Desperate to redeem its battered political standing in the wake of recent upheavals in Punjab, the Akali-BJP coalition government on Thursday hit a populist pitch by announcing to provide 1.13 lakh jobs in a fast-track mode and double the old age and widow pension from Rs 250 to Rs 500 with effect from January 2016.
The decisions were taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal here.
Another key decision was an amendment in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to punish those guilty of desecration of holy books and scriptures with life imprisonment.
The council of ministers gave its nod to fill the 1,13,766 vacant posts in various departments “in a fast-track mode”, a spokesman here said.
However, it would take the state government up to 10 months to complete this massive exercise that entails a fiscal liability of around Rs 1,500 crore beginning from the 2016-17 fiscal which happens to be the last year of the current Akali-BJP regime. The assembly polls are due in Punjab in 2017.
If all goes well with this ambitious employment drive, the school education department would have an additional strength of 30,000 employees, both teaching and non-teaching. While the power sector will get 39,821 more employees, 5,301 posts would be filled in the health department, 3,500 in agriculture, 4,566 in cooperation, 2,198 in higher education, 2,072 in irrigation, 2,852 in PWD, 2,628 in revenue, 3,952 in transport and 1,584 in water supply and sanitation departments, said the spokesman.
Taking sacrilege accused to task
Taking a serious note of sacrilege cases, the cabinet gave its nod to make the law more stringent, providing for life imprisonment as maximum punishment for those convicted for acts of sacrilege.
“The Cabinet gave its approval to introduce a new amended Section 295 A in the IPC, which would provide punishment of life imprisonment for those committing heinous acts of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib,” said the spokesman. “This step would act as a deterrent to prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate incidents in future. This amendment was all the more necessitated as the existing provisions of the said Act in Section 295, 295A and 296 though dealt with these matters but don’t provide deterrent punishment to those guilty of sacrilege,” he added.