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In a unique decision to ensure safe delivery and reduce the mortality rate of infants and health hazards to mothers, the Punjab government today decided in principle to waive off all medical charges on delivery cases in government hospitals in the state. The medical services for delivery cases in the state would from now on be "absolutely free".
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the state council of ministers here this evening. The meeting was chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal.
Giving the details of the decision taken at today's meeting, Chief Minister's Media Advisor Mr. Harcharan Bains said that the government also decided to set up Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Fund (PMIDF) under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 under the chairmanship of State Chief Secretary to mobilize financial resources and fund urban infrastructure projects to improve the living standards of urban population including the urban poor. The other members of the board would include Principal Secretary Finance, Principal Secretary Local Government as Managing Director, Principal Secretary Planning and Director Local Government as Chief Executive, Additional Secretary Local Government as joint MD and the commissioners of Municipal Corporations at Punjab. The board would empower the state government to contribute and improvement trusts to invest in the equity of PMIDF. The board would also act as a special purpose
vehicle to leverage funds through utilization of the properties of the urban Local bodies/Improvement trust etc.

The Cabinet also approved an amendment of the Punjab Lokpal Act, 1996 and other connected regulations to bring "Chief Parliamentary Secretary" and "Parliamentary Secretary" with in the purview of Lokpal.

The Cabinet also approved to allow the Chief Parliamentary Secretaries a sum of Rs.75000 per annum as petty/discretionary grants to each of them. At present there are 14 Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and this decision would entail an expenditure of Rs.10.50 lac annually.

In yet another decision, as a major relief to the cinema owners in the state, the Cabinet also approved for the promulgation of an ordinance to extend the facility of exemption in entertainment tax to them as 'No Entertainment Tax' on the pattern of the exemption to the multiplexes already given by the Punjab government.

The Cabinet also gave a nod to transfer 15.179 acres of the Sugarfed land out of total land measuring 27.8854 acres at Banur in district Patiala to Housefed directly for setting up a housing project. The stamp duty and other expenditure involved in the transfer of this land would be borne by the Housefed Punjab, added Mr.Bains.

Punjab adjudged best State in India in Water Supply & Sanitation

Chandigarh September 23, 2008

Punjab was adjudged as the Best State in the sphere of Water and Sanitation in the country at the IBN7 Diamond States Awards ceremony held at New Delhi yesterday evening. The Award was presented by former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to Punjab's Information & Public Relations and Water Supply & Sanitation Minister Bikram Singh Majithia.

The Awards were given as recognition of the human and social development and evaluation of the standards of governance in the States of India. Access to drinking water and toilet facilities are the parameters considered by the IBN Network while evaluating the performance of different States of the country in the category of Water and Sanitation.

Water Supply & Sanitation Minister Bikram Singh Majithia congratulated Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the people of State on the happy occasion and termed the achievement as "a recognition of the work being done by the SAD-BJP Government in Punjab". He stated that the State Government was fully committed to improving the access of public to potable drinking water supply and quality sanitation facilities, especially in rural areas and urban slums. He further stated that the State had taken some bold initiatives to provide quality drinking water using Reverse Osmosis technology in collaboration with Naandi Foundation, an NGO in Muktsar district which was now being extended to cover other endemic problematic villages of Malwa area. Work on the Rs. 1250 crore World Bank aided Water Supply & Sanitation project had also been expedited, he added.

The Minister stated that the State's infrastructural shortcomings were being addressed on priority with special focus on health and education to improve its manpower resource. On the other hand, a massive power generation programme had been launched to transform Punjab from a power-deficit to a power-surplus state by 2011-12. "These efforts would be further intensified in the years to come ushering in an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity", said Majithia.

Commenting on the feat, Member Parliament and President of Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal said that "this award was confirmation of will of SAD-BJP Government to provide them basic necessities of life like water and make Punjab power surplus State".

The selection process of this award was a credible multi-pronged approach involving Independent Validation partner, the International consultancy Price Waterhouse Coopers, that analyzed official sources of information as well as did extensive research based on parameters set up by Network18 Editorial Board, the Outlook Editorial Board and Jury consisting of eminent citizens of India.



The Punjab government would soon engage the services of Opus International Consultants Ltd, New Zealand (OPUS) to devise a strategy for future implementation of Output & Performance based Road Contracts (OPRC) to rehabilitate/improve, maintain and manage a portion of its road network of about 650 km in the southern districts of the State through the Punjab Roads & Bridges Development Board (PRBDB).

An assurance to this effect was given by the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal to the Technical Director Tony Porter who called on him this morning at Chief Minister's Residence.

While briefing the Chief Minister, PWD (B&R) Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa mentioned that the civil works, under Phase II of the Rs.1500 crore World Bank funded Punjab State Road Sector Project (PSRSP) would be now based on the output of these services likely to be commenced by mid of 2009.

It may be recalled that under the OPUS contract, the contractor was responsible for upgradation, renewal and maintenance of the network as required and payments were based primarily on measured "outputs" reflecting the target conditions of the roads under contract, rather than unit prices for works inputs. Typically, OPRC contracts run for periods of 5-10 years, with indications being that the quantum of work involved for this network over a 10 year period would be in the order of 200-300 km of upgradation works (typically widening of the paved surface), 150-250 km of rehabilitation works and routine maintenance for the entire length of the network.

The Chief Minister emphasised the need to abide by the parameters of strict quality control, regular supervision and maintenance after the completion of road projects to ensure timely completion and durability of these infrastructure installations. He asked the team leader of OPUS Mr. Robert Fergerstrom to undertake an extensive tour of Punjab to have first hand information about the existing road conditions and suggest constructive measures to improve upon its quality in the larger public interest.

Mr. Porter and Fergerstrom assured the Chief Minister that their internationally acclaimed company OPUS had undertaken the construction of 70% of road infrastructure in New Zealand and was consultant to many countries across the globe. They said that within an OPRC contract, the client was bound to abide by the stipulated specifications and conditions of the work allotted to him that obviously resulted in high class quality.

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included technical Advisor to the Punjab Government Lt. Gen. (Retd.) B.S Dhaliwal, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister DS Guru, Secretary PWD (B&R) Kulbir Singh and project Director PRBDB Kulwinder Singh Rao.



Chandigarh, September 23, 2008

Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration Chandigarh is organizing a sensitization Conference tomorrow on Total Quality Management (TQM). The Conference aims at sensitizing senior officers of Punjab Government in implementing TQM practices in Government with a view to improving the overall efficiency and responsiveness of the entire delivery system.

The Keynote address in the Conference would be delivered by Sh. VK Agnihotri, IAS (Retd.) presently Secretary General, Rajya Sabha and a reputed authority on TQM practices in Government Sh. Padamvir Singh, IAS Joint Director Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie would be also making a presentation of the subject. Punjab Chief Secretary Sh. Ramesh Inder Singh would preside over the conference. The State Institute has invited senior Government functionaries to attend the Conference.



Chandigarh September 23, 2008

The SC/BC teachers Union Punjab today met Dr. Upinderjit Kaur, Education Minister Punjab and presented their charter of demands.

The delegation of teachers demanded to amend and rectify the anomalies in seniority list as per the Janjua judgement and to clear the backlog in promotions of Master and Lecturer cadre. The Minister assured the delegation that the department would sympathetically consider their genuine demands at the earliest and asked the leaders to fully devote their attention to impart quality education to the students so that they could excel in competitive examinations.

The meeting was held in very cordial atmosphere and the Union leaders praised the Minister for her progressive approach to uplift the standard of education by initiating the process of recruitments, promotions and other developmental activities in the department.

Among others Mr. K.B.S.Sidhu, Secretary, Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Special Secretary, Mr. Jagtar Singh Khattra and Mrs. Harcharanjit Kaur Brar (both DPIs) and Mr. Sadhu Singh Randhawa Director SCERT were also present in the meeting.



Chandigarh, September 23: The Punjab Government today decided to exempt PUSA – 1121 and Sharbati varieties of paddy from levy obligations for the year 2008-09.

According to an official spokesman each rice miller has been instructed to maintain a proper record of the purchases made by him especially with regard to IR-8 that can be checked / verified as and when required.







Daily Punjab press release