Updated: December 10, 2021 9:19:03 am
Power consumers in Punjab will get the benefit of the reduced tariff for an additional – from November 1 this year instead of December 1 – after the Cabinet Thursday approved a proposal, with the fresh decision coming in the run up to the Assembly polls.
The relief of an additional month will put a financial burden of Rs 151 crore on the exchequer, the government said in a statement. The decision will benefit nearly 69 lakh consumers out of the total 71.75 lakh. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in October had announced to reduce the power tariff by Rs 3 per unit but had decided to notify the rolling out of the benefit from December 1. Power tariff and subsidy are major issues in Punjab and with the benefit not being reflected in October’s bills, the opposition parties had taken on the government accusing it of misleading the people.
Safai sewaks, sewermen regularised
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Channi, also gave approval to regularise the services of ‘safai sewaks’ and sewermem. The move will benefit 4,587 contractual employees working in the urban local bodies department. The additional annual financial burden on the state exchequer during the first three years of probation would be approximately Rs 46 crore, the statement said.
After the probation period, annual increment and other allowances would be paid and this additional financial burden would be borne by urban local bodies, it added.
Brick earth mining
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Channi, also declared excavation of brick earth in area upto two acres and depth upto three feet as a non mining activity.
The brick kiln owners will have to apply for license as per Form ‘A’ and obtain the license in Form ‘B’ for this purpose. If the excavation is done beyond the specified limits, the case would be dealt with as per the prescribed Punjab Miner Mineral Rules (PMMR), 2013 and the prevailing guidelines. This will ease the process of operationalising brick kilns besides ensuring the uninterrupted supply of the construction essential at affordable rates, the statement said.
Notably, brick kiln owners had submitted several representations for declaring the excavation of brick earth as non-mining activity.
Punjabi made mandatory
In another significant decision, the Cabinet decided to implement the requisite qualification of Punjabi language for direct recruitment in the boards, corporations, commissions, authorities, parastatals along with all the departments in the letter and spirit. It also directed all the bodies to immediately amend their service rules so as to make provision of knowledge of Punjabi language compulsory under section 17 of the Punjab Civil Services (General and Common Conditions of Service) Rules, 1994.
Regularisation of colonies, buildings
The cabinet also decided to introduce a rule under a relevant section of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation (PAPR) Act to regularise unauthorised colonies and plots in the state.
It also decided to facilitate regularisation of standalone buildings like educational, medical, commercial, farm houses, religious, social etc which were constructed without the prior permission of the Housing and Urban Development Department by taking regularisation fee. The applications can be submitted for the said purpose till December 31, 2022.
Water bill arrears waived
The Cabinet also decided to waive arrears of water bills worth Rs 500 crore including Rs 256.97 crore of rural consumers, Rs 17.98 crore of urban and Rs 224.55 crore for the water supply schemes run by the gram panchayats and committees will be waived.
The water supply and sanitation department is providing potable water to the people in rural areas of Punjab and in select cities of Muktsar Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Faridkot and Bathinda. In October, Channi had announced to waive off arrears of rural water supply schemes, water supply and sewerage charges for domestic connection worth Rs 18,68 crore.
Relief for cotton growers
The cabinet also approved a proposal to extend the value of relief from Rs 12,000 per acre to Rs 17,000 per acre for 76-100 per cent of cotton crop loss. The relief rates will be effective from June 1, 2021, the statement said. Relief worth Rs 416 crore has already been provided to the farmers affected by the damage caused to the cotton crop by the pink bollworm (pest attack).
The Cabinet also approved the creation of 76 new posts of various cadres for the 25 bed hospital built in the name of Shaheed Havaildar Ishar Singh at village Jhordan in Ludhiana.
It also gave a go ahead to take over two private schools – Public High School Kukarpind and Janta High School, Phuldiwal – in Jalandhar.
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