Newly set-up Punjab CSR Authority to look at attracting funds, and streamlining various corporate social responsibility activities, in the State

CHANDIGARH, JUNE 4: The Punjab Govt. today announced the appointment of media veteran, Dr. Sandeep Goyal as the first CEO of the recently constituted Punjab CSR Authority, which has been tasked with the responsibility of attracting CSR funds from industry both within Punjab, and from outside the state, and streamlining the CSR activities to coalesce into a set of common goals. The CEO will report to the Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Punjab.

The state of Punjab ranks quite low on India Inc’s priority list for CSR. The state has received just Rs. 234.27 crore – a meager 0.55% of the total Rs. 42,467.23 crore of CSR spending by industry across all the different states and union territories of India – between the financial years 2015-16 and 2017-18, according to the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs data, based on the filings made by the companies up to June 30, 2019. Though the annual CSR expenditure by companies in Punjab has gone up slightly, from Rs. 69.93 crore in 2015-16 to Rs. 88.51 crore in 2017-18, it is still far below the fund support that all other major states, including neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan, continue to receive from industry.

During the same three-year period under reference, companies have spent Rs. 1,554.70 crore and Rs. 1,027.24 crore on CSR activities in education, health and other sectors in Delhi and Haryana, respectively. Similarly, northern states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have also cornered a far bigger share of CSR funds from industry, compared to the state of Punjab.

According to the Companies Act, 2013, companies with a net worth of at least Rs. 500 crore, turnover of more than Rs. 1,000 crore, or a net profit of Rs. 5 crore or more are required to spend 2% of their average profits during the three immediately preceding financial years on CSR activities. The law empowers the Board of every company to decide the activities to be undertaken and the area for implementation of the CSR projects.

Welcoming the new incumbent, Mrs. Vini Mahajan, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Govt. of Punjab, said, “We are delighted to have Dr. Sandeep Goyal as the first CEO of Punjab’s CSR Authority. Dr. Goyal has spent more than three decades in the corporate world, both as a professional and as an entrepreneur. He has just the right credentials to lead the newly constituted Authority, given his easy access, past relationships and professional outreach to India’s top corporates”.

Dr. Sandeep Goyal is a local St. John’s school alumnus. He did his BA (Honours) in English Literature from DAV College, Chandigarh, graduating with a gold medal from the Panjab University. He went on to do his MBA, and then many years later his PhD, from FMS-Delhi. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School. Dr. Goyal was President of iconic ad agency, Rediffusion in the late 1990s. He was then Group CEO of Zee Telefilms, before turning entrepreneur in 2003 when he formed a joint-venture with Dentsu Inc., the world’s largest advertising agency.

Dr. Goyal is currently Chairman of the India Advisory Board of Snap Inc. He is also the Chief Mentor of the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), a think-tank that specializes in celebrity studies.

“I am delighted to be selected by the Punjab Government to lead the CSR Authority. It is not an easy assignment. CSR funds are going to be under severe pressure because corporate profits are likely to be seriously impacted by the current pandemic and the lockdowns. Nevertheless, once the pall of gloom lifts somewhat, we will look to build durable and long-term partnerships with industry to support projects that benefit the state, and its subjects, across a broad spectrum of initiatives”, says Dr. Goyal.

The main reason for the low CSR spending in Punjab is possibly because the big companies located in Punjab are actually spending more money from their CSR funds outside the state, making the state a ‘net donor’.

Of the CSR spending of Rs. 2,232.16 crore made between 2014-15 and 2017-18 by companies registered in Punjab, Rs. 161.64 crore, or only 7.24%, was spent on CSR in the state. The balance CSR funds of Rs. 2,070.52 crore went to CSR projects in other states, whereas all that Punjab got from companies registered in other states during the four-year period was a miniscule Rs. 126.13 crore.



CHANDIGARH, JUNE 4:Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K.P. Singh today extended warm greetings to the people of Punjab on the eve of sacred ‘Kabir Jayanti’ and called upon them to follow the teachings of great saint of ‘Bhakti Movement’ who preached the message of oneness of God, love, peace and universal brotherhood.

In a message, Rana K.P. Singh described the ideology of Bhagat Kabir ji as a beckon to redeem the destiny of the mankind from the pangs of agony in this materialistic world. Kabir Ji's ‘Bani’ included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji would ever inspire the people to lead a happy life of purity, righteousness and contentment by following a path of divinity and morality thereby rising above the parochial barriers of caste, creed and religion.


Punjab decides to conduct free testing of Samples for COVID-19 sent by empanelled private hospitals/clinics and Labs: Balbir Singh Sidhu

• Private hospitals & clinics availing this facility not to charge more than Rs.1000 from patients

Chandigarh, June 4:Keeping in view to strengthen the screening of the population for timely detection of COVID-19 patients to contain the spread of pandemic, the Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government has decided to conduct free of cost RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 samples sent by empanelled private hospitals/clinics and private Labs. It was disclosed by the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu in a press communiqué.

The Minister said that instructions have been issued to the Civil Surgeons to empanel those private hospitals/clinics and Labs who are willing to get empanelled voluntarily for offering free of cost testing of samples. He said that it has been made mandatory that the private hospital/clinics and Labs should have a separate isolated area for the suspected patients of COVID-l9 where sample will be taken and the person taking samples will ensure complete Personal Protective Gear. The private hospital shall arrange the required logistics and collect samples, pack them and send to the nearest Government Health facility as per protocol. They ensure to fill in the details as per ICMR Protocol in RT-PCR App.

He further said that the user name and passwords for the same shall be provided by respective Civil Surgeons for collection centers to empanelled private hospitals/clinics. The private hospitals/clinics shall send the line list generated by RT-PCR App with sample ID along with the samples. The samples sent by empanelled private hospitals/clinics shall be tested free of cost at Government Labs.

Mr. Sidhu pointed out that the private hospitals and clinics availing this facility shall not charge more than Rs.1000 from patients for sample collection. He said that private hospitals/clinics shall select the patients for testing as per ICMR criteria under which symptomatic international or domestic travelers, symptomatic contacts of lab confirmed COVID-19 patient, symptomatic persons coming from containment zones/hot-spots, asymptomatic high risk contacts of COVID-19 patient, asymptomatic/symptomatic front line workers and symptomatic returnees or migrants. “All private hospitals/clinics and Labs empanelled as collection centers shall be linked to a RT-PCR testing Lab as per ICMR Protocol”, he added.


Over 1 lac tests of Corona virus conducted so far: Balbir Singh Sidhu

Chandigarh, June 4:Over 1 lac tests have been conducted of Corona virus in the Punjab so far and to further enhance the capacity of testing, it is also necessary to increase the capability of samples collection in each district. To accomplish this target, the State Government has decided that besides Medical Officers, special training to be imparted to Community Health Officers, Staff Nurses and Pharmacists for collection and packing of Nasophraygeal/ Oropharyngeal swabs for RT-PCR COVID-19 testing.

Disclosing this here today, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that today, Punjab has completed testing of over 1, 00,000 samples for COVID-19. Since detecting its first confirmed COVID-19 positive case on 5th March, 2020, the state has worked tirelessly towards containing the spread of infection through ramping up its sample collection and lab capabilities.

The Minister said that the state has increased its testing per million figures to 3259 per day as on 3rd June, 2020. This is better than the national average of 3046 tests per million per day. Punjab had tested 10,000 samples by 25thApril and has rapidly conducted one lac tests as on 4th June 2020. This shows the strides the state has been making in ramping up its testing capacity. At present, the State has ample testing capacity and is conducting around 4500 tests per day now. The state government has been making concerted efforts to ramp up the testing capacities of labs in the state. Three new RT-PCR machines have been procured by the state for its Government Medical College labs.

Mr. Sidhu further said that in order to upscale testing, Department of Health has been making dedicated efforts and the health teams have been working tirelessly to enhance sampling amongst the designated categories as per the testing strategy. Over a period of time, Department has increased number of Flu Corners to around 220 where sample collection is being done. Sample Collection kiosks have been placed at 124 locations all across the state to ease out sampling process. The number of teams has been increased for sample collection and adequate number of Medical Officers/Lab Technicians/MO (Dental) has been trained for the purpose in the districts. All required protective gear, such as, PPE Kits/N95 masks have been provided to all healthcare works to ensure their complete safety.

He said that Department of Health has started TruNaat Testing in 5 districts of Punjab at Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Barnala and Mansa. The department has started CBNaat testing at Faridkot and Patiala. For the purpose of surveillance, around 995 Rapid Response Teams have been formed in the State in order to conduct active surveillance and identification of people with Influenza like Illness or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness by house to house visits. “State has conducted ELISA based antibody tests for Sero-Surveillance in 4 high-burden districts of Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Patiala”, he added.

The Minister said that in order to further increase surveillance, the Department is starting with extensive and intensive House to House Surveillance in the entire State on a mobile based Application for all people above the age of 30 years and people with co-morbidities or symptomatic even below 30 years of age. The State has further made use of innovative testing techniques such as use of mobile Sample collecting Kiosks, Pool testing etc.


Punjab Government extends registration date for admission to meritorious schools

Education Board has also changed the eligibility criteria for applicants

Chandigarh, 4 JuneThe Punjab Government has extended the registration date for Meritorious Schools for Session-2020-21 in Class XI. This decision has been taken in compliance with the instructions given from time to time by the Government of India and the Government of Punjab regarding security from COVID-19.

A spokesperson of the Punjab School Education Department said that the on line registration will be re-start for the admission in Class XI in Meritorious Schools located at Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mohali, Patiala, Sangrur and Talwara (Hoshiarpur) from June 5, at 9 am and will be closed on June 15, 2020 at 5pm. The aplications can be submitted for the admission for class 9th in Meritorious School (Talwara) from June 5, at 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on June 15, 2020.

According to the spokesperson, the Punjab School Education Board has also made some changes in the eligibility criteria for registration for the Class XI entrance examination. Before these changes, 70 per cent marks were required in class X for the general category and 65 per cent marks for the reserve category. Now, Students of gengeral category who have obtained Grade B + and above in class X from Punjab School Education Board are eligible to apply and the condition for reserve category is Grade B.

Similarly, CBSE Tenth pass students of general category with grade B1 and above and reserve category students with grade B2 and above will be eligible to apply for admission. Similarly, the condition of marks obtained from class VIII for registration of entrance examination in class IX would be the same as the above.

The department has also clarified that those students, who have already applied for admission and now meet all the existing requirements for admission, need not to re-apply.


Medical College Fees Reasonably Increased: Soni

Chandigarh, June 4:The Punjab Government has reasonably increased the fees of medical colleges in the state. It was said by the Punjab Minister for Medical Education and Research Mr. Om Prakash Soni in a press note released here today.

Mr. Soni said that the Punjab government had earlier revised the fees of medical colleges in 2010 and 2015 which was much higher than the current increase. He said that the opposition parties are making statements on the fee hike only for political gain.

He said that the previous SAD-BJP government during its tenure had increased the fees by 98% in 2010 and 225% in 2015 whereas the present government has increased it by only 77%.

He said that the increase in fees was much needed and in this regard the Punjab government had asked the Advisory Committee on Medical Education headed by Dr. K.K Talwar to examine the matter and after thorough scrutiny,the Department had recommended the Punjab Government to increase the fees. Apart from this, it also came to the notice of the Government that due to the inflation the burden on the Government Colleges had increased many fold. He said that the state government spends at least Rs. 13-14 lakh per annum on the education of a single doctor. He said that the fee for the entire course of MBBS in private health institution was many times higher than that of government medical colleges and the government had taken several steps to bring uniformity in the fees of these private health institution.

Mr. Soni said that the students in the Government Medical College would now complete four and a half year MBBS course at a total cost of Rs. 7.80 lakh as the annual fee of MBBS has been increased only to Rs. 1.50 lakh in first year. He further said that before this private health institution used to charge the fee for the entire course of MBBS of five years which was rectified by our government and these medical college was restricted to charge a fee of four and a half years only.

The Medical Education Minister said that the state government has taken steps to ensure that poor students get quality education. He said that SC scholarship scheme is being run by the government, which will enable poor students to realize their dream of becoming doctors in future.

He said that presently there were three government medical colleges in the state and new medical College at Mohali will be started from next year, apart from this in next two years two new medical College will be started at Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala.

He said that increased fees would be charged from the new session and the increase in fees would not have any effect on the students who were already pursuing medical education.