Punjab Governor Budget Speech

GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS

Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members,

  1. It is my pleasure to be here with you on the opening day of the 3rd Budget Session of the 15th Vidhan Sabha. I am happy to observe that during intervening period since I met you all in the last Budget Session, my Government has strived hard to uphold the rule of law and maintain peace and order in the State. It has consistently built on the progress and intensified its efforts to put the State back on the path of high trajectory growth. By streamlining the systems and re-orienting the policies and programmes, it is moving fast to meet the aspirations of the people of Punjab.
  2. My Government had made a solemn pledge to the people of Punjab that State’s kisan and naujawan would gradually be brought out of the distress they faced during last many years. Respecting the promises made to the people, the Government has taken and shall continue to take all possible steps to fulfill its commitments despite severe financial constraints. The Government had actually inherited an empty treasury with an overload of pending bills for payment. The multifarious challenges, which my Government had to face, were innumerable and, as a result, it is taking longer than expected to remedy the situation. Nevertheless, my Government remains committed to find ways and means and mitigate difficulties being faced by the common man (Aam Aadmi) in the State.
  3. During the last two years, my Government has maintained peace and order in the State. It has achieved tremendous success in neutralizing the groups of gangsters operating in the State. 1414 gangsters/ members of various criminal groups have been arrested or neutralized including 10 category-A gangsters. 19 terrorist modules have been busted and 101 terrorists and 22 foreign handlers arrested.
  4. Unfortunately, on the auspicious occasion of Dussehra at Amritsar on 19th October 2018, a train mishap took precious lives of 58 people. The Government aided by the civil society showed remarkable resilience and courage to handle this crisis at Amritsar. The administration and state police effectively tackled both this train tragedy and subsequent shootout at Nirankari Bhawan, by reaching out to the aggrieved families in quickest possible way and providing the requisite relief to them. The culprits, of course, are being brought to book to provide justice to those who suffered.
  5. My Government has created another specialized force within the Punjab Police i.e. SOG (Special Operations’ Group). This group is equipped with sophisticated training to face situations like fidayeen attacks, hostage situation, and respond to armed militants with modern weapons and equipment.
  6. Giving full thought to its upper most commitment to save Punjab’s water, my Government has taken every possible administrative and legal measure to protect State’s river waters. Punjab does not have surplus water and is in fact threatened with a water famine in not too far a future. State’s ground water table is fast depleting. The Central Ground Water Board has declared nearly 2/3rd of the State as a Dark Zone. Unfortunately, though Central authorities have declared Punjab as water starved State, the State’s water crisis and the fact that the state does not have surplus waters is not fully appreciated. We wish that the Central Government takes a realistic view of the looming water crisis  in Punjab and helps the State in avoiding the same before the State turns into a desert and millions of Punjabis lose their livelihood. I am happy to inform that my Government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Mekorot, the national water agency of Israel for comprehensive planning for water management in Punjab.
  7. Unavailability of adequate water for agriculture and industry is likely to cause a serious strain on people’s livelihood. Despite best efforts made by my Government, new investors in agriculture and industrial sectors apprehend this crisis and feel insecure largely due to unavailability of adequate quality water in future, notwithstanding the best infrastructure and most investor-friendly Industrial Policy. It is true that for security and longevity of any investment, the basic requirements such as land and water apart from other socio-economic infrastructure, have to be ensured by the Government.
  8. Water conservation and regulation is thus receiving greater attention of my Government. Apart from implementing the schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Command Area Development Program and Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program, my Government has given greater attention to repair and maintenance of canal irrigation network which had remained neglected for the last many years. The projects of Relining of Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder will be completed with a cost of Rs. 1977.00 crore in next three years. The work of rehabilitation of Bist Doab Canal system, Banur Canal, Renovation and Modernization of Water Regulation Structures costing Rs. 660.23 crore, is currently underway.
  9. My Government has started a project named Integrated Programme to address Water logging in South-Western districts of Punjab of Rs. 960crore to ensure proper drainage network.
  10. Under the Kandi Area Development Programme, the construction of Nara Dam has been completed with an investment of Rs.45.48 crore. My Government proposes to complete the residual works of Kandi Canal Stage-II project that includes lift schemes, flow distributaries and command area development by the end of 2019-2020.
  11. My Government has succeeded in resolving the vexatious and long-pending inter-state issues in construction of Shahpur Kandi Dam Project and signed an agreement with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir on 9th September 2018. The project is now expected to be completed in next three years with an investment of Rs 2715.70 crore.
  12. For improving water productivity in rural areas, my Government is giving greater thrust on provision of underground pipes as against open channels in agriculture farms providing 90 percent subsidy for community underground pipelines and 50 percent subsidy for individual farmers. 80 percent subsidy is also provided on drip and sprinkler irrigation systems.
  13. My Government also proposes to set up a State Water Authority to ensure better regulation and conservation of water, fully protecting the rights of consumers namely the farmers, industries, commercial establishments and, of course, rural and urban households.
  14. Transparency in governance has been another hallmark of my Government. Besides ensuring non-interference in the day-to-day working of the civil and police administration, the Government has taken the fullest possible steps to set right the framework, i.e. the policies and programmes of each sector, to ensure governance through fair and proper systems. My Government has enacted a new ‘The Punjab Transparency and Accountability in Delivery of Public Services (including Electronic Service Delivery) Act, 2018’ for quicker delivery of services through digital technology.
  15. Most policies and programs formulated and notified by my Government including:
    1. Business and Industrial Development Policy;
    2. Tourism Policy;
    3. Culture Policy;
    4. Policy for Housing and Urban Development;
    5. Transport Policy;
    6. Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana;
    7. Agriculture Debt Relief Scheme; and
    8. Ghar Ghar Rozgar and Karobar;

have helped to put State’s administration to a path where goals and targets are clearly visible.

  1. My Government’s commitment to eliminate drugs from Punjab remains as strong as ever and it has adopted a three-pronged strategy, i.e. EDP – Enforcement, De-addiction and Prevention, besides ensuring zero patronage to drug smugglers and peddlers. In fact, most, if not all, drug smugglers and peddlers have either left the State or they have been put behind the bars. Supply of drugs has been contained effectively. My Government has started 168 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics to provide free out-patient treatment to drug addicts and they are being treated with compassion and sympathy.
  2. In addition, people’s campaign against drugs through programmes namely Drug Abuse Prevention Officers’ (DAPO) Program and the Buddy Program have been started to create public awareness by involving civil society. Over 5 lakh persons have been enrolled as Drug Abuse Prevention Officers (DAPOs), whereas 5.5 lakh Buddy Groups have been formed in different schools and colleges of the State. DAPOs are able to convince all those who have fallen prey to drug abuse to come back to mainstream life after proper treatment. These DAPOs and Buddy Groups are reaching out to every household with a message of ‘Nasha Mukt Punjab’.
  3. Enforcement of Anti-Drug Abuse measures during the last two years have been rather stern. 25092 persons have been arrested in 21049 cases registered under NDPS Act. More than 556 kg of heroine has been recovered. My Government would continue with strongest possible action against all drug traffickers even though its legislation titled as ‘The Punjab Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Property Act 2017’ is pending for presidential assent and so is its proposal to provide for death penalty even for the first offence by drug peddlers and smugglers under the NDPS Act.
  4. Dear Members, my Government believes in fair and equitable treatment to all irrespective of political affiliations or ideologies. It has pursued a policy of zero political vendetta or intolerance and ensured that no false cases, as done in the previous regime, were registered against anyone. The action against those who registered false cases during the previous regime is, however, continuing as per the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and it shall be taken to its logical conclusion.
  5. Likewise, my Government is committed to pursue the recommendations of Commission of Enquiry headed by Justice Ranjit Singh, who probed into cases of sacrilege in the State in the year 2015-16 to their logical conclusion, allowing the law to take its full course. The Government has set up a Special Investigation Team as recommended by this august House in its earlier Session and it is expected to complete its task soon.
  6. My Government has made it clear to one and all that no one involved in any sacrilege case at any point of time will be spared as it respects not only the basic human rights of all citizens but also all religions and faiths in the State.
  7. Dear Members, you are all aware that my Government is facing severe financial constraints because of financial imprudence of the previous Government. They spent public money recklessly without caring for possible revenue receipts of the State. They had left the State with an outstanding liability of Rs. 13,039crore in March 2017. State’s trade, business and industry were in doldrums with flight of capital to other States being more than visible. Most of the industrial hubs of the State were lying defunct and unemployment had risen to unimaginable proportions. The State has resultantly slipped down the ladder in its ranking in per capita income from 3rd in 2008-09 to 10th in 2016-17.
  8. My Government has made every possible effort to revive State’s economy. It has reduced the resource gap to Rs. 4175 crore in 2017-18 and increased the revenue receipts by 23% in December 2018. It has brought down State’s fiscal deficit to GSDP of 2.65 percent in 2017-18 as against 12.34 percent in 2016-17. As a result of State’s liberal and rational Industrial and Business Development Policy, 2017 and consequent revival of industries, State’s industrial power consumption has gone up by about 13 percent. The number of MSME units in the State has almost doubled from 10911 to 21081 during the last two years (till December 2018).
  9. Likewise, all major industrial projects which had become dormant and stopped production after 2007 have also been brought back on track and many new projects including a Hi-Tech Cycle Valley at Ludhiana, a new international standard Technology University at Mohali, a new 5000-acre Business Park at Rajpura, substantial expansion of Bathinda Refinery, Food Park at Ludhiana, Food Park at Phagwara and another new Food Park at Machhiwara, a Paper Mill at Ropar, another Paper Mill at Hoshiarpur, a Mega Dairy Plant at Bassi Pathana, and a PepsiCo Plant at Pathankot etc., have been approved. State’s real estate sector that was in doldrums has also shown signs of revival with rationalization of Stamp Duty, Registration Fees and other levies in connection therewith.
  10. My Government had notified the ‘Industrial & Business Development Policy-2017’ on 17th October 2017, which is a major step forward to provide a holistic framework for sustainable industrial growth of the State. It has been designed around eight core strategic pillars. It offers attractive opportunities for companies to invest in the State. It provides fiscal incentives to the existing as well as new industry, special incentives to anchor units, units in border zone and small sick units. Operational guidelines have also been notified after detailed consultation with industry.
  11. Following on this policy, my Government has frozen variable electricity tariff for the industry at Rs 5 per unit. State’s power subsidy to industries was about Rs 1500 crore in the previous year. We have also banned truck union to ensure smooth and hassle-free transportation of goods in the state.
  12. During the last two years, State Department of Investment Promotion has signed 298 MOUs with different investors, envisaging an investment of Rs. 51,339 crore. These projects once operational are expected to generate one-lakh jobs in the State.
  13. My Government has also signed an MOU with Software Technology Parks of India, Indian School of Business and Punjab Technical University to establish start-up hubs in the State. It has also notified one-time settlement policy to give State’s entrepreneurs a chance to settle their dues and revive defunct industrial investments.
  14. My Government has successfully implemented GST in the state during the last two years despite repeated changes in the GST laws enacted by the Central Government and resultant difficulties to trade and industry in the State. It has continuously achieved better results in GST compliance but there is a lot more that needs to be done to streamline the processes and procedures of GST. My Government shall continue to pursue simplification of GST with the Government of India to make it more trade and business friendly.
  15. I am happy to inform that my Government was the first to waive State GST on langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib and Durgiana Mandir, Amritsar, though it was later waived by the Government of India also.
  16. With the upswing of trade, business and industry, the employment opportunities for the youth have improved quite substantially in the State. While revival of Mandi Gobindgarh is one example where jobs have increased, the number of youth who have been assisted and facilitated for employment  in both wage and self-employment, is over 5 lakh during the last two years (till December 2018). My Government is fully committed to pursue its Mission Ghar Ghar Rozgaar and Karobaar.It has fully operationalized the Mission and 22 District Bureaus of Employment and Enterprise (DBEE). These Bureaus are expected to be Centres of Excellence to attract our youth for guidance and facilitation in getting them the most suitable jobs. One of the constraints faced by my Government in providing quicker employment to the youth is lack of requisite skills and resultant employability amongst them. The Government has now reoriented its job programme to ensure that State’s unemployed youth are skilled through the Punjab State Skill Development Mission and prepared for the jobs so as to ensure their speedier absorption in some gainful employment.
  17. Farmers’ welfare remains an undeterred priority of my Government. True to its commitment i.e. karja kurki khatam, ate fasal di poori rakam, my Government had notified Farm Debt Relief Scheme in October 2017, which is being implemented successfully. 5.83 lakh small and marginal farmers have been provided debt relief of Rs. 4736 crore so far and the remaining of the targeted 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers will be provided their due benefit under the scheme shortly.
  18. My Government has abolished Section 67-A of the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961 though its request to delete similar provisions in appropriate Central laws, governing agriculture loans has not yet been acceded to.
  19. Ensuring hassle free procurement of wheat and paddy during the last two years, my Government has paid Rs. 1,00,235 crore in four previous crops as against Rs. 77,984 crore paid to the farmers in the four corresponding crops during the years 2015-16 and 2016-17, which is 28.5% more than the amount paid during the last two years.
  20. My Government aims at crop diversification and enhancement in income of farmers by increasing the area under cotton, maize oilseeds and pulses. However, the success of crop diversification is dependent upon assured procurement of these crops at Minimum Support Prices by Central Government. My Government has been repeatedly taking up the matter with the Government of India, which is yet to respond positively.
  21. My Government aims to encourage diversification of State’s agriculture through establishment of more Farmers’ Producers’ Organizations (FPOs). State Agriculture Department has drafted a policy for promoting FPOs and it shall be implemented in right earnest during the coming months.
  22. With a view to encourage farm service centres, my government has increased the expenditure limit of Agro-Service Centers for agricultural machinery and implements from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.15 lakh. The subsidy to these centres has also been increased from 33% to 40% with a maximum amount of Rs.6 lakh. These centers provide expensive equipment like, laser levelers, happy seeders, rotavators, tractors etc. to the farmers at an affordable rent.
  23. My Government is fully alive to the problem of crop residue burning and has designed a practical and achievable action plan for Crop Residue Management. It has launched a Massive Paddy Straw Management Campaign under which Rs 250 crore have been spent for subsidizing agricultural machinery for the management of paddy residue.  For in-situ Crop Residue Management, 28,000 residue management machines have been provided to farmers. In addition, a massive awareness campaign against Paddy residue burning has also been undertaken.
  24. My Government, after taking over in March 2017, has revamped the Public Distribution System. The entire distribution under the new Smart Ration Card Scheme is now being done with Aadhaar-based biometric authentication through electronic point of sale (e-Pos) machines.
  25. Focusing on improvement in rural infrastructure, my Government has started a comprehensive programme for repair and upgradation of the dilapidated village link roads. It is anticipated that nearly 31,000 kms of such roads will be repaired with an estimated expenditure of Rs.3000 crore in two phases by May 2020. In addition, the programme also envisages repair, maintenance and upgradation of about 1000 narrow culverts and bridges with an estimated cost of Rs.200 crore by December 2019.
  26. My Government is fully convinced that farmers’ incomes can be doubled with greater ease and speed only by assisting them in subsidiary occupations such as dairy farming, piggery, goatery, poultry, etc. It is contemplating a comprehensive programme to assist the farmers in dairy development and other subsidiary occupations with assured marketing arrangements. The programme would be pursued with greater vigour in hitherto neglected Border and Kandi areas.
  27. My Government is fully aware of the problems being faced in management and operations of Gaushalas set up during the last few years; and a new scheme to make them self-sustaining will be launched shortly along with immediate financial assistance towards their operational costs.
  28. State’s Cooperative Department is working on broad based reforms both in its marketing and credit cooperatives with strong focus on export of products by Apex Cooperatives. Milkfed has commenced the construction of a new Mega Milk Dairy Plant at Bassi Pathana with an anticipated investment of Rs.358 crore, which would process one million liters of milk per day. Further, the Government has also decided to amalgamate 20 District Central Cooperative Banks of the State to strengthen State’s rural credit system and facilitate farmers in easy and quick credit from these banks.
  29. Education is undoubtedly one of the major priorities of my Government. It has taken a number of measures to improve infrastructure, manpower and quality of education in schools. It aims to transform these schools to make these Smart Schools with a provision of digital delivery of quality education. 261 secondary schools have so far been made smart schools and 2524 Government Primary Schools have also been transformed through active support of civil society and teaching community to provide for smart learning environment to the children.
  30. My Government has been a pioneer in starting pre-primary classes for children in the age group 3-6 years in 12,921 Government schools with enrolment of 1.73 lakh children. It has also introduced English as a medium of instruction in 2387 primary schools, giving young children a chance to learn English while pursuing primary education in their mother tongue.
  31. For improving learning levels of children in schools, my Government is pursuing effective implementation of its programme titled as Padho Punjab, Padhao Punjab. Under this programme, over 70 percent students have achieved the learning level targets and efforts shall continue to improve this further.
  32. My Government is seriously concerned about woes of teachers and it shall take all possible measures to redress their grievances. In fact, not only the teachers, the grievances of all employees of the State are receiving full attention of my Government and these shall soon be addressed effectively as the Government does not want its dynamic work force to suffer any disadvantage or handicap in any manner.
  33. My Government is continuing with its efforts to establish 15 new Degree Colleges, a Skills’ University at Chamkaur Sahib, a Sports’ University at Patiala and of course, a World Class Technology University at Mohali. It has also decided to set up a Bebe Nanki Girls College at Sultanpur Lodhi to commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Devji.
  34. My Government has constituted a statutory Punjab State Higher Education Council under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for planned development of Higher Education and for improvement in quality of institutions of higher education in the State.
  35. My Government is fully cognizant of the health concerns of State’s population and has established 239 Wellness Clinics in the State. 258 Wellness Clinics will be set up by March 2019 with a proposal to add another 800 such clinics in 2019-20. While the Government has already approved and provided the requisite budget to establish a new Medical College at Mohali, it is further pursuing a proposal to establish three new Medical Colleges at Sangrur, Gurdaspur and Malerkotla.
  36. Affordability of healthcare is one of the major concerns of our citizens. The Government of India has announced the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna i.e. Ayushman Bharat Scheme to provide health insurance cover of Rs.5 lakh. However, the scheme covers only 14.96 lakh SECC families of the State. My Government has decided to broad base the scheme to provide health insurance cover of Rs.5 lakh to 42 lakh families under the scheme called ‘Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojna’, covering almost 3/4th of the State’s population. The scheme will be made fully functional from 1st April 2019.
  37. My government has begun a new service to provide ‘Free Blood and Blood Components’ in all Government hospitals and Medical Colleges for all patients. It is also giving greater focus on ‘Free treatment for Haemophilia and Thalassemia’ patients in all Government Medical Colleges and Hospitals.
  38. A comprehensive campaign has been launched by my government against sub-standard and adulterated milk, milk products and other food items under Mission Tandrust Punjab. The Punjab State Food Safety Laboratory at Kharar has been upgraded with modern and high-quality testing equipment with an expenditure of Rs 15 crore. My Government has taken strong action against all those who have been found indulging in adulteration of food.
  39. My Government has decided to strengthen its two Government Medical Colleges at Patiala and Amritsar. The process for recruitment against 153 posts of post-graduate (PG) faculty has already been initiated. All the posts of paramedics and other staff are also being filled-up. Both these colleges will have the services of super specialists in the coming six months.
  40. The State Cancer Institute is proposed to be set-up in the Government Medical College, Amritsar at a cost of Rs.120 crore. The Institute is likely to be completed by December, 2020. Similarly, a Tertiary Cancer Care Centre at Fazilka is at an advanced stage of construction and will be completed by June, 2019. The Advance Cancer Research Centre at Bathinda and Oncology Departments in two Government Medical Colleges at Patiala and Amritsar are also being strengthened by equipping them with various latest and sophisticated ‘state-of-art’ equipment.
  41. My Government is providing financial assistance of Rs. 1.5 lakh for treatment of cancer patients. Rs. 118 crore were allocated for this programme last year.
  42. My Government has taken a number of steps to facilitate Real Estate investment in the State, ensuring ease of doing business for such investors. It has started digitization of master plans to enable people to get e-approval of CLUs. Under e-CLU, State Housing Department now allows electronic change of land use.
  43. For quick and effective delivery of civic services, my Government is giving greater thrust on e-governance in all municipal areas of the State. Under e-governance project, State’s municipalities are now offering services such as online applications for water connections, and online payments of property tax, on-line sanction of building plans etc. The system ensures transparency and reduction in time for approval.
  44. My Government has established a Directorate of Fire Services to regulate and supervise 34 offices of Fire Brigades in 10 Municipal Corporation towns and 155 other Municipal towns in the State.
  45. My Government is taking every possible step to implement Central Schemes titled as AMRUT and Smart City Programme. It has in fact supplemented and complemented efficacy of these schemes by initiating city-specific Canal Based Drinking Water Supply Schemes for Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Jalandhar and a Rs.1540 crore HUDCO-funded scheme for improvement in sewerage and waste disposal schemes in smaller municipal towns of the State.
  46. For filling critical gaps in urban infrastructure and to address issues such as last mile connectivity or completion, my Government has initiated Urban Environment Improvement Programme for context specific works aimed at improvement of basic civic amenities in our cities.
  47. My Government has streamlined display of advertisements in urban areas of the State by prescribing a fair and transparent Punjab Municipal Outdoor Advertisement Policy 2018.
  48. My Government has pursued the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban in an effective manner and achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status for all 167 ULBs of the State. I am happy to state that in Swachh Survekshan 2018, Punjab has been ranked 1st amongst the north zone states.
  49. My Government has notified a policy for compounding of unauthorized colonies and regularization of plots and buildings in these colonies. The colonies that have been developed before March 19, 2018 shall be regularized under this policy.
  50. My Government has undertaken slew of measures to streamline the procedure as well as the process of issuance of Change of Land Use (CLU) through decentralization of power of issue of CLU
  51. For boosting the building construction in the State and to introduce the latest technological advancements in the construction practices and material, my Government has notified the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Building Rules-2018. The new Rules provide for increased permissible FAR and unlimited purchasable FAR for certain categories. Provisions of latest National Building Codes have also been incorporated.
  52. Realizing the need to make housing affordable to lower- and middle-income groups in the State, my Government has notified Affordable Colony Policy, 2018. The basic objective is to persuade the promoters to opt for development of small-size residential plots and flats and simultaneously discourage the setting up of illegal colonies in future, which mushroomed across the State in the past. Numerous benefits have been provisioned for the promoters in this policy including higher density and FAR.
  53. In order to ensure women empowerment and their participation in decision making process, my Government has raised the reservation of women in urban local bodies from 30% to 50 %.It also has successfully implemented through Science City, Kapurthala, a project titled as ‘Women Empowerment through Genetic Literacy: An Innovative Intervention’ to sensitize general public in rural areas on genetic basis of sex development in the child. 53 Genetic Literacy Clubs have been established in the State.
  54. My Government is committed to give free, quality uninterrupted power to the farmers. All 14-lakh tube-wells in the State continue to get free power at an expected annual subsidy of Rs.6250 crore. Likewise, my Government also continues to provide 200 free units of electricity to SC, BPL and BC households, and the condition of annual consumption of 3000 units has been removed.
  55. Despite financial constraints, I am happy to state that the State’s Power Corporation has been able to achieve all-time low transmission and distribution losses at 13.68% through strict vigilance and monitoring. It has also ensured ease of doing business to all consumers with an outcome of 4.58 lakh new power connections issued during the last two years to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.
  56. For improvement of rural infrastructure to provide for basic amenities for our citizens, my Government has initiated a broad-based scheme titled as ‘Smart Village Campaign’. The scheme aims to provide essential amenities in keeping with local contextual requirements before taking other preferable/ desirable activities.
  57. Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana (MGSVY) launched by my Government during the previous year, has been largely appreciated. The Yojana is aimed at inclusive growth of distressed sections of the society. It was felt that though a large number of welfare scheme have been going-on for years, there are still a large number of poor and distressed households who have not received the benefit of these schemes. Sarbat Vikas Camps organized under the scheme in different villages/ clusters have provided requisite relief / due benefit to 8.91 lakh distressed persons.
  58. During 2017-19, my Government generated 415 lakh man-days of rural employment under MNREGA, which is 38% more than in the corresponding period in the previous two years. In all, my Government has incurred an expenditure of Rs. 1350 crore during the last two years (till December 2018) under MGNREGA i.e. 61% more than the corresponding period of previous two years.
  59. Providing clean drinking water supply and sanitation to rural areas remains an undiluted focus of my Government. It has decided to provide piped potable drinking water to every household in rural areas of Punjab. 60% rural households have been provided with individual household water connections so far and the remaining 40% rural households will be covered in the next two years.  
  60. My Government has successfully implemented Swachh Bharat- Grameen Mission and achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status for all villages of the State with the construction of 4.99 lakh toilets at a cost of Rs. 722 crore by individual beneficiaries during the last two years.
  61. For quality affected habitations, my Government has decided to install 193 Reverse Osmosis/ water treatment plants in water quality affected habitations. In addition, 5 surface drinking water supply schemes of Rs.541 crore in 561 water quality affected villages are under implementation. Till December 2018, a total of 224 Fluoride & Arsenic affected habitations have been provided with safe drinking water through Arsenic removal plants (88) and Reverse Osmosis Plants (136).
  62. For water logged areas of the State, my Government is implementing 75 rural water supply schemes in water-logged areas of Muktsar and Fazilka districts with an expenditure of Rs.142 crore. These schemes will be completed by December 2019.
  63. My Government is pursuing a comprehensive programme to develop and maintain its road infrastructure in the state. National Highways’ 4-laning projects of 172 Km are in progress with an estimated cost of Rs. 4166 crore, of which 130 Kms have already been completed. In addition, Up-gradation of 306 Km of National Highways including 8 ROBs at a Cost of Rs. 2147 crore are currently in progress.
  64. My Government has established the Punjab Social Security Fund under the Punjab Social Security Act, 2018 with a view to provide regular Social Security pensions and other benefits to old aged, widows, dependent children, and disabled persons. It gives me great satisfaction to note that my Government is providing enhanced monthly pension of Rs.750 to 19.20 lakh beneficiaries by 15th of each month with unfailing regularity. An annual expenditure of Rs.1634 crore is being incurred in this regard.
  65. Likewise, enhanced marriage grant of Rs.21,000 is also being paid to all eligible persons under the Aashirwad Scheme. My Government has also increased gross annual income limit for creamy layer of OBCs from Rs.6 lakh to Rs.8 lakh.
  66. My government is implementing Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) in 155 projects through 27,314 Anganwari Centers, which are aimed at enhancing the health, nutrition and learning opportunities of mothers and children. The Government has also decided to enhance the monthly honorarium paid to Anganwari workers and helpers.
  67. The POSHAN Abhiyaan initially implemented in 4 districts in the year 2017-18, has now been rolled out in the entire state.
  68. My Government has restored 14 percent reservation to SC employees in Group A and B and 20 percent reservation in Group C and D for filling up vacancies by promotion through an amendment of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006.
  69. My Government has adopted a new Transport Policy with a clear mandate to cancel the permits for trucks and buses given in a non-transparent manner and to give new permits through an open and transparent system primarily to the youth to engage them in gainful employment.
  70. My Government launched the ‘Mission Tandrust Punjab’ to make Punjab a healthiest State with healthy people. The Mission aims to ensure quality of air, water, soil, food and overall living environment in the State The Mission has successfully generated substantial public awareness and made persistent efforts to check adulterated food and reduce excessive use and consumption of fertilizers and agro-chemicals by the farmers.
  71. My Government has decided to set up a separate Directorate of Environment and Climate Change to strengthen the efforts of protecting our environment and addressing the challenges arising from the climate change.
  72. My Government has also commissioned the Punjab State Aeronautical Engineering College at Patiala from the academic session 2018-19, as a constituent college of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University.
  73. My Government has also approved a proposal to set up a new Civil International Air Terminal at Halwara, Ludhiana, which shall completed in three years. Further, I am happy to state that air connectivity has improved tremendously with 6 airports in the State.
  74. My Government has launched a unique initiative called Guardians of Governance (GOGs), wherein the services of ex-servicemen are being used to ensure effective implementation of government schemes at grassroots. 2970 Guardians have so far been appointed in all districts.
  75. My Government has taken measures for welfare of freedom fighters and their families including providing one out of turn tube-well connection,3% reservation in house allotments by Development Authorities, exemption of toll tax on State highways and 300 units of electricity free of any charge.
  76. My Government is working on a new law for safeguarding the properties of NRIs. It has launched a new Scheme ‘Connect with Your Roots’ (CYR) with a view to give the Punjabi youth in other countries an exposure of the ground realities in Punjab.
  77. For the facility of infrastructure investment projects in the State, my Government has amended Section 27 of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, to ensure its seamless implementation. My Government has enhanced the rate of compensation for crop damages due to natural calamities from the existing Rs.8000 per acre to Rs.12000 per acre.
  78. For bringing in transparency and ensuring speedy and time   bound disposal of revenue cases, an “Online Revenue Court Management System” has been introduced in select revenue court and it will be rolled out in the entire State by 2020.
  79. My Government has introduced e-registration of sale deeds and also started a pilot project for electronic demarcation of land.
  80. My Government has implemented National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) for Online Registration of documents in all the 173 Sub Registrar and Joint Sub Registrar Offices of the State. The Registration Offices are now cashless, which will help in checking harassment of public and corruption.
  81. In keeping with its commitment of my Government has notified the Punjab Smart Connect Scheme to provide free smart mobile phones to the youth. In the first phase of the scheme, of those eligible, the youth enrolled in the final years of government schools, ITIs, polytechnics and colleges will be provided free smart phones.
  82. My Government has approved a new Sports Policy with the key focus on the following:
    1. Encourage Sports through larger participation and emulating best practices across the country.
    2. Categorization of Games and focus on High Potential Games to win Medals and improve international standing.
    3. Involve children and youth into sports through structured changes in Curriculum.
    4. Augmentation of sports facilities at District & Sub-Divisional levels.
    5. Increased and graded financial assistance to medal winners with upto Rs. 2.25 crore for Olympic Gold.
    6. Provide job opportunities to deserving sportspersons in Government and outside.
  83. My Government has been making consistent efforts to increase the area under forest cover. During the year 2018-19 (till December 2018), approximately 63.00 lakh tree saplings have been supplied to various stake holders under the Mission Tandrust Punjab.
  84. My Government has announced plantation of 550 saplings in each village to celebrate the historic occasion of 550th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Under this campaign, 75 lakh saplings will be planted by September, 2019 in all villages of the State.
  85. Dear Members, we are blessed that the 550th Prakash Purab of our First Guru is falling during the term of this House. It is a great occasion and life-time opportunity to not only rejoice, but also to re-dedicate ourselves for the upliftment and welfare of the masses as a befitting tribute to the memory of the great Sri Guru Nanak Devi Ji. My Government has drawn up a comprehensive programme of celebrations and these were commenced in the right earnest with a State-level function at Sultanpur Lodhi on 23rd November 2018.
  86. Mr. Speaker, the prayers of all Punjabis for the last 70 years and efforts of my Government have finally borne fruit with the laying of foundation stone of a corridor to Sri Kartarpur Sahib (in Pakistan) on 26th November, 2018. It is indeed a historic development, which we welcome and let me assure everyone that my Government shall spare no effort to make this corridor operational by the coming Maha Gurpurab on 12th November 2019.
  87. My Government has also constituted a Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the planned development of Dera Baba Nanak and its adjoining areas along the corridor. 
  88. 2019 is also historic a year for yet another reason. It also marks the Centenary of the tragic Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which falls on 13th April, 2019. This unfortunate tragedy where hundreds, if not thousands of peaceful Punjabis perished at the hands of Brigadier General Dyer’s troops, continues to be close to everyone’s hearts. To commemorate this occasion, my Government has planned a number of literary and cultural activities and public functions including a Shaheed Samman rally in Amritsar whereby tributes shall be paid to all the martyrs of the freedom struggle and of various wars where the brave Punjabis laid down their lives.
  89. My Government is also celebrating the 150thBirth Anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and shall organize literary and cultural activities across the Universities, Colleges and Schools of Punjab. It shall also ensure Sarbat ka Vikas by reaching out to the most deprived and distressed to mitigate, if not eliminate their miseries as befitting tribute to our Father of Nation.
  90. My Government has signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Himachal Pradesh for the construction of ropeway between Sri Anandpur Sahib and Mata Naina Devi Ji. This ropeway shall connect not only two places but also two States and more significantly, the two important faiths of the region.
  91. Dear Members, the details of policies and programmes shared by me clearly indicate that my government is fully committed to welfare of people of Punjab. Most of these programmes have been launched successfully and I am sure the results will be seen by all of us soon. I am also confident that these programmes will do well and the common man will be immensely benefited once these are fully implemented. In fact, vindication of these programmes by Aam Aadmi could be seen in the results of recently concluded elections to Gram Panchayats, Block Samitis and Zila Parishads. The rural population of the State has overwhelmingly supported the policies and programs of my government by electing the candidates supported by the ruling party. These elections were peaceful, widely participative and keenly contested and have helped to strengthen faith of our people in democracy at grassroots in the State. I congratulate you all and through you all the elected members of Gram Panchayats, Block Samitis and Zila Parishads. I hope they will all discharge their responsibilities with utmost diligence and integrity.
  92. Mr. Speaker, before I end, allow me to record my deep appreciation for all Members for maintaining the high traditions of democratic functioning in our country. They have not only upheld the dignity of this House, but also respected each other, maintaining brotherhood and camaraderie despite political differences. While dissent is the proverbial touchstone of vibrant democratic functioning, it is imperative that this must be exercised with dignity and in a civil and non-personal manner. I am confident that you all would discuss and debate all issues of public concern and contribute towards evolving schemes and programmes that would take our State to greater heights of socio-economic development.

Wishing you all the success, I hope you will continue to serve the people of Punjab with full dedication and devotion.

JAI HIND

Punjab Khabarnama

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