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Punjab sets example: Shuns red beacon, announces job reservation for women



Chandigarh, March 18: Bringing a major break-through in its maiden meeting here on Saturday, the newly elect Punjab Cabinet announced job reservation for women in urban and rural local bodies and restricted the use of red beacons on official vehicles by government officials inlcuding the Chief MinisterAmrinder Singh.

Announcing a big relief to farmers, the Punjab Cabinet has ruled out auction of farmers’ land owing to non payment of loans. The state has also promised to come up with a new transport policy.

Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal told media after the meeting, “Punjab is the first state to give 33 per cent reservation for women in jobs, including contractual appointments, and 50 per cent reservation to them in Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies.”

He also informed that the Cabinet has announced the setting up of a special Cabinet sub-committee to provide details on debt of farmers within 60 days to enable the Congress government to take further action.

Badal said the Chief Minister, ministers and legislators will no longer lay foundation stones of public projects and also not inaugurate them.

Even for big projects of Rs 100 crore, Rs 200 crore or Rs 500 crore, the names of the Chief Minister and ministers will not be displayed (on the foundation or inauguration stones). It will carry only one line — the project has been executed with the money of the taxpayers,” Badal said.

He said liquor quota would be drastically reduced and liquor vends reduced by 400 to 500 initially.

“We want to reduce liquor consumption by 50 percent in five years,” he said.

The first Cabinet meeting discussed 140 agenda items.

Promising to curb cartelisation and monopolisation of bus transport in Punjab, which was prevalent in the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government rule of 10 years, Badal said a new transport policy will be taken up at the next Cabinet meeting.

We will reduce our expenses and increase our revenue. In five years, we will make Punjab a revenue-neutral state,” Badal, the estranged nephew of previous Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said.

The Congress leader said the mafia rule which he claimed was encouraged in the previous regime will end.

We will butcher the mafia operating in Punjab. No one in the mafia will be able to survive the state’s action,” Badal said.

The minister said all MLAs will submit lists of their property in the assembly on January 1 every year, including the Chief Minister and ministers.

“We will bring a strong Lokpal Bill in the assembly. This will be more comprehensive than the bill proposed by social activist Anna Hazare and his movement. This will include the Chief Minister, ministers and high officials,” the Finance Minister said.

Other decisions include scrapping of ‘halqa’ (area) in-charge system prevailing during the previous government’s rule, abolition of district transport office (DTO), fixed duty hours for police personnel, initiation of detailed police and governance reforms and setting up of degree colleges in every sub-division.

The Amarinder Singh-led Congress government assumed charge in Punjab on March 16 after the Congress swept the assembly polls on March 11, winning 77 of the 117 assembly seats.

Wefornews Bureau (with ANI inputs)


Protesters clash with police in J&K’s Nowshera, DM among injured




Jammu, March 24: Protests in Nowshera town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, demanding district status for the area, turned violent on Saturday, as agitators clashed with security forces, leaving at least 14 persons, including the District Magistrate, injured, police said.

Police said protesters resorted to intense stone pelting at security forces in the town and a baton charge and tear smoke canisters was used to control the protests.

Police sources said ten protesters, four security men and Rajouri’s District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary were injured during these clashes.

According to sources, Chowdhary was hit on his head by a glass bottle hurled by protesters.

For the last nearly two months, people in Nowshera town have been agitating f or grant of district status to the area.

Saturday’s protests followed the state government’s decision announcement on Friday that an Additional District Development Commissioner would be posted in Nowshera town instead of granting the area full-fledged separate district status.


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5 year-old girl gang-raped, set on fire in Assam



rape-minor girl

Nagaon, March 24: In a tragic incident, a five-year-old girl lost her life after she was allegedly gang-raped and then set on fire by five persons at her home.

The crime took place on Friday in Nagaon’s Bordua in Assam.

So far, police have arrested two accused in this regard and case has been registered.

Further probe into the matter is underway.


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Strike in Manipur government offices continues for third day




Imphal, March 24: Despite a warning by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh to employees, the strike in government offices across Manipur continued for the third day on Saturday, paralysing work.

Singh had, on Friday night, asked employees to return to work by Monday, “failing which the government has to find other people to discharge their work”.

Explaining the government’s position, he said: “It will involve an additional expenditure of Rs 1,400 crore annually to implement the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission to pay over 85,000 employees and about 45,000 pensioners. Manipur has been depending mostly on the central government largesse.”

Noting that “before the end of the financial year on March 31, funds have to be sanctioned for a slew of developmental projects”, he urged employees to return to work.

The indefinite strike was jointly called on Thursday by the Joint Administrative Council (JAC) of the All Manipur Trade Unions Council and the All Manipur Government Employees Organisation to protest the government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission for employees and pensioners.

Except for the employees in the Secretariat, there is a massive response in all other government offices, pro-strike activists claimed.

The employees on strike pointed out that out of the 19 BJP-ruled states, Manipur is the only one where the recommendations have not been implemented.


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