Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced cancellation of university and college examinations in the state in view of the Covid pandemic, though the exams that are currently being conducted online by some universities will continue uninterrupted.
In his weekly #AskCaptain Facebook Live session, the CM said university and college students will be promoted on the basis of their previous years’ results. However, students who want to improve their performance will have the option of taking a fresh examination later, once the Covid crisis is over. Universities and colleges are in the process of working out the modalities for implementing the decision, he said, adding that the decision would be announced in the next few days.
On the school board examinations, the CM said the state is following the CBSE decision announced in the Supreme Court some days ago.
Amarinder, however, urged all students to continue with their studies in right earnest despite the cancellation of their examinations. “You have to continue to work for your future,” he told the students.
Relaxtion for ex-servicemen
In a major initiative for ex-servicemen, Amarinder announced increase in the number of attempts for taking the PCS examination. While the SC candidates among the general category will continue to get unlimited chances, as per the existing system, the general category ex-servicemen will now get six attempts, in line with the overall general category, instead of the earlier four chances. For the BC category of ex-servicemen, the number of attempts has been increased to nine, he said, adding that he had received several petitions from ex-servicemen to be put on a par with the overall general category of aspirants.
Hits out at AKALIS
Accusing the Akalis of selling Punjab’s interests by agreeing to the anti-farm ordinances in order to ruin the state’s farming community, Amarinder said that he would take the fight against the anti-farmer ordinances to the Centre.
He said he would be writing soon to the Prime Minister for appointment for the all-party delegation which all Punjab parties, except the BJP, had unanimously decided upon.
“No matter what Sukhbir Badal or BJP say, once these ordinances are passed, the Centre’s next step would be to end the MSP regime and dismantle the FCI,” warned Captain Amarinder, pointing to the recommendations of the Shanta Kumar Committee. “You can imagine what will happen to Punjab farmers if this becomes a reality,” he said, adding that the procurement process will come to an end and Mandis will be finished once the ordinances become law.
The Akalis were only interested in protecting their political interests, with Harsimrat Kaur Badal focused on safeguarding her position in the Union Cabinet, the CM said, adding that the Badals were appeasing the BJP to save their alliance in Punjab at any cost.
“They are just bothered about their political interests. Sukhbir wants his wife to stay in the Union Cabinet while he remains the Pradhan here. They are thinking about themselves and not of Punjab,” he stated, adding that history is witness to the fact.
Underlining the need to save Punjab and protect its interests, the CM said the ordinances were 100% against Punjab and anti-farmers, as agreed by all political parties, except the BJP and the Akalis. All the Kisan Unions, which he had recently met, also wanted immediate scrapping of these ordinances, he added.
He said the Akalis had earlier ruined the state with their Punjabi Suba movement and were now hell-bent on destroying the farming sector by supporting these ordinances, which were a blatant attack on the country’s federal structure. History is witness to the fact that the Akalis divided Punjab and gave away bulk of the state’s resources to Himachal Pradesh and Haryana due to their sheer short-sighted focus on their petty political interests.
Had the state not been divided, its representation in Parliament would have been many times over and its writ would have worked in Delhi, with no question of its interests being ignored, said Captain Amarinder, lamenting that with just 13 MPs, Punjab’s voice was going unheard, especially since other states were also now producing wheat and the Central government felt it no longer needed Punjab to sustain its food security. “They (governments at the Centre) squeezed us and have now discarded us,” he said, urging the people of Punjab to extend their full support to the fight against the ordinances and not be misled by the Akalis and BJP.
Use of Helicopters in Locust control
The CM welcomed the permission given by the Centre to his request for using helicopters to spray insecticides on crops to prevent locust attack. While expressing the hope that the locust swarms would spare Punjab, he said a MI17 had been earmarked for spraying chemicals and the operation would start from Rajasthan soon.
On the Covid situation, the CM said things were not good, as cases continued to rise across India, and even Punjab had touched the 6,000 mark, with 157 deaths reported so far. He reiterated the importance of taking all precautions, including social distancing and wearing of masks. Pointing out that 4,000-5,000 cases were being registered every day for violations, including spitting on roads, he urged the people not to get complacent and violate the rules for their own protection and to save Punjab. “We can only control, not cure,” the CM said, exhorting the people to follow all guidelines being shared by sarpanches and others as part of Mission Fateh. He made it clear in reply to a question that recruitment of doctors, paramedics and nurses was in progress on fast track with the Cabinet having taken a special decision to strengthen the fight against Covid.
To a question on opening of coaching centres, he said the decision rested with the Centre but the state government will write to them for permission since the situation in Punjab was better than many other states.
A student wanted to know about travelling to Canada where he had an exam scheduled for September. The CM said while he expected international travel to be open before that, the state government would also try to get his name on the list sooner if flights resumed.
On a Ferozepur resident’s concern on the border situation with China and Pakistan, Captain Amarinder said the Indian Army was capable of meeting any threat, individually or collectively from these two countries. “By the grace of God, India and Punjab will remain safe and progress,” he added.
Amarinder assured a questioner that there would be no shortage of funds for ensuring befitting 400th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Teg Bahadur Singh.
On delay in opening of Kharar flyover, Amarinder said it was an NHAI project and got delayed due to Covid but work had resumed now and his government was also following up with the Government of India. He recalled that the Kharar bypass was constructed during his last tenure.
To another question regarding the High Court decision on payment of school fee in the absence of classes, the CM said he was also not happy with the same and the state government was in the process of filing a review petition in the High Court.
On strengthening of ambulance fleet in the state, he said the target of 400 would be achieved this year. To another question, he said 750 stadiums will be built in Punjab, with five in each block, to promote sports.
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