In its latest bid to push reforms and boost growth, the UPA government Thursday approved a series of key decisions including establishing a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track large infrastructure projects, the land acquisition Bill, a new urea investment policy to make it attractive to set up fertilizer plants and fixed a lower reserve price for 2G spectrum that had no takers in four zones.
The decisions were cleared in meetings of the Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, with some of them such as setting up the CCI — or the National Investment Board — approved only after fully addressing concerns raised by the environment ministry. The Cabinet also cleared amendments to the judicial accountability Bill.
The CCI, a Cabinet panel that will be headed by the prime minister, is expected to remove investment bottlenecks in the path of mega projects that are worth over Rs 1,000 crore. Finance minister P Chidambaram had told the Lok Sabha last week that there are over 100 projects, each involving an investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, that have been held up for various reasons.
To allay concerns of the environment ministry, the Cabinet agreed that time-bound green clearances should be given without its powers being superceded by the CCI. In other words, the CCI will not function as an appellate body, sources said. The Cabinet also decided to call it CCI and not NIB as suggested by the finance ministry. The panel will have ministers in charge of infrastructure sectors as its members.
The controversial land acquisition Bill makes it mandatory for private developers to take the consent of 80 per cent of the people whose land is to be acquired for private projects. In the case of public-private partnership projects, the Bill makes it mandatory to obtain the consent of 70 per cent of the people whose land will be acquired.
The Cabinet also approved a 30 per cent cut in the reserve price of mobile phone spectrum in four zones where it received no bids during last month’s auctions. The poor response had caused the government to earn Rs 9,407 crore, about a third of its target. Airwaves in the four zones of Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan found no takers as the prices were considered too high.
After examining the issue, the GoM on spectrum had recommended a 30 per cent cut in the base or reserve price for