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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The health sector in Punjab, seems to be healthy enough

The health sector requires special attention in order to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in a state. The government of Punjab appears to be conducive towards a revolutionary change in the health sector of the state. Raising investment in various specialty hospitals in the state, with due emphasis on economic concerns has contributed significantly to the economic development and the increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in Punjab.

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It would not be wrong to claim that, the health care sector and the human resource development forms the backbone of an economy. Keeping in view the same, the health care sector occupied a pivotal place in the Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit. The Summit aimed at enhancing the health sector in Punjab, by offering the most lucrative incentives to the pharmaceutical industry and the health care sector followed by providing single – window service for the efficient and effective clearances of such proposals. The computerization of health care records of all the government hospitals, and the policies in favor of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) people has resulted into a quantum jump in the productivity and the functioning of the health care sector in Punjab state.

There are various specialty hospitals operating in the state some of them include Fortis Hospital, Grecian super specialty hospital, Mayo healthcare super specialty hospital, Government multi – specialty hospital, Max super specialty hospital, JP hospital and Guru Nanak Dev super – specialty hospital. The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) was incorporated through the revolutionary and legislative measures of the state Government of Punjab. The vision of PHSC was to bring more administrative flexibility for implementation of the ”Second State Health Systems Development Project” with assistance of  World Bank, with the motive of upgrading the health sector services at a secondary level.

The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC), has been looking after about 150 institutions which include District Hospitals, Sub – Divisional Hospitals and various Community Health care centers. There are 86 medical institutions in the rural areas, and 64 medical institutions in the urban areas. The Second State Health Systems Development Project, has been contributing evidently towards adding, renovating and maintaining the health care institutions in the state in contrast to provision of equipment and chemicals for the diagnostic facilities.

Punjab remains one of the bright spots in the country, showing an upward growth trajectory in terms of the efficient health care facilities in the state. The state has witnessed to be undergoing the transformation into a pharmaceutical hub, owing to the emergence of various health sector tycoons such as Biocon, Max, Ranbaxy, and Merck proposing to invest lucratively in the health care of the state. The government of Punjab has been working responsively towards improving the performance and the efficiency of the health care system in Punjab by improving the institutional framework of the existing policies and initiating new policies for the development of the health services. Meanwhile, Punjab continues to be an anchor of stability and economic growth in the country.

Installation of Reverse Osmosis, give way to pure water in Punjab

With two – third of the earth’s surface covered by water and being one of the most essential component of life, water plays a very important role in the society. Keeping in view the same, the government of Punjab has been conducive towards the dire need of the residents to have purified water consumption, which is clearly evident by its initiative of installation of Reverse Osmosis in both the urban as well as the rural areas of the state.

Installation of Reverse Osmosis, give way to pure water in PunjabReverse Osmosis is a process in which a solvent passes through a porous membrane in the direction opposite to that for natural osmosis when subjected to a hydrostatic pressure greater than the osmotic pressure. In simple words, Reverse Osmosis purification systems are used for filtering the dissolved minerals and other contaminants of water.

The Reverse Osmosis Plants are being installed in the rural areas of Punjab, where dissolved solids (TDS), uranium, fluoride and hardness of water was found to be beyond the permissible limits. The installation of reverse osmosis plants is catering to the needs of the people living in rural areas, with the provision of clean and treated water for cooking and drinking purposes.

The Shiromani Akali Dal – BJP led state government had installed approximately 1811 reverse osmosis plants during March 2009 – December 2012 in about 16 districts of the Punjab state under various projects such as the Punjab Nirman Programme, additional central assistance of Rs25 crore, and the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB). Punjab being a state where about 327 villages were identified to have total dissolved solids (TDS) in the ground water more than the prescribed desired limit of 500 particles per million (PPM), The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) approved the installation of reverse osmosis plants in about 573 villages in Punjab, back in the year 2013.

The initiative was accomplished with the installation of 1508 reverse osmosis plants at a cost of Rs 188.59 crore, in the rural areas of the state some of which include 271 RO plants in Bathinda, 39 in Ludhiana, 178 in Firozpur, 186 in Moga, 66 in Tarn Taran, 293 in Fazlika, 13 in Kapurthala, 13 in Barnala, 2 in Fatehgarh Sahib and installation of 72 reverse osmosis plants at Sangrur.

Punjab government’s Higher Education, Water Supply & Sanitation Minister, Surjit Singh Rakhra while exclaiming about the augmenting education sector of the state, appreciated the responsive government of Punjab for the efficient provisions of potable drinking water and toilets to all households in the state. He further expressed his gratitude on the installation of reverse osmosis systems in the villages and also appealed to the panchayat’s and people that they should consume only reverse osmosis (RO) system water because it is very clean and hygienic.

Needless to say, the expenditure incurred by the state government for the installation of reverse osmosis plants in the rural areas is definitely a productive investment in terms of good health of the people living in the rural areas.

Punjab government curbs female foeticide through PNDT Act

If Punjab Government takes credit for not only keeping a check but also bringing down the incidents of female foeticide, its primarily due to the fact that the SAD-BJP government became strict with the implementation of PNDT Act. The effect was visible as the number of female foeticide cases came down substantially after the year 2009.

In fact the government undertook a wide range of awareness generation activities for changing the mind set of ruralites about the girl child and also by sensitizing the ultrasonologists and the general masses about the provisions of the PNDT Act. This was coupled with the effective implementation and monitoring at various levels.

Steps for implementation of PNDT Act

The government constituted a high level state advisory committee in which persons representing NGOs working for the cause of the women at the national level were incorporated as members. Besides it also appointed appropriate authorities for the implementation of the Act at various levels. A multi member State Appropriate Authority was appointed at the state level and Senior Medical Officers were appointed at the Sub Divisional level Hospitals. Besides, Civil Surgeons were also appointed at the district level. Inter district inspections by the Civil Surgeons have now been undertaken to nab the violators of the PNDT Act and surprise inspections are also being carried out by the State Officers so as to cross check the enforcement of the Act in various parts of the State. Enforcement of the PNDT Act in the districts is reviewed every month at various levels.

CM’s intervention paid off  

Also following the directions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Deputy Commissioners have been regularly holding meetings with the ultrasonologists. To keep a tab on the progress, monitoring of sex-ratio has been listed as an agenda item during the monthly meetings at the district level. Advisory Committees have also been constituted at the district level and sub-divisional level. A State Supervisory Board under the Chairmanship of Health Minister has also been formed.

In a bid to keep a tab on the functioning of ultrasounds the government has also registered ultra sounds centres and more than 1330 ultrasound and genetic centres have been registered in the state.

Awareness drive

Hoardings mentioning about the important clauses of the PC & PNDT Act have been displayed at different places. Besides messages and slogans for saving girl child and the important provisions of the PNDT Act have also been displayed on Bus side panels of Punjab Roadways and PRTC Buses. Also advertisements making an appeal to doctors,
journalists, law enforcers and politicians are regularly being given through the regional newspapers for seeking support for the cause of the girl-child. As a part of plan the government printed and published more than   40000 posters all over the the state.

Action under law 

More than 100 court cases and FIRs have been launched in the state for violation of the PNDT Act. In addition action has been taken against more than 300 centers. Their registration has either been suspended or cancelled. There has also been conviction in many cases.

What is PNDTA and how it came to effect

In a bid to keep a check on the dwindling female sex ratio due to rampant female foeticide on the basis of sex determination, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act was enacted in 1994 and was given effect in January 1996. This Act was aimed at regulating the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques for detecting genetic and metabolic disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, certain congenital malformations and/or sex linked disorders. The Act was latewr amended in 2003.

However the techniques were otherwise being used for pre-natal determination of sex of the foetus leading to misuse through female foeticide.

Pb Govt coming to rescue of farmers facing damage to crops

With the farmers facing the wrath of weather gods or man-made calamity one after another season in Punjab, the state government has come up with new measures and a host of compensation packages for the farmers all over the state.

The basic objective of new measures which have been announced by the SAD-BJP government is to ensure that no section of farmers is left out.

Pb Govt coming to rescue of farmers facing damage to crops.pngIt was a result of holistic approach of Punjab government that after announcing relief to the cotton growers who suffered badly due to whitefly attack and the use of spurious seeds last year that the Chief Minister directed the revenue department to cover other crops like guar and vegetables too on a similar pattern as was being done in the case of damaged cotton crop. Badal had directed that after disposing of the objections raised by farmers, the revenue officials would release the compensation amount to the affected farmers as per the assessment. Clear instructions were given that the payment of compensation should be made directly to the cultivators in case the land was given on contract farming to the cultivators so as to mitigate hardships caused to them.

Relief to farmers for damage to crops

Last year as the government faced almost 60% loss to cotton crop in the Malwa region and in a bid to compensate the loss the state government cleared a compensation to the tune of Rs 600-crore to the affected farmers. The government first ordered a special girdawri and it came out that 6.75 lakh acres of land was affected in a whitefly attack. Out of this Cotton alone was sown on 11.25 lakh acres in the Malwa region. Farmers have ploughed back crop on 11,800 acres because of the pest attack.

Soon after the loss, the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also ordered to give immediate compensation of Rs 10 crore to cotton growers whose crop was extensively damaged by whitefly attack.

The compensation was announced to those growers who have uprooted their crop because of the pest attack. Badal made the announcement in the wake of extensive damage to the crops. Out of 11,780 acres area ploughed back by the farmers, 5,000 acres fell in Muktsar, 3,727 acres in Fazilka, 2,090 acres in Bathinda, 539 acres in Mansa, 398 acres in Faridkot and 26 acres in Barnala districts. Badal had also assured farmers that the state government had already taken a decision to bail out farmers who had ploughed back their fields due to whitefly attack.

Other farmers who suffered loss not left behind

Besides taking serious view of sale of spurious pesticides and insecticides, Badal also issued directions to take strict action against those found involved in such illegal activities. It was part of this swoop down against such miscreants that the police officials had taken more than 200 samples of such substandard pesticides from the dealers in the Malwa belt and taken action subsequently. “Such dealers who had created havoc with the cotton and other crops nurtured with their blood, sweat and tears would be dealt with severely,” Badal has said.

Agriculture and Power departments were also asked to issue requisite notifications to initiate procedure for the release of new tube well connections to the farmers which would fulfil their need of irrigation and water requirement.

Dalits and poor coming to forefront thanks to welfare schemes of Badal govt

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Punjab Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been leading in providing benefits to poorest of poor in the state by launching several pro-poor and pro-Dalit schemes in the state.  Recent array of schemes which were announced during the budget of state government in March early this year bear testimony to the fact that the SAD-BJP government is committed to the cause of Dalits and other poor sections in the state.

The announcement of allocation of Rs 100 crore corpus as SC scholarship fund to be given to the universities and institutes on behalf of the SC students and doling out of interest-free study loan of upto Rs 5 lakh for the youth from economically weaker section were some of the new initiatives which will go a long way in benefiting the poor sections in all over the state. Akali Chief Parliamentary Secretary and SC leader Pawan Tinu, says this announcement meant that the Punjab government would now be able to disburse funds to the colleges from the corpus till the time centre releases its grants. After the funds reach colleges, this amount would be withdrawn. According to him, till now the state contribution for Centre’s Post Matric Scholarship Scheme stood at Rs 68 crore for six years even as the number of beneficiaries under the scheme had risen from 35,000 to 3.75 lakh. He mentions that the starting of interest-free loan scheme for poor students would also help aspiring students with limited means and resources in a major way to pursue their dreams.

Biggest every employment scheme

In fact it was during the Parkash Singh Badal led government that Punjab witnessed the launch of the biggest ever employment drive in history and more than 1.14 lakh government jobs are being offered to youth in the state. Besides, Punjab has become the  the first state to launch Atta Dal Scheme, making eldest women of the family as head and by far helping 1.42 crore beneficiaries.

Health schemes

A Health Insurance Card has also been issued to every poor, while Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Beema Yojana offering free treatment up to Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh compensation for accidental death for incapacitation of head of family is also being given. Already more than  28.05 lakh people have benefitted from the initiative.

Apart from this, Rs 50,000 insurance cover for families of construction workers, regular medical examination of construction workers/families on construction sites toilets for labourers at construction sites and their colonies and is being ensured by the government. It has also been provisioned that the teams of medical experts would visit construction sites with Mobile Van fitted with X-ray machine and medical lab to diagnose diseases.

Special focus on girls

Focussing on the welfare of girls from the poor sections, Shagun scheme has been launched for the girls from SC/BC,Christians and economically weaker sections. The government has also introduced Bebe Nanaki Ladli Beti Kalyan Scheme to provide financial assistance to poor families to bring up girl child and to curb the menace of female foeticide. Free Punjabi Stenography training is provided to SC candidates. Punjab provides free power to farmers and spends approximately Rs 6,000 per year for it.

“We believe in ‘Sarbat da Bhala’ and have launched schemes for every section of Punjab. Various pro-poor welfare programmes – insurance cover, free medical treatment to blue card holders, 200 units of free power, Atta-Dal scheme for BPL card holders besides 5 marla plots for free housing are being implemented by Punjab Government, which are going to help Dalits and poor all over the state.

At present total Dalit population in Punjab 32%. Of the total cultivable land of 168910 acres, land reserved for Dalits about 56303 acres which is about 33%  of the total land.

Punjab government brings girls’ empowerment through new schemes

For empowerment of girls in state Punjab government has introduced a number of new schemes and given incentives in education. SAD-BJP government launched Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme in which girl students of Class XI and XII studying in Government schools are being given free bicycles every year. The SAD-BJP government launched this scheme in year 2011-12 by distributing 1,11,000 free bicycles to girl students worth Rs 30 crore and it was decided to make it an annual feature.

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“The state government has continuously been having focus on empowerment of girl students and the scheme has given programme a boost. This is an initiative of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to curb the number of drop out of girl students from schools and motivate them to take up higher education to empower them”, says state Social Securities and Women and Child Development Minister Surjit Kumar Jayani.

Even before the scheme was formally launched, the state government already released Rs 41.90 crore for the purchase of bicycles which have been distributed to the girl students in the schools.The scheme in the first phase benefited as many as 82,244 girls of Class XI and 70,086 girls of Class XII.

Free education to girls

Besides the Punjab government has declared to provide free education to all girls up to Class 12 in the state. The scheme is proving a major relief to poor families who could ill afford education for girls. As per the provisions under the scheme, funds like admission fee, re-admission fee, amalgamated funds, PTA funds, sports funds etc. would be waived off. The government has allocated a sum of Rs.26 crore for this project.

Kanya Jagriti Jyoti Scheme was another scheme initiated by the state government, which aimed at encouraging people to send their daughters to school and sensitizing them about gender equality.

Also taking forward the National Policy on Education (1986), the Punjab government prepared an action plan to increase the number of schools for girls and BPL (below poverty line) students besides providing scholarship schemes for SC/ST and meritorious students.
Bolstering the Union government’s efforts, the state government has also promoted girl education under the the slogan ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’.

Bal Rakshak Yojna

The state government has launched Balri Rakshak Yojna a state funded scheme, for promotion of cause of the girl-child.

Under the scheme incentive is paid for adopting terminal method of sterilization after the birth of only one or two girl children @Rs.500/- and Rs.700/- respectively. Besides to improve the steep decline in child sex-ratio, implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Selection) Act 1994 became the top agenda of the Government.

Awareness campaign

The government took several steps to create awareness about empowerment of girls through media, art and culture, Panachayats and now social media.

Exclusive girl-child competitions have been organized for under two year girl-child in the State in which baby girls were awarded Kisan Vikas Patras worth Rs.500/- and 300/- as 1st and 2nd prize which on maturity could be used for school education of these girls.
Besides, Istri Sehat Sabha members, NGOs and Anganwari workers have been actively involved for promoting the cause of the girl-child.