The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday relaxed rules to give government jobs to married siblings of three soldiers killed in the Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in earlier this year in June. While two of them were killed fighting Chinese troops, the third soldier died during patrolling near a river close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). All three soldiers were unmarried.
To pave way for this move, the Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to make an exception to the government’s existing ‘Policy of Appointments of Honour and Gratitude’, by way of an amendment to rules to provide jobs in the state services to married siblings of three bachelor battle casualties of the Galwan Valley.
A government statement said the decision has been taken by the government in recognition of the supreme sacrifice made by Sepoy Gurtej Singh, Sepoy Gurbinder Singh and Lance Naik Saleem Khan.
As per existing rules, only dependent family members or next of kin of the battle casualties were eligible for jobs, but in the case of these three men, since no dependent family member existed, the government decided to make an exception to give jobs to their married brothers.
The statement said that Gurpreet Singh (married brother of Sepoy Gurtej Singh (unmarried); Gurpreet Singh, married brother of Sepoy Gurbinder Singh (unmarried); and Niyamat Ali, married brother of L/Nk Saleem Khan (unmarried), had applied for appointment in the state services despite not falling under the definition of “Dependent members of the War Heroes”.
A dependent member of a War Hero under the existing policies is defined as a “Widow or wife or a dependent son or dependent unmarried daughter or adopted dependent son or adopted unmarried daughter”.
“However, in case the War Hero is unmarried but had other dependents on him, then one of the dependent unmarried brothers/unmarried sisters was eligible for consideration for appointment under this policy,” revealed a state government spokesperson.
Notably, five soldiers belonging to Punjab had laid down their lives in Ladakh sector in June, 2020, during an unprovoked aggression by the People’s Liberation Army of China. Such deaths are normally declared as Battle Casualty by the Army Headquarters and the next of kin of such soldiers are granted financial assistance and one dependent family member of each martyred soldier is also given jobs, as per the Policy of Appointments and Honour and Gratitude of the state government. But out of these five soldiers, three were unmarried at the time of their martyrdom.
Further, none of the family members of the above mentioned three martyrs are covered under the definition of the “dependent members of the War Heroes” in the aforesaid policies, thus prompting the state government to make a departure from norm as a mark of honour and gratitude to these martyrs, as they are survived by their old parents and other family members.
SINGLE WINDOW FOR TELECOM
The Cabinet also approved a set of new guidelines under a single-window policy to replace the existing norms by superseding the existing telecom policy for ease of doing business for telecom companies.
A government statement said that the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh gave a direction to ensure timely restoration of roads and other infrastructure damaged by the telecom firms.
The new guidelines will supersede the Telecom Policy notified on December 5, 2013 and December 11, 2015. The amended policy was aligned to the Right of Way Rules, 2016, the government statement said.
This decision would enable speedier permissions for installation of Telecom Towers/Masts/Poles and Right of Way (RoW) Clearances for laying of Optical Fiber Cables to registered Telecom Operators/Infrastructure Providers at Government/Private buildings and lands. Enhanced period for validity of permissions, no NOC requirement from AAI and elimination of NOC requirement from PPCB for installation of generator sets are among the key highlights of the new policy.
The statement said the existing fee structure would be rationalised by replacing the various charges currently being collected by the state, in the form of one-time fee, annual user fee, sharing fee and enhancement in all the charges after every 5 years, with a one-time administrative fee of Rs 10,000 per tower. This will help bridge the digital divide between the rural and urban areas of the state, and provide a well-knit telecommunication infrastructure network.
The single-window policy envisages providing online clearances through Punjab Business First Portal in a time-bound fashion, with the provision of deemed clearances built into the new guidelines. The Deputy Commissioner of the concerned district shall be the single contact person for all clearances and shall be responsible for addressing public grievances relating to installation of telecom infrastructure.
Under the approved guidelines, the period of state government permissions has been enhanced to 20 years from earlier 10 years and has been made co-terminus with the clearance of the Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation (SACFA). The new guidelines would dispense away with the requirement of a separate NOC from Airports Authority of India if SACFA clearance has already been obtained by the Telecom Service Providers/Infrastructure Service Providers from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India.
With the objective of simplifying the procedures, the requirement of NOC from Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for installing generator sets of up to 1 MVA Capacity has been dropped on the analogy of instructions of Central Pollution Control Board for setting up of telecommunication towers in the state.
It may be recalled that the Punjab government had issued the telecommunications infrastructure guidelines for establishment of telecommunications infrastructure by telecom licensees and registered telecom infrastructure providers (TSPs/IPs) on December 5, 2013, which was later amended on December 11, 2015. Centre has advised the various state governments to align their telecom RoW policies with the Right of Way Rules 2016 of the Union government. A total of 19 states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha have aligned their policies with the Right of Way Rules, 2016.
MORE POSTS IN HEALTHCARE
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cabinet gave its nod for the creation of 16 posts of Assistant Professor (Super Specialist) in the departments of cardiology, endocrinology, neurology and nephrology of Government Medical Colleges of Patiala and Amritsar.
The Cabinet also gave nod to temporary conversion of 25 vacant posts of direct quota of super-specialist Professor and Associate Professor to Assistant Professor on contract basis in these two GMCs.
In another significant decision, the Cabinet also approved filling up of 168 posts of technicians in various paramedical cadres in these medical colleges. Of these, 98 posts would be created and 70 vacant posts would be revived. These recruitments would be made in the departments of anesthesia (ICU), cardiology, radiology, radiotherapy, physiotherapy, audiology, speech, sterilisation services and oxygen/gas supply through Baba Farid University of Health Science (BFUHS), Faridkot.
The requisite qualification requirements for various posts of technicians were also approved by the Cabinet, added the spokesperson.
NEW SCHEME FOR DISABLED
To help Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday okayed a new scheme – Punjab Divyangjan Shaktikaran Yojna (PDSY), to be implemented in a phased manner across the state.
The first phase of the scheme will involve strengthening the existing programmes to ensure that their benefits reach the persons with disabilities in a more effective manner, while in the second phase, 13 new interventions are proposed to be undertaken for the empowerment of such persons.
The scheme of Social Security and Women and Child Development Department, is aimed at providing a barrier-free environment to persons with disabilities in a phased manner, by making government and public-centric buildings, public transportation and websites accessible to them. Among other issues, the PDSY aims to fill the backlog of PwDs in government jobs, which has already been approved by the Council of Ministers while approving the State Employment Plan. The Department of Employment Generation would give greater thrust on filling up vacant posts of PwDs during the next six months.
For overall guidance and policy support for the scheme, a Consultative Group headed by the Minister, Social Security and Women & Child Development, is proposed to be constituted with all concerned Cabinet Ministers as members. The group would not only review the performance under the scheme, but also suggest measures for improvements, if any required.
Under Phase-I, the scheme would focus on providing to PwDs the benefits of existing schemes being run by various government departments with a goal to reach out to all of them in the state, so as to provide services/benefits/rights in respect of healthcare, education, employment, safety and dignity in all spheres of life.
Going further, Phase-II of the PDSY will have new initiatives/programmes to cover those aspects and needs which have hitherto not been covered under any existing centrally/state sponsored scheme or PwD-oriented schemes by different departments.
In Phase-II, the Department has proposed 13 new interventions, including treatment on suffering disability, mobility aids & assistive devices, promoting education, research and human resource development, five days of special leave in a calendar year, free education, empowerment of disabled girl students, recreational activities, home schooling scheme for children with special needs, state award for outstanding work done by teachers with disability, participation in local government, service provider scheme and survey and database creation at district level.
AGRI EDUCATION ACT DEFERRED
Amid the pandemic, the Cabinet decided to defer implementation of the Punjab State Council for Agricultural Education Act, 2017, till June 30, 2021.
The main objective of the Punjab State Council for Agricultural Education is to specify the minimum standards and guidelines for imparting agricultural education and training, to be followed by the colleges/universities in the state.
The Punjab State Council for Agricultural Education Act, 2017 was notified in January 2018 and the minimum standards were required to be met by the institutions imparting agricultural education by January 1, 2020.
The Council is also mandated to regulate the agricultural education in the state through grant of recognition to colleges/institutions/departments that meet the norms and standards prescribed to run Educational Degree programmes in Agriculture.
EMPLOYMENT RULES AMENDED
In a bid to improve ease of doing business in the state and fulfil the a condition imposed by Central government for obtaining additional borrowing of 2 per cent of GSDP, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval for amending Rule 14 and insertion of new Rule 53A in the Inter-State Migrant Workers (Regulation of Employment & Condition of Service) Punjab Rules, 1983.
Acceding to the demands raised by the industrialists at various platforms, the Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, decided to insert Rule 53A in the Inter-State Migrant Workers (Regulation of Employment & Condition of Service) Punjab Rules, 1983, to allow maintaining different prescribed registers in electronic/digital format to reduce the compliance burden of the industries.
This investor-friendly initiative would encourage the digitalisation of records besides helping to maintain transparency and easy access to records, thereby not only complying with the requirements of Centre but also attracting huge investments through ensuring conducive environment in the state.
Notably, instructions relating to additional borrowing of 2% of GSDP were received from Ministry of Finance (Department of Expenditure), GoI, on May 17, 2020 in which certain conditions were imposed. One of the conditions was to have automatic renewals under the labour laws. At present, there is no provision of auto renewal of licence under the Inter-State Migrant Workers (Regulation of Employment & Condition of Service) Punjab Rules, 1983. Hence, there was need to amend the aforementioned rules to facilitate the industries with provision of auto renewal, the Cabinet felt.
PRISON DEVELOPMENT BOARD RULES
The Cabinet also gave the nod to the Punjab Prisons Development Board Rules, 2020, under the Punjab Prisons Development Board Act, 2020 (Punjab Act No. 10 of 2020), for carrying out the objectives of the Board in order to ensure its day-to-day functioning in a smooth manner.
Punjab Prisons Board Act, 2020 (Punjab Act No. 10 of 2020) had been notified on April 17, 2020 on the lines of Telangana, and was aimed at adopting a self-sustaining model for enhancing prison-based economic activities for productive engagement of prison inmates. The purpose is also to generate resources for undertaking various correctional and welfare activities towards psychological reformation and skilling, thus reducing the burden on the state exchequer.
Notably, the Punjab Prisons Development Board had been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister through a notification on September 8, 2020.
20% HIKE IN REMUNERATION OF OSDs (LITIGATION)
In another decision, the Cabinet has approved the increase in the fixed remuneration/retainership fees payable to OSDs (Litigation), working in different departments, to the tune of 20 per cent from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000.
Pertinently, 11 temporary posts of OSD (Litigation) had been created in the Punjab Civil Secretariat in the office of Chief Secretary, Departments of General Administration, Home Affairs and Justice, Water Resources, Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Rural Development and Panchayat, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Public Works, Water Supply and Sanitation, Health and Family Welfare and Education.
Initially, a fixed salary of Rs 35,000 was given to OSD (Litigation). Thereafter, as per the decision taken in the Cabinet meeting on December 5, 2016, the salary of OSD (Litigation) was increased from Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. After 2016, no increase had been made in this fixed salary/retainership fees.
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