The Punjab cabinet on Thursday decided to launch a state-wide campaign to give an image makeover to the SAD-BJP government that has taken a beating in recent times and rebuild the perception about it.
In a marathon meeting that continued for about four hours, it was decided to hire 100 video vans for creating awareness about the policies and schemes of the government.
The government also gave clearance to starting a major recruitment drive in various government departments. The cabinet cleared posts of doctors, teachers, nurses and clerks besides filling vacant posts in hospital and schools.
The government is concerned about its perception, especially as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) poses a big challenge to it in the next assembly polls.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal chaired the cabinet meeting in which deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and other ministers took part.
Sources said these vans would have public relations officers (PROs) attached and would cover all 117 assembly constituencies. These PROs would be hired on contract. The improvised vans would be equipped with all modern mass media gadgets like LED screens, sound systems, video players, wi-fi connectivity and public address system. The vans would cover the entire state from April to December to screen video films depicting various development projects and schemes undertaken by the state and also talk about its cultural heritage.
The cabinet also approved hiring the services of an agency for conducting an impact assessment study (survey) of the various schemes and programmes of the state government.
The agency will conduct an assessment study from April to December by randomly reaching out to 4.5 lakh people personally and contacting 15 lakh people to know the perception about the government among people.
A government spokesman said the data generated would provide direction to the state government for bringing the gaps in programmes and schemes implementation and help frame new policies. Sources said the report would help the ruling alliance strategise its pre-poll campaign.
Amendment in mining laws
Clearing amendments in the mining laws, the cabinet made the landowner responsible to inform the district mining officer in case any illegal mining is taking place on his land. By amending the Punjab Minor Mineral Rules, 2013, the cabinet also cleared constitution of the district mineral and state mineral foundations.
The cabinet decided to impose a tax on export of minor minerals--sand and gravel--from the state at rate of Rs 4,000 per trolley, Rs 7,000 per truck and Rs 10,000 per large truck carrying building material outside the state. The government spokesman said the decision would bring down the rates of sand in the state. It was also decided to install CCTV cameras at all exit points.
Date for paying property tax extended
The Cabinet also approved extending the date of depositing property tax for the year 2015-16 without penalty up to March 31.
It also exempted purchase centres, sub-yards, principal yards, kisan serais, office buildings and other properties of market committees and mandi boards from paying property tax. The cabinet also decided to make provisions in the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, and Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, for allotting land to open district offices for registered political parties.
200 posts of medical officers (MBBS) out of vacant 316 posts of medical officers (specialists); 200 posts to be adjusted against the posts of MBBS doctors retiring in future
Posts of doctors and teachers lying vacant in government hospitals and schools
120 vacant posts of senior assistants in Punjab civil secretariat through a competitive test to be conducted by Thapar University, Patiala,
61 posts of staff nurses for special care to newborns
460 clerks and 25 posts of stenos in offices of divisional commissioners and DCs
Increasing strength of non-official members in state commission for women, from existing 5 to 10 by amending Punjab State Women Commission Act
Budget session from March 8 to 22 to pass annual budget for financial year 2016-17
* Affordable housing for lower middle income group. Cabinet approved ‘affordable housing policy, 2015’ giving incentives by reduced change of land use (CLU), external development charges (EDC) and licence fee to promoters constructing affordable houses for these sections. Maximum area under the affordable housing scheme not to exceed 10% of total gross area and minimum area proposed was 5 acre. All projects to be completed in five years
*1947 Partition museum to come up in Town Hall in Amritsar. It will house city museum, cottage emporium of other states, will have light and sound and laser shows. Town Hall building is getting vacated after municipal office is shifted to the new building
*Rs 46.5 crore for Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra scheme to be included in the excess budget plan for 2015-16. The scheme provides free pilgrimage to those desirous of visiting holy places like Nanded Sahib, Ajmer Sharif, Varanasi, Vaishnodevi and other shrines
*A policy for building steel silos for storage of foodgrains in the state was given clearance by accepting recommendations of cabinet sub-committee to form a uniform policy. The food and civil supplies department would take decisions for construction of silos and Pungrain would be the nodal agency. Government land available with the food and civil supplies department would be utilised for the construction of silos. Land of other departments like cooperation, rural development and panchayats and Punjab Mandi Board would also be taken on lease, if needed
*To improve efficiency of PSPCL, the government to implement Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, notified by the Centre for financial revival of power distribution companies
*Creating separate session division, along with supporting staff, in SAS Nagar and Tarn Taran districts, to deal with pendency of cases
*To raise loans for RoBs, RuBs according its concurrence to the dedicated freight corridor corporation of India to raise funds of Rs 92.25 crore as state share for constructing 17 railway over bridges (ROBs), railway under bridges (RUBs) in state. Loans to be paid back in 10 years with a three-year moratorium
Cabinet clearance for
* Increased minimum qualification for post of jail warden from Class 8 to 12, and fixed their age limit from 18 to 25
* Disposing seven surplus sites of irrigation department selected by PUDA under the OUVGL scheme. Site locations not specified
* Selling 12.68 acres of land belonging to Sugarfed in Banur to Housefed for a housing scheme. Rs 10 crore from sale of land to be spent on modernisation of Bhogpur cooperative sugar mill
* Framing Punjab dental education (group A) and Punjab medical education service (group A) service rules, 2016, which govern the services of teaching faculty working at government dental colleges, Amritsar and Patiala, to enable the recruitment of faculty specialty wise.
* Salary to 440 teachers teaching special children at applicable grade pay from April 1, 2015
* Punjab Bhaichara Taalmel Council for cultural exchange programme in India and abroad
* Allotment policy to allot sites for hospitals, multispecialty hospitals, medical colleges cum hospitals and medical research institutes in the upcoming Medicity at New Chandigarh (Mullanpur)
* Punjab Bovine Breeding Act, 2016, for improvement of breeds of cows and buffaloes
* Amending Punjab Dairy Development Board Act, 2002, in order to have five representatives from among milk producers instead of earlier three on Board of Directors
* Extension date of one time settlement (OTS) policy for loan and equity-2015 in Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation, Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) and Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation to May 31
* To establish satellite centre of PGIMER, Chandigarh, at Ferozepur over 21 acres, land to be given free of cost by state govt
* To dispose of 1509 variety of paddy, procured by state agencies during khariff season of 2015-16 on the price based on all expenses, including taxes
* Delegated powers of empowered committee for mega projects to the screening committee headed by the state chief secretary
* Sub-committee constituted under chairmanship of deputy CM to devise methodology for disposal of shops owned by municipal corporations, municipal councils and improvement trusts
* Two-acre land to set up Punjab Kisan Vikas Chamber at Mohali and sanctioning Rs 20 crore for construction of building and creating corpus to meet its day-to-day needs