With AAP being closely watched in Punjab after its massive victory in Delhi Assembly polls, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Wednesday compared performance of both states on and claimed Delhi’s performance paled in front of Punjab.
In his concluding remarks during the debate on the motion of thanks on the Governor’s address in the Budget Session here, Amarinder, whose government has been on the defensive over hike in power tariff in the state, said that Punjab was paying a subsidy of Rs 12,000 crore to farmers and industry which the Delhi government did not have to pay.
Pointing towards the Opposition benches occupied by AAP members, Amarinder said, “They tom-tom their power prices. But what they do not tell everyone is that we pay Rs 9,000 crore per year as a part of free power to farmers and Rs 1500 crore as subsidy to industry and Rs 1900 crore for 200 units to SC households.”
He went on to add, “They (Delhi) give cheaper power to domestic sector but at an exorbitant Rs 10.90 per unit to commercial sector. They think all shopkeepers vote for BJP and hence they should be charged higher. We charge our commercial sector at Rs 7.75 per unit and the variable rates to industry are fixed at Rs 5 per unit.”
Amarinder said he has asked state officials to work towards bringing these prices down even if PPAs are to be renegotiated. He said the government would be tabling a white paper of on power scenario in the state in the Budget Session.
Comparing Punjab’s schools with those in Delhi, Amarinder said the Class X Results for 2019, Punjab’s pass percentage was 88 per cent compared to Delhi schools’ at 72 per cent. He said they were coming up with a new policy, for upgradation of schools in the state and his government’s decision to establish a new state-level Law University in Tarn Taran.
On health front, he said his government would take the number of health and wellness clinics from 1369 to 2000 by the end of next month, thus ensuring health for citizens from birth, on the lines of nations such as UK and Canada.
Free power to farmers to continue
Amarinder told the house that the free power would not be withdrawn from the farmers at any cost till his government was in power. Only recently, the government had withdrawn power subsidy
from SCs of various catergories including the ones paying income tax, politicians, and who were on prominent posts. A section has always been demanding that the power subsidy should be withdrawn from big farmers on these lines also as it could save the state at least Rs 4,000 crores.
Pay panel report to be implemented
During his speech, Amarinder also announced that the government would implement the 6th Pay Commission recommendations. “The report will be implemented soon, hopefully this year itself,” he said.
The commission headed by former Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill was constituted by SAD-BJP government in November 2015 and the Congress had promised in its manifesto to implement its report. Sources in the government said the government is setting aside Rs 4,000 crore in the budget to be tabled on Friday. The state already has a fat salary bill of Rs 20,000 crore annually. It would go up to Rs 24,000 crore after the recommendation of the pay commission.
‘Coronavirus delaying smartphones’
Facing criticism for not fulfilling a pre-poll promise of providing smartphones to youths, Amarinder cited coronavirus outbreak in China to be responsible for the delay in fulfilling the promise. “The phones have to come from China. But because of coronavirus outbreak the first set is yet to arrive.”
He said they had already notified the scheme and procurement of the phones had only been delayed due to the health emergency that had led to a shutdown in China, as a result of which the consignment of phones has not been received.
Speaking on another pre-poll promise not been fulfilled, Amarinder said they would table a new Lokpal Bill that would have even the Chief Minister under its ambit. He said his government was committed to transparency in governance and accountability in public services.
Slum Dwellers Act
The CM said to ensure ease of living for the poorest of the poor in our urban areas, his government had also decided to enact a new Slum Dwellers Act and a new Punjab Transfer and Management of Municipal Properties Act, said the Chief Minister. “We shall also revisit the policy to regularise the colonies to make it simpler in our endeavour
to dissuade such illegitimate property development in future,” he added. The Cabinet that met on Wednesday cleared both the Bills to be tabled in the Vidhan Sabha.
On the Slum Dwellers Act, the Council of Ministers felt that multipronged efforts were required to improve the quality of life of the people living in the slums for their overall development, as well as of the city or town in which these slums are situated. The government said it had to take the decision as several slums have come up in the state in recent decades. Also, the measures for the rehabilitation and eviction of the slum dwellers from the land under unauthorised occupation have resulted in litigation in various courts of law, thus defeating the endeavours initiated in this regard by the Local Government Department.
Pucca houses for homeless
The CM said his government was now working to ensure that every homeless gets a pucca house. Also, the state was working towards a state-wide women development programme for financial and economic security of all women headed households.
Ghar Ghar Rozgar scheme
Amarinder said as many as 1714 placement camps had been organised, wherein jobs had been facilitated to 57,905 youth in the government sector, with 3,96,775 getting jobs in the private sector through these camps and another 7,61,289 being helped into self-employment. AAP members claimed that the data given in Governor’s address was different than in the CM’s speech.
Debt relief to farmers
The CM said that debt relief of Rs 4603 crore had been given to 5.62 lakh eligible farmers and the remaining would also be given relief very soon. After he claimed that in the last six crop cycles farmers had received an additional remuneration of Rs 44,000 crore, the Opposition objected to his claim stating that this money had come from Centre and state had no right to claim any achievement on this.
The CM also said he would lead an all party delegation to Centre to demand that the MSP for procurement is not tinkered with as was being indicated.
Repeats his stand on Pakistan
The CM repeated his stand on Pakistan and declared that he would deal with Pak-based terrorists and gangsters, seeking to create problems in the state, with an iron hand. He said he would not compromise on peace and the government would not let Kartarpur Corridor to be closed down at any cost.
“We have not and shall not allow the hard-earned peace of the state to be disturbed in any manner,” he said, adding maintaining law and order has always been a priority of his government. “Nobody wants to invest in a place where there is no peace,” added Amarinder.
Lists other achievements
The CM said they enacted Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Act 2020 to save water, piloted a unique project namely ‘Pani Bachao, Paisa Kamao’, aimed at incentivising farmers to save water and earn money by consuming lesser ground water. He assured to complete the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project in 2022-23 and would also make every possible effort to complete the Kandi Canal, along with attendant water courses, by providing requisite finances during 2020-21.
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