Motor Vehicles Bill to get nod next session; Electricity (Amendment) Bill may be delayed

Parliament is likely to give its nod to the new Motor Vehicles Bill in the next session and the new legislation will transform the sector, making it transparent and corruption-free, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

"I am confident that we will get Parliament nod on the new Bill in the next session. It will transform the entire sector, making it transparent and corruption-free," Gadkari told reporters after launching a web portal for online approval for movement of heavy cargo.

Seeking to come down heavily on traffic offenders, the government today proposed steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh along with a minimum 7-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.

Gadkari said launch of the web portal for online approval of movement of Over Dimensional (OD) and Over Weight Cargo (OWC) has removed one of the biggest hurdles on the way of 'Make In India' campaign.

"In realising 'Make In India' dream, one of the biggest hurdles has been with the launch of this e-portal. It will save time by offering an opportunity to save time and avoid transit delays in movement of equipment of national importance by Modular Hydraulic Axle Trailers," he said.

Apart from this massive digitalisation initiative, the government has ensured installation of electronic tolling systems across 108 toll plazas in the country.

"By March, 350 toll plazas will not only be converted into electronic toll booths but would be fitted with electronic weighing machines," he said, adding that the initiative would result in savings to the tune of over Rs 70,000 crore per annum on account of fuel consumption and delays at toll plazas.

Earlier, he said the government's emphasis was to promote waterways across the nation as India still lagged in utilising its waterways in comparison to countries like China which transported 44 per cent of its cargo through the mode in comparison to barely 3.3 per cent here.

"Government is committed to develop four waterways at present, including Varanasi-Haldia, where work would begin in next two months besides Paradip, Delhi-Agra and Brahmaputra stretch," he added.

Reforms in the power distribution sector may have to wait as amendments to the Electricity Act cannot be presented pending the report of the Standing Committee.

"The Standing Committee will give its report on the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014 by April and then we can introduce it in Parliament," Power Minister Piyush Goyal told PTI.

The Minister said the proposed bill will be introduced post recess in the Budget session of Parliament.

The recess of close to three weeks is the time when parliamentary standing committees study ministry-specific demands for grants.

It is only after consideration of the standing committees that these demands for grants are brought before both the Houses, discussed, and then passed.

Cabinet, last month, approved various amendments to the existing Electricity Act 2003, aimed at enabling consumers to choose their electricity supplier, among other reforms.

The amendments will also promote competition, efficiency in operations and improvement in quality of supply of electricity in the country, resulting in capacity addition and ultimate benefit to consumers.

The central government has also said wherever there are existing power purchase agreements, the interests of stakeholders will be protected, which will be done in consultation with the power regulator.

The government plans to allow competition at the last mile or to the end-consumer without raising tariff or compromising on better customer service.

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