Soon after the Punjab Assembly elections were declared on March 10, in which Aam Aadmi Party registered a landslide victory winning 92 of the 117 seats, Bhagwant Mann told the electorate: “You have fulfilled your responsibility very well, now it is my turn to fulfil my responsibility.” He also assured people of Punjab that the change would be visible in a month. As it completes six months of its rule on September 16, the AAP government has several hits and misses to its credit. By giving 300 units of power free every month, AAP has fulfilled its big ticket promise made to the electorate before Assembly elections, though, not without bleeding the state exchequer, already under a whopping debt of Rs 2.63 lakh crore. The power subsidy bill alone is set to cross Rs 20,000 crore mark this fiscal even as concerns are mounting as to how the fund-crunched state would fulfil all its liabilities with freebies burning a huge hole in the state’s pocket. As most of the pre-poll promises entail more financial burden on the state, all eyes are on the government on how effectively it would manoeuvre its way through the grave fund crunch. Here’s a snapshot of the promises fulfilled and pending.
ONE MLA ONE PENSION
The government has succeeded in notifying one MLA one pension rule in the state. After taking the reins of the state, Mann had stated that the legislators would now get only one pension. For enforcing this rule, the government had amended Clause 3(1) of ‘The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act, 1977’. The legislators in Punjab get a basic pension of Rs 15,000 per month. On this they get 50 per cent go DP (a merger of DA and basic pension effected on April 1, 2004), and a DA of 234 per cent. Similarly, for every supplementary term, they get Rs 10,000 basic pension, and DP and DA. The DA of 234 per cent was however not enhanced after December 31, 2016 onwards as Congress government led by Amarinder Singh decided not to increase it further. However, when an ex-MLA will attain the age of 65, 75 and 80, he/she shall, respectively, be entitled to an increase of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the basic pension, admissible to him/her at the attainment of such age. The move would save Rs 100 crore to the exchequer annually.
The government has decided to to implement University Grant Commission’s (UGC) pay scale as per seventh pay commission in the universities, government colleges and government aided private colleges. The pay scale would be revised with effect from January 15, 2016, to be implemented from October 1, 2022. This decision will benefit all the teachers and other employees working in the equivalent cadre in state universities.
To encourage farmers to take to direct sowing of rice (DSR), Punjab government announced a bonus of Rs 1500 per acre to those farmers who would take to this technique. The move is aimed at saving the underground water.
MSP ON MOONG DAL
It was for the first time that the Punjab government announced minimum support price for Moong Dal in order to push the farmers to get out of wheat-paddy cycle. The government claimed that about 1.29 lakh acres of moong dal was sown this year which was double the area sown last year.
PANCHAYAT LAND VACATED
The government has claimed that 9,053 acres of panchayat land, including prime land near Mohali and other cities, has been freed from illegal encroachments. The Rural Development Department has so far located 7,000 acres of panchayat land, which is owned by the panchayat department, but was not known for many years.
EX GRATIA DOUBLED
The government has doubled ex-gratia to the soldiers dying on duty from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore and also announced a government job to thier next of kin.
ANTI GRAFT HELPLINE
The CM launched a 24X7 anti-corruption helpline asking the residents to inform the vigilance bureau about any demand of bribe by any government official. The helpline was well received.
RS 1000 PER MONTH TO WOMEN
The government has not been able to fulfil its promise of giving Rs 1,000 per month to all women abobe 18 years of age. It was one of the key poll guarantees announced by AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal in the run up to the Assembly polls. Once implemented, the move would cost the state exchequer Rs 12,000 crore. The government may not implement this scheme in this fiscal.
The government delayed the salary of its employees by a week’s time in September due to fund crunch. Finance Minister Harpal Cheema, however, denied any fund crunch later but this was for the first time in six months of the government that the salary was delayed. All eyes are on next month now if the government is able to pay the salaries on time or not.
The gruesome murder of singer Sidhu Moosewala put the government on the backfoot. The murder took place after the police had temporarily withdrawn the security of several protectees including Moosewala.
300 FREE UNITS OF POWER
The government rolled out its biggest promise of 300 units of free power from July 1 onwards. Several residents have got zero power bills after the scheme was rolled out. However, the additional burden of 300 units of free power would also cost the exchequer Rs 1,800 crore annually. Already the power subsidy bill is set to cross Rs 20,000 crore this fiscal even as an amount of Rs 7,117 crore is due from the previous fiscal. The government would incur an expenditure of Rs 6,947 crore on free farm power and Rs 2,503 for subsidy to industry. The Rs 20,000 crore amount also includes the 300 free units to all residents. While Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said that the 300 free units would cost the exchequer Rs 1,800 crore, the power experts say that the government would end up paying Rs 3,000 crore as there are several existing categories also who get 300 free units, a freebie extended by former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
CLEARED AND IN WORKS: 26,000 JOBS
The Chief Minister, chairing his first Cabinet meeting, had cleared 26,000 government jobs for the youth. Out of these, 10,000 are in police department and the rest in other departments. The recruitments are being done in different departments. The CM had recently handed over job letters to youth recruited in different departments. However, filling 26,000 vacancies will take time.
100 AAM AADMI CLINICS
On Independence Day, Mann formally dedicated 75 Aam Aadmi Clinics to the people of the state. The clinics have been set up in the buildings used for Sewa Kendras by previous regime. The clinics would provide the best of the health services free of cost. Every clinic would have MBBS doctors to treat patients. There will be 4-5 staff members including doctors, pharmacists, nurses and others.
REGULARISING CONTRACT STAFF
The government recently bypassed the legislation route to absorb 36,000 contractual employees — another pre-poll promise — under a special cadre. Recently, the Cabinet gave its nod for absorbing about 9,000 employees in education department. It plans to absorb other employees also susbsequently. The move would burden the state exchequer Rs 400 crore annually.