The Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a host of proposals, including banning child labour in all occupations barring a few exceptions, a new bill to keep black money in check and the government’s flagship programme to clean and protect the Ganga.
It also cleared the proposed sale of 10% stake in Indian Oil Corporation and 5% in NTPC, besides giving its nod to a new urea policy that aims to increase domestic production by 2 million tonnes and reduce its subsidy bill by over Rs 4,800 crore annually.
The Narendra Modi government approved allowing children below 14 to work in family enterprises or the entertainment industry but prohibited their employment in all other occupations.
The original child labour law banned employment of children below 14 in only 18 hazardous industries.
Child rights activists were opposed to the dilution saying it will promote child labour, those involved in business maintained that children need to be trained in traditional arts at an early stage or they will not be able to acquire the required skills like weaving and stitching.
Prime Minister Modi’s pet Namami Gange project, which has a budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore for the next five years, got the cabinet’s green light. The programme will focus on pollution checks, such as diversion and treatment of waste water flowing into the Ganga through open drains.
To check the generation of black money in the country, the cabinet gave its consent to a new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill that provides for stringent punishment to violators.
The amended law aims to act as a major avenue for blocking generation and holding of black money in the form of benami property, especially in real estate.
Sources said the new urea policy would help the government cut subsidy by Rs 4,800 crore as well as check the recent farm unrest as the retail price of the popular fertiliser has been left untouched at Rs 268 for a bag of 50kg. Farmers would have to pay an additional Rs 14 a bag for neem-coated urea.
The biggest revenue generator would be the sale of stakes in blue-chip IOC and NTPC. The proposed sale of 5% stake in NTPC is expected to fetch the exchequer around Rs 5,500 crore, while IOC could bring nearly Rs 8,000 crore.
Stock exchange data says the government holds 74.96% stakes in NTPC and 68.57% in IOC.