29 April, New Delhi
The Union Cabinet has approved Smart Cities Mission in 100 Cities and also cleared the old housing projects initiated by the previous government.
The decision in this regard was taken at the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Wednesday morning. The Smart City project was announced in July 2014 in the current government’s first Union Budget last year.
The Union Cabinet gave its nod to amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act. The proposed amendments will fill in perceived gaps in the domestic anti-corruption law.
It also help in meeting the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption more effectively. The proposed amendments are mainly aimed at laying down more stringent measures to tackle corruption. The bill provides for more stringent punishment for the offences of bribery, both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.
It is also proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement and resignation.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013. The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee submitted its report on the Bill to the Rajya Sabha February last year but the Bill could not be passed.
The Cabinet also approved introduction of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 during the current Session of Parliament. The proposed legislation is aimed at providing an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, for expeditious utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
The Cabinet also cleared introduction of the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2015. It also approved accession to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 of International Maritime Organization.
Ships fill their ballast tanks with water to stabilize vessels at sea for maintaining safe operating conditions throughout a voyage. Ballast water reduces stress on the hull, provides transverse stability, improves propulsion and maneuverability and compensates for weight. However, ballast water poses serious ecological, economic and health problems due to the multitude of marine species being carried in the process, including Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens.