A comprehensive report on Punjab Cabinet decisions

Author(s): City Air NewsChandigarh, July 30, 2019: The Punjab Cabinet led by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday stamped its approval on new Bills relating to procurement, amendment to state civil services rules and...

A comprehensive report on Punjab Cabinet decisions

Chandigarh, July 30, 2019: The Punjab Cabinet led by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday stamped its approval on new Bills relating to procurement, amendment to state civil services rules and postings in veterinary hospitals in the state, as well as the Excise Act Amendment Ordinance.
The cabinet approved the draft of ‘The Punjab Transparency in Public Procurement Act, 2019’ to ensure efficiency, economy and transparency besides providing fair and equitable treatment to bidders in order to promote healthy competition and put in place mechanism to prevent corrupt practices.
The draft legislation relates to all procurements which are met from the Government accounts including consolidated fund, public accounts and contingent fund of the state. It would apply to all procuring entities, whether an Administrative Department or Board/Corporation/PSU/Semi-autonomous Bodies or a society of an Administrative Department.
The Act also provides the requisite legal status to ‘State Public Procurement Portal’, making its use mandatory for Public Procurement, and envisages the creation of procurement facilitation cell. It covers the procurement of not only goods but also services and works in a single, comprehensive legislation, besides recognizing Swiss Challenge as a method of procurement with an objective to promote innovativeness, creativity and uniqueness in finding everlasting solutions to the persisting problems of society.
The Act also institutionalises the Annual Procurement Plans, thereby providing economies of scale and better planning for prospective bidders. Being a self-contained legislation with in-built mechanism of grievances redressal, it will also serve as a deterrent for wrong-doers, who indulge in malpractices and breach the trust reposed in them as a custodian of Public money.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also gave nod for conversion of Punjab Excise Act Amendment Ordinance 2019 (Punjab Ordinance No. 2 of 2019) into an Act by presenting a Bill during the forthcoming monsoon session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. This enactment is related to amendment in clause (C) of section of 31 of Punjab Excise Act, 1914 as a regulatory/monitoring measure only.

Further, the Cabinet has approved amendment in Civil Services (Departmental Examination) Punjab Rules, 2014 for the posts of Assistant Commissioners/Extra Assistant Commissioners.

Meanwhile, in a bid to provide efficient animal health services in the veterinary hospitals across the state, the Cabinet okayed continuation of the services of Service Providers (516 Veterinary Pharmacists and 531 Safai Sewaks) for a period of one year, i.e. from March 31, 2019 to March 31, 2020.
The decision has been taken to ensure smooth functioning of the veterinary hospital, besides enabling farmers to avail the best veterinary services for the livestock.
The state government has already transferred back 582 Civil Veterinary Hospitals to the Animal Husbandry Department, including 582 sanctioned posts of Rural Veterinary Officers from Rural Development & Panchayat Department, to provide efficient animal health services to livestock owners.

The Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday decided to set up a sub-committee to examine all aspects of the proposed Punjab Land Leasing and Tenancy Bill, 2019, and authorised Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to set up the panel and decide on its terms and tenure etc.
The Chief Minister has announced Finance Minister Manpreet Badal as the committee head, with Social Security Minister Aruna Chaudhary and Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar as members.
The Bill aims to repeal the six existing tenancy laws to bring in major reforms in matters of leasing of agricultural land in the state. It seeks to balance the rights and responsibilities of landowners and tenants, besides providing a process of fast adjudication for resolution of disputes. The introduction of this transparent land leasing law is aimed at not only allowing the landowner to enter into a written contract with the potential tenant without the fear of losing his land to him but also at incentivizing the tenant to make long term investments in improvement of land and get access to credit and subsidies.
The existing laws set to be repealed with the new proposed legislation are: The Punjab Tenancy Act 1887; the Punjab Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Act, 1952; the Pepsu Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Act, 1953; the Punjab Colonisation of Government Lands Act 1912; the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 and the Pepsu Tenancy and Agriculture Lands Act, 1955.
The Bill has been necessitated by the changing agrarian relations in recent years, which has transformed the concept of traditional tenancy to a primarily commercial one. A booming land leasing market has emerged in Punjab, which covers a quarter of the total cultivated area.
The lease of agriculture land at present is mostly oral, which indicates a lack of trust and confidence in the prevailing tenancy laws. The lessors, while leasing out their lands, generally do not show the lessees to be in occupation of the leased land due to the apprehension of losing their ownership rights or getting embroiled in avoidable protracted eviction proceedings as the laws governing tenancy in the State tend to favour the tenant. On the other hand, the presence of informal tenancy puts the lessees/tenants at the risk of exploitation by the lessors because of no legal security. In addition to these risks, the lessees/tenants do not get the benefits of various government initiatives, including credit, insurance, subsidies and calamity relief in case of damage to their crops.
The Bill envisages removing barriers against investment apart from helping adopt new technology on the leased land and introduce cultivation of high-value crop, so as to usher in higher productivity and prosperity for sustainable agriculture. This legislation would further encourage new forms of organisation in agriculture, such as corporate cultivation, cooperatives/group production, self-help groups, partnerships including limited liability partnerships, farmers' producer organizations and others to make agriculture a viable and sustainable occupation for small and marginal farmers as well.

The Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday decided to revert to the earlier system of depositing the revenue collected from sale of entry tickets and other sources in all zoos of the state into the Punjab Zoos Development Society (PZDS) account.
The decision, which was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has been prompted by the increase in footfalls at the zoos, especially the Chhatbir Zoo, thus leading to growing challenges in maintaining the upkeep of the zoos.
The Bill would also mandate PZDS deposit of revenue collected from all other sources at the zoos, such as Canteens, Parking place, Safaris, Vehicles etc., as well as revenue to be generated in future from food court or any other source of income.
It will supersede the Cabinet Sub-Committee decision taken on February 5, 2018, directing the society to deposit all proceeds into the state government treasury.
Pertinently, Punjab Zoos Development Society was notified vide Punjab Government notification dated 26.06.2012 for the development of zoos, and the revenue from the sale of entry tickets of the zoos was being deposited the accounts of PZDS since April 01, 2013. However, following the objections raised by Accountant General, it was decided to deposit the entire revenue proceeds into the State treasury.

Given the various implications of the matter, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday decided to hand over the draft Punjab Farmers Policy to a cabinet sub-committee for a detailed study.
The draft, prepared by the Farmers Commission in consultation with various stakeholders, was taken up for informal discussion by the Cabinet under Captain Amarinder’s chairmanship here.
Presenting the draft, Farmers Commission chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar said the policy was open to discussion and amendments.
The Chief Minister said he had seen the draft and in view of the political implications of some of its provisions, a cabinet sub-committee should be formed to examine the policy and take further decision. The cabinet authorized the Chief Minister for form the sub-committee.
The policy focuses on issues of water management, livestock development, crop diversification, value addition, common lands, crop compensation fund, governance, merger of departments and ministries etc. to improve livelihoods of those dependent on agriculture on a sustainable basis while preserving the ecological balance for future generations.

The Punjab Cabinet, under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Tuesday approved The Punjab Forest Produce Transit Rules, 2018, and the ‘The Punjab Regulation of Wood Based Industries Rules, 2019’, to boost agro forestry activities in the state.
The new rules have been formulated in the light of various advisories/guidelines issued by the Government of India from time to time, as per the changed scenario of the Timber Transit Regine for various timber species.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister Office, Kullu, Kangra, Gurdaspur Forest Produce (and Routes) Rules, 1965 were notified in the year 1965, which were applicable to Kullu and Kangra Districts and Pathankot Tehsil of Gurdaspur District of undivided Punjab. Thus, it became necessary to promulgate new rules, keeping in view the present territory of state of Punjab.
The main features of the new rules includes exemption of Bamboos grown on private lands from the purview of Timber Transit Regine. Agro forestry species such as Populus spp., Eucalyptus spp. Drek, Mulberry, Subabul, Silver Oak, Malabar Neem, Khejri, Indian Willow, Gamari have also been exempted from the purview of Timber Transit regine, as this provision was not there in previous rules.
In agriculture dominated state like Punjab, where many farmers are growing bamboos on their private land and selling them outside the state. Subsequently, such farmers have been facing the problem in smooth interstate movement of bamboos. Thus, keeping this consideration, a provision has been made in the new rules wherein the farmers, if they desire so, they can obtain an inter State/Pan India Permit from the concerned Divisional Forest Officer for the hassle-free movement of bamboos across the state.
In another decision, the Cabinet has cleared ‘The Punjab Regulation of Wood Based Industries Rules, 2019’ to give impetus to agro-forestry and promote diversification of agriculture, besides ensuring socio-economic benefits to the farmers.
Under the new rules, no new licensed wood based unit would be granted license within 1 kilometre aerial distance from notified government block forests, protected areas, protected forests and un-classed forests in the state, except if it located within a notified industrial estate/park or municipal areas.
The Rules prescribe 1 Km aerial distance from the nearest forest other than the protected forests along roads, canals, drains and railway lines etc. as compared to the GOI guidelines, which prescribed the limit of 10km aerial distance. Any Wood Based Industry (WBI) located within a notified industrial estate/park does is not, however, applicable for this limit of 1km distance and WBIs using agro-forestry species would also not apply this limit of even the prescribed one kilometre aerial distance.
Setting up of WBI using wood of agro-forestry species would have a significant positive impact on promoting agro-forestry tree cover and open up a vista of livelihood options for farmers. A green fee Rs. 10 per cubic metre will be levied on the wood based units, which is to be used for new plantations under the agro-forestry in the state in order to safeguard the interests of the farmers, ensure sustained wood supply to the industries and also enhance the tree cover in the state, the spokesperson added.
It may be recalled that ‘The Punjab Regulation of Saw Mills, Veneer and Plywood Industries Rules-2006’ were in force to regulate wood based industries in the state. The Wood based units were regularised under these rules keeping in view the availability of wood in the state. Under the new rules, wood based units using agro-forestry species like; Poplar, Eucalyptus, Drek, Mulberry, Subabul, Silver Oak, Neem, Khejri, Indian Willow and Gamari do not require license but only require registration with Forest Department.

The Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday approved tabling of the Punjab Sports University legislation in the monsoon session.
Overruling the Chief Minister’s objections, the Cabinet also decided to name the university as Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Sports and Science University, after Captain Amarinder’s grandfather in recognition of the latter’s contribution to the promotion of Sports.
The suggestion to name the university after Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was made by Rana Gurmit Sodhi. Though the Chief Minister was not in favour initially, he eventually gave in to the pressure of his Cabinet colleagues, and a unanimous decision on the same was taken.
It may be recalled here that the Chief Minister had announced the decision to set up this university in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in his speech on June 19, 2017. Subsequently, a steering committee had been set up under the chairmanship of Olympian and Member International Olympic Committee Randhir Singh to finalise the modalities to establish this sports educational institute of international eminence.
The Punjab Cabinet on June 6, 2019 approved the Punjab Sports University Ordinance-2019, paving the way for the establishment of the university. Subsequently, a notification in this regard had also been issued on July 22 this and the academic session would commence from September 1, 2019, as decided by the steering committee in its meeting presided over by Captain Amarinder Singh last month.
The university, a flagship project of the Chief Minister, is being set up to promote education in the areas of sports sciences, sports technology, sports management and sports coaching. It will focus on education, training and research in areas related to sports based on high standard infrastructure, besides offering professional and academic leadership to other institutions in the field of physical education and sports sciences.
The university will also serve as a Centre of excellence for the elite and other talented sportspersons of all sports and innovations to carry out, endorse and propagate research. It would also generate capabilities for the development of knowledge skills and competencies at various levels in the field of sports technology and high-performance training for all sports and games.

The Punjab Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved setting up of a State Project Management Unit (SPMU) under the Government of India’s Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission), to improve the nutritional status of children under 6, pregnant women and lactating mothers in the state.
At a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder, it was also decided to fill up 184 project specific posts at State, District and Block level for the project implementation. The tenure of these posts would be co-terminus with the duration of the Poshan Abhiyaan i.e. till March 31, 2020.
The posts include three of Consultant-Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation and Capacity Building, Consultant-Health and Nutrition, Consultant-Financial Management and Procurement, two project associates, 22 District Coordinators and 155 Block Coordinators, besides two office messengers.
It may be recalled that the Poshan Abhiyan aims to ensure convergence of all nutrition related schemes of the Ministry of Women & Child Development on the target population. The Social Security, Women and Child Development department is the nodal agency for the implementation of the project.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019