The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved development of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes for urban migrants and the poor, as a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Under the proposal, vacant government housing complexes will be converted into ARHCs under a concession agreement for 25 years. After the completion of the term, the complexes will once again become urban local bodies, to enter the next cycle. The scheme will initially cover three lakh beneficiaries, and will cost Rs 600 crore.

“Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in massive reverse migration of workers and urban poor in the country who come from rural areas or small towns for seeking better employment opportunities in urban areas,” an unidentified government official said, according to the Hindustan Times. “A large part of workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, and construction or other sectors etc who come from rural areas seeking better opportunities will be target beneficiaries.”

The government will also offer special incentives like use permission, 50% additional Floor Area Ratio or Floor Space Index, concessional loans at priority sector lending rates and tax reliefs, to companies to develop ARHCs on their own vacant land for 25 years.

“ARHCs will create a new ecosystem in urban areas making housing available at affordable rent close to places of work and will cut down unnecessary travel, congestion and pollution,” the proposal for the scheme said, according to the Hindustan Times. “The investment under ARHCs is expected to create new job opportunities.”

Public sector insurance firms to get Rs 12,450 crore

The Union Cabinet approved an infusion of capital worth Rs 12,450 crore in three public sector insurance companies – Oriental Insurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited. This includes the amount of Rs 2,500 crore infused in these firms during the 2019-’20 financial year.

Union minister Prakash Javadekar announced that out of the total funds, Rs 3,475 crore will be released immediately, while the balance Rs 6475 crore will be infused later, ET Now reported. The government is planning a merger of the three companies at an undecided time in the future.

For now, the infusion of capital is expected to help the three companies improve their financial position and solvency, meet the needs of the Indian economy and build capacity to raise resources and take risk. The government will also increase the authorised capital of National Insurance Company Ltd to Rs 7,500 crore, and those of Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and United India Insurance Company Ltd by Rs 5,000 crore each.

Free food grains scheme extended till November

Pursuant to a decision the government took last month in view of the economic crisis caused after the spread of the coronavirus, the Union Cabinet approved extending the scheme for distribution of free food grains to the poorest until the end of November. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, about 74.3 crore beneficiaries have been covered in April, 74.75 crore in May and about 64.72 crore in June, the Centre announced.

India has so far reported over 7,42,000 cases of the coronavirus, and more than 20,600 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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