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Review: Committee refuses to drop important assurances as ‘Long time for fulfilment cannot be the sole reason to drop’

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In this second part on dropping assurances, we review the assurances that were dropped for other reasons such as fulfilment is no more the responsibility of the current ministry. We would also look at assurances whose request to drop has not been accepted by the Committee as it said that a long time for fulfilment cannot be the sole reason to drop.

In the first of this two-part series, we looked at the assurances dropped by the Lok Sabha’s Committee on Governance Assurances because of the two reasons, namely – assurances that cannot be fulfilled in the near future, and assurances are no longer under consideration and would not be fulfilled. 

In this second part, we review the assurances that were dropped for other reasons such as fulfilment is no more the responsibility of the current ministry. We would also look at assurances whose request to drop has not been accepted by the Committee. 

Assurances relating to ‘Operation of Digital Board’ and ‘Review of NCERT Books’ among those subsumed by other departments or schemes 

Among the assurances that were dropped by the Committee, are those that were dropped because the responsibility of the fulfillment does not lie with the ministry anymore, as the assurance is already part of another initiative, or the responsibility lies with other departments/ministries. 

Few such dropped assurances include: 

Unstarred Question 3438 (Department of School Education & Literacy) 

The question was about the implementation of “Operation Digital Board” and was dropped for the following reasons: 

  • Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) in January 2018, has resolved to launch Operational Digital Board and has set up an expert committee for it. 
  • This scheme is now subsumed under Samagra Shiksha. 
  • Hence, the Ministry of Education (Department of School Education & Literacy) has requested to drop the assurance as the implementation of this scheme is under the aegis of a larger initiative. 

Unstarred Questions 6641 & 4129 (Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs)

The questions were regarding the requests received from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose INA Trust and other organizations for the allotment of land in New Delhi for the Netaji memorial. 

The assurances were dropped for the following reasons: 

  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose INA Trust requested to allot a part of the land that was already allotted to Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGCNA), which was examined & rejected by the Land & Development Office (L&DO) as it is not possible to reallot an already allotted land. 
  • Ministry of Culture, the nodal ministry for IGCNA was asked for its opinion, which was in line with the opinion of L&DO. 
  • Request for a different place was also not considered, as the trust is a private trust. However, it was decided that the land can be allocated on a government-to-government basis if any of the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Home Affairs plans to build the memorial. 
  • Ministry of Culture stated that it has no such plans and further added that anything related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose comes under MHA. 
  • There is no proposal from MHA and the Ministry of Culture is not ready to accept the land for setting up a memorial. 
  • Since these nodal ministries do not have any proposal currently and since land cannot be allocated to a private trust, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has requested to drop the assurance which the Committee has accepted. 

Unstarred Question 2091 (Ministry of Education) 

The question was regarding NCERT reviewing ‘National Curriculum Framework (NCF) – 2005’ in school textbooks. The question was dropped for the following reasons: 

  • As for National Education Policy -2020 (NEP), a new National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) will be taken up by NCERT based on NEP-2020. 
  • NCFSE would be reviewed every 5-10 years. The stakeholders include – State governments, Ministries & Departments of Central Government, etc. 
  • It was decided to prepare NCFSE based on the new NEP 2020. This involves integrating & incorporating local and indigenous flavours from across the country. 
  • Accordingly, States & UTs were requested to prepare State Curricular Framework which would form the basis for National Curricular Framework.  
  • The assurance was dropped as NCERT would not be reviewing NCFSE and the new curriculum would be based on the timeline specified for NEP-20. 

Unstarred Question 1149 (Ministry of Finance – Department of Expenditure)

The question was regarding ‘Parity between IAS & non-IAS officers in Seventh Pay Recommendations’. It was dropped for the following reasons: 

  • The Central government has approved the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission to the Central employees, in June 2016. The recommendations not relating to pay, pay, pension and allowances and other departments/specific administrative issues need to be examined by respective ministries departments. 
  • Since the subject matter is related to IAS & others, all India services are taken up by DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training), the assurance was transferred to DoPT. 
  • The assurance was not accepted by DoPT and has stated that a committee was constituted which looks into related issues, and the committee is in consultation with different ministries. 
  • As DoPT did not accept the assurance, it was asked to provide its inputs to MoF (Department of Finance). However, DoPT stated that the matter is beyond the purview of the committee set up by it. 
  • Since DoPT, the nodal department for IAS & other All-India services has declined to take up the assurance, the Ministry of Finance has requested to drop the Assurance. 

Starred Question 342 (Ministry of Jal Shakti) 

The question was regarding Shortage of Water in Telangana, due to new projects built by Andhra Pradesh and the action to be taken on these projects. The assurance was dropped for the following reasons: 

  • In its response in Lok Sabha, the Ministry stated that only major projects come under the purview of the Central government, and it advised the issue to be taken up by the respective State governments.
  • It further stated that this matter is under consideration of Justice Brijesh Kumar Tribunal and action can only be taken after its decision. This response was considered as an Assurance from the Ministry. 
  • The Ministry has requested to drop the assurance as the matter is sub-judice and the projects which are not considered as major projects do not come under its purview. 

The Committee observed that a long time for fulfillment cannot be considered as criteria for important assurances to be dropped. 

Out of the 27 requests for dropping the assurances received by Lok Sabha’s Committee on Government Assurances (2021-22), 6 requests for dropping have not been accepted by the Committee. 

Here is a look at the comments provided by the Committee for not dropping these assurances as per the 53rd Report

Unstarred Question 29 (Ministry of Culture)

The assurance was related to the setting up/ construction of the ‘National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) and the Indian Institute of Culture’. The committee gave the following response for not dropping the assurance: 

  • The reason provided by the Ministry of Culture to drop the assurance was that due to the re-development of Central Vista, the NCPA project is at a nascent stage and no-time frame can be provided. Further, the development of IIC is under process. 
  • The Committee observed that the reason that it would take a long time to fulfil the assurance cannot be taken as the sole reason to drop the assurance. 
  • In view of the pressing need to preserve & promote all art forms, the Committee advised the ministry to pursue the matter vigorously and bring the assurance to a logical end. 

Unstarred Question 3519 (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) 

The question was related to developing ‘India’s Nation Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights’. The Committee’s reasons for not accepting the drop request are the following.

  • The Ministry stated that developing NAP is a continuous and long-drawn exercise that requires consultation with multiple stakeholders, hence the request to drop the assurance. 
  • The Committee stated that the development of NAP on Business and Human Rights is based on the principle of ‘Trusteeship”, which serves the purpose of all Stakeholders. This has become more important and relevant in the context of COVID-19. 
  • The Committee has not accepted the reason of the Ministry and said that NAP is of crucial importance and a concrete action ought to be taken. 

Unstarred Question 3413 (Ministry of Finance – Department of Revenue) 

The question was regarding the creation of ‘New Tariff lines for Cashew’. The Ministry has examined and decided that the creation of new tariff lines cannot be considered. The Committee observed that, since the Ministry decided on this matter, the assurance would be deemed as fulfilled and has requested the implementation report to be laid in the House. Hence the request for dropping the assurance is not accepted. 

Starred Question 277 (Ministry of Defence) 

The Question was related to the delay in HAL’s handing over the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) to the Indian Air force. The Ministry contended that the assurance cannot be fulfilled owing to the uncertainty involved in IJT Programme. The Committee observed that: 

  • Since the matter is related to the country’s defence & security, it must be pursued and within a fixed time- frame. It has already been 21 years since the project was sanctioned. 
  • The country needs a reliable IJT and hence, it has requested the Ministry to pursue aggressively and expedite the completion of the project. 

Unstarred Question 680 (Ministry of Defence)  

The question is relating to the construction of Polyclinics under ECHS. The Ministry has cited that acquiring land takes a long time and it has to negotiate and deal with various local authorities. 

The Committee in its reasons for not dropping the Assurance has stated that: 

  • The assurance cannot be dropped merely because the assurance would take a long time for completion. 
  • The assurance is related to healthcare facilities of ex-servicemen and dependents and hence, urgent action within a specific timeframe needs to be taken up with all the concerned State-governments. 

Unstarred Question 4684 (Ministry of Finance – Department of Revenue) 

The question was regarding providing certain privileges for honest taxpayers. The Ministry’s request to drop this assurance was based on assurance for a similar question being dropped in Rajya Sabha. The Committee felt that this cannot be cited as a reason for dropping the assurance, and further asked the ministry to expedite taking a decision on granting privileges to honest taxpayers, as they contribute towards nation-building. 

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