In his second round of pre-budget consultations, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced revival of the Kandi Area Development Board and directed the Finance Department to immediately release Rs. 100 crore as one-time grant to ensure holistic development of this difficult region.
The grant would be utilized for upgradation of basic civic amenities such as potable water, road connectivity and electricity, he said during discussions with MLAs from Doaba region.
The Chief Minister also directed the Finance Department to release additional Rs . 10 crore for installation of deep tubewells in the Kandi area.
Capt Amarinder further ordered steps by the Power Department to ensure 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to the domestic and agriculture consumers in the Kandi region and asked the Power Minister to look into the issue.
The Chief Minister also announced that his government will make a provision for waiving off loans of landless labourers in the coming budget. He said the modalities for this waiver scheme were being finalized.
The Chief Minister informed the MLAs that the Finance Department had released Rs. 155 crore agsinst the various social security pensions for the month of December 2018, besides releasing another Rs. 42 crore for payment of SC Post Matric Scholarship scheme. The Chief Minister said that with the release of this amount there would be no pendency of SC Post Matric Scholarships with the state government.
He also informed the MLAs about the umbrella programme under Smart Village Campaign (SVC) and Urban Environment Improvement Programme (UEIP) to enable the MLAs to initiate development works in their constituencies at a cost of Rs. 1500 crore, of which Rs. 1000 crore would be spent on the upgradation of infrastructure in Rural and Rs. 500 in Urban areas. The Chief Minister also asked the MLAs to submit detailed lists of development works to be executed in their assembly constituencies to the concerned Deputy Commissioners at the earliest.
The Chief Minister further told the MLAs that seven lakh farmers would be provided debt relief worth Rs. 6000 crore by the end of this fiscal and the remaining 10.25 lakh farmers would be covered next year. He also said that the State government was working day in and day out on a debt relief scheme for rural landless workers.
Captain Amarinder Singh said his government had made rapid strides in the service of the people and was fully conscious of the fact that there was still a lot of work to be done.
He also lauded the enormous contribution of MLAs, who had worked tirelessly for the past 20 months.
Listing the achievements made so far by the State Government, the Chief Minister said that 4.1 lakh farmers had been provided debt relief to the tune of Rs. 3500 crore till date, with a target to cover all 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers by next year.
Under the Ghar Ghar Rozgar Karobar (GGRK) programme, the Chief Minister said that 4.53 lakh youth had been facilitated in getting employment (Private/Govt./Self-Employment) since March 2017, which translates into 720 youth every day. The District Bureaus of Employment and Enterprise (DBEE) had also been established in every district to facilitate the unemployed youth to get gainful employment. A total of 9892 Rural youth had been provided employment against the target to provide job to at least 10 youth of every village. Likewise, 6.7 lakh rural households had been provided employment with an expenditure of Rs. 1273 crore, which was 50% more than last year under MNREGS.
Giving details of Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana, the Chief Minister said that 8 lakh persons out of total 11.3 lakh identified had already been provided relief through Camps. Mega Sarbat Vikas Camps were being organized every month in the districts to ensure the deserving beneficiaries get the benefits of various pro-poor and welfare schemes.
To wipe out the menace of drug abuse from the state, the Chief Minister emphasized the need to further intensify efforts with the wholehearted cooperation and participation of the people. He said that the state Government, under its revamped strategy, had adopted a three-pronged enforcement, de-addiction and prevention strategy by setting up Special Task Force, besides launching people’s campaign against drugs through Drug Abuse Prevention Officers programme to create a mass anti-drug abuse movement with enrolment of 5 lakh plus DAPOs self volunteers. Similarly, a Buddy programme had been launched for schools and college students to educate and motivate children about the ill-effects of drugs, for which 5.5 lakh buddy groups had been formed.
The Chief Minister announced that 100 more Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Clinics would be established soon in the state, where 165 such clinics were already functional and 60000 addicts were being treated with an OPD footfall of more than 15 lakh.
Captain Amarinder Singh further stated that despite the financial crunch, the Government was now paying the enhanced monthly social security pensions regularly worth Rs. 1600 crore directly into the accounts of 19.2 lakh beneficiaries. Likewise, financial assistance under Ashirwad Scheme had also been increased to Rs. 21,000 from Rs. 15,000. Waiver of loans up to Rs. 50,000 granted by SC and BC Corporations had benefitted nearly 15,890 persons with an amount of Rs. 52 crore.
To widen the ambit of health insurance cover under Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojna, the Chief Minister said the State Government had extended the central scheme of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), to cover over 42 lakh families, instead of the proposed 14.96 lakh Socio Economic Castes Census (SECC) families. An Insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakh with no contribution from beneficiary at a cost of Rs. 371 crore to the State was also rolled out by the Government.
As many as 420 Health & Wellness Clinics would be established at the grassroots level by 31st March 2019 to provide basic healthcare facilities to the people. Under mission “Tandarust Punjab”, a statewide campaign to crackdown on sub-standard milk and adulterated food was launched through extensive raids and subsequently strict action was taken against such unscrupulous elements.
Similarly, to check air pollution caused due to stubble burning, the state Government had supplied 27000 machines to framers for Paddy Crop Residue Management at a subsidy of Rs. 245 crore.
To strengthen the rural infrastructure, the Chief Minister revealed that Rs. 3000 crore would be spent on repair of 31,000 kilometers of village roads while a sum of Rs.200 crore had been set aside for the upgradation of 1000 narrow culverts and bridges on Link roads. Likewise, an amount of Rs. 750 crore would be spent under a massive Mandi Development Programme for strengthening and upgradation of rural market infrastructure covering 151 Principal Yards, 284 Sub-Yards, 1395 Purchase Centers.
As part of the concerted efforts to strengthen the school education system in order to impart quality education to the students in the rural areas, Captain Amarinder said that 259 Smart Schools in all Education Blocks at a cost Rs 115 crore would be established. Apart from this, 15 new degree colleges would come up in 11 districts to impart higher education in different disciplines.
Member Parliament from Gurdaspur Sunil Jakhar urged the Chief Minister to revisit the agreement of Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences, Jalandhar, for bringing greater efficiency, besides ensuring the latest healthcare and diagnostic services to the people at affordable rates, as this was the premier health institution in Doaba region.
Member Parliament from Jalandhar Chaudhary Santokh Singh lauded the efforts of the Chief Minister on the farm loan waiver front and the loan waiver up to Rs 50,000 to SCs and BCs. He also appreciated the Chief Minister for clearing all dues of Post Matric Scholarship Scheme and urged him to mount pressure on the Centre to release its pending share of nearly Rs. 1700 crore on this count. He also raised the issue of bogus blue card holders and requested re-verification of the existing data so as to include genuine beneficiaries.
MLA Kapurthala Rana Gurjit Singh demanded Minimum Support Price for maize, which was a major crop in Doaba region, to ensure assured returns to the farmers on their produce. He also requested the Chief Minister to consider the reduction of domestic water supply charges in rural areas.
MLA Sham Chaurasi Pawan Kumar Adia requested the Chief Minister to accord status of Sub-Tehsil to Sham Chaurasi. MLA Chabbewal Dr. Raj Kumar demanded uninterrupted power supply for both agriculture and domestic consumers in Kandi area.
MLA Sultanpur Lodhi Navtej Singh Cheema requested introductio of special Volvo buses from Chandigarh and New Delhi to holy city of Sultanpur Lodhi in view of 550th Parkash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He also demanded additional medical and paramedic staff for the Government Hospital Sultanpur Lodhi.
MLA Jalandhar Central Rajinder Beri requested for more dedicated funds for improving the water supply situation besides upgradation of the sewerage system. He also suggested a proposal to entrust the issuance of birth and death certificates to hospitals and cremation grounds respectively. MLA Shahkot Laddi Sherowalia demanded constitution of a potato marketing board to provide a viable marketing mechanism to potato growers to safeguard their interest especially during the glut season.
Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora lauded the Chief Minister for taking path breaking initiatives to generate an investor friendly climate in the state. He requested steps to push for the already announced Cancer Hospital in Hoshiarpur, which the SAD-BJP regime had neglected.
Prominent amongst others who were present during the meeting were Cabinet Ministers Brahm Mohindra, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, OP Soni, Sunder Sham Arora, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Charanjit Singh Channi, Aruna Choudhary, Vijayinder Singla, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Balbir Singh Sidhu besides Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral.
Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, ACS Excise and Taxation MP Singh, ACS Health Satish Chandra, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tewari, Principal Secretary Social Justice and Empowerment Roshan Sunkaria, Principal Secretary Rural Development and Panchayats Anurag Verma.