PIB – 31st Dec 2020

Cabinet Approves Export of Akash Missile System and Creates a Committee for faster 

  • Akash is the country’s important missile with over 96 percent indigenisation. Akash is a Surface to Air Missile with a range of 25 Kms. The missile was inducted in 2014 in IAF and in 2015 in Indian Army. 
  • After its induction in the Services, interest is shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during International Exhibitions/Def Expo/Aero India. The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in RFI/RFP issued by various countries. 
  • So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components etc. The export of big platforms was minimal. This initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive. 
  • The export version of Akash will be different from System currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces. 
  • Besides Akash, there is interest coming in other major platforms like Coastal Surveillance System, Radars and Air platforms. To provide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising Raksha Mantri, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor has been created. 
  • Government of India intends to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, to achieve a target of 5 Billion USD of defence export and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space

  • The Union Cabinet approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the Republic of India and the Royal Government of Bhutan on Cooperation in the peaceful users of outer space..
  • Point-wise details:
  • This MoU shall enable India and Bhutan to pursue cooperation in potential interest areas, such as remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground systems; and application of space technology.
  • This MoU would lead to setting up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) of Bhutan, which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementation.
  • Implementation Strategy and targets:
  • The signed MoU would lead to concluding specific Implementing Arrangement on specific areas of cooperation and setting up of Joint Working Group, to work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this MoU.
  • Major Impacts:
  • The signed MoU will provide Impetus to explore cooperation possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.
  • No. of beneficiaries;
  • Cooperation with the Royal Government of Bhutan through this MoU would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. Thus, all sections and regions of the country will get benefitted.

Cabinet approves Opening of 3 Indian Missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic

  • The Union Cabinet approved the opening of 3 Indian Missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic in 2021.
  • Implementation Strategy:
  • Opening of Indian Missions in these countries will help expand India’s diplomatic footprint, deepen political relations, enable growth of bilateral trade, investment and economic engagements, facilitate stronger people-to-people contacts, bolster political outreach in multilateral fora and help garner support for India’s foreign policy objectives. 
  • Indian missions in these countries will also better assist the Indian community and protect their interests. 
  • Objective:
  • The objective of our foreign policy is to build a conducive environment for India’s growth and development through partnerships with friendly countries.  There are presently Missions and Posts across the world which serve as conduits of our relations with partner countries. 

Cabinet approves modified scheme to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country

  • There has been surplus production of sugar in the country since sugar season 2010-11 (except reduction due to drought in sugar season 2016-17); & sugar production is likely to remain surplus in the country in coming years due to introduction of improved varieties of sugarcane. 
  • The excess stocks of sugar which remain unsold also block funds of sugar mills to the tune of about Rs. 19,000 crore thereby affecting liquidity positions of sugar mills resulting in accumulation of cane price arrears of farmers. 
  • To deal with surplus stocks of sugar, sugar mills have been exporting sugar, for which the Government has been extending financial assistance. Moreover, India being a developing country can export sugar by extending financial assistance only up to year 2023 as per WTO arrangements.
  • So, diversion of excess sugarcane & sugar to ethanol is a correct way forward to deal with surplus stocks. Diversion of excess sugar would help in stabilizing the domestic ex-mill sugar prices and will also help sugar mills to get relieved from storage problems. It will improve their cash flows and facilitate them in clearance of cane price dues of farmers; and will facilitate mills to function in the coming years.
  • Government has a fixed target of 10% blending of fuel grade ethanol with petrol by 2022, 15% blending by 2026 & 20% blending by 2030. 
  • With a view to support sugar sector and in the interest of sugarcane farmers, the Government has also allowed production of ethanol from B-Heavy Molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar syrup and sugar.
  • To increase production of fuel grade ethanol, the Govt. is also encouraging distilleries to produce ethanol from maize; & rice available with FCI. Government has fixed the remunerative price of ethanol from maize & rice.
  • Government is also planning to prepone the achievement of 20% blending target by year 2025 and onwards. However, the existing ethanol distillation capacity in the country is not sufficient to divert surplus stocks of sugar & to produce ethanol to supply to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for blending with petrol as per the blending targets fixed by Government of India.
  • Further the blending targets cannot be achieved only by diverting sugarcane / sugar to ethanol; & 1st Generation (1G) ethanol is required to be produced from other feed stocks like grains, sugar beet etc for which the present distillation capacity is also not sufficient. 
  • Therefore, it is an imperative need to enhance ethanol distillation capacity in the country for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol from feed stocks such as cereals (rice, wheat, barley, corn & sorghum), sugarcane, sugar beet etc.
  • Hence, the Government has taken following decisions: 
  • To bring a modified scheme for extending interest subvention to augment ethanol production capacity for following categories:
  1. Setting up grain based distilleries / expansion of existing grain based distilleries to produce ethanol. However, benefits of interest subvention scheme to be extended to only those stand alone distilleries which are using a dry milling process.
  2. Setting up new molasses based distilleries / expansion of existing distilleries (whether attached to sugar mills or standalone distilleries) to produce ethanol and for installing any method approved by the Central Pollution Control Board for achieving Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).
  3. To set up new dual feed distilleries or to expand existing capacities of dual feed distilleries.
  4. To convert existing molasses based distilleries (whether attached to sugar mills or standalone distilleries) to dual feed (molasses and grain/ or any other feedstock producing 1G Ethanol); and also to convert grain based distilleries to dual feed.
  5. To set up new distilleries / expansion of existing distilleries to produce ethanol from other feed stocks producing 1G ethanol such as sugar beet, sweet sorghum, cereals etc.
  6. To install Molecular Sieve Dehydration (MSDH) column to convert rectified spirit to ethanol in the existing distilleries.
  • Government would bear interest subvention for five years including one year moratorium against the loan availed by project proponents from banks @ 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks whichever is lower.
  • Interest subvention would be available to only those distilleries which will supply at least 75% of ethanol produced from the added distillation capacity to OMCs for blending with petrol.