In a bid to check canal water theft in the state, the Punjab cabinet on Monday approved to amend Section 70 of the Northern India Canal and Drainage Act, 1873, to make it far more stringent and punitive.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the council of ministers here under the chairmanship of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
A spokesperson for the CM's office stated that under amended provisions of the Act, the fine for canal water theft had been enhanced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 (minimum) up to Rs 50,000 or imprisonment up to six months or both.
The guilty would be deprived of the facility of canal water for two rounds for a first-time offence, for a season in case of a second-time offence and for two years for a third-time offence. The government would also issue an ordinance in this regard.
In another key decision, the cabinet approved a proposal for making recruitment to PCS (Punjab Civil Service) and allied services every year compulsory. The recruitment process would start in September and end in August the next year.
This decision is expected to ensure regular intake of PCS officers every year. Rules to this effect have already been amended, the spokesperson said.
The cabinet also approved the additional cost incurred on the construction of rural toilets through NGOs, over and above the cost fixed by the state government, from the funds raised through other sources.
About 12 lakh households in rural areas are bereft of personal toilets, as per a survey conducted by the water supply and sanitation department, Punjab, in 2009. The government aims to make the entire state free from open defecation in five years.
The cabinet also gave approval to fill 150 posts of junior engineer (JE) of the direct quota in the irrigation department through the administrative department by taking these out of the purview of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board in public interest so that irrigation and drainage works were carried out without further delay.
The cabinet also reviewed arrangements for wheat procurement during the rabi marketing season 2012-13 and expressed satisfaction over the ongoing operations across the state. The cabinet was informed that the state government had made elaborate arrangements to procure 115 lakh MT (metric tonnes) of wheat through its various procurement agencies.
In yet another decision, qualification provisions under the Punjab State Election Commission have been brought in conformity with provisions of this subject in the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, and Punjab Municipal Act, 1911.
The Cabinet also approved exemption to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC),
Durgiana Mandir (Amritsar) and Devi Talab Mandir, Jalandhar, from external development charges (EDC), change in land use (CLU) charges and licence fee for setting up schools, colleges, hospitals and other social institutions benefiting the public.
The cabinet also approved the draft of the Punjab Right To Service Rules, 2012, which would help in implementation of provisions of the Right To Service Act.
Homage to victims
The cabinet expressed condolences to the families of workers who lost their lives in the factory building collapse in Jalandhar. The cabinet also observed two-minute silence in memory of the deceased.
It appreciated the services rendered by the army, National Disaster Response Force and the civil and police of the district administration, Jalandhar, in carrying out timely relief operations, thus saving many lives.
The cabinet also lauded the role of several NGOs, social, religious and voluntary organisations in providing relief to the injured and families of the deceased.