New Delhi: In what is set to be India’s most ambitious space mission, the Centre on Friday put its final stamp of approval on Gaganyaan, India’s first manned flight to space which is slated to take off by 2022.
India to go ahead with manned space mission by 2022
A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Gaganyaan programme for a seven-day low earth orbit mission, according to a government statement.
The decision comes after the announcement by Modi on Independence Day that an Indian would travel to space in an Indian spacecraft by 2022.
This would be one of the cheapest manned spaceflights in the world, with the entire mission, including technology development, flight hardware realization and infrastructure, estimated to cost no more than ₹10,000 crore.
“Gaganyaan is a great programme in pursuit of India’s space autonomy. It is designed to carry about three human beings for a maximum period of seven days in space with the support of academia, the scientific community, industry and Isro (Indian Space Research Organisation). It will be launched within 40 months after the approval,” the minister for law and justice, and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said in the national capital on Friday while briefing the media on the cabinet’s decisions.
The mission would make India the fourth country after Russia, the US, and China to launch a manned spaceflight.
The cabinet also approved a proposal for amending the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012, to make punishment for violations more stringent, in a move aimed at curbing child abuse.
The amendments provide the option of stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child. There is a proposal to also amend certain provisions of the Act to address the menace of child pornography. These include levying fines for failing to destroy, delete or report pornographic material involving a child.
“It is a very wholesome initiative by the Government of India whereby the entire Pocso architecture is not only being strengthened but also enlarged so that artificial medicines and hormones are not abused to kill the childhood of a child,” Prasad said.
In another landmark decision, the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) approved the listing of seven central public sector enterprises—Telecommunication Consultants India, RailTel Corporation India, National Seed Corporation India, Tehri Hydro Development Corp., Water & Power Consultancy Services and FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals and Kudremukh Iron Ore Company—on the stock exchange through an initial public offering or further public offer. This will help the government meet its disinvestment target. The PSUs will be listed to unlock their potential and enhance their value, said Prasad.
The Union cabinet also approved the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2018, and the draft National Commission for Indian Systems of Medicine (NCIM) Bill, 2018. These seek to replace the regulator Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) and Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) respectively, with a new body to ensure transparency. The draft bill provides for the constitution of a national commission with four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of ayurveda, under the board of ayurveda and unani, siddha and sowa-rigpa. Both Bills propose a common entrance exam and an exit exam that all graduates will have to clear to get practising licences. Further, a teacher’s eligibility test has been proposed to assess their standard before appointments and promotions.
The Centre also approved the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2018, which was last reviewed and issued in 2011, with periodic amendments to some clauses. The amendments would enable redevelopment of coastal areas to meet emerging needs and benefit the housing sector and tourism avenues.
It also approved the submission of India’s second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which provides a comprehensive update on the progress made by India in its climate actions.
The CCEA also approved a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) for copra by more than ₹2,000 per quintal for the 2019 season. The MSP of milling copra will be ₹9,521 per quintal and that of ball copra will be ₹9,920 per quintal.