Decks have been cleared for the establishment of the Enforcement Directorate, announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh earlier this month, to check illegal mining in Punjab.The ED, to be headed by a senior police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), will be set up in the Mining & Geology Wing of Water Resources department. It will also help in ramping up the state’s revenues by curbing the menace of illegal mining.A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said the ED would help in checking and stopping unauthorised movement of minor minerals within the state and at the interstate borders of Punjab, in conjunction with the officials of the Mining department. It will also facilitate prosecution of those indulging in illegal mining under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Working closely with the Mining Wing of Water Resources department, the ED will also check that those involved in sand and gravel business do not overcharge on the sale price ceiling prescribed in the Mining Policy. The ED will have the mandate to develop strategies, measures and methods to effectively achieve the above objectives in coordination with Director Mining, Chief Engineers dealing with mining and District Level Illegal Mining Enforcement Committees’ under the Deputy Commissioners. It will also develop actionable intelligence for said the purpose and co-ordinate with agencies of the neighbouring states dealing with the issue of illegal mining.The ED would be headed by a Senior Police Officer not below the rank of a DIG at the state level and would be assisted by 3 SP level Officers in the Head Office.
Each of the 7 mining blocks (number may vary as per government policy) would be headed by an officer not below the rank of a DSP, with 21 Inspectors/Sub Inspectors at the district level (3 per DSP) and 175 Head Constables/Constables under them. This deployment may be altered/modified from time to time, keeping in view the functional requirements of the ED. The police personnel in ED would be provided salary, equipment, arms, by the Police department. Any special equipment, if required, would be provided from District Mineral Foundation Funds.In addition to the registration and investigation of mining related cases by various District Police chiefs (CPS & SSPs) as at present, ED would also register and investigate cases in coordination with XENs, SDOs, Mining Officers, under the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Orders of the Supreme Court of India and National Green Tribunal guidelines. It will present Final Reports (challans) thereof to the respective Courts. Investigation of every case would be completed in a time-bound manner. In this endeavour, districts of Mohali, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Sangrur and Bathinda would be given greater attention to ensure effective legitimate mining operations.The Deputy Commissioners & District Police Chiefs (CPs & SSPs) would be required to extend all possible assistance to the officers of the ED, as and when requested. ‘District Level Illegal Mining Enforcement Committees’, under the Deputy Commissioners, would also be constituted with representatives from among the Civil Magistracy, District Police and the Mining Department, in the concerned districts, to bring in the required synergy and coordination in operations to be conducted against illegal mining.The ED would coordinate with these Committees and work under overall supervision and control of Principal Secretary, Water Resources, and the Director Mining, and furnish a Fortnightly Progress Report to the Water Resources Minister, DGP, Principal Secretary (Water Resources and Director Mining).It may be recalled that the Mining and Geology Department was subsumed in the Water Resources Department in recent past. Subsequently, the department has taken several steps to check illegal mining of sand and gravel efficaciously.Under its new policy on mining, the Water Resources department has been able to increase the revenue from mining almost 7 to 8 times. Large-scale police action, seizure of mining equipment and machinery, and imposition of heavy penalties have helped in achieving this goal.
Punjab Announces Amnesty Scheme For Defaulting Urban Development Allottees
In a major reprieve to the defaulting allottees of all urban development authorities, with the cut-off date of December 31, 2013, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave the nod to the Punjab Urban Development Authorities Amnesty Scheme-2021 for recovery of outstanding installments.According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, the allottees, who were issued allotment letters based on draw of lots or auction or through some other process but have defaulted in payment of one or more installments due after December 31, 2013, may deposit the principal amount, along with scheme rate of interest, within three months from the date of notification under the amnesty scheme.The cases where allotments have been cancelled due to default in installments or there is litigation on this count, where instalments were due after December 31, 2013, may also avail this scheme. These cases would be treated as if the cancellation was not done, and the forfeited amount would be treated as credited to the allottees’ accounts on the date of forfeiture. However, the scheme is not applicable where physical possession has been taken over by an authority.Notably, a sum of Rs. 700 crore is outstanding against various allotees of residential plots, flats, commercial plots, institutional plots, industrial plots and chunk sites sold through draw of lots and auctions. As per prevalent instructions, penalty is imposed if a person defaults in payment of due installment on time, which varies from 3% to 5% per annum, in addition to scheme rate of interest depending on delay in terms of years. This penalty translates into net interest rate of up to 17% per annum, which is very high.
Punjab Cabinet Okays Time-To-Time Remission Benefits For Convicts Instead Of Just Once
Convicted prisoners in Punjab will now be eligible for remission from time to time, instead of just once, under the amendment to the Remission Policy 2010, approved on Wednesday by the state cabinet.The cabinet, at a virtual meeting under Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, gave the go-ahead to the amended Remission Policy 2021, which makes remission applicable for prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for more than 10 years, including prisoners sentenced for life, instead of prisoners convicted for 10 to 20 years under the earlier policy.Further, the convicts would now be eligible for time to time remission also in cases of offences committed under Section 302 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, read with Sections 376, 376-A, 376-AB, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, 376-DA, 376-DB, 376-E or 377 of the Indian Penal Code, instead of an offence committed under Section 302 or 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with only Sections 376 to 376-D or 377 of the Indian Penal Code.The Chief Minister has been authorised to make any further changes as may be suggested by the Jails department in this regard.It may be recalled that on March 16, 2020, while considering premature release cases of life convicts, it came to the notice of the Committee constituted at the level of government for the purpose, that the Remission Policy-2010 had some ambiguities. The Committee also realised that the 2010 policy was silent on some provisions. Hence, it could not be clarified from the Remission Policy whether the remission announced by the Punjab Government was to be granted to the convicts every year or it can be granted only One Time during the sentence period. It was thus felt that the Remission Policy dated September 30, 2010 needed some clarification.After thoroughly examining the Remission Policy it was felt that some amendments were required to be effected in it. These amendments have now been included in the new Remission Policy 2021 so that the convicts confined in the jails of Punjab may get the benefit of remission granted from time to time. In addition, the new Policy also incorporates some other important amendments relating to crimes against women that have been effected in the IPC.Notably, the Punjab Government had framed a policy in 2010 for granting benefit of remission on different occasions to the convicts undergoing jail sentences in the state.
POLICE ADMIN REPORT APPROVED
In another move, the Cabinet has also approved the Annual Administrative Report of the Police department for the year 2018.
Capt Amarinder Led Cabinet Okays Free Govt Bus Travel For Women In Punjab From April 1
Women in Punjab get to travel free of cost in all Government-run buses within the state from Thursday, with the cabinet today stamping its formal approval on the scheme, announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh earlier this month.The Chief Minister had announced the free travel scheme in the Vidhan Sabha on March 5, as part of his government’s efforts to empower women and girls in the state.The scheme will benefit over 1.31 crore women/girls across the state. As per Census 2011, Punjab has a population of 2.77 crores (males 1,46,39,465 and female 1,31,03,873).Under the scheme, women residents of Punjab can avail free bus travel in Government-owned buses, including PEPSU Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways Buses (PUNBUS) and City Bus Services operated by Local Bodies. However, the scheme is not applicable to Government-owned AC Buses, Volvo Buses and HVAC Buses. Documents like Aadhaar Card, Voter Card or any other proof of residence in Punjab would be required to avail the facility.Further, all women who are family members of Punjab Government employees and residing in Chandigarh, or are themselves employees of Punjab Government but live in Chandigarh, can avail the benefit, irrespective of age and income criteria, of free travel in the said government buses.This scheme is expected to not only reduce female drop-out in schools because of high cost of daily transport but also facilitate working women, who have to travel considerable distances to their workplace. The facility will thus ensure access to safe, cheap and reliable travel for women to engage in any economic activity. Since the scheme is expected to encourage women and their companions to utilize public transport, it would naturally bring down the number of personal vehicles plying on the roads leading to consequent reduction in pollution, accidents and vehicular congestion, the Cabinet felt.
Capt Amarinder Led Punjab Cabinet Approves Running Of Govt. Cattle Pounds In PPP Mode
In a bid to streamline the functioning of cattle pounds run by the government in the districts, and to effectively redress of the menace of stray animals, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval for running these cattle pounds in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.The Cabinet has authorised Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to carry out any changes in the new policy, as needed.According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s office, there would be no financial burden on the state to run these cattle pounds (except Amritsar and Ferozepur) in PPP mode as these will become self-sustainable by generating the required revenue through various approved activities.In line with this decision, the Cabinet has also approved an Expression of Interest (EOI) to be taken from the interested NGOs/Societies/Organizations/Individuals/Service Providers/Companies/Trusts, along with terms and conditions.The decision to go for PPP mode and accordingly invite EOI was taken in July 2020 by the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted in September 2019 to address the problem of stray animals.Pertinently, 20 cattle pounds are established in Punjab (except Amritsar and Ferozepur due to court cases by villagers), in which as many as 10,024 stray cattle are managed, with the Government releasing Rs. 4385.35 lakh in a staggered manner for construction of the cattle pounds and proper upkeep of stray animals. In accordance with the original plan, six cattle sheds were to be constructed, thus making it a total of 132 (22x6). However, in these 20 districts, only 76 cattle sheds have been constructed so far, with the rest of the 56 still to come up.