The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Signing and ratifying of the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic.
The Agreement will be signed between India and three other nations of the SAARC grouping – Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal on June 15 in Thimpu, Bhutan. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will visit Bhutan to sign the pact.
This Agreement provides for the Member States allowing the vehicles of other Member States to ply in their territory for transportation of Cargo and Passengers subject to various terms and conditions in the Agreement and obtaining permits for such transport from the Member States as per procedure and protocols prescribed in the Agreement.
The agreement once signed will result in closer regional economic cooperation and integration through enhanced regional connectivity by allowing movement of goods and passengers in the region through road transport.
It will also reduce the costly and time-consuming unloading and loading of people and goods at border crossing points, making cross-border trade more efficient.
The agreement was signed along with the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation and SAARC Regional Railways Agreement during 18th SAARC Summit concluded in Nepal last year.
Pakistan, one of the SAARC member, has objected to all the three agreements citing lack of internal approvals. Thus, it was decided that sub-regional agreements will be signed, with a provision to enable more SAARC nations to join this framework later.
Other decisions taken by the Cabinet are:
Ordinance on Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015:
- Cabinet approved the Ordinance to bring into force the amendments to the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, to ensure the speedy disposal of cheque bounce cases by defining the jurisdiction of the courts in such cases such as court within whose local jurisdiction the bank branch of the payee is located will file a case. Ordinance route was taken, as the bill was failed to pass in Rajya Sabha.
185th Convention of International Labour Organization on seafarers’ identity document (SID):
- Cabinet also approved the Convention of International Labour Organization on seafarers’ identity document (SID). Under the convention, members will develop biometric data based identity documents for seafarers to ensure a secure identity system, preventing possible terrorist attacks. Issuing SIDs will facilitate unrestricted movement for seafarers during leave in foreign shores and better job opportunities.
Amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
- In order to give effect to the Bunker Convention, Nairobi Convention and Salvage convention, the Cabinet approved amendments in the Merchant Shipping Act. All the three conventions are brought by International Maritime Organization (IMO).
- The Bunker Convention, 2001, ensures adequate, prompt, and effective compensation for damage caused by spills of oil when carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers.
- India already party to the Nairobi Convention on Wreck removal and Salvage Convention. These convention will introduce the internationally recognized and approved rules for removal of wrecks helping protect Indian waters from the wreck hazards.
Approval to various National Highways Development projects:
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also approved the four laning of the Guna-Biaora and Biaora-Dewas section of National Highway (NH-3) in Madhya Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs.2,815.69 crore. The four laning of the 99 km Yadgiri-Warangal section of NH-163 in Telangana also approved by CCEA at the estimated cost of Rs.1,905.23 crore.