New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved Rs 7000-crore project for cleaning of River Ganga to be implemented by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).

The share of Central Government will be Rs 5,100 crore and that of the state governments of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal will be Rs 1,900 crore.

The World Bank has agreed in-principle to provide a loan support of USD one billion (approx Rs 4,600 crore) for the NGRBA project which will form part of the Central share of the project.

The duration of the project will be eight years. NGRBA was constituted in February, 2009 as an empowered planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganga River under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The objective of the Authority, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, is to ensure conservation of the river Ganga by complete planning and management, adopting a river basin approach.

The project is envisaged as the first phase in a long-term programme of World Bank support to NGRBA.

NATRIP budget allocation enhanced

The government on Thursday approved enhanced budgetary allocation for the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP) to Rs 2,288.06 crore in view of cost escalation.

The decision to further raise the expend from the originally approved Rs 1,718 crore NATRIP was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) here.

NATRIP is a joint project of the Union government along with a number of State governments and the automotive industry to create a state of the art testing, validation and R&D infrastructure in the country.

As a part of the project, test centers are being set up at Manesar, Chennai, Indore, Pune, Ahmednagar and Silchar.

The revised cost includes additional loan component of Rs 95.51 crore to be provided to offset the lower recovery of the user charges, the statement said.

As per originally envisaged plan, the user charge was estimated to be Rs 118 crore which has come down to Rs 22.49 crore during the project period.

The CCEA has also revised the completion date of the project to December 31, 2012 from September 30, 2011 approved earlier.

Besides increasing the allocation, the CCEA also approved the additional loan to be interest free with moratorium of seven years and to be repaid in eight annual installments thereafter.

The body has also approved reallocation of Rs 510 crore originally under grant from Auto Cess to grant from plan fund, without any additional financial implications.

Malaria control prog for NE
The CCEA also approved an intensified malaria control programme for the seven northeastern states at a cost of Rs 417 crore.

The proposal was cleared under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) with support from Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM - Round 9).

The approval envisages continuance of erstwhile Global Fund Supported Intensified Malaria Control

Project (IMCP-I) (2005-10) with revised geographical focus in high endemic seven North-Eastern states for hasten control of malaria, a government spokesperson said.

Human resources development, procurement and distribution of commodities and drugs, information, education and communication, behaviour change communication (BCC) activities and planning, monitoring and evaluation are the main components of the programme.

The project will facilitate upscaling of detection of P falciparum (Pf) cases through Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), treatment of cases with Artemisinin Based Combination Therapy (ACT) and distribution of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs).

Imported DAP, MoP prices hiked

The CCEA has also decided to increase the benchmark prices of imported di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MoP) fertiliser for the fiscal to ensure uninterrupted availability in the country during the coming kharif sowing season.

However, it also gave freedom to fertilizer companies to raise retail prices of DAP by up to Rs 600 per tonne from the existing rate of Rs 10,750 per tonne.

The government reimburses subsidy on these two nutrients to fertiliser companies based on the benchmark price. The benchmark price has been increased to USD 612/tonne for DAP and USD 420/tonne for MOP from the current level of USD 580/tonne and USD 390/tonne, respectively.

The Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had decided in February that the government will shoulder an additional fertiliser subsidy burden in the wake of rising global fertiliser prices.

The budgetary provision for phosphatic and potassic fertilisers for the 2011-12 fiscal is Rs 33,500 crore.

However, the total subsidy outgo on potassium and phosphatic fertilisers for the ongoing fiscal will depend on the overall sale of the fertilisers, it added.

Food tech institute cost doubled

The government on Thursday nearly doubled the investment for setting up the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) to Rs 479.91 crore.

NIFTEM, which is coming up at Kundli in Haryana, will be a global centre of excellence integrating all facets of food science, technology, entrepreneurship, research and management.

"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the revised cost estimates from Rs 244.60 crore to Rs 479.91 crore with a foreign exchange component of USD 8.1 million for setting up of NIFTEM," an official statement said.

The Institute will address the needs of various stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, industry, exporters, policy makers, the government and existing institutions.

The CCEA had approved setting up of NIFTEM in August 2006.  UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had laid the foundation stone for constructing the institute in October 2007.