Power subsidy to go into farmers’ bank accounts; nod for pilot project
Farmers to get bills for electricity, be allowed to keep surplus subsidy.punjab Updated: Jan 25, 2018 10:09 IST
In a move that is being seen as ‘anti-farmer’, the state council of ministers on Wednesday approved a proposal to pass on direct benefit of free power to agricultural tubewells into farmers’ accounts. In a pilot project, 990 farmers will get the benefit under six rural feeders.
The state government says the move is aimed at saving the state’s subsoil water.
“The decision is anti-farmer. The government in the long run wants to impose bills on tubewells,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of a faction of Bharatiya Kisan Union.
He said, “The government wants us to shift focus from its failure on debt waiver delivery and get hooked to a new issue.”
Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the government will transfer Rs 48,000 to a farmer’s account for each tubewell, calculated by taking into account total number of tubewells (14 lakh) and total annual subsidy for pumpsets (Rs 6,200 crore).
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has tied up with J-PAL South Asia and the World Bank to evaluate the move.
As per the decision, beneficiary farmers will be paid subsidy in cash, based on cost of power for irrigating the crops as finalised by experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Punjab State Farmers Commission and the agriculture and water resources departments.
The farmers would be issued bills for electricity and allowed to retain the savings – subsidy minus the bill amount.
“The move would not put financial burden on the farmers. Rather, it would lead to monetary savings and conservation of water,” chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh told the cabinet.
BIG FARMERS URGED TO GIVE UP SUBSIDY
An option has been given to big farmers to give up their agricultural subsidy or at least 50% of it and they would be charged Rs 202 per BHP per month or Rs 403 per BHP per month, respectively.
Voluntary surrender of power subsidy by agriculture consumers will reduce the subsidy burden of the state, said the CM, appealing big farmers to take initiative.
The cabinet noted that if 1% farmers voluntarily opt to give up 50% subsidy, it will reduce subsidy burden by Rs 35 crore per annum. The CM has already surrendered subsidy for the tubewells in his name, say officials.
RENTAL HOUSING POLICY
The cabinet also approved a policy to facilitate housing accommodation on rent for students, corporate professionals and senior citizens. As per the policy applicable for group housing, the developer will have to pay lesser external development charges and lower charges for change of land use (CLU).
GUARDIANS OF GOVERNANCE SCHEME EXTENDED
The Guardians of Governance (GoG) scheme, a dream project of Punjab CM, has been extended to three more districts —Gurdaspur, Patiala and Pathankot.
The government says it has shown good results in five districts it was launched in the first phase. A total of 2000 ex-servicemen as guardians are proposed to be engaged. GoGs help government to oversee implementation of schemes, helps in transparency, identify shortcomings and promote accountability.
FINANCE DEPT TO HAVE 6 DIRECTORATES
The finance department will see a recast by being divided into six directorates — expenditure, budget, treasury & accounts, human resource management, performance review & audit, banking & economic intelligence and lotteries & small savings. Manpreet said it was decided to recast the department as the system of financial dealings have changed drastically.
BIFURCATION OF EXCISE AND TAXATION DEPT
The Punjab excise and taxation department will be bifurcated into excise and taxation commissionerates for monitoring of the two most important revenue-generating sources of the state. As many as 17 new posts in these two commissionerates were also given clearance by the cabinet.
USE CENTRAL GOVT PORTAL FOR PURCHASES
The cabinet has also given approval to six state procurement agencies to use the central government portal and government e-Marketplace (GeM) for direct online purchases of goods and services. It will help online procurement of common use goods and services.
IAS, IPS, PCS OFFICERS TO DECLARE ASSETS
The cabinet also gave nod to a proposal to make it mandatory for all Group A officers, including IAS, IPS and PCS officers, to disclose their assets.
The cabinet also approved the proposal that the home department will have two posts of legal remembrances to advise the government on the legality of new enactments.