Cabinet announces merger of MTNL, BSNL; hikes MSP for wheat

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Bollywood movies, deny, economic slowdown, three Bollywood movies, sound economy, ₹120 crore, October 2, World Economic Forum, National Sample Survey Office, International Monetary Fund
The announcement comes at a time public sector companies MTNL and BSNL are facing financial stress amid intense competition in the telecom sector. File photo: PTI File.

In a bid to strengthen the debt-ridden state-run telecom operators MTNL and BSNL, the Cabinet on Wednesday (October 23) gave an in-principle nod to a merger of the two entities. “The government is neither shutting nor divesting stake in MTNL and BSNL,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a press briefing on Wednesday, after the meeting of the Cabinet.

The move comes at a time public sector companies MTNL and BSNL are facing financial stress amid intense competition in the telecom sector.

To make the proposed joint venture between MTNL and BSNL, the government would invest ₹15,000 crore through sovereign bonds and assets worth ₹38,000 crore will be monetised, Prasad said.

The government also proposed a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for MTNL and BSNL employees at the cost of ₹29,937 crore.

40 lakh living in unauthorised colonies in Delhi to be given ownership rights

Ahead of the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, the Centre on Wednesday announced ownership rights to 40 lakh people living in national capital’s unauthorised colonies. The decision was taken at a Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

“This is the biggest decision taken at the meeting today, a historic decision to give ownership rights to people in these colonies,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar said.

It is the most far-sighted revolutionary decision, said Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at a media briefing after the cabinet meeting.

“The decision is applicable to 1,797 identified unauthorised colonies which are inhabitated by lower income group society. The decision does not apply to 69 affluent colonies identified by DDA including Sainik Farms, Mahendru Enclave and Anant Ram Dairy,” Hardeep Singh Puri said.

“The rights will be conferred on payment of nominal charge based on carpet area and plot size,” the minister said.

Govt hikes wheat MSP by ₹85/qtl; pulses up to ₹325/qtl

The government also increased the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat by ₹85 to ₹1,925 a quintal and for pulses by up to ₹325 per quintal, official sources said.

A decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The CCEA has approved MSPs of all rabi (winter-sown) crops for the 2019-20 crop year (July-June) as recommended by the government’s farm price advisory body CACP, the sources added.

MSP is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.

According to sources, the CCEA has approved ₹85 per quintal hike in wheat MSP to Rs 1,925 per quintal for the 2019-20 rabi crop, up from ₹1,840 per quintal last year.

Barley MSP has also been increased by ₹85 to ₹1,525 per quintal for the current year from ₹1,440 per quintal last year.

To encourage cultivation of pulses, the support price of masoor has been increased by ₹325 to ₹ 4,800 per quintal for this year from ₹4,475 per quintal last year.