Monthly Archives: MAY 2017
Committee formed to prepare De-Addiction & Rehabilitation blueprint
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday set up a two-member committee to prepare a comprehensive de-addiction and rehabilitation plan for victims of the drugs trade in the state, after studying the outreach model suggested by an eminent American drug therapist and consultant.
Underlining his commitment to the total eradication of drugs, backed by rehabilitation of the patients, the Chief Minister acted quickly on the recommendations of Dr. Kanwar Ajit Singh Sidhu to announce the setting up of a panel to study and consider the feasibility of the implementation of the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) programme proposed by the US-based expert.
Captain has asked the two-member committee, comprising Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, to work closely with PGI specialists to develop a focused strategy to strengthen the state’s network of drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres.
The decision followed a presentation to the Chief Minister by Dr. Sidhu, who said the proposed OOAT model, focused on cure through compassion, was completely safe and designed to prevent future relapses. The model envisages a system of specially trained Duty Medical Officers to be deputed at each de-addiction and rehabilitation centre for the supervision of the 5-stage OOAT treatment process, consisting of induction, stabilisation, maintenance, termination and follow-up.
The Chief Minister, himself a strong proponent of compassionate de-addiction and rehabilitation, agreed with Dr. Sidhu's observations, saying the victims of drug abuse needed to be treated with compassion in order to bring them back into the mainstream of the society and enable them to lead a life of dignity.
The low-cost model proposed by Dr. Sidhu envisages a separate division to run the programme, which will involve the services of nearly 200 counsellors, besides outreach services of Asha workers, MPW/ANM and peer volunteers.
Training for the workers would be provided by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Dr. Sidhu informed the Chief Minister, according to an official spokesperson.
As of 2016, Punjab has 33 government sponsored de-addiction centers and 5 tertiary care centers having a combined capacity of 600 beds with additional 1100 beds at rehabilitation centers. The treatment provided at these centers is primarily based on the abstinence model (demand reduction) which starts with detoxification and abstinence based healing strategies. Opioid agonist treatment is used minimally and is concentrated to district headquarters only where psychiatrist is available. In addition, there are around 70 private de-addiction centers in the state where both inpatient and opioid agonist treatment is available. These facilities are highly inadequate to tackle the problem of rehabilitation of the drug addicts – a gap which OOAT will fill, according to Dr. Sidhu.
With opioid addiction widespread over the state, an extensive outreach program is needed with easy access to patients rather than being limited to select centers that are accessible to few. As the illness is lifelong there is a need to develop permanent addiction services setup to address future relapses. The treatment should be accepting towards the patients and addresses drug education, treatment and relapse prevention, said Dr. Sidhu in his presentation.
The meeting was attended, among others, by Health & Family Welfare Minister Braham Mohindra, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Tejveer Singh, ADGP and Chief STF on drugs Dr. Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Principal Secretary Medical Education Vikas Pratap, Special Secretary Health & Family Welfare Vikas Garg and Director Health & Family Welfare Dr. H.S. Bali.
CM orders fresh survey, new norms to weed out ineligible pensioners
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday set in motion the process of enhancing old age pensions, as promised in the Congress manifesto, while approving a series of new criteria to ensure that only genuine people get the benefit of pensions and the state government’s financial assistance schemes.
He also directed the Department of Social Security and Women & Child Development to undertake a survey of the existing beneficiaries, which could be clubbed with the ongoing review of the Attal Dal scheme beneficiaries, to weed out the ineligible candidates from the list.
Chairing a department meeting here, Captain Amarinder directed the introduction of new forms, with the new criteria, to be filled up by all pensioners, including the existing ones, in order to streamline the process and free the beneficiaries from the clutches of sarpanches and nambardars. The existing pensioners, however, will continue to get the pension benefit pending review of the list, it was decided at the meeting.
All existing beneficiaries will be required to fill in new forms beginning till June end be eligible for drawing pension from April 2017 onwards, with a provision for 5% random check by Deputy Commissioner, SDM, DSS etc., as per the new norms agreed upon at the meeting.
Disclosing details of the meeting, an official spokesperson said the Chief Minister has also initiated the process of implementation of the Congress promise to enhance old age pension. The meeting decided to introduce a quarterly pension system to bring about greater transparency in the system.
As per the new criteria which the meeting agreed upon, the Aadhar card will replace the ration card as certification document for all applicants, who would also be required to verify their land ownership, which would then need to be re-verified from the Patwari. The verification process for both and rural pensions will be simplified with the applicants only required to provide a self-declaration instead of the current system of verification from Municipal Councillor in case of urban pensioners and, in case of rural, from one either two Panchayat members or one Panchayat member along with Sarpanch/Numbardar/Block Samiti member, Zila Parishad chairperson or member.
All applications would be received by the District Social Security Office (DSSO) and the applicants would be intimated of the acceptance or rejection of their applications within a month, it was further decided at the meeting.
During the check, if an applicant is found ineligible then recovery of the double amount shall be made from those who recommended/certified the case. This recovery shall be made under Arrears of Land Revenue Act. In an effort to make the system fool-proof, it has also been decided to take action against officer/officials found to have wrongly included a beneficiary, the spokesperson said.
Addressing the meeting, Amarinder said that the previous government followed a discriminatory approach by sanctioning pensions to their party workers and ignoring the genuine beneficiaries just to strengthen their vote bank.
The Chief Minister directed the Finance Minister to make a budgetary provision to fund these schemes in the forthcoming budget session to ensure regular and uninterrupted disbursement of pensions.
Prominent amongst others who attended the meeting were Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Social Security Minister Razia Sultana, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Social Security S.K. Sandhu, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tiwari, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Tejveer Singh, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Gurkirat Kirpal Singh and Director Social Security Sukhwinder Singh.
Punjab to emerge as tourism hub with UNESCO & ASI assistance: Sidhu
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu chaired a high level meeting here today in which he disclosed that a comprehensive plan is being chalked out to make Punjab a hub of tourism sector besides connecting the youth with the rich cultural heritage of the state.
Divulging more, the Minister said that there are ample places of cultural importance which deserve to be included amongst the ‘World Heritage Sites’ besides some other landmarks which fall under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He further said that UNESCO would be approached after coordinating with ASI to get such places included amongst World Heritage Sites.
The Minister also said that Punjab has glorious cultural heritage and scores of devotees from all parts of the globe come to have a glimpse of religious and spiritual places. He also elaborated that Punjab has the potential to emerge as the front-line destination on world tourism map and based on this, the state would be developed to realize its tremendous potential ultimately leading to the boosting of its economy. He also directed the officials of the department to maintain the original look of the cultural landmarks and warned that anybody tampering with these places would not be spared. The Minister also batted for connecting the youth with rich cultural heritage of Punjab through WEB TV as this is the internet age and present day youth is hooked to it.
Sidhu also divulged that every day 125000 tourists visit Amritsar who return the same day after paying obeisance at Sri Darbar Sahib. Giving more details, he said that Amritsar alone has marvelous places like- Durgiana Mandir, Jallianwala Bagh, War Memorial, Wagah-Attari Border, Gobindgarh Fort, Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal which have great tourist potential. He expressed confidence that Amritsar can emerge as the leading player in the tourism sector and the number of people visiting the ‘Holy City’ can increase manifold by providing every facility to them. Expressing enthusiasm for encouraging tourism through domestic airports, Sidhu said that if Pathankot airport is operationalised then the area around Ranjit Sagar dam could be developed as prime centre of ‘Adventure Sports’ where tourists would make a beeline on the pattern of Goa.
The Minister also floated the idea of connecting 3 takht sahiban and other religious places in Punjab through a circuit which would lead to rapid increase in the number of devotees. Similarly, he also rooted for linking historical forts, sarais, memorials and other spots through a circuit besides a film city which would give fillip to film tourism in the state. Instructing the departmental officials to work in this direction, he was all for raising independent sources of income for the memorials constructed in the state so as to make them financially self sufficient.
The Minister also laid emphasis on bolstering tourism through folk music, instruments, traditional festivals and craft items. He also disclosed that the Punjab Government is soon bringing out a cultural policy which would give a huge boost to the tourism sector.
Among others present on the occasion included Principal Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Jaspal Singh, Director Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, Dr. Amar Singh and officers of the various wings of the department.
Sidhu meets Sidhu; discusses mutual cooperation in Smart City, Education & Sports
The Australian High Commissioner Harinder Sidhu today called on the Local Government, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu here today at Local Body Bhawan. The two dignitaries held wide ranging talks primarily centered on mutual co-operation in Smart City, Education and Sports spheres.
The Minister told the Australian High Commissioner about the large number of students pursuing studies in Australia and contributing a great deal to its prosperity. Appreciating the role of Punjabi's living in Australia, the High Commissioner said that the Australia and Punjab stand a grand chance of gaining from co-operation in Education as well as sports. Further elaborating, she said that the Punjab Institute of Sports and Australia have recently inked an agreement regarding extending co-operation to each other which is working wonders for both on sports front.
The Minister also discussed smart city project with the High Commissioner and perfectly articulated his plan of developing Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar as ‘Smart Cities’. He also said that he is strongly optimistic about getting whole hearted co-operation from Australia with regard to this. The High Commissioner responded extremely positively while also expressing happiness at the initiative to enhance co-operation between the 2 sides. She also lauded the par excellence contribution made by Navjot Sidhu while representing India in Cricket and MLA Pargat Singh in Hockey.
Among others present on the occasion included MLA Pargat Singh, Dr. Amar Singh (IAS Retd.), Additional Chief Secretary, Local Government department Satish Chandra, Secretary J.M. Balamurugan, Director K.K. Yadav, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Jaspal Singh and Director Dr. Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa.
Govt appoints 246 employees in Health Department
The Punjab Government today issued the order to appoint 246 employees in the Health and Family Welfare department.
Disclosing this, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Brahm Mohindra said that the Congress Government is committed to provide quality health services to the people of Punjab, hence the approval regarding appointments to these important posts. Divulging details of recruitment, he said that 90 Radiographers, 118 Operation Theatre Assistants, 33 E.C.G. Technicians and 5 Dental Hygienist have been appointed in the department.
The Minister said that after some far-reaching decisions, at present under consideration, the functioning of the health department would become all the more transparent. He further said that the priority is to provide healthy services especially in the rural areas of the State. Divulging more, he said that the posting of these staff at the crucial places will immensely benefit the public. Batting for transparency in the recruitment process, the Minister said that the vacant positions would be displayed on screen before the newly appointed candidates to help the candidates in giving their choices for the suitable posting in the request letter.
Mohindra said that this recruitment process will definitely bolster the OPD and IPD services of government hospitals.