Chandigarh, March 18

Just two days after taking over Punjab’s reins, the Captain Amarinder Singh government on Saturday kicked off the state’s development agenda with its first cabinet meeting adopting the PPCC manifesto as its work programme for the next five years, and taking more than 100 important decisions aimed at fulfilling one-third of the electoral promises in the first phase.

To meet some of the expenses involved in taking the work programme forward, the cabinet decided to recall the unutilized funds, amounting to thousands of crores of rupees, which had been granted by the previous SAD-BJP regime to various government departments in the run-up to the polls.
 Thanking the people of Punjab for their emphatic mandate to the Congress in the assembly polls, the cabinet resolved that the administrative secretaries would be entrusted with the task of time-bound implementation of every single commitment in the manifesto relating to their respective departments. It was also resolved that the government would pursue all legal and administrative measures on the SYL issue to protect the state’s water.

The key decisions taken by the cabinet, attended by all the nine ministers of the newly constituted government, include a major crackdown on the drugs mafia and corruption, abolition of Inspector Raj, abolition of VIP culture, time-bound waiver of farm loans, constitution of various high-level committees to bring agriculture and industry on track, reforms in education and health, extension of various benefits to Dalits and other backwards, employment generation, etc.

During the meeting, which lasted over three hours, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder directed his ministerial colleagues and the various departments of the government to get down to the task of implementing the manifesto promises in all earnestness, taking all necessary measures to ensure that there is no delay in taking the reforms and development process to the people.

Abolition of District Transport Officers (DTOs), as well as elimination of the controversial halqa in-charge system, are among the important decisions taken by the cabinet as part of the anti-corruption agenda of the government.

Immediate steps will be taken to abolish the VIP culture in the state in line with the promises made by the Congress in its manifesto.

It was also decided to establish Employment Bureaus, manned by specialist and professionals, in all districts to tackle the problem of unemployment by carrying out surveys of both, the educated and the uneducated unemployed in the state and preparing annual district employment plans with clear targets.

Repeal of the Punjab Lokpal Act, revisiting of the citizens’ services delivery process by the Department of Governance Reforms, and establishment of Unified Service Delivery Centres are
some of the major decisions taken by the cabinet with the aim of uplifting the quality of public service in the state.

The cabinet decided that all subsidies, pensions, and other pro-poor schemes such as Ashirwad

and Atta Dal would be better targeted towards genuine beneficiaries through Direct Benefit

Transfers, wherever possible.

The Department of Personnel would be directed to submit a complete proposal to regularize all adhoc and contractual employees recruited through transparent systems and procedures, according to an official spokesperson, who added that the cabinet also decided to ban recruitment of contractual staff against the regular sanctioned posts in various departments of the Government.

To ensure rule of law and speedy justice, a series of new legislations, as proposed in the manifesto, will be enacted at the earliest. This includes the vital Confiscation of Drug Dealers’ Property Act. The concerned departments would prepare the necessary legislation for immediate enactment through an ordinance.

Another important decision relates to reforms and upgradation of educational institutions, with free connectivity to be provided in all government schools and colleges, for which the government will tie up with telecom companies to provide free Wi Fi service to such institutions. Students in government schools will be given free transportation facility and textbooks. One degree college, at least, will be established in each sub-division of the state.

Establishment of an Employment Commission, setting up of an Expenditure Reforms Commission, setting of military training academies and sainik schools, and sweeping health reforms will also be taken by the Congress government up on priority.

The cabinet further decided to extend the state’s reservation policy to contractual and outsourced appointments. Enhancement of the job reservation quota as promised in the manifesto, along with housing and other benefits for SCs/STs and OBCs, are other major decisions of the cabinet, which also decided on a special package for border areas, to be worked out by the Department of Planning for notification within 30 days.

The government will also initiate immediate steps to provide jobs to the unemployed as provisioned for in the manifesto, while the Department of Youth Affairs will take measures to
give smart phones to the youth who had registered themselves under the Captain Smart Connect scheme.

To set up special courts for cases related to NRIs, serving soldiers, drug peddling and narcotics, the Department of Home and Justice would put up a final proposal in consultation with the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the approval of the Chief Minister.

Other important manifesto promises on which the government will work on priority basis include simplification of the procedure for getting retirement benefits, establishment of a grievances redressal mechanism, establishment of a National Institute for Promotion and Development of Punjabi Language (the Department of Higher Education will pursue the proposal with the Government of India for its early finalization), constitution of an Ex-Servicemen (ESM) Cell under the chief minister’s control, appointment of Guardians of Governance and launch of `Sasti Roti’ community kitchens to be run by the district Red Cross societies.





Chandigarh, March 18
As part of the Captain Amarinder Singh led government’s sweeping administrative reforms to wipe out corruption and Inspector Raj from the state, and to undo the wrongs perpetrated on the people under the erstwhile Badal regime, the Punjab cabinet on Saturday decided to abolish the post of District Transport Officers, while initiating steps to do away with the controversial Halqa Incharge system that was introduced during the SAD-BJP rule.

It was also resolved that all decisions taken by the previous government in the last six months would be reviewed by the administrative departments, whose reports would be submitted by the Chief Secretary in the next meeting of the council of ministers. Till the completion of the review process, further action thereon would remain stayed except in cases where it was not feasible to do so owing to some legal or administrative implications. Such cases would be put to the Chief Minister through the Chief Secretary, an official spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting.

A proposal to abolish the Improvement Trusts and amalgamate their activities with the concerned Municipal Corporations/Councils was also considered at the meeting but a final decision on the same was postponed to the next cabinet meet after Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu sought more time to examine the matter. The cabinet took note of the fact that similar institutions had already done away with in neighbouring Haryana.

Cracking down on corruption and Inspector Raj in the transportation services and end the unnecessary harassment of transporters due to frequent checking, the cabinet decided to abolish the posts of District Transport Officers (DTOs) in the state, and reassign and distribute the work of their offices to the SDMs/SDOs for their respective territorial jurisdiction. It was noted that the DTO post had been abolished by Haryana about a decade ago.

The cabinet also decided to open up the transport sector, and ensure free and fair grant of licenses for buses, mini buses and other commercial vehicles in a transparent way, thus freeing the sector of the SAD stranglehold. The Department of Transport would review and reformulate its existing policy and submit the next policy for consideration in the next meeting. A Punjab Road Safety Authority will be set up to study the causes of road accidents and deaths in the state with a view to minimize the same through effective planning.

In a bid to improve functional and operational efficiency, the cabinet decided to withdraw the previous government’s notifications on territorial restructuring of police stations, and also to abolish the Halqa Incharge system introduced by the SAD-BJP regime, making sub-divisions and assembly constituencies conterminous. The council of ministers noted that the Halqa Incharges had become parallel power centres, controlling the administration and the police in their respective regions, and misusing their powers to indulge in political vendetta and corruption.

To fulfil another key PPCC manifesto promise, the cabinet decided to establish a Commission of Enquiry to review all false cases and FIRs registered during the last decade of the SAD-BJP Government with a view to ensuring justice to innocent people and fix accountability of the guilty so that such things were not repeated in the future. The Department of Home would put up a draft notification in this regard for the approval of the Chief Minister, it was decided.

The cabinet further decided that the Departments of Governance Reforms and Finance would prepare a White Paper exposing the false claims of the previous SAD-BJP regime on development, governance reforms and the financial position of the state to apprise the common man of the legacy inherited by the Congress government.

Another important cabinet decision relates to carrying out, within three months, a third party professional audit of rural and urban infrastructure in the state to identify the existing inadequacies and deficiencies for remedial measures. The cabinet noted that the previous regime had allowed the infrastructural foundations of the state to fall to ruin and decided that Infrastructural Renewal Plans would be prepared for all the blocks and municipalities for time-bound action.

It was also decided to reconstitute Governance Reforms Commission as Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission (GREC), to be manned by professionals who are experienced in governance processes and procedures. The Department of Governance Reforms would issue the requisite notification after approval of the Chief Minister. 



Chandigarh, March 18

Launching a major crackdown on the drugs menace in the state, the Punjab cabinet on Saturday decided to set up a Special Task Force (STF) in the Chief Minister’s office to prepare and implement a comprehensive programme to eliminate drugs from the state, as promised by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) in its election manifesto.

It also decided to direct the State Home Department to prepare and submit a proposal, in the next cabinet meeting, for the enactment of the Confiscation of Drug Dealers Property Act by issuing an ordinance. The proposed legislation will pave the way for the authorities to confiscate the properties and assets of those found guilty of trading or dealing in drugs.

The cabinet, at its first meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the Punjab Bhawan here, decided to take up the elimination of drugs from the state on top priority.

It was decided that the STF would monitor, on a day-to-day basis, the measures taken or to be taken to check the supply and consumption of drugs in the state. Expressing concern at the widespread trading and consumption of drugs, especially chitta, which had destroyed an entire generation of youth in Punjab, the cabinet decided that a vigorous campaign to educate young people, and to treat and rehabilitate drug users with compassion would be initiated immediately.




Chandigarh, March 18-
The Punjab Cabinet on Saturday approved the historic Excise Policy for the year 2017-18, bringing down the number of liquor vends from 6384 to around 5900, and banning operation of all liquor vends within 500 metres from National and State Highways.
A decision to this effect, in line with the pre-poll promise of Captain Amarinder Singh, was taken by the Council of Ministers in its maiden meeting held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister here at Punjab Bhawan.
Disclosing this here, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said that in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court of India, no liquor vend would be allowed to operate within a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of National Highways and State Highways.
As per the new Excise policy, the system of wholesale licence L-1A has been abolished. The L-1 licensees would lift their quota directly from the distilleries/ bottling/ plants/ manufacturing companies. The L-1 licence would be granted to a retail licensee (L-2 Licensee) in the concerned district who has secured atleast one group/ zone in a district. 
The quota of country liquor has been reduced from 10.10 crore proof litres to 8.70 crore proof litres i.e. by 14%. Similarly, the quota of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) has been reduced from 4.73 crore proof litres to 3.80 crore proof litres i.e. by 20%.


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