Assam Accord Current Affairs - 2020

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Cabinet approves transfer of Assam Gas Cracker Project to oil ministry

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the transfer of administrative control of Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL), the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) implementing Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP) from Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals (under Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers) to Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MOP&NG).

Other CCCEA Approval

CCEA also approved feedstock subsidy to BCPL for 15 years of plant operation for maintaining minimum Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 10% (after tax). To bring IRR to 10%, BCPL has estimated feedstock subsidy of approximately Rs.4600 crore for project for 15 years of plant operation. Therefore, BCPL will submit proposal on yearly basis from next financial year (2020-2021) onwards and administrative Ministry/ Department will devise a mechanism to examine proposal in consultation with Union Ministry of Finance.

Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will have to make firm arrangements through concerned PSUs for supply of committed quantity and quality of feedstock to AGC project as envisaged in earlier CCEA approval of 2006.

About Assam Gas Cracker Project (AGCP)

The project came as part of historic Assam Accord signed on 15 August 1985, with a view to bring socioeconomic development of region, thus it is seen as a part of implementation of Assam accord. It and involves setting up of facilities for manufacture of 2 lakh tonnes of ethylene annually using gas as feedstock. It is the first petrochemical project in the northeastern region of country. The 1st phase of long-delayed project was commissioned in late 2015.

The Rs.9,285-crore project is the first petrochemical project in the northeastern region of country and would give impetus to development of region as well as will improve the socio economic conditions of people of Assam through increased employment.

Background: The project was approved by CCEA on April 2006 and subsequently, a joint venture, BCPL was incorporated on January 2007. On 9 April 2007, then prime minister Manmohan Singh, laid the foundation stone of project at Lepetkata, 15 km from Dibrugarh. The project was supposed to be completed by April 2012, but, the target declines were delayed- first to December 2013, than to January 2014 and to June 2015, thus the project was finally being commissioned in November 2015.

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Citizenship (Amendment) bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha

On December 4, 2019, the Union Cabinet cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) bill, for the bill to be tabled in Lok Sabha. The bill is being tabled amidst widespread protests in the north eastern states.

Key Features

The bill aims at providing Indian citizenship to 6 minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The communities are Hindu, Christian, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jain. Currently for a person to get Indian citizenship, he should have resided in the country for 11 years. The bill intends to amend this as 6 years.

Concerns

The bill has not included Muslim community. This according to the opposition is violation of Article 14 that legalizes equality before law. The article states that the government shall show no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex or birth.

The Illegal Migrants factor

According the Citizenship Act, 1955, illegal migrants can either be sent to jail or back to their own countries. In Assam, the protest is on rights and livelihood of ethnic communities on passage of the bill. After the bill is passed, thousands of illegal migrants will be deported according to Assam Accord. According to Assam Accord that was signed in 1985, foreigners who entered Indian soil after March 24, 1971 shall be deported.

In Mizoram, the protests are by the illegal Buddhist Chakma immigrants who were displaced by the construction of Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli river in 1962. The Nagaland Tribes Council and Naga Students Federations sees the bill as a threat to political future of their identity.

There are protests in Manipur in the fear of the state becoming a dumping ground to foreigners

In Tripura the Kokborok community has reduced to 33% of the population of the state. Initially the state was dominated by the community with 80% of the population. Tripural believes that this condition will worsen of the bill is passed.

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