The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL)'s proposal to set up a nine-million-tonne refinery-cum-petrochemical project in Barmer district, Rajasthan. The refinery, which would be HPCL's largest in India, would involve an investment of Rs 37,230 crore; while the equity component would be Rs 14,892 crore, debt would stand at Rs 22,338 crore.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi would lay the foundation stone for the project on Sunday. The project is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2017.
On May 14 this year, HPCL had signed a memorandum of understanding for the refinery with the Rajasthan government. The proposed refinery would process 4.5 million tonnes (mt) of Mangala crude oil and 4.5 mt of imported crude oil.
The Rajasthan government said the project is expected to draw an overall investment of Rs 60,000-70,000 crore in the entire area near Pachpadra. It has promised to extend support of $1/barrel on the purchase of crude oil by the Rajasthan refinery. The refinery may also be given 50 per cent excise duty exemption for five years. For the project, the state government has offered interest-free loans from 2016-17 to 2030-31, to be repaid in annual instalments from 2031-32.
While HPCL would hold 74 per cent stake in the project, the Rajasthan government would hold the remaining stake.
ITIR in Andhra
The Cabinet also approved a proposal to set up an information technology investment region (ITIR) near Hyderabad. The project, set to involve investment of about Rs 2.19 lakh crore, would generate about 1.5 million direct jobs. The project would be spread over 202 sq km and would be completed in two phases - 2013-2018 and 2018-2038, according to an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting.
"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the setting up of an ITIR near Hyderabad, subject to fulfilling certain conditions," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.
10% rise in DA
An increase of 10 per cent in the dearness allowance (DA) of central government employees, over the existing 80 per cent, was also approved by the Cabinet. This would cost the exchequer an additional Rs 18,132 crore this financial year. The move would impact five million central government employees and three million pensioners. "The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to increase DA to 90 per cent at its meeting. The rise would be effective from July 1 this year," said a source.
NFSM outlay approved
The Cabinet also approved an allocation of Rs 12,350 crore to increase foodgrain production by 25 million tonnes (mt) during the 12th five-year Plan, under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
Under NFSM, rice output would be raised by 10 mt, wheat eight mt, pulses four mt and coarse cereals mt during the 12th Plan. For 2013-14, NFSM's outlay has been increased to Rs 2,250 crore from Rs 1,850 crore last year. The mission was launched in 2007-08, with an outlay of Rs 4,882.48 crore for the 11th five-year Plan (2007-12).
Stock holding limit on pulses extended
The Cabinet has approved a proposal to extend the stock holding limit on pulses, edible oils and oilseeds for another year to ensure their availability and check prices. "The validity of the central order dated September 27 2012, issued in respect of pulses, edible oils and oilseeds has been extended for a year till September 30 2014," Tewari said. This decision would enable state governments to continue to carry out effective de-hoarding operations under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, by fixing stock limits and licensing requirements for these commodities, he said, adding it would also aid the Centre's efforts to tackle rising prices and improve the availability of these commodities.
Central sector silk schemes
To promote the silk industry, the Cabinet approved the continuation of three central sector schemes related to the sericulture sector during the 12th Plan. The schemes have a budgetary allocation of Rs 375 crore.
Powerloom cluster development
The continuation of a cluster development scheme to assist entrepreneurs in setting up world-class units in the powerloom sector was also approved. The Cabinet also cleared the modification of norms for a scheme to develop powerloom mega clusters at Ichalkaranji, Bhiwandi (Maharashtra), and few other projects, said a release.