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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Revamp done, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Navjot Sidhu now in a battle of one-upmanship

The Bill will earmark a part of the state’s annual budget for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes in proportion to their population in Punjab.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: July 30, 2021 5:09:25 pm
A day before Sidhu called a meeting of the Schedule Caste MLAs in Chandigarh on Saturday, the CM called a meeting on Friday and give a go ahead to the SC Welfare Bill to be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting and the Vidhan Sabha session. (File)

Within days of Navjot Singh Sidhu taking over as Punjab Congress president, a battle of one-upmanship has ensued between him and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

A day before Sidhu called a meeting of the Schedule Caste MLAs in Chandigarh on Saturday, the CM called a meeting on Friday and give a go ahead to the SC Welfare Bill to be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting and the Vidhan Sabha session.

The Bill will earmark a part of the state’s annual budget for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes in proportion to their population in Punjab. The ‘Punjab State Welfare and Development of Scheduled Castes (Planning, Earmarking and Utilization of Financial Resources) Sub-Allocation Bill, 2021’ will also enable the government to put in place an institutional mechanism to formulate and monitor the implementation of the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP), and matters connected with it, a government statement said.

Amarinder, on Wednesday, had held a meeting on the controversial Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The CM ordered cancellation of PPAs with the TSPL Power Plant at Talwandi Sabo and also ordered the review of other purchase deals of other power plants.

The issue had been hanging fire for last over four years.

Incidentally, a day before, Sidhu had met CM where he had taken up the issue of PPAs along with other issues.

The announcement on PPAs come at a time when Sidhu was in Delhi meeting Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi.

About the SC welfare Bill, the statement said the legislation, when passed in the Assembly, will provide the state government a platform to ensure the overall development of Scheduled Castes through effective implementation of various welfare schemes.

At 31.94 per cent, Punjab has the highest percentage of SC population in the country. The Valmiki community has been upset with the government over no representation in the state Cabinet.

Reiterating his government’s firm commitment to the socio-economic and educational development of the SC population in the state, the Chief Minister said the Bill will give a big boost to his government’s efforts to ensure the welfare of this segment, the statement said.

An official spokesperson said the Directorate of Scheduled Castes Sub Plan would be the nodal agency to ensure formulation of SCSP, besides monitoring its implementation. The authority competent to approve State Annual Budget estimates would also accord approval to the SCSP simultaneously with the Budget of the relevant financial year, before submitting it to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. There would be a single mechanism for flow of funds under SCSP, and the Finance Department would remain the controlling authority for this purpose.

The progress of SCSP would be reviewed and monitored at state, district and block levels, as per procedure and by the committee as prescribed. Each department shall ensure transparency and accountability at all levels in the implementation of the SCSP.

The efficacy of the legislation would be ensured by the systematic and exhaustive procedures on all aspects with respect to the formulation and implementation of SCSP in the state. Moreover, the departments implementing SCSP would become liable to implement it in its true spirit for the benefit of stakeholders i.e. Scheduled Castes population in the state. The new law would ensure transparency and accountability at all levels in the implementation of SCSP. There will also be a provision of incentives for commendable performance and penalties for willful neglect of any rule under the law by a government functionary.

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