The Punjabi Writers Co-operative Society Ltd, Ludhiana/Amritsar has demanded that the 'Shabad Parkash Punjab Public Library and Information Services Bill ' be passed by the state Vidhan Sabha as it will go a long way in inculcating the habit of reading among youngsters.
In a letter to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, society press secretary Charanjit Singh Gumtala, pointed out that in October 2011, the then education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan issued a statement that an ordinance will be passed by the state government to put the bill into effect before the enforcement of the election code (ahead of 2012 assembly polls), but nothing was done. Even after the SAD-BJP government started another tenure in 2012, nothing has been heard of the bill till date, he added.
"This shows that the Punjab government is not serious to open libraries in every village, as is the case in some states. Tamil Nadu passed such a legislation in 1948. Even Haryana passed a similar act in 1989, but Punjab has not even introduced the bill in the state assembly", lamented Gumtala in the letter which was released to the media here on Monday.
Gumtala pointed out that in 2011, Sekhwan had stated that in an effort to revive people's reading habits, the Punjab government plans to set up 12,603 public libraries in almost all villages of the state. These libraries were to be established in a phased manner.
Gumtala reminded the CM that a committee, headed by Sekhwan, had approved the 'Shabad Parkash Punjab Public Library and Information Services Bill, 2011'.
"Under this bill, the government had planned to set up a state central library, 22 district libraries, 141 block-level libraries, 157 town libraries and 12,282 village libraries. The entire project was to take 10 years to complete", he added in the letter to the CM.
Gumtala, who also heads NGO Amritsar Vikas Manch, lamented that till date neither has the bill been introduced in the assembly nor has an ordinance been issued in this regard.
At present, there is a state library and 14 district libraries in Punjab, he said while pointing out that the new districts established over the past one decade or so were yet to have district libraries.