Chandigarh, December 4, 2019: To boost efficiency in the functioning of the Revenue Department, the Punjab Cabinet led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday gave the nod to recruit 1090 Patwaris against vacant posts.
Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister Office said that the decision was taken in view of the important role played by the Revenue Department – a key sector of the State Administration, in which Patwaris play a vital role in compiling, maintaining and updating the land records.
The decision would improve the public delivery system, besides helping dispose off the revenue work far more efficaciously. Subsequently, the public at large would also be benefitted from this pro-people initiative, said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved posting of one Kanugo for seven Patwar circles, instead of the existing practice of one Kanugo after 10 patwar circles, thus creating 34 new posts of Kanugos for this purpose. The decision has been taken in the light of the enhanced work load of the field Kanugos, due to the social-economic transformation taking place across the state.
PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS SEVERAL AMENDMENTS TO INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES ACT, 1947, TO PROMOTE SMALL INDUSTRY, BOOST EASE OF BUSINESS
Chandigarh, December 4, 2019: To further boost ease of doing business, and to promote small scale units in the state, the Punjab Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved several amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
The amendments relate to Sections 2A, 25K, 25N and 25-O, said an official spokesperson after the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Currently, there is no time limit for raising an industrial dispute before a conciliation officer and its reference later to the labour court under Section 2A of the Act. The amendment to Section 2A would now provide a time limit of 3 years, so that stale matters are not agitated after lapse of certain time.
Section 25K of the Act provides that the provisions of Chapter VB of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 get attracted when any industrial establishment employs 100 or more workers. Any entity within the ambit of chapter VB has to take prior approval from the state government before closing down the industry, laying off, retrenchment or lock-out. However, with the amendment to the section, the provisions of chapter VB shall be attracted only when at least 300 workers are employed in the factory.
Further, Section 25N of the Act states that prior approval of the state government should be obtained, besides complying with other conditions, before retrenching an employee. The management has to give 3 months’ notice or 3 months’ wages in lieu thereof for retrenching any employee. It was felt that 3 months’ notice be made mandatory and extra 3 months’ wages be paid to the worker before retrenchment by amending section 25N (1)(a) and clause 9 of section 25N of the Act.
According to Section 25-O, before closing the industry, the management has to get approval from the government and the workers are compensated by paying 15 days’ pay for every completed year of service. The existing sub-section(8) of Section-25-O stipulates that where an undertaking is permitted to be closed down under sub section (2), or where permission for closure is deemed to be granted under sub section (3), every workman who is employed in that undertaking immediately before the date of application for permission under this section, shall be entitled to receive compensation, which shall be equivalent to 15 days’ average pay for every completed year of continuous service or any part thereof in excess of 6 months.
The Governments of Andhra Pradesh Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, have already amended sub section (8) of 25-O to provide additional wages for 3 months, besides providing above mentioned compensation to the workers. It is felt that this may provide more financial security to the workers in the event of closure of the industry, and therefore Sub section (8) of Section 25-O has been amended on the lines of Rajasthan Government.
PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS REVISION OF RIVER/CANAL WATER CHARGES FOR NON-AGRICULTURE PURPOSES
Chandigarh, December 4, 2019: To boost revenue, the Punjab Government has decided to revise charges for the use of river/canal water for purposes other than agriculture.
The decision was taken on Wednesday at the meeting of the State Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder.
The proposed rates are at par with neighbouring state of Haryana, and the revision is expected to increase the revenue generated from water charges from the existing Rs. 24 crore per annum to Rs. 319 crore/annum, according to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office.
The decision was taken in view of the fact that the State Government needed to mobilise additional resources, including for maintenance of canal network, which is spread along 14,500 kms across the state and has deteriorated with passage of time. Most of the distributaries and minors were lined 30 to 40 years back during 1980s, and regular cleaning, twice a year, is required to run the canals efficiently so as to ensure authorised discharge at tail ends, said the spokesperson.
Notably, the Department of Water Resources, apart from Irrigation, supplies water in bulk to various institutions such as Thermal Power Plants, Industries, Municipal Corporations etc, through canals and rivers.
Likewise, beverage and bottled water industry, drinking water supply (including railways and army), fish ponds, brick making and water for construction work also utilize bulk supply of water for operations.
PUNJAB CABINET OKAYS CREATION OF PUNJAB WATER REGULATION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY TO CHECK GROUND WATER DEPLETION
Chandigarh, December 4, 2019: In a major initiative to check the depletion of ground water in the state, the Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved the creation of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority, which will be empowered to issue directions on water extraction but will not be authorised to impose any restrictions or tariff on extraction of water for drinking, domestic and agriculture purposes.
The Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, decided to promulgate an ordinance called the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Ordinance, 2019.
The proposed legislation is aimed at development, management and regulation of water resources of the State for ensuring their judicious, equitable and sustainable utilization and management, an official spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting.
The Authority would be empowered to issue general directions related to extraction and use of ground water, besides ensuring optimal and efficient utilization of all water resources in the State, including canal irrigation. It will also issue guidelines on recycling and reuse of water and its conservation.
Importantly, the legislation does not allow any restriction to be imposed on extraction of ground water for drinking or domestic purposes. For drinking, domestic and agriculture purposes, the Authority would be guided by the policy of the State Government. It would, however, be required to issue tariff orders for use of water for industrial and commercial use.
Further, the Authority would have the right to impose financial penalties upon non-compliance of its orders or directions. It has been vested with the powers of a Civil Court, and would also be required to present an annual report which would be laid on the floor of the House by the Government, disclosed the spokesperson.
Underlining the need for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the finite resource of water, for meeting the needs of the present and future generations, the Chief Minister said it was imperative to find ways and means of management and conservation of the water resources of the State in the most economical and efficient manner, through a legal framework suitable to address the challenge. It may be noted that the Punjab Government has already signed an agreement with Israel’s National Water Agency, Mekorot, to help the State prepare a comprehensive plan for more efficient and sustainable use of the State’s water resources.
The proposed Authority will comprise a Chairperson, who would be a person with ability and demonstrable experience in the field of water and its management with a sound understanding of public administration, law and economics. In addition, it will have two members who would be experts drawn from Water Resources or connected areas of Finance, Law, Agriculture and Economics. An Advisory Committee of five experts would provide assistance, as required, to the Authority in its work, said the spokesperson.
The Government shall constitute a Selection Committee headed by Chief Secretary and consisting of at least two other members, to recommend the names of the Chairperson and members. The Chairperson or other Members shall hold office for a term, as may be specified, but not exceeding five years at a time, from the date on which he enters upon his office, provided that no person shall serve as Chairperson or other Member for more than two terms.
As per the draft legislation, the Government may also appoint a serving or retired officer who has worked on a post equivalent to the rank of Special Secretary to the Government of Punjab or higher, as Secretary of the Authority, with tenure of three years and extendable by another two.
The legislation also provides for a State Council for Water Management & Development, headed by the Chief Minister and comprising Water Resources Minister, Local Government Minister, Water Supply & Sanitation Minister, Rural Development Minister, Finance Minister, Industry Minister and Power Minister. The Council would be tasked to approve the State Water Plan, which would be based on integrated Water Plans to be prepared for every block.
The Council would also approve the State Water Policy and all other policies related to use and re-use of water in the State. The proposed regulatory Authority would be responsible for implementation of the State Water Plan, according to the spokesperson.
There shall be an Advisory Committee on Water Resources headed by the Chairperson of the Authority to be notified by the Government, consisting of up to five experts having knowledge and experience in the fields of Hydrogeology, Environment, Water Resources, Agriculture, Management or Economics and up to ten ex-officio members from various Government Departments, and the Authority shall consult the Committee on major questions of policy and regulatory directions proposed to be issued to the general public or to a class of water users.
Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, whose department has been responsible for piloting the Ordinance, said the proposed regulatory architecture had been carefully crafted through multiple iterations. It has been structured to provide functional autonomy to the regulator on the one hand, while retaining the overarching role of the State Government in laying the broad policy to guide the regulator, on the other. He said the Congress Government in Punjab was firmly committed to preserving the scarce and fast depleting water resources, and to taking urgent steps to improve efficiency in the use and reuse of water, in the State.