Chandigarh : The Punjab Council of Ministers today held discussions on the political fallout of the Union Budget on Punjab. In informal meeting of senior cabinet colleagues from both the Shiromani Akali Dal and Bhartiya Janta Party, the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal believed to have expressed satisfaction over the pro-farmer slant in the budget but at the same time felt that more could have been done to address the problems of farmers’ indebtedness, industrial concessions to neighbouring states and the overall debt waiver for Punjab.
Significantly, the chief minister told the officers to leave the meeting at the end of official agenda. Immediately afterwards the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal drew the attention of the SAD and BJP ministers to the issue of Centre-State relations as also the sensitive issue of river waters following the start of the proceedings in the Supreme Court on Haryana’s petition and Presidential reference on the Punjab Termination of Agrrements Act 2004. Sukhbir told his cabinet colleagues that the issue had serious implications for the farmers in the state.
The Sikh issues like ban on Turban, Kartarpur corridor, Sehajdhari , Sikh Marriage Act and Minority status also figured prominently in the meeting.
The cabinet, in recognition with the enormous contribution of Punjab soldiers in the Defence Forces of the country, gave approval to enhance the ex-gratia grants admissible to the soldiers, who were either martyred or disabled during their call on duty of various operations specified within the geographical limits of the country.
Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that as per the decision, the soldier who was martyred during counter insurgency operation, his family would get Rs. five lac instead of Rs. two lac, above 75% disabled soldiers would get Rs. four lac instead of Rs. two lac, 51% to 75 % disabled soldiers would get Rs. two lac instead of Rs. one lac and 25% to 50% disabled soldiers would get Rs. one lac instead of Rs. 50,000/-.
In a bid to provide the facility of city bus service to the urban populace, the Cabinet today gave nod to extend this service in the remaining cities of the state for the convenience of the inhabitants of these cities. It may be mentioned that the state government had already made a provision of city bus service within the municipal limits of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar for the convenience of general public. It was decided that the state transport undertakings would operate their Stage Carriage Buses as per the provision of City Bus Service Scheme notified recently. These buses would be made operational within the municipal limits of these respective cities as well as up to 10 Kms area adjoining outside the municipal limits to provide city bus service for the people residing within those areas. After the provision of city bus service within the municipal limits of different cities, the use of personalized vehicles, unnecessary congestion and level of vehicle pollution was expected to come down.
The Cabinet also approved the proposal of Department of Food & Civil Supplies for setting up ‘Integrated Foodgrain Management Project’ at village Seron in district Tarn Taran. The project would be established at the land where the sugar mill existed earlier. This land has been transferred by the State Cooperative Department to the Food & Civil Supplies Department to set up this project, which would create processing capacity, scientific storage such as silos besides a state-of-the-art laboratory and modern scientific godowns would be constructed. The project would help the farmers of the area to get appropriate price of their Basmati produce. The procurement agencies would not be forced to send the paddy for shelling to distant places rather Basmati/paddy would be shelled locally and this would help in saving crores of Rupees which the state agencies have to spend every year for transporting the paddy from Tarn Taran to other districts. This would also result in employment generation in this border area.
To ensure effective implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act 2006, the Cabinet also gave approval for the framing of new Service Rules for the up-gradation/promotion of 33 posts and creation of 44 new posts to be filled up by direct recruitment for the newly created Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). In accordance to the provision of FSSAI Act, an IAS Officer in the rank of Secretary shall be deputed as Commissioner, FSSAI, the state government has already deputed Secretary Health as Commissioner Food Safety. Similarly, the Government of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued guidelines to implement effectively the amended Drugs & Cosmetics Act/Rules, at once in the whole country with the objective to implement equally in all the states. The major objective for implementation of the amended Drugs and Cosmetics Act was to make available Standard Quality Drugs, Blood & Cosmetics and further to effectively weed out Not of Standard Quality Drugs from the market.
In another significant decision to minimize the pollution caused to environment due to excessive use of plastic carry bags, the Punjab Cabinet has also accorded approval to the Punjab Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture, usage and Disposal), Control (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It may be recalled that the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have already put such ban in their states. The state Cabinet in its previous meeting held on December 22, 2015 has given approval for the issuance of an ordinance to insert clause-2 in Section 7 of the Punjab Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture, usage and Disposal), Control Act, 2005. After the issuance of the Punjab Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture, usage and Disposal), Control (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 (Punjab Ordinance no 1 of 2016) w.e.f. February 1, 2016, the Government of Punjab, Department of Local Government has prohibited the manufacture, sale and use of plastic carry bag in the jurisdiction of all the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayats w.e.f April 1, 2016 by issuance of a notification no.5/18/2016-4lg4/692717/1 dated February 18, 2016. Subsequently, the State Rural Development and Panchayats Department has also issued a standing orders dated February 18, 2016 in this regard.
To regularize the unauthorized constructions in walled city in Amritsar on the "as is where is” basis, the Cabinet also gave its approval to the recommendations of the Cabinet sub-committee for presenting a Bill to this effect in the ensuing Budget session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for consideration. It was however decided that the compounding charges would be notified by the government separately.