Chandigarh: Reiterating his government’s commitment to wipe out corruption, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday promised stern action against anyone found to be even remotely concerned with any illegal activity, denying the state its legitimate revenue and the citizens their legitimate rights.
The Chief Minister, who was replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address in the Vidhan Sabha, pointed out that his government was examining all the scams perpetrated by the previous SAD-BJP government, including irrigation scam, scams in constructing roads and buildings, scholarship scam and the scams concerning illegal mining, and would take stringent action against the guilty.
On illegal mining, Captain Amarinder Singh told the House that his government would table the report of the Justice Narang Commission during the current session. He pointed out that though not found guilty, his colleague Rana Gurjit Singh, ex-Irrigation and Power Minister, resigned on moral grounds, underlining the high levels of probity in the government.
Under the state’s new Mining Policy, his government, said the Chief Minister, had reversed the system of reverse bidding used by the SAD-BJP Government in mining auctions and introduced progressive bidding, thereby increasing the State’s revenue from mining from Rs.42 crore in 2016-17 to about Rs.123 crore (up to February) in 2017-18.
However, the Chief Minister made it clear that he was still not happy with the outcomes of Mining and was awaiting the suggestions of the Cabinet Sub-Committee to suggest mining reforms to ensure higher revenue for the State, and sand and gravel at affordable price for the people. In fact, said the Chief Minister, the government had comprehensively restructured the State Department of Mining with an independent Directorate.
The SAD-BJP Government has not only demolished systems, structures and violated laws of the land, but also protected and rewarded the dishonest and demoralized the honest, said the Chief Minister, adding that his government had already taken several steps to re-engineer the processes and empower the State’s official machinery through clearly defined policies and programmes, ensuring greater transparency in governance.
The government will bring a new Lokpal Act with powers to initiate action on complaints against the political executives and the bureaucracy at all levels, the Chief Minister announced, observing that the House had already passed a legislation making it mandatory for all the members to file their annual property returns.
Further, the Punjab Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission (GREC) had already recommended to replace the old Right to Service Act with a new legislation titled as ‘The Punjab Transparency and Accountability in Delivery of Public Services Act’.
On Governance Reforms, the Chief Minister pointed out that the government was restructuring the Unified Delivery Service Centers and bringing a new legislation, which will enable extensive use of digital technology, minimizing unproductive financial liability thrust upon the State by the previous Government. The new Right to Service Commission will be manned with permanent and regular staff with full accountability, he informed the House, adding that the Legislation to establish Nyaya Panchayats was being finalized for easy, quick and affordable justice at grass root level.
Listing out several e-governance initiatives launched by his government, the Chief Minister said these were aimed at building a Digital Punjab with a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. The Chief Minister declared his commitment to empower the youth and the farmers, and to remove the middleman through such initiatives.