognized at the institution level, state level and centre level. For the first time in the IR Code, a provision of the Re-skilling Fund has been made with the objective of increasing the chances of employment again if any worker is missed. These workers will be given 15 days salary for this.
The definition of migrant workers has been broadened. Now all the workers who come from one state to another state and whose salary is less than 18 thousand rupees will come under the definition of migrant labour and will get the benefit of welfare schemes of the government.
Apart from this, there is a provision to create a database for migrant workers, portability of their welfare schemes, a separate helpline arrangement and travel allowance to be given by the employer once a year for them to go to their place of origin.
Under the various labour laws, there will be no need to have multiple registrations or multiple licenses to set up industries.
“As far as possible, now we are going to arrange to provide registration, license etc. in a time-bound manner and under online process”, Gangwar added.
The four Labour Codes seek to ensure the welfare of workers on the one hand, on the other hand, it is an effort to develop new industries through a simple compliance system, which will create employment for our workforce. New opportunities should be created.
Farmers Rejoice As Govt Raises Minimum Support Price For Crops
MSP increased by Rs. 50 to Rs. 300 per quintal. APMC Mandis will also continue to function.
NEW DELHI: A month ahead of last year’s schedule, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22. This increase in MSP is in line with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The government said that the hike is proof that procurement at MSP and the APMC Mandis will continue to function, however, the farmer will be free to sell his produce outside these systems anywhere throughout the country to get remunerative prices.
The hike came after assurances by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers that the MSP will not be scrapped. PM Modi called the hike “another historic decision”.
The highest increase in MSP has been announced for lentil (Rs. 300 per quintal) followed by gram and rapeseed and mustard (Rs. 225 per quintal each) and safflower (Rs. 112 per quintal). For barley and wheat, an increase of Rs. 75 per quintal and Rs 50 per quintal respectively has been announced. The differential remuneration is aimed at encouraging crop diversification.
The MSP hike announced today covered wheat, the key crop in Punjab and Haryana, where the farmers’ protest has been loudest. The MSP of wheat has been increased by ₹ 50 a quintal and will be ₹ 1975 per quintal this season. The other big crop in the area, mustard, will now fetch ₹ 4,650 a quintal — a jump of ₹ 225 a quintal.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other state agencies will continue to purchase farm produce at MSP as before. Hon’ble Prime Minister has always given assurance that procurement at MSP will continue, and the mandi system will also continue.
The announcement of the MSP before the start of the Rabi season will help the farmers in deciding on their crop structure. The MSP for pulses (lentil) and oilseeds has been increased to boost production of these crops so that import of these items can be reduced.
During 2009-2014, 1.52 LMT pulses was procured by the government. During 2014-2019, 76.85 LMT pulses have been procured which is an increase of 4962 per cent. The payment made at MSP rates in the last 6 years is Rs. 7 lakh crore which is double that made by the previous government.
MSP rates fixed in line with Swaminathan Commission recommendation:
The Committee headed by Dr M.S. Swaminathan had recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the average production cost. The present Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The increase in MSP for Rabi Crops for marketing season 2021-22 is in line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the All-India weighted average Cost of Production as announced in Union Budget 2018-19.
The expected returns to farmers over their cost of production are estimated to be highest in case of Wheat (106%) followed by rapeseed & mustard (93%), gram and lentil (78%).
For barley, return to farmers over their cost of production is estimated at 65% and for safflower, it is 50%. Presently MSP is fixed for 22 agricultural crops.
Support is in the form of MSP as well as procurement. In the case of cereals, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other designated State Agencies would continue to provide price support to the farmers. Government has set up a buffer stock of pulses and domestic procurement of pulses is also being done under the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF).
The Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA), comprising Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS), and pilot Scheme of Private Procurement and Stockist Scheme (PPSS) will aid in the procurement of pulses and oilseeds.
Minimum Support Prices for all Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22
|Crops||MSP for RMS 2020-21
|MSP for RMS 2021-22
|Cost* of production 2021-22 (Rs/quintal)||Increase in MSP
|Return over cost (in per cent)|
Annual Increase in MSP since last six years (In Rs. per quintal)
|Rapeseed & Mustard||3050||3100||3350||3700||4000||4200||4425||4650|
Despite global COVID-19 pandemic and consequent nationwide lockdown, timely intervention made by Government has led to an all-time record procurement of wheat at about 39 million tonnes for RMS 2020-21. Around 43 lakh farmers benefitted under procurement operations period which is 22 per cent higher than the RMS 2019-20.
In the current situation of health pandemic, all concerted efforts are being made by the Government to alleviate the problems faced by the farmers, various steps taken by the Government are as follows:
- Along with an increase in MSP, the procurement process has been strengthened so that maximum number of farmers may get its benefit.
- Procurement centres for wheat and for pulses-oilseeds are increased by 1.5 times and 3 times respectively during COVID pandemic.
- During pandemic 390 lakh tons of wheat has been procured at a cost of Rs.75,000 crore which is 15 per cent more than the last year.
- With the initiation of PM KISAN SAMMAN NIDHI YOJANA around 10 crore farmers have benefitted. The total disbursed amount is around Rs.93,000 crore
- Nearly 9 crore farmers have received around Rs.38000 crore during COVID pandemic under PM-KISAN.
- 1.25 Crore new KCCs have been issued in the last 6 months.
- Summer Season sowing is 57 lakh hectare, which is 16 lakh hectare more than the last year. Kharif sowing is also 5 per cent higher than that of last year.
- Number of E-NAM markets has increased from 585 to 1000 during Covid pandemic. Last year, e-platform witnessed a trade of Rs. 35000 crore.
- Rs. 6850 crore will be spent for creation of 10,000 FPOs over a period of five years.
- In the last 4 years under FASAL BIMA YOJANA, farmers received a claim of Rs.77,000 crore against the paid premium of Rs. 17500 Crore.
- FASAL BIMA YOJANA is made voluntary.
- Kisan Rail has been started.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 have been promulgated so as to provide alternative channels for farmers to sell their produce outside traditional APMC mandi system and to encourage private participation in agribusiness. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 has been promulgated to build efficient agri-food supply chains and attract more private sector investment in value-addition, scientific storage, warehousing and marketing infrastructure.
Under the Scheme for Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Rs 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by the banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) for loans up to Rs. 2 Crore. The scheme will support farmers, PACS, FPOs, agri-entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure.
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