CAPT AMARINDER TESTS COVID NEGATIVE, URGES ALL MINISTERS & SENIOR OFFICIALS TO GET TESTED

Chandigarh, July 15: A day after his cabinet colleague Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa tested positive for Covid, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged all ministers, as well as MLAs and department secretaries, to get themselves tested for the Coronavirus.

The Chief Minister also underwent the test and was found to be negative, an official spokesperson said. Two other ministers, Sukhjinder Randhawa and Aruna Chowdhary, had also got themselves tested today, while some had undergone the test yesterday. Two Congress MLAs also went in for testing today. Their results are awaited.

During the Cabinet meeting, Captain Amarinder said all the ministers and officials in various departments, especially who might have come in contact with the IAS/PCS officers who had been infected with the Coronavirus, should get themselves tested.

Bajwa was doing well, he informed the meeting, reiterating the need for extreme caution by all the ministers and others engaged in any kind of public dealing. Captain Amarinder has, in fact, been calling upon all the people of Punjab to go for testing at the first sign of symptom or suspicion of Covid infection. Early detection is the way to beat the disease and check fatalities, he has stressed.

======================================================

AMID COVID CURBS, PUNJAB CM APPEALS TO KISAN UNIONS TO PUT OFF ANTI FARM ORDINANCES PROTESTS

ALSO WRITES TO ALL REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTIES IN STATE TO AVOID GATHERINGS IN PEOPLE’S INTEREST

Chandigarh, July 15-Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday appealed to the various kisan unions in the state to postpone their planned protests against the anti-farmer Ordinances of the central government in view of the restrictions in place to check the spread of Covid.

Reacting to reports that several farmers’ unions had announced their decision to go ahead with the protests despite the imposition of curbs on gatherings, the Chief Minister urged them not to take a confrontationist approach in the matter in the current circumstances, given that Section 144 was in place and all gatherings were barred in the state.

Restraint was the need of the hour, he said, calling upon the unions to help the state government in checking the spread of the Covid pandemic in the interest of Punjab and its people.

Though the issue of the farm ordinances was vital to the state’s interests, any physical protests at the moment would harm Punjab, he pointed out, advising the unions to use the social media to express their anger and garner support against the Ordinances, which were also against the federal character of the nation.

Meanwhile, in a letter to all the registered political parties in the state, the Chief Minister today issued a personal appeal not to hold any political gatherings in view of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed to contain its spread.

These are tough times, with cases rising across India, Captain Amarinder pointed out, urging the parties to rise above political considerations in the prevailing situation and strengthen his government’s efforts to save the lives of the people and protect the future generations.

Politics and protests of any kind can wait, but Covid won’t, the Chief Minister stressed, adding that it was a collective battle which can be fought effectively with the collective efforts of one and all.

===============================

PUNJAB POLICE TO BECOME INDIA’S 1ST POLICE FORCE TO RECRUIT CIVILIAN DOMAIN EXPERTS FOR HIGH QUALITY CUTTING-EDGE INVESTIGATIONS

CAPT AMARINDER LED CABINET PAVES WAY FOR DIRECT RECRUITMENT IN PUNJAB BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION THROUGH RESTRUCTURING

Chandigarh, July 15: The Captain Amarinder Singh led Council of Ministers on Wednesday paved the way for Punjab Police to become India’s first police force to draw civilians as domain experts in IT/Digital, Legal Forensics and Finance to give a high quality cutting edge to its investigation functions.

As many as 798 such experts will be recruited directly as plainclothes Civilian Support Staff for the Punjab Investigation Bureau, which is all set to get a dose of fresh expert blood and a qualitative edge with the induction of a total of 4251 personnel, across different ranks and positions, as a result of the restructuring of the Punjab Police department.

The restructuring was approved by the Cabinet, led by the Chief Minister, at a VC meeting, according to an official spokesperson. The restructuring, which will enable the Bureau to make direct recruitments in the ranks of Sub-Inspectors/Head Constables and Constables, will be done in a revenue-neutral manner, by abolishing 4849 existing posts, thus ensuring that there is no additional financial burden on the state exchequer, an official spokesperson said.

As per provisional plans, direct recruitment of 1481 police officers will be undertaken across ranks (297 SIs, 811 Head Constables and 373 Constables), which would be a game changer as they will infuse fresh blood that will bring in the requisite skill-sets, expertise and experience to carry out specialised investigations, such a cyber investigations, financial investigations for economic crimes, etc. This will bring about a qualitative change in the investigation process, which is currently in the purview of the general cops in the Punjab Investigation Bureau, that was set up in 2015. It would help improve the quality of investigations in NDPS cases against drug smugglers and suppliers. Such recruitments of graduates in law, forensics and commerce & other domains would also give an opportunity to the educated youth of Punjab in getting jobs and making careers in the Punjab Police service.

These fresh recruitments would be done after taking out these posts from the purview of the Subordinate Service Selection Board through Police Recruitment Board. This will enable the Bureau to also fill 100% posts (159 posts) of Ministerial Staff as per existing Punjab Police Ministerial Staff Rules and 798 posts of Civilian Support Staff as per the new proposed service rules. The remaining 1947 posts of Subordinate Ranks (Inspector to Constables) out of the total 4521 posts sanctioned in Punjab Bureau of Investigation would initially be filled up by deputation from Punjab Police and, thereafter, by promotion from the ranks of Punjab Bureau of Investigation.

The Cabinet has also accordingly approved "The Punjab Police Investigation Cadre Subordinate Ranks (Appointment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2020" to govern the recruitment/appointment and the conditions of service of the Subordinate Ranks (Constables to Inspectors) of the Punjab Bureau of Investigation Cadre.

The restructuring would help improve efficiency, reduce delays and ensure effective supervision of investigations, thereby attaining the objectives as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh Case.

The Punjab Bureau of Investigation would basically deal with five types of serious criminal cases i.e. Homicide & Forensic (H&F) Unit, Crime against Women and Children (CAW & C) Unit, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Unit, Special Crime (SC) Unit and Economic Offences & Cyber Crime (EO&CC) Unit. These constitute around 14-15% of the state’s total crime.

====================================

PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS RESTRUCTURING OF WATER RESOURCES DEPT. FOR MORE EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT

  • ALSO GIVES NOD TO FILL 70 POSTS IN PWRDA ON CONTRACT/DEPUTATION BASIS

Chandigarh, July 15: To bring greater efficiencies into its functioning, the Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday approved the restructuring of Water Resources Department, while giving the nod to filling up 70 posts in the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) on contract/deputation basis.

The restructuring of the department will involve cutting down of sanctioned strength of 24,263 employees to 15,606. Incidentally, only 17,499 of the sanctioned posts are filled up at present.

The entire restructuring plan would result in saving Rs.71 crore per annum, said an official spokesperson.

Notably, Water Resources Department (formerly Irrigation Department) was set up way back in 1849. Over time, the scope and nature of work carried out by the Department has expanded from construction of Dams, Canals and Drains to cover Operation, Maintenance, Management and Improvement of its existing assets and focus on micro irrigation and conservation of water, especially ground water.

The cabinet also felt the need for introduction of technology oriented skills in the department in the present dynamic environment. Further, change in water resources management, including its regulation, has also necessitated restructuring and reorientation of the department. To efficiently utilize official machinery, the Department of Mines and Geology has already been merged with Water Resources Department as both these departments have largely the same geographical jurisdiction i.e. rivers and dams.

The restructuring would also help in achieving optimal utilisation of staff through placement as per ground level needs, besides making offices paperless, services online and digitalisation of old records and creating Management Information System (MIS) for efficient working and planning. Further, the proposed creation of Central Planning and Design Organisation (CPDO) for in-house design purposes and providing external consultancy to other departments and organisations and the State Dam Safety Organisation (SDSO), which is mandatory as per the guidelines of CWC for the rehabilitation of Dams are also the salient features of restructuring plan.

Apart from this, the restructuring would also ensure better handling of increased litigation & arbitration matters and professionalizing the documentation of such cases and protocols, as well as redistribution of works amongst the refurbished administrations in an optimal manner.

====================================

PUNJAB GOVT TO RECOVER RS. 223.75 CR FROM PVT SUGAR MILLS AGAINST 2015-16 SEASON PAYMENT TO CANE GROWERS

Chandigarh, July 15: The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for recovery of Rs. 223.75 crore paid to cane growers on behalf of Private Sugar Mills for the crushing year 2015-16.

This decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh through Video Conferencing.

During the crushing year 2014-15, sugar mills were facing cash flow problems, leading to delayed start and low sugar rate in the market, leading to delay in payment to cane growers. The state government had to step in with payment to the growers on behalf of the sugar mills.

The decision to recover that amount comes in the wake of the recommendations of the high powered committee constituted under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary on November 13, 2017, in compliance of the orders of the Punjab & Haryana High Court. The other members of the committee were Additional Chief Secretary (Development), Financial Commissioner (Excise & Taxation), Financial Commissioner (Cooperation) and Principal Secretary Finance.

The committee, after hearing the representatives of the private sugar mills, observed that Rs.50 per quintal was given as a temporary support, in a bid to alleviate the distress of the farmers. Since the basic principle behind the support was the low price of sugar in the market, once the average price had increased past Rs.3000 per quintal there was reason enough to recover the earlier amount from the mills, it said in its report submitted on April 11, 2018.

=====================================

PUNJAB GOVT TO EXPAND SOCIAL MEDIA OUTREACH AMID COVID, 15 SPECIALISED TEAMS TO BE SET UP ON OUTSOURCED MODEL

Chandigarh, July 15: Amid the growing global importance of the social media in battling the Covid crisis, the Punjab Government has decided to expand its social media outreach by setting up 15 expert social media teams on outsourced model.

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved an annual budget of Rs. 7 crore for these teams, which will be constituted by engaging professionals and experts in the field, an official spokesperson said.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh termed the move as vital for expanding the state’s reach and the strengthening the PR department’s efforts in disseminating information regarding various aspects related to the novel Coronavirus pandemic in an effective and result oriented manner.

The cabinet felt that since certain departments of the State Government have a high level of interaction with the public, it was essential that all important information relating to the pandemic, and the preventive measures being put in place to combat it, should be regularly highlighted on the social media.

The social media teams would help in bridging the gap between these departments and the public at large.

In order to cater the requirements of such departments, the Cabinet also gave nod to engage the services of 63 social media professionals/experts, including one Media Manager, two Assistant Media Managers, 15 Digital Media Executives, 15 Video Editors, 15 Graphic Designers and 15 Content Writers on outsourced basis for a period of one year. It was felt that to keep pace with the fast-paced changes in the field, recruitment of professionals for long periods of service was not feasible.

Besides creating awareness among the people about the precautions, norms etc relating to the pandemic, the teams would also help in countering the spread of misinformation by providing credible and updated information to them on a regular basis.

====================================

PUNJAB CABINET APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO VARIOUS RULES FOR MORE EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF SEVERAL DEPARTMENTS

Chandigarh, July 15: The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to various rules across departments for their more efficacious functioning.

The Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, approved Group ‘A’ Service Rules of Punjab Commissioners' Offices to include the officials drawing grade pay of Rs. 5000 and above in Group ‘A’ service. This decision has been taken as per the proposal mooted by the Personnel Department on the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission. With the framing of the Commissioners’ Offices (Group-A) Service Rules 2020, now the necessary conditions for services of these officials would be implemented.

The Cabinet also approved amendments proposed in rule 8, Appendix A and Appendix B of Punjab Home Guards and Civil Defence (Group A) Service Rules, 1988, whereby Commandant, General Home Guard and Director Civil Defence has been re-designated as Additional Commandant General, Punjab Home Guard and Additional Director, Civil Defence. This decision would enable the departmental officers to rise up to the level of Additional Commandant General in the existing pay scale of Commandant General and the powers of Commandant General shall be exercised by DGP Home Guards and Director Civil Defence.

The Council of Ministers further cleared the amendment of Rule 14 (2) of the Punjab Superior Judicial Services Rules, 2007. According to the amendment, the candidates recruited through direct recruitment from the Bar Council in the Superior Judicial Services of the State would be given the benefits of additional increments while fixing their basic salary on the basis of their practical experience as advocates at the Bar Council.

In a bid to afford more employment opportunities to sportspersons, the Cabinet decided to amend the Rule 2 (d) (a) of "The Punjab Recruitment of Sportsmen Rules, 1988", to update the definition of sportsman. With this decision, Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists in National Games/Senior National Championships/recognised International Tournaments would be eligible for recruitment for Class I and II posts.

Meanwhile, in another decision, the Cabinet approved the extension of services of Chief Engineer, Civil Aviation Kanwardeep Singh for a period of three years from June 10, 2020 to June 9, 2023, since his present contract has expired on June 9, 2020. The extension has been granted to Kanwardeep Singh in view of the continued requirement of safely handling VVIP flying operations and supervision of the maintenance of the Government of Punjab Bell 429 Helicopter.

================================

NEW FACILITIES AT ROPAR WETLAND TO ATTRACT MORE ECO TOURISTS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE: CHANNI

Punjab Government develops new interpretation centre, watch towers, boardwalk and Nature trail at Ropar Wetland for tourists

Chandigarh, July 15: Only a couple of months away, when our winged guests from Siberia and other countries will arrive in Ropar Wetland, the tourists visiting the wetland will have a different experience. In a press statement issued here today the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Mr. Charanjit Singh Channi said that the new facilities have been developed by the Punjab Government to attract more national and international tourists and bird watchers.

The tourism minister said that the department of tourism has completed the infrastructure development works in this wetland at the cost of Rs. 9.76 crores which include construction of interpretation centre, where information about our winged guests and other literature for promotion of eco-tourism in the state would be kept for the information of the visitors in general and students in particular.

Besides this, the bird watch towers constructed in the wetland will give an exciting experience to the tourist for watching birds. At this place, a boardwalk has also been constructed, where the tourists will be able to have a close look of the birds in the wetland. The forest enthusiasts and morning walkers shall also be able to enjoy walking on the nature trail in the Sadabrat Protected Forest in Ropar Forest Division, which is a part of the wetland. Ropar Wetland was designated as Ramsar site of international importance in the year 2002. Earlier under the same project, the road to Gurudwara Mata Gujri has already been widened.

The Minister further said that due to its proximity to Chandigarh, where we have an international airport, and due to its strategic location on the way to Sri Anandpur Sahib, Kullu and Manali, this place has a very good potential for development as an international tourist destination.

===================================

OVER 1 LAKH APPLY FOR WATER CONNECTION UNDER VDS: RAZIA SULTANA

  • 52913 APPLICATIONS FOR APPROVAL OF UNAPPROVED CONNECTIONS & 55717 APPLICATIONS FOR NEW WATER CONNECTIONS RECEIVED
  • VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE SCHEME EXTENDED UPTO JULY 31, 2020

CHANDIGARH, JULY 15:Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) notified by Water Supply and Sanitation Department has received unprecedented response from the consumers. Since the launch of this scheme over 1 lac applications have already been received, which includes 52913 applications for approval of unapproved connections and 55717 applications for new water connections. It was disclosed by Mrs. Razia Sultana, Water Supply and Sanitation Minister in a press communiqué released here today.

Highlighting the efforts of the Department to make this VDS scheme a grand success, Mrs. Razia Sultana said that the field staff Department of Water Supply and Sanitation at all levels worked 24X7 tirelessly in obtaining the forms physically from the consumers and getting the forms completed, which were received through website/ mobile app and requests received through toll free number.

The Minister said that the scheme was launched from June 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. She said that large number of applications are still pouring in on daily basis so keeping in view the strong demand from various quarters and to extend maximum benefit of the scheme to the consumers, the Punjab Government has decided to extend this scheme upto July 31, 2020.

Mrs. Razia Sultana further said that under this scheme Water Supply & Sanitation Department offers an opportunity to consumers in rural areas of Punjab, for Voluntary Disclosure and free of cost regularisation of their unapproved connection. As per the policy no Charges are taken from consumers for the previous usage of water if any. In addition new connections can also be applied for approval free of cost.

The Water Supply and Sanitation Minister attributed the success of this campaign to the strong publicity campaign launched by the department and various options given to consumers to apply for the scheme, which includes calling on Toll Free No. 1800-103-6999, online requests can be submitted through Department website www.pbdwss.gov.in, scanning QR code printed in advertisement of VDS and application form can also be obtained and submitted physically to the nearest Water Works, Section office or Sub-division office of DWSS.

Mrs. Razia Sultana re-iterated that Department is committed to provide drinking water of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis to every rural household of Punjab i.e. HAR GHAR PAANI by March, 2022.

================================

Delegation of PRIA today called upon Food and Civil Supplies Minister

• Ashu assures sympathetically consider the demands of Rice Millers

Chandigarh, July 15-To mitigate the woes of industrialists, Punjab Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu today met delegation of newly formed Punjab Rice Industry Association (PRIA) at his office in Anaj Bhawan, Sector-39 here.

The delegation led by President Mr. Bharat Bhushan Binta, apprised the cabinet minister about their demands during the meeting. They demanded immediately changes in new Punjab Customs Policy for Paddy 2020-21 and the levy security (refundable and non-refundable) will be returned to Millers. They also raised the issue of entire milling bill related to CMR, green zone classification, Bank Guarantee, usage charges on gunny bags, freight issue on paddy and many more.

On the occasion, the Cabinet Minister Mr. Ashu assured the Rice Millers to consider their legitimate demands sympathetically as per rules.