Right to Services Act, a great step towards Citizen Empowerment

SAD – BJP (Shiromani Akali Dal- Bhartiya Janta Party), the state government of Punjab has been making its sincere efforts to fulfill the motive of Right to Service Act, which was implemented in the year 2011. The state government has always been focused on the agenda to put service beyond duty.

On 19th October, 2011, the state government of Punjab gave its agreement on the RTS Act (Right to Service Act). The primary motive of RTS Act is to make the delivery of government services to the people of Punjab in the easiest and smooth manner. Also, it was enacted to make sure that the services are delivered within specified set of time span to Punjab’s people. The Punjab RTS Act also ensures the proper and better execution of the services.

Following are the steps/procedure that is followed in the Punjab RTS Act, (as stated in the Information Handbook, under the RTS Act)–

  • Commission will arrange meetings after specified intervals of time to take important decisions.
  • The functioning of Commission will be monitored/supervised by the directions of the Chief Commissioner.
  • Any revision or complaint can be considered or decided by the commission from time to time.
  • Though, the final decision making authority lies in the hands of the Chief Commissioner.

Efficiently providing the effective services within the specified time frame, this Punjab Right to Service Act has been proved to be highly beneficial for the promotion of transparency and accountability in the operation of the government departments, which provide the services to the people of Punjab.

To make sure the timely delivery of services and making suggestions to Punjab government, a Punjab Right to Service Commission has been set up. It also ensures the accurate execution of the Punjab Right to Service Act. Apart from being the leading state to implement this Act, 7.21 Crore people have been benefited from the same. As per the official spokesperson’s claim, around 28, 37,866 applicants have taken the advantage of the notified services during the month of February under the mentioned Act. Also, only 14,160 are the pending applications which are to be cleared as soon as possible.

In addition to this, we can say that the implementation of The Punjab Right to Service Act has been successful in gaining the trust of citizens and it has also empowered the people of Punjab in the most efficient manner possible.

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Its time to make the citizens feel safe – ‘Amritsar Speaks’

Rising rates of crime in any state is a sign of destruction and disturbance for the citizens. Punjab has recently seen an increase in the crime rates in different parts of the state because of some unruly elements of the society. The government is trying its best to curb such negative activities and help citizens lead a peaceful life. Amritsar is one of those states that are facing a high rate of increase in the crime scene and therefore various Non-Government Organizations of the city have come together to raise their voices against the same.

Naming their banner as ‘Amritsar Speaks’, they are trying to raise their voice against the crime and spread awareness amidst the citizens to help the government and the authorities in the best possible way to curb the nuisances. An NGO by the name of Mission Aagaaz was also a part of this group and one of their members mentioned that the crime rate has been increasing in the state since last many years and it is the need of the hour to curb the same.

Amidst the discussions, various people were of the view that it is the easy access of money to the youngsters and the issue of drug addiction that is resulting in the increase of these unruly activities. Various anti-social elements are influencing the youth of the state to get into such activities and destroying their future the government is coming up various inspirational campaigns and laws and regulations to inspire the young guns of the society to get back on the right track and stop destroying the decorum of the society.

Along with the government and the authorities, it is also the responsibility of the residents to help them in solving out the cases and provide with the required information. It is the terror of such anti-social groups due to which the residents don’t speak out much and are living in a constant state of fear and terror. Various surveillance plans have been worked out by the government to help in keeping a check on the theft accidents happening around various cities of Punjab. The surveillance department can help in creating a feeling of security amongst the residents and catch the thieves around the area.

Revival of Wakf board yields fruits for Muslims in Punjab

In a bid to give boost to the revival of Wakf board in Punjab and ensure proper maintenance of its properties all over the state, the Punjab government has reconstituted the Wakf board and has issued directions for removing encroachments from the properties which come under the purview of the Board. The objective is to ensure that the income generated from these properties was utilised for the welfare of the Muslim community in the state.

Revival of Wakf board yields fruits for Muslims in Punjab.png

While claiming the interest of minorities was of prime importance to the government Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has maintained that the SAD-BJP government has reconstituted this board mainly to ensure proper maintenance of the properties of Punjab Waqf Board across the state. The income generated from these properties can be used for the utilisation of Muslim community all over the state, he said. After Chief Minister’s instructions, all pending matters pertaining to the encroachment of property of the Board are directly being dealt with and a prompt action is being taken to dispose of such cases.

The approval for the re constitution of Board was given in February 2015, as per the provisions required under section 14 of the Wakf Act, 1995, as amended in 2013. Following the decision, Mrs. F. Nesara Khatoon (Farzana Alam) has been named as a member from MLA category, Janaab Gazi Mohammed Umair from Bar council category, Syed Sadiq Hussain Naqvi and Janaab Shamim Ahmad Qazim have been named as Shia and Sunni scholars in the board and Mr. Showkat Ahmad Parray, IAS, was included from government officer category. Similarly Mr. Dilbagh Hussain and Ms. Manju Qureshi have been nominated to the board under section 14(3) of the State Wakf Board.

In fact it’s due to pro-active and welfare measures that in sharp contrast to the Wakf boards in several other states which are undergoing losses, the income of Punjab Wakf Board has risen in past the couple of years. Against an income of just Rs 3.63 crore a few years back, the Wakf’s revenue generation has increased to 20.20 crore in the year 2011-12. Two years ago the annual income of Board was about Rs 15 crore.

With the rise in income, the Board has undertaken a number of welfare activities. At present the Wakf Board has around 4,500 properties in Punjab and has helped building 440 mosques within a period of two years. Besides, it’s also providing aid to 34 schools and ‘madrassas all over the state. The Board has also undertaken a number of other welfare activities including providing scholarships to students and pension to the widows.

The Wakf has been generating its own resources including by leasing out some of its properties. And those part of Waqf Board mention that the state government’s hands on approach for the welfare of board has helped it improve the income and spread its welfare activities.

What is Wakf

Wakf is described as permanent dedication by a person professing Islam, of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognized by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable. The institution of Wakf in India is 800 years old. It began when Muslim rulers donated huge lands for charity. The approximate number of registered Waqf properties in India is 3,00,000 which accounts for over 4 lakh acres of land.

Government’s stamp duty waiver and e-stamp duty brings path breaking reforms in Punjab

On a move to bring prosperity through governance reforms in Punjab, the state government has brought in major changes in the provisions related to land deals and transactions in addition to streamlining the records through digitalisation.

Government’s stamp duty waiver and e-stamp duty brings path breaking reforms in Punjab - Progressive Punjab, Bikram Singh Majithia,

 

Zero fee transfer of property between spouses and blood relations

Carrying forward its people friendly reforms the government has waived off registration fee charged for transfer of property between spouses and blood relations in urban and rural areas.

The initiative announced in May 2014, has helped curtailing the shady land deals and encouraging families to legally transfer property between blood relations and spouses. This would include father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandson and granddaughter.

Besides, the government also decided to do away with the social security fund, social infrastructure cess and stamp duty on such transfers, through a notification. Earlier, a person desirous of transferring his property directly to his grandsons was liable to pay 5 per cent stamp duty. In case of women the duty was 3 per cent of the cost.

According to the State Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the decision is in accordance with the government’s desire to encourage people to go in for legal registration of property instead of adopting ultra vires measures which had only led to intra-family disputes.

“This decision fulfils the long-pending promise of the SAD-BJP government regarding zero transfer fees on such transfers. We have been working to simplify revenue acts, reduce legal disputes while encouraging people to adopt legal and not the extra constitutional means in the transfer of land and properties,” he said.

People have been refraining from effecting legal transfer of properties between blood relation in view of registration fee and stamp fee in the past leading to disputes in the family.

“I am happy that this zero fee transfer of property has been approved by special efforts of Chief Minister, who took care to follow up this issue at every level clearing all legal hurdles leading to its fructification,” he said.

Other waivers

Carrying forward its reforms spree, the state government has also remitted the stamp duty for purchasing land to set up a project duly approved by the Punjab Energy Development Authority, under New and Renewable Sources of Energy Policy, 2012. Under the provisions, no registration fee is to be charged when executed by or in favour of any person or company or firm or society.

E-stamping system

In a bid to make the process of land dealing more people friendly and avoid frauds in the transactions the government has introduced e-stamping system. Effective from October 2015, the user friendly and cost effective initiative of state government will help in online registration of lands in a transparent and secure manner apart from making the process hassle free mean. As per the new initiative all mutations of deeds and registrations of land above Rs 50,000 are to be done under e-stamping system. The move has helped in making the revenue transactions citizen-centric and speedy, thus giving a fillip to the governance reforms.

Land/property records computerised

Before launching the system the government issued instructions to all the district to take measures to computerise the revenue, land and property records. The government had initially launched the system on experimental basis in three districts of SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, and Bathinda. After it was found feasible and effective, it was decided to launch the system in the entire state.

With the introduction of e stamping Punjab has joined 10 other states and Union Territories. The system is already being implemented in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh Gujarat, Karnataka, NCR Delhi, Maharashtra, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry.

Benefits of e stamping

The implementation of e-stamping policy would benefit residents in a number of ways making procedure of land deals and related transactions hassle free. Under the new system, e-stamp certificates can be generated immediately, which would have a unique identification number. One would be able to check the authenticity of these certificates from anywhere with the help of inquiry module. Besides no specific denomination would be required for e-stamping.

Central agency to monitor

The state government has signed an agreement with Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL), a central agency responsible for record keeping, for implementation and monitoring of e-stamping system. The agency would be responsible for overall e-stamping application operations, maintenance user registration. It has also been assigned the task of setting up authorised collection centres for issuing certificates.

Other measures for real estate in budget 2016

In order to give some breather to the real estate sector, the government has announced 50% rebate on EDC, CLU and licence fee for affordable housing projects. It has also announced a rebate of 25% on all new housing sector projects, 20% cut in stamp duty on the first purchase conveyance deed of all new flats and reduction of 15% in collector rates for assessing stamp duty.

Traders Policy brings smiles in Community

From VAT refunds to tolerating no corruption, Punjab government’s trader’s policy might as well be a trader’s heaven

Traders Policy brings smiles in Community

Punjab state government in concluding months of 2013 sought to mend its methods of trading to help the big and small traders of the state. With a vision in mind Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the ‘New Traders Policy- 2013’. The intention was to reduce the discrepancies in the trading sector. Badal broadcasted the policy which would attracts more investors to the state and even reduce the interference between the traders and the tax department.

Not only for the big players of the trade business the policy looked out for the budding small traders too, by giving them social security net if they pay value added tax (VAT).

Punjab back in the day had a total of 2.35 lakh traders registered with the state authorities. Out of the registered traders 46,374 paid an amount less than Rs. 1,000 annually and around 92,000 did not pay any tax. Observing these stats the government also took out a Voluntary Disclosure scheme (VDS) for the dealers who wished to make amends to wrongs done by them. In this the defaulters were allowed to deposit the actual tax due along with 1.5 percent interest. 25% of the amount was collected within a month and the rest 75% in the next 60 days. The VDS also helps the government get more finances from the trading sector.

Indian Oil Corporation was marked the highest tax paying trader with Rs. 2,367 crore. Single taxation system at manufacturing level was also introduced which would free the traders from accounting and taxation procedures. Under this the entire tax is collected at the production stage and the subsequent stages turn ‘tax free’. Badal made it clear that his government wanted to help the traders from the endless paper work and wanted them to concentrate on the business alone.

Star-rating scheme was started by the Punjab government to keep away the fraudsters who enjoyed the guaranteed VAT refunds without paying expenses to the administration. Under this landmark scheme highest tax payers would be given five-star and would receive refund in 15 days. The four, three and two star traders would get theirs in 25, 35 and 45 days respectively. If any fraudster would be found cheating the government they would be charged at the level of their rating e.g. 5 star trader who rogues would face 500 per cent penalty.

After taking out the revolutionary policy the deputy CM was strict on his department officers and made it clear that any sort of corruption will not be tolerated and the corrupt officials will be dismissed. Punjab included insurance schemes for traders in their policy and became the first state to do so. Under this, traders having turnover of up to Rs. 1 crore would have a health insurance scheme of up to Rs. 50,000. Further Rs. 5 lakh insurance cover was there to cover loss incurred by natural calamities.

Further the trader’s policy of Punjab brought with it self a method that removed the chances of corruption by inspectors. The Lump Sum Tax Proposal made the requirement of audit by a CA to Rs. 1 crore from Rs. 50 Lakh.

Exports in Punjab before the Traders policy were 28,256 crore and after the scheme was imposed it took a rise to 42,723 in 2013-14. The production of oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane were at a decline in the beginning of the decade but since 2014 has started taking vast rise.

 

No more waiting at the crossroads

As the Prakash Singh Badal led SAD-BJP government successfully completed its 9 years of being in power today, it would be selfish to not take note of the contemporary social setting in the state. Punjab, being a far-sighted government is certainly forging ahead to make itself an IT superpower.

No more waiting at the crossroads - driving license online

Residents of Punjab are able to submit their particulars and track status for their driving license online, on the public portal http://www.punjabtransport.org. The applicant is said to receive his/her learner license, in mere time span of a day. In contrast to this, the ancient method of driving test has been replaced by a computerized state-of-art driving centres, which encounter scientific and precise driving tests.

Any resident of the state who is between the ages of 16-18 years, is eligible to apply for the learner’s license. Whereas, all the residents who have pertained the age limit of 18 years are supposed to haul their permanent driving license, in order to drive their vehicle in a public place and neglecting the same is a punishable offence.

However, to obtain a driving license of a vehicle that is used in transporting dangerous or hazardous to health goods, the minimum age has to be 20 years and the license  is effective for one year and the renewal of the same requires the applicant to undergo a one-day refresher course of the prescribed syllabus.

Ever since the e-governance portal by the Punjab government, has been implemented it has given rise to a less cumbersome process, which involves no paper documents, as all the required particulars are uploaded online. As soon as the documents are uploaded, the applicant is issued a reference number which can be used for paying the fees and getting the required documents verified.

The driving license is of immense importance for any person to drive any motor vehicle and no owner of any motor vehicle shall permit any underage to drive the same in any public place or any other place, until and unless the vehicle is registered in accordance with Chapter IV of the MV Act, 1988.

The prevailing State Transport Commissioner (STC), Mr. Ajit Singh Kohar has left no stone unturned for efficient functioning of the Transport system in Punjab. Mr. Kohar’s initiative of issuing automated driving test, through online licensing and training centre turned out to be a huge success, ever since its inception in April 2015, the centre has easily issued 27027 driving licenses so far, of which 5440 were said to be issued in the month of December 2015.  “The popularity of this project can be gauged from the fact that in December 2015 total 5440 licenses were issued in 21 working days. This gives an average 259 licenses per day, which translates into a new license being produced every 1.84 minutes”, the minister claimed.

With a visionary SAD-BJP government, there has been a considerable shift in the executing paradigm in Punjab, due to the appropriate use of technology thereby, bringing efficiency and accuracy in the work.

181 Police Helpline Punjab

With an integrated helpline number, Punjab Govt. provides security with dignity

181 Police Helpline Punjab.png

With an aim to solve grievances in a time bound manner Punjab Deputy Chief minister Sukhbir Badal launched the ‘181’ police helpline number in August of 2013. The multimode helpline number for woman, children, senior citizens and NRIs is the first of its kind in the country.

The SAD-BJP government took this initiative to make the police force accountable to the people. Any of the complaints would not be taken lightly as was said by the Deputy CM. The government has even made it certain that no complaint would be shut down until the complainant was satisfied.

When a caller dials 181 he is attended by a call counsellor who takes all relevant details. Further a case number is generated and sent via SMS. The cases that require counselling are attended by a clinical psychologist. The case coordinator follows up the case regularly till it is closed by the police of the district concerned.

The citizens can register complaint about drug abuse, anti-social elements or any problem. The calls are outsourced to a private firm Ziqitza to maintain total professionalism. Ziqitza is the same company that operated the 108 ambulance help line and hence did not have any trouble in setting up the 181 helpline number. 20 seat call centre have been set up that have been dedicatedly running to help the people in the state. Offering help through SMS, call, fax, email and web portal people can avail the service 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

The helpline has further improved in its services through the constant support and feedback from the citizens of state. Since the launch of the helpline number in 2013 till november2015 the Punjab police received 9, 14,052 calls from children, women and NRIs. The reports have been about child labour, child marriage, drug abuse, peddling, police misconduct and other complaints. From the over 9 Lakh calls around 2 lakh were in the form of feedback.

From all the calls received 51% of the complaints were from women who wanted help in cases of domestic violence. There have been 7070 cases of dowry harassment, 1609 were of rape or rape attempt, 499 were of sexual violence and 17835 were domestic violence reports. 81% of the callers have reported satisfaction.

According to a Punjab government website the helpline has also proved help full in providing tips and to be accurate till November 2015, 6897 tips were received. These were related to drug abuse, prostitution and drug supply.

97% of the cases registered through the helpline were closed in the given time frame. In September 2013, when Badal analysed the helpline number service there were 1127 complaints against policemen. ADG was directed to investigate into the matter in a very fair manner.

NRIs can also contact officers of inspector rank and above at the NRI wing headquarters given on a few numbers. The 181 helpline number has been a great advance step by the government of Punjab. It has helped the police in getting their hands at various drug busts and has also increased the trust of the people on the police with time bound help for their grievances.