Our Bureau

New Delhi, Feb. 25

THE Union Cabinet has given its nod to the proposal for setting up a national disaster management authority (NDMA) and building up specialised capabilities for rapid intervention in case of disasters.

The NDMA will be set up under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister and will be assisted by an executive committee of secretaries, which shall be responsible for assisting the authority to draw up a disaster management plan, coordinating and monitoring its implementation as also coordinating response to a disaster.

Pending passage of the Disaster Management Bill, 2005, the NDMA and its associated committees including the executive committee of secretaries and the advisory committee of experts would be set up by issue of an executive order.

Repealing Hire-purchase Act: Further, the Cabinet also gave its approval for repealing of the Hire-purchase Act, 1972.

A Bill to this effect will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament. The Hire-purchase Act was enacted with an objective to protect the interest of the hirer so that the lender may not charge an exorbitant rate of interest. Although the Law Commission had suggested to the Government to specify the lower rate of interest, there is yet no mechanism with the Government to fix such rate of interest. Therefore, it was felt that the rate of interest might better be left to the market conditions.

In fact, this was the major issue, which delayed the enforcement of the Act. The present economic scenario has undergone a sea change since the time of the enactment of the Act in 1972, as now loans from banks and financial institutions are available in the market on the terms and conditions, which suit the hirer at rate of interest, which are quite low.

Therefore, the repeal of the Act will benefit the hirer, an official communiqué said.

Ratification of Rotterdam convention: The Union Cabinet has given its nod for signing and ratifying by India the Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade. It also gave its approval to the proposal to designate Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals as designated national authorities for industrial chemicals and the Ministry of Agriculture as designated national authority for pesticides. The early signature and ratification of the convention will enable the Government of India to participate in various Committees to be constituted under the convention.

Regulation of private security agencies: The Cabinet has approved the proposal for seeking leave of Rajya Sabha to withdraw the Private Security Guards and Agencies (Regulation) Bill 1994, and introduction of a new Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Bill, 2005 in the ensuing session of Parliament with some modifications.

This will pave the way for enactment of a new legislation on the subject for regulating the working of such agencies to ensure that they would work within the ambit of legal rule and are accountable to a regulatory mechanism.

Extension of committee inquiring into the Godhra incident: The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for extension of the tenure of the high-level committee inquiring into the Godhra fire incident on February 27, 2002, for a further three months period.The present extended tenure which expires on March 4.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 26, 2005)
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