Punjab cabinet okays free travel for women in government-run buses

Published on Apr 01, 2021 01:13 AM IST

The facility will not be applicable for government-owned AC, Volvo and HVAC buses; nod to set up ED to check illegal mining in state

Punjab cabinet okays free travel for women in government-run buses
Punjab cabinet okays free travel for women in government-run buses
By, Chandigarh

The Punjab council of ministers on Wednesday approved free travel for women in government-run buses.

Women can avail the facility in buses of the Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways and city services operated by the local bodies. But it is not applicable to the government-owned air-conditioned, Volvo and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) buses. The announcement on this was made in the Punjab budget recently. The scheme will benefit over 1.31 crore women/girls across the state (as per the 2011 Census).

“Also, all women, who are family members of Punjab government employees and reside in Chandigarh, or are themselves employees of the state government but live in Chandigarh, can avail the benefit, irrespective of age and income criteria, of free travel,” an official said.

“This scheme is not only expected to reduce female drop-out in schools because of the high cost of daily transport and but also facilitate working women, who have to travel considerable distances to their workplace,” he added. The facility will thus ensure access to “safe, cheap and reliable” travel for women to engage in any economic activity.

The cabinet also gave nod to set up an enforcement directorate (ED) to check illegal mining in the state with a view to ramping up the revenues the government loses on account of the unlawful practice.

The agency will be headed by a police officer not below the rank of a deputy inspector general (DIG) as part of the mining and geology wing of the state water resources department, a spokesperson of the chief minister’s office said.

“The ED will help in keeping tabs on the unauthorised movement of minor minerals not only within the state but also at the inter-state borders of Punjab in coordination with the mining department. It will also get prosecuted those indulging in the illegal activity under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. Besides, it will ensure that those into the sand and gravel business do not overcharge beyond the price prescribed in the mining policy,” the spokesperson added.

The agency will have the mandate to come up with measures to achieve its objectives in coordination with the director (mining) and the chief engineers dealing with mining and district-level illegal mining enforcement committees.

It will also gather intelligence for the purpose and co-ordinate with the agencies of the neighbouring states dealing with illegal mining. The ED chief will be assisted by 3 superintendents of police (SP)-rank officers in the head office.

The 7 mining blocks (number may vary as per government policy) each will be headed by an officer not below the rank of a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), who will be assisted by inspectors, sub-inspectors and head constables, constables.

The deployment may be modified from time to time keeping in view the functional requirements, it was said. The police personnel deployed in the agency will be given salaries, equipment and arms by the police department. Any special equipment, if required, would be provided from District Mineral Foundation Funds.

In addition to the investigation of mining-related cases by district police at present, the ED would also register cases and probe them. It will present final reports (challans) in courts concerned. The investigation will be completed in a time-bound manner.

Also, in a bid to streamline the functioning of government-run cattle pounds and to effectively redress of the menace of stray animals, the cabinet also gave approval for running these under public private partnership (PPP) mode.

The CMO spokesperson said there would be no financial burden on the state to run these pounds (except in Amritsar and Ferozepur) under PPP mode as they will become self-sustainable by generating the required revenue through various activities.

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