Eyeing to woo the people in Punjab just ahead of going to the polls in early 2022, the new Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, in its maiden meeting discussed pro-poor initiatives like construction of 32,000 houses and provision of free electricity units up to 300 units.
At a meeting here on Monday night, it was decided that such pro-poor initiatives would be launched from October 2 to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.
It emphasized to lay special focus on the core sectors of education and health to provide affordable quality healthcare and education facilities to all.
The Cabinet directed the Housing and Urban Development Department to start the construction of houses for 32,000 economically weaker section (EWS) on priority.
These houses will be made available to eligible beneficiaries on affordable installments.
The Cabinet deliberated that the free mining of sand by the land owners will be allowed to abolish the contract system. Under this system, any land owner can mine sand from his/her land to ensure its availability to the consumers at affordable rates.
It also deliberated to increase free electricity units from existing 200 units to 300 units under SC/BC/BPL domestic consumers. It asked the Additional Chief Secretary Power to bring the proposal in the next Cabinet to give relief to the poor and needy.
Also it deliberated to waive off the pending electricity bills of tubewells working under the Rural Water Supply schemes and also to provide free water supply in rural areas.
The Cabinet reviewed to give relief to the domestic water and sewerage tariff to the consumers in the urban areas.
It was decided that the Local Government Department will bring a proposal in the next Cabinet in this regard.
The Cabinet, comprising two Deputy Chief Ministers — Sukhjinder Randhawa and O.P. Soni — simplified the process of allotment of five-marla plots and empowered the Panchayat Samitis to decide the cases.
A special campaign will be launched by the Rural Development and Panchayats Department to identify and finalise the allotment of plots to the eligible beneficiaries within two months.
Likewise, the Cabinet asked the department to make a policy for the purchase of land for ‘chappar’, ‘shamshan ghat’ and ‘kabristan’ wherever the land for this purpose is required.
It was decided that Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation will formulate a policy for allotment of land to occupants at affordable rates.
Considering the importance of education, the Cabinet decided that a comprehensive policy regarding proper implementation of Right to Education Act and providing monetary help to the eligible educational institutes be prepared and put up in the next meeting.
Conceding the demand of the management committee of Sri Guru Ravidas Ji Memorial at Khuralgarh Sahib in Hoshiarpur district, the Cabinet also gave approval for installation of new tubewell in the complex immediately.
Chief Minister Channi, the first Dalit who is at the helm in Punjab, along with his two deputies took oath of office on Monday.
After taking oath, Channi told the media that his government is of ‘aam aadmi’ (the common man), honest, free from sand mafias and a representative of the poor as he himself pulled a rickshaw in his childhood.