Cabinet - 1*

REALISING CAPT AMARINDER’S VISION, PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS ESTABLISHMENT OF PUNJAB STATE VIGILANCE COMMISSION

· ALSO EMPOWERS CM TO MAKE CHANGES IN DRAFT ORDINANCE TO ENSURE FOOL-PROOF MECHANISM TO CHECK CORRUPTION IN PUBLIC SERVICE

CHANDIGARH, September 23: To bring in more transparency and check corruption among public servants, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved the establishment of a multi-member Vigilance Commission, in line with the vision of Captain Amarinder Singh, who had steered the constitution of a similar Commission back in 2006, which was however scrapped by the Akalis when they came to power in 2007.

The Punjab State Vigilance Commission Ordinance, 2020, proposes to set up Commission as an independent body to exercise more effective superintendence over the functioning of Vigilance Bureau and all departments of the State Government, in order to provide clean, fair and transparent administration. It will comprise a Chairman with two members, with a term of 5 years, an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting. The Punjab State Vigilance Commission (Ordinance) Bill, 2020, which provides for the constitution of the Commission, will effectively exercise superintendence and control over the functioning of Vigilance Bureau and other Departments of the State Government.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who has been empowered to make any changes in the Ordinance once drafted by the Law Remembrance, in order to ensure the creation of a fool-proof mechanism to look into all issues in detail and deliver justice in all fairness.

The Punjab State Vigilance Commission shall review the progress of investigations conducted by the Vigilance Bureau and cases of prosecution sanction pending with various departments of the Government. The Vigilance Commission shall tender advice to the various departments of the Government, and other investigations on Vigilance matters. It has been empowered to give directions to the Vigilance Bureau for discharging the responsibility entrusted to it. It has also been empowered to inquire or cause an inquiry/investigation to be made in respect of allegations made under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other relevant offences against public servants.

Giving details after the Virtual Cabinet meet, the spokesperson said the Commission will consist of the State Chief Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson, to be appointed from amongst those persons who have been or are serving as Judge of a High Court or an officer in the rank and pay scale of Secretary to Government of India.

Two Vigilance Commissioners will be appointed as members from amongst persons who have been or are in an All India Service of in any Civil Service of the Union of State or in a civil post under the Union or State having expertise and experience in matters relating to vigilance, policy making, administration (including police administration), finance (including insurance and banking law) in the rank and pay scale of the Additional Secretary to the Government of India or the Financial Commissioner of the State. Both the Vigilance Commissioners shall not belong to the same service or have exactly similar experience.

These appointments shall be made on the recommendations of a Committee chaired by the Chief Minister with Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, and the senior-most Minister of the Council of Ministers (after the CM) as its members.

Pertinently, there is a Central Vigilance Commission established under the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 to enquire or cause to enquire into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, by certain categories of public servants of the Central Government, Corporations established by or under any Central Act etc. and to exercise superintendence over the functioning of Central Bureau of Investigation. However, there is at present no such body under the State Government.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet today also approved the Annual Administrative Report of Vigilance Bureau for the year 2017.

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*Cabinet - 2*

PUNJAB CABINET APPROVES RULES FOR CONDUCT OF BUSINESS OF PUNJAB STATE POLICE COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY

CHANDIGARH, September 23:The Punjab Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Sing, on Wednesday approved the rules for governing the conduct of business of the Punjab State Police Complaints Authority, 2020, set up earlier this year to probe allegations of serious misconduct against police officers of the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police/Deputy Commissioner of Police & above.

It may be noted that Section 54-F of the amended Punjab Police Act, 2007 stipulates that the State Police Complaints Authority shall make rules for the conduct of its business and that of the Divisional Police Complaints Authorities, with the approval of the State Government.

Notably, the Punjab Police Act, 2007 was notified on February 5, 2008 in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court of India, as contained in its judgment of September 22, 2006 in the case Parkash Singh and Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors.

The proviso of section 54 of the original (un-amended) Punjab Police Act, 2007 envisages that the State Government may, by notification, constitute Police Complaints Authorities at the State level as well as the District level. The State Government, vide a notification dated August 29, 2014, had, however, further amended Section 54 of the Punjab Police Act, 2007 and added the provisions for constitution of Police Complaints Authorities at State and Divisional level, along with terms of office of the Chairperson and the Members and their functions.

In January 23, 2020, the Captain Amarinder government had, under the amended Section, constituted the State Police Complaints Authority, with Dr. N.S. Kalsi (Retd.) as Chairperson.

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PUNJAB CABINET GIVES NOD TO RENAMING KAPURTHALA & HOSHIARPUR GMCs AFTER GURU NANAK DEV & SHAHEED UDHAM SINGH

Chandigarh, September 23: The Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday gave approval to rename the Government Medical College, Kapurthala, as Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji State Institute of Medical Sciences and the Government Medical College, Hoshiarpur, as Shaheed Udham Singh State Institute of Medical Sciences Hoshiarpur.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that cabinet also accorded approval for registration of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji State Institute of Medical Sciences Society, Kapurthala, and Shaheed Udham Singh State Institute of Medical Sciences Society, Hoshiarpur, to run these institutions efficaciously, as per the final Memorandum of Association and the Rules and Regulation of Society.

The Medical Education and Research Department was of the view that these upcoming Medical Sciences Institutes should be set up under Societies for better management as the existing GMCs at Patiala and Amritsar had been facing many operational challenges due to the fiscal stress faced by the state government.

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PUNJAB CABINET GIVES NOD TO FILL 8393 POSTS OF PRE-PRIMARY TEACHERS; VOLUNTEERS TO GET RELAXATION IN RECRUITMENT

Chandigarh, September 23: The Punjab Cabinet has approved filling up of 8393 posts of Pre-Primary Teachers in a move which Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said would make the pre-primary government schools more competitive with private institutions and increase enrolment.

Relaxation in age and special credit would be given to existing experienced volunteers working in the Education Department at the time of recruitment of the pre-primary teachers, it was further decided by the Cabinet, which also gave the go ahead to the departmental service rules for Pre-Primary School Teachers.

Though the total requirement of pre-primary teachers stands at 12000, the fiscal situation prevented the Finance Department from approving full recruitment, said the Chief Minister, chairing the virtual Cabinet meet on Wednesday. All efforts would be made to complete the remaining recruitment at the earliest, said Captain Amarinder, stressing on the importance of strengthening the pre-primary teaching systems in government schools.

According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, 8393 posts of Pre-Primary school teachers would be filled up, calculated with a norm of one teacher for every 30 students as actual enrolment of students at present. The School Education Department would ensure the completion of rationalization before advertising the posts of these teachers.

The Cabinet also accorded approval to the proposal of the department to relax the upper age limit up for volunteers, such as Sikhiya Providers/Education Providers/Education Volunteers, EGS Volunteers, AIE Volunteers and Special Training Resource (STR) Volunteers, working under various educational schemes/programmes on fixed remuneration and having gained extensive experience, at the time of recruitment of regular ETT teachers or Pre-Primary Teachers as and when advertised by the Department. Further, special credit may be given in the selection process to such volunteers @ 1 mark per year with maximum of 10 marks.

The annual financial implications involved in the first three years, till these 8393 teachers are under probation would be Rs.103.73 crores, whereas the annual financial implications would be Rs.374.20 crore after they complete the probation.

Notably, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE), every child in the age group of 6-14 years has a right of free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education. Though education for Pre-Primary school children in the age group of 3-6 years is not mandatory under the RTE Act, however, the same has been included in the Article 45 of the Constitution (Directive Principles), providing for early child care and education for all children until they complete the age of 6 years.

Enrolment of children in Government Schools has been decreasing year by year, except the last two years i.e. 2019-20 and 2020-21. One of the reasons for decreasing enrolment in Government Schools was that the parents tend to send their wards at an early age i.e. less than six years to schools, whereas as per RTE Act and as per Government Policy earlier, children below the age of 6 years were not admitted in Government Schools.

Realizing that there was need for integrated early childhood care and education, the Cabinet, in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on September 20, 2017, had approved Pre-Primary classes to provide education to the children in the age group of 3 to 6 years in all Government Primary Schools, and the same was operationalised since November 14, 2017 in all the Primary Schools of the state.

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DECKS CLEARED FOR STRATEGIC DISINVESTMENT OF PACL WITH CABINET GO-AHEAD

Chandigarh, September 23: Decks were cleared on Wednesday for disinvestment of Punjab Alkalies & Chemicals Limited (PACL), with Captain Amarinder Singh led Cabinet stamping its approval for the same.

Accepting the report of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of PACL, as well as the recommendations of the Empowered Group of Ministers set up on September 17, the Cabinet has given the go-ahead for disinvestment of 33.49% equity shareholding of PACL, held by Punjab Government through Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), according to an official spokesperson.

The EGM, after considering the detailed report of fresh Core Group of Officers on Disinvestment during its meeting on September 22, 2020, unanimously decided that Punjab government/PSIDC should go ahead with the disinvestment of shares of PACL in the manner as recommended by the Core Group.

The Cabinet also decided to authorize the Chief Minister to approve minor amendments without placing it again before it. It mandated the Industries Department to carry out further paper work and required processes in this regard.

Finance Minister Manpreet Badal informed the meeting that the state will get Rs 42 crore from the same of its share, held through PSIDC whose sovereign debt currently stands at Rs 900 crore.

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Punjab Government Caps COVID-19 Tests Rates for Private labs

  • Laboratories are instructed to display rates in visible manner
  • Information of the patient to be maintained with utmost confidentiality

Chandigarh, September 23:-To encourage people for corona testing and to check profiteering by private laboratory, the Punjab Government has capped COVID-19 tests rates for private labs. The laboratories are also instructed to display rates in visible manner.

Giving details in press communique, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that the State Government, in exercise of the powers bestowed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (COVID-19 Regulations 2020) directed that no private laboratory should charge any amount more than Rs. 1600 for RT-PCR test for COVID-19, inclusive of GST/Taxes, documentation and reporting. He said that for TrueNat Test for COVID-19, no private laboratory should charge any amount more than Rs. 2000 and Rs. 2400 fixed for Cbnaat test inclusive of GST/Taxes, documentation and reporting in the State of Punjab.

Mr. Sidhu clarified that any additional cost for home collection of samples is to be fixed by individual laboratory. But the lab shall adhere to the guidelines issued by Punjab Government. He said that all the testing protocols as laid down by ICMR and the Government of India and the State Government from time to time shall strictly be followed by the Private Laboratories. The Private Laboratories shall share the data pertaining to the results of tests for COVID-19 with State Government and uploaded on ICMR portal on timely basis.

"At the time of sampling, the identification, address and verified mobile number of the person, who is being tested, must be noted for record, as per sample referral form (SRF)", he added.

He further said that the data should be uploaded on the RT-PCR app at the time of taking the sample. The test report should be communicated to the patient immediately after the testing is complete and all test results should be immediately communicated to the Civil Surgeon of the concerned district through e-mail with a copy to State IDSP cell of Punjab.

All the private NABL and ICMR approved laboratories are instructed that, information of the patient should be maintained with utmost confidentiality. All the private COVID-19 testing laboratories must preserve the RT-PCR machine-generated data and graphs for future verification by the State Government.

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International Travelers to be tested by Rapid Antigen Test on arrival for Home isolation: Balbir Sidhu

Chandigarh, September 23:International traveler who do not submit a negative RT-PCR test report on arrival at Airport in India shall be tested by Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) Kits. If Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) comes negative for COVID-19 she/he may opt for Home qurantine.

Disclosing this here today, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that after tested by RAT, they will get tested for COVID-19 on 5th day of arrival by RT-PCR as per protocol at their respective districts. When reports come and if they test negative, home quarantine ends. They will self monitor their health for next 7 days and report if any symptoms develop. If RT-PCR for COVID -19 is found to be positive, they shall be assessed clinically and follow the Punjab COVID-19 management protocol. He said that these revised guidelines have been issued to all the Deputy Commissioners and Civil Surgeons of Punjab.

Mr. Sidhu further said that if RAT comes positive for COVID-19, he/she may opt for Home isolation/Government Isolation Facility or Private Facility on payment basis and will be treated as per COVID-19 management protocol. He said that person opting for home isolation will submit a consent form stating that he/she has a facility for home isolation at his/her residence, is asymptomatic/mild-symptomatic and not have any morbidity or the comorbid condition is under control. The person will strictly follow the home isolation protocol.

The Minister said that as per guidelines, all international travelers arriving in Punjab through Air/Road travel will submit self-declaration with personal and health details at www.newdelhiairport.in and hand over a copy of the same to State officers. He said that travelers would also be screened as per the health protocol at the port of entry. All foreign travelers entering the state shall fill in undertaking and submit to District Health/Administration Authorities.

Travelers who will submit a negative RT-PCR test report (conducted within 96 hrs prior to undertaking the journey) before arrival on the portal and produce a copy of same on arrival will be allowed home quarantine adding that he said they will also be asked to submit a written undertaking to health officials/district administration for self-monitoring of their health status and would download COVA app and keep it active. In case, any symptoms develop they shall inform the district surveillance officer or district administration. Travelers who do not submit a negative RT-PCR test report on arrival shall be tested by Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) Kits.

The Minister clarified that travelers will follow all precautionary measures issued by Govt. of Punjab for prevention of COVID -19 spread such as hand hygiene, wearing mask, and maintain social distancing etc.

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EXCISE DEPT. TO GET IMPORT PERMITS OF DISTILLERIES AND BOTTLING PLANTS VERIFIED FROM ISSUING AUTHORITIES OF DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

Chandigarh, September 23: Tightening the noose on Distilleries and Bottling plants indulging into nefarious activities such as smuggling of liquor, the state Excise department has initiated a vigorous exercise to get import permits of all such plants verified from the issuing authorities of different countries.

Disclosing this here today, the State Excise Commissioner Rajat Aggarwal said that the Excise department had recently got the import permit of a prominent bottling plant M/s Lloyd Bottling and Blending, Hoshiarpur verified from the office of Deputy Collector, Regional Revenue and Customs Office, Golephu Bhutan and had found the same fake. An FIR was also got registered by the department against the unit and the owner was also nominated by name in the report.

Pointing out further, Aggarwal said that now the Excise department has decided to get all the import permits issued by authorities of various countries (and submitted by different Distilleries) verified for authenticity. All such permits from January 1, 2020 are under the verification process of the department. Any distillery or bottling plant found to be using fake permits would be dealt with sternly and strict action will be taken against it.

The Enforcement Wing of Excise department in tandem with Police department is proactively engaged in conducting raids to check the illegal sale of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) and Liquor. Nearly 10 distillery units exporting ENA and Liquor, are already under the scanner of the department, added the Excise Commissioner.