Morning Brief: Chidambaram Grilled For Six Hours As ‘Suspect’ In INX Media Case; Rs 10,900 Crore Approved For 40 Space Launches; Sugar Bailout Package Unveiled

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 7, 2018 09:05 AM +05:30 IST
Morning Brief: Chidambaram Grilled For Six Hours As ‘Suspect’ In INX Media Case; Rs 10,900 Crore Approved For 40 Space Launches; Sugar Bailout Package UnveiledKarti Chidambaram (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) and P Chidambaram (Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) 

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

P Chidambaram Grilled As 'Suspect' In INX Media Case

Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram was on Wednesday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for six hours in the INX Media Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) case, which also involves his son Karti Chidambaram. The ED has already questioned Karti Chidambaram in the case. According to the agency, which was under him during his tenure in the finance ministry, P Chidambaram granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case even though he was authorised to accord approval to project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and required an approval from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for projects beyond that. The agency is now investigating “the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted (in 2006) by the then finance minister.” Indrani Mukerjea, former head of INX Media and the prime accused in Sheena Bora murder case, has accepted that she paid over Rs 3 crore in bribe to Karti Chidambaram.

Government Approves Rs 10,900 Crore For 40 Space Launches

The cabinet on Wednesday accorded financial approval of Rs 10,911 crore for the launch of 30 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) and 10 Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III rockets in the next four years. While PSLVs are used to put smaller satellites into lower orbits, GSLV Mark IIIs are used to place satellites as heavy as 4-tonnes into the geosynchronous orbit (a High Earth Orbit). In the geosynchronous orbit, the time taken by a satellite to complete one revolution around the Earth is equal to the period of rotation of the earth on its axis. A satellite in this orbit moves at the same speed that the Earth is turning in. This allows a satellite in the geosynchronous orbit to see a particular region of the planet almost all of the time, helping it track even the minutest developments in that area.

Rs 8,500 Crore Package Announced To Clear Dues Of Cane Farmers

Announcing a sweetener for cane farmers, Centre has approved a Rs 8,500 crore package to clear their dues. As part of the package, the government will boost farm income by creating a buffer stock for sugar, enhancing ethanol production capacity and fixing a minimum selling price to cut mill losses. The size of the buffer stock is expected to be 3 million tonnes. Of the total amount, Rs 4,400 crore will be used to increase ethanol production. The mills have been unable to pay farmers due to their poor financial health, which is a result of low sugar prices following a record production of 31.6 million tonne so far in the 2017-18 season. Presently, the ex-mill price of sugar is Rs 25.60-26.22 per kg. Uttar Pradesh, the country’s biggest sugarcane producing state, alone has dues of more than Rs 12,000 crore.

India’s Maternal Mortality Rate Down 22 Per Cent

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of women who die during childbirth in India came down to 130 from 167 in 2011-13, data released by the Registrar General of India on Wednesday showed. Experts define maternal mortality rate as the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. With a 22 per cent reduction, nearly one thousand fewer women now die of pregnancy-related complications each month in India. The southern states have performed better than the rest of the country. The number in these states has come down to 77 from 93. It is close to India’s target of 70 by 2030, under the sustainable development goals. According to the Health Ministry, this improvement mainly to rise in institutional deliveries.

Limits Hiked For Affordable Housing Loans

With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raising the loan limits under priority sector lending (PSL) and the government deciding to use the surplus land of non-performing Public Sector Undertakings for construction, the affordable housing sector is set to get a major boost. The RBI has revised the housing loan limits for PSL eligibility from Rs 28 lakh to Rs 35 lakh in metropolitan centres and from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh in other centres. Loans sanctioned by banks under PSL are not as expansive as those in the ordinary course. Rajeev Kumar, Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, said on Twitter that the move would make bank loans cheaper.

Power Dues Of 88 Lakh Families Waived Off In MP

The Madhya Pradesh government under Shivraj Singh Chouhan has decided to waive off power bills of 88 lakh families below the poverty line (BPL) and those covered under the Mukhya Mantri Jan Kalyan Yojana. The decision was announced on Tuesday under a Saral Bijli Bill Scheme. The scheme will be launched on 13 June to provide power to BPL households at Rs 200 per month. After August, electricity will be supplied at the flat rate, with which beneficiaries may use one fan, one light bulb and a television, said officials. The scheme extends the benefits to unorganised labourers as well, with power being supplied at the fixed flat rate.

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Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati says that devotees don’t donate to mandirs and mutts to fund madrassas. In an interview with Swarajya, the shankaracharya says it is wrong for state governments to dictate terms to the mutts and temples and interfere with their day-to-day operations.

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