Monthly Archives: MARCH 2016


Water War Hotting Up: Punjab defies Supreme Court, passes resolution against SYL Canal construction
18.03.16 - pt team
Water War Hotting Up: Punjab defies Supreme Court, passes resolution against SYL Canal construction



The Punjab Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a resolution moved by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the disputed issue of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, stating that it would not be allowed to be constructed at any cost since it is not in the interest of the state.
 
"The House has passed a resolution unanimously that circumstances be what they are, that the SYL canal cannot be allowed to be built in defiance of the rights of the state over its river waters. Since the case is before the Supreme Court (Challenging government of India’s power to distribute water between the states), it must be decided before the canal can even be talked about," Badal's advisor Harcharan Bains told Punjab Today.
 
In a setback to Punjab, the apex court had on Thursday directed maintenance of status quo on land meant for canal after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.
 
A constitution bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave had said: "Prima facie, it appears that an effort has been made to see that the execution of a decree of this court is being made inexecutable and this court cannot be a silent spectator of the said fact and therefore, we direct that status quo shall be maintained by the parties...
 
Appointing the court's receivers, as prayed for by Haryana, the court said that the status quo is maintained in respect of "lands, works, property and portions of the SYL canal and all lands within the alignment of the SYL canal within the territories of the state of Punjab" which are covered by its 2002 and 2004 judgments.
 
The court order would affect the transfer of 3,928 acres of land along the 122-km stretch of the SYL canal in Punjab to the farmers from whom it was acquired for the construction of the water channel for transporting 3.5 million acre feet of water to Haryana.
 
According to India Today, the SC bench, which also has Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Amitava Roy, gave the order on an application by Haryana seeking appointment of the central government as the court receiver of the land, works, property and portion of the SYL canal in Punjab.
 
Haryana had also sought to restrain Punjab from publishing the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill in the official gazette. The bill was passed by the Punjab Assembly on March 14.
 
The constitution bench is holding a hearing on the presidential reference seeking apex court's advisory opinion on the 2004 law passed by Punjab during the rule of Congress government led by Amarinder Singh, terminating all water-sharing agreements with neighbouring Haryana and other states.
 
Describing all the arguments advanced by Haryana as "rhetorical exuberance", senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Punjab, told the bench that every agreement was reviewable after a lapse of 25 years on the grounds of change in conditions.
 
He said that Haryana's share in SYL water was based on 1920 data and the situation had radically changed now. "Conditions have changed completely," he said.
 
Referring to Haryana's application, Dhavan said what it was actually seeking was the invalidation of Punjab's law of 2004 that terminated all river water-sharing agreements and seeking notification of Justice Eradi water tribunal's order which has not been notified so far as a legal challenge to it was pending before the apex court.
 
Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, also appearing for Punjab, told the constitution bench that it was hearing a presidential reference for its advisory opinion which is always accepted but is not binding.
 
Referring to the language of Article 143 of the constitution, he said that "(plea for) interim relief (sought by Haryana) can't come up in advisory jurisdiction (of the top court). It will be in the form of advice and not interim order".
 
The court directed for further hearing in the matter on March 31.




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Airport to be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh before March 23: Kamal Sharma
16.03.16 - pt team
Airport to be named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh before March 23: Kamal Sharma



International Airport at Mohali will be named after Shaheed Bhagar Singh before March 23, the martyrdom day of the revolutionary freedom fighter claimed Kamal Sharma, President Punjab BJP. 

He said that Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma has conveyed to him that the formal announcement over the naming of the airport would be made in a couple of days time. This is a welcome development and would be a befitting tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh.      
 
Meanwhile, giving the details of his meeting with the minister, the BJP Punjab chief said that Mahesh has also assured him that the work for the upliftment of the Jallianwala Bagh and National Martyrs Memorial Hussainiwala in Ferozepur would also start soon.
 
Sharma said, "In the Union Budget for the fiscal 2016-17, the centre government had announced that the Jallianwala Bagh will be developed as a cultural and heritage centre. As a part of that,  Mahesh has said that the work for the upliftment of the Jallianwala Bagh besides starting the Light and Sound Show, which was out of order, would also commence soon."
 
Sharma also disclosed that  Mahesh has assured that besides starting the Light and Sound Show at the National Martyrs Memorial Hussainiwala, the work for the upliftment and making the Memorial a tourist hub would be kick-started soon. "I have also extended invite to Mahesh for his esteemed presence at Hussainiwala Memorial on March 23 to mark the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev", he informed.   
 
It may be mentioned here that the National Martyrs Memorial Hussainiwala is located just one km from the India-Pakistan border on the Indian side and has memorials of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.




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Passage of Gurudwara amendment bill denying voting rights to Sehajdharis, a historic moment: Harsimrat
16.03.16 - pt team
Passage of Gurudwara amendment bill denying voting rights to Sehajdharis, a historic moment: Harsimrat



Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal today hailed the unanimous passage of the Sikh Gurudwaras (amendment) bill, 2016 in the Rajya Sabha denying ‘Sehjdharis’ the right to vote in the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

Terming the passage of the amendment bill as a historical moment in the Sikh history, Badal said the Rajya Sabha had righted a wrong by passing this amendment retrospectively with effect from October, 2003 besides respecting the sentiments of the Sikh community on this sensitive issue.

Profusely thanking the NDA government for passage of this amendment unanimously, the Union minister said this was a red letter day for the Sikhs all over the globe whose rights and interests to supervise management of Gurudawaras' have been protected by the NDA government. She also said that with this step, the NDA government had earned the gratitude of the Sikh community.

Divulging more, Badal said the passing of this amendment was also a victory for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which was always steadfast in its resolve not to let outsiders to vote by proxy in the SGPC elections through the ‘Sehajdhari’ route.

It is pertinent to mention here that the promulgation of Sikh Gurudwara Act in 1925 granted voting rights to Sikhs but in 1959, the Sehajdharis were also allowed to vote in the SGPC polls. Then in October, 2003 the then NDA government amended the act denying Sehajdharis voting rights. But this decision was quashed during UPA regime meting out injustice to the Sikh community.

"Today the SAD and its MPs have succeeded in correcting a historical wrong by convincing the upper house to pass this amendment unanimously and also sent out a signal to those conspiring to weaken the community that their designs will not be allowed to succeed”, Badal said adding she was confident the amendment would be passed in the Lok Sabha also in due course.




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Cabinet decides to return entire money received from Haryana for SYL
15.03.16 - pt team
Cabinet decides to return entire money received from Haryana for SYL



In a significant decision and in continuation to passing of Punjab Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016, the Punjab Cabinet today approved to return the entire money received from Haryana in respect of SYL immediately to the Haryana government. 
 
A decision to this effect was taken by the Cabinet in its meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at Punjab Bhawan, this evening. 
 
Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Cabinet reiterated the SAD-BJP alliance government’s firm commitment not to allow even a single drop of its rightful river waters to Haryana adding that since water was the lifeline of Punjab so the question of sharing it with anyone does not arise at all and any decision against injustice to river waters of Punjab would never be accepted at any cost.
 
The Cabinet also approved the Excise Policy for the year 2016-17 by implementing which the state government expects to collect Rs. 5440 crores as against Rs. 5040 crores in current year, an increase of about Rs.400 crores. The liquor vends for the year 2016-17 would be allotted through draw of lots in a transparent manner.  The basic thrust of the policy was to provide good quality liquor at affordable prices to the consumers.  
 
To have fair and healthy competition amongst the licensee, maximum retail prices of liquor have also been fixed. The rates would be displayed by the licensees conspicuously at their vends.  No licensee could charge rates higher than the rates fixed by the Department. 
 
The maximum retail prices of liquor to be served in the marriage palaces for marriages, have also been fixed and would be displayed on the website of the Department and the same would be made available by the officers of the Department at the time of issuing permits.  In a significant departure from the existing policy, the permit holder could buy liquor from any liquor vend in the concerned district, where marriage function was to be held.  
 
In the Excise Policy, the size of the groups has been reduced for ensuring maximum participation by the small and medium licensees. The total number of groups were proposed to be around 600-700 as against 226 of last year. The number of retail vends have not been increased and have been kept at the last year’s level i.e.6400. 
 
The quota of country liquor was pegged at 10.30 crore proof litres as against 9.80 crore proof litres during the current year. The quota of IMFL has been increased from 4.50 crore proof litres to 4.75 crore proof litres. Additional quota @ 20% of the basic quota would also be available to the licensees at concessional rate. 
 
The quota of Beer has been increased from 312 lac bulk litre to 330 lac bulk litres. This year, import duty on canned beer has been abolished. This measure has been introduced with the intention to provide more variety of Beer brands to the consumers. This time, model shops would also be established in major Corporation Cities from where any person could buy liquor without any hesitation.
 
The Cabinet also gave approval to amend rates of property tax of hotels in urban areas from the year 2015-16. Any hotel with capacity of 50 rooms or below would be charged Rs.6, Rs.4 and Rs.3 per sq. ft. instead of existing Rs 6, Rs 5 and Rs 4 as property tax in case of A-category towns, while Rs.4 and Rs.2.50 per sq. ft. instead of existing Rs 4 and Rs 3 would be charged in case of B-category towns and Rs.2 and Rs.1.50 per sq. ft. for C-category towns remains unchanged. Likewise, any hotel having capacity of 51 rooms or above would be charged property tax at the rate of Rs.8, Rs.7 and Rs.6 per sq. ft. instead of Rs 9, Rs 8 and Rs 7 in case of A-category towns and Rs.7 and Rs.5 per sq. ft. instead of Rs 8 and Rs 6 for B-category towns and Rs.6 and Rs.4 per sq. ft. instead of Rs 7 and Rs 5 for C-category towns. However, these rates were for every built up area irrespective of floor. There would be not tax on vacant land and parking area. 
 
The Cabinet also decided to present a bill in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in order to sort out the legal problems with regard to disbursement of gratuity and leave encashment to the Privately Managed Aided Colleges in the state. It may be recalled that the state government gives 95% financial aid to 136 private colleges across the state and management of some of the colleges had filed certain court cases in this regard.




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Dhindsa presents election-year, tax-free Budget
15.03.16 - pt team
Dhindsa presents election-year, tax-free Budget



Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa today presented the budget for 2016-17 with focus on social welfare schemes and the youth.
 
Addressing the media after presenting the the fifth consecutive budget Finance Minister Mr. Dhindsa, said that a budget of Rs 86,387 crore has been presented for the state. Annual plan of Rs 25,479 crore approved for 2016-17.
 
The Minister said that to encourage girl students pursuing education in various Punjab Government schools, a new scheme, Swasth Kanya Yojna to provide free school bags containing stationary items to the girl students would be introduced. "Benefit Eligibility Card” showing benefits to girls under various welfare schemes would also be introduced. As many as 400 Middle Schools would be upgraded to High Schools and 400 High Schools to Senior Secondary Schools.
 
To empower women starting their own ventures, loan at subsidized rate of 9% per annum to women members establishing small business enterprises would also be provided under Mai Bhago Women Empowerment Scheme, said Mr. Dindsa.
 
Adding further, he said that the SAD- BJP government has always been taking initiatives to improve the plight of the farming community in the state. An amount of Rs. 200 crore has been kept exclusively for providing interest free crop loan of Rs. 50,000 per crop to small and marginal farmers having land holdings up to 5 acres. To bridge the gap between the farmers and the policy makers and to redress the problems faced by the farming community Kisan Vikas Chamber in Mohali district to would be set up.
 
As many as 200 skill-development centres for youth would be set up in the state.  Rs 20 crore would be spent on their training, mostly in rural areas. To encourage sports activities in the state, 4,000 modern gymnasiums to be set up in towns and villages at cost of Rs 200 crore. Interest-free education loan of up to Rs 5 lakh for youth from economic weaker sections has also been proposed. A start-up programme for innovative research and enterprise announced with an outlay of Rs 100 crore has also been kept amongst the top priorities of the government.
 
Punjab to develop 200 smart villages in 2016-17, which will have 4 G connectivity, solar street lights, Sewa kendras and sewerage and drainage facilities. Stamp duty to be reduced by 20 percent on first purchase conveyance deed on all new flats to encourage affordable housing. Reduction in collector rates for assessing stamp duty across Punjab by 15 per cent. 25 per cent rebate on EDC, CLU and license fee to all new housing sector projects to boost to real estate sector.
 
Punjab Budget proposes to set up Hi Tech Cycle valley in 300 acres for Ludhiana cycle industry. An Industrial manufacturing cluster in 200 acres has also been proposed be set up in Rajpura. Sourcing of goods manufactured in Punjab to be encouraged, he said.
 
VAT on cotton and other types of yarn (excluding 100 per cent polyester filament yarn) from 6.05 to 3.63 percent was proposed. 
 
Talking about new initiatives to improve the health services in the state, Mr. Dhindsa ssaid that 2,000 new health centres to be set up in Punjab where 218 essential medicines to be provided free of cost to all patients. Free blood, urine and other basic tests and emergency treatment announced for first 24 hours.
 
To promote Punjabi language in the state, Punjab abolishes entertainment tax on cultural, music and theatre shows and films that promote Punjabi culture and language. State government earmarks Rs 50 crore for celebration of 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind singh. Rs 140 crore set aside for Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra programme.
 
The Minister also said that a new veterinary college at Rampura Phool to be set up. Rs 445 crore for animal husbandry proposed in budget. Rs 11 crore allocated for dairy development. An outlay of Rs 2,705 crore proposed for irrigation.
 




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