Connecting over 25 millions NRIs worldwide
Most trusted Name in the NRI media
Punjab Govt
February 19, 2008




The Punjab Government today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a state-of-the-art State Institute of Automotive and Driving Skills (SIADS) at Village Mahuanna in district Muktsar with a view to generate employment opportunities for the youth of Punjab in the field of Automobiles.

Disclosing this here today a spokesman of the Punjab Government said that the MoU was signed by the Managing Director, Pepsu Roadways Corporation (PRTC) Manvesh Singh Sidhu and Vice President (Sales & Marketing) TATA Motors Ravindra Pisharody on behalf of the Punjab Government and TATA Motors respectively in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Mr.Parkash Singh Badal and Managing Director TATA Motors Ravi Kant this evening at Kapurthala House.

The spokesman further said that the institute would be set up by the PRTC which has been entrusted by the state government to act as a nodal agency for conceptualizing, planning and operationalizing the said skill development centre. This institute would be set up over an area of 14 acres and the government of Punjab would invest Rs.10.17 crore for creating the most modern complex, training track, computerized driving test and hostel facilities. M/s TATA Motors Ltd. would invest Rs.2.5 crores as a joint venture partner in setting up of this institute by way of providing vehicles and equipment for training. The spokesman also mentioned that the Operation and Maintenance of the institute would be carried out by a society set up for the purpose having representatives from Govt. of Punjab, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training and M/s TATA Motors Ltd.

Stipulating the salient features of the MoU, the spokesman further said that the institute would aim to develop right attitude towards driving responsibilities, instill understanding of traffic regulations and create manpower which was systematically trained in all the automobiles related trade like drivers, motor mechanics, electricians, painters, welders etc. The institute would generate gainful employment opportunities within and outside the State especially in the Middle East countries by upgrading the skills of existing work force and to instill driving responsibilities so as to reduce accident ratio thus ensuring safety of general public.

The spokesman also stated that the TATA Motors ltd. had the requisite experience and know-how in relation to various processes related to setting up and managing operations relating to training centers, motor driving training, imparting technical assistance, skills in the said trades for maintenance of vehicles and commercial skills etc.

The spokesman further said that the institute would conduct certificate courses for imparting training to light motor vehicles, heavy motor vehicles, "Off the road vehicles" like excavators and cranes etc. and for other trades related to the automobile sector like Automobile Mechanic, Diesel Mechanic, Welder, Electrician, Painter and Air Conditioning. The department of Technical Education & Industrial Training would provide instructors for all the industrial training courses and will guide the society in laying down norms and qualifications for engaging the rest of the staff.

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion including Chief Secretary RI Singh, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister KJS Cheema, Secretary Employment & Technical Education NS Kalsi and General Manager PRTC RS Bal and senior General Manager government affairs TATA Motors AS Puri.

21.77% hike in outlay over last year


The 2008-09 Annual Plan for Punjab Government was finalized at Rs. 6224 crore at a meeting held today at Yojana Bhawan, New Delhi between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal. The Plan outlay includes an Additional Central Assistance of Rs. 200 crore earmarked for the priority projects.

Taking part in the deliberations, Mr.Badal said that the state's annual plan of Rs. 6224 crore against Rs. 5111 crore for the year 2007-08 has been proposed to step up its the annual growth rate which was at present a little over 6% in line with national growth rate of about 9%. The new plan indicated an increase of 21.77% over the annual plan of Rs. 5111 crore for the corresponding year 2007-08, which was one of the biggest plan allocations so far.

Outlining the priorities aimed at improving quality of life of the common man, the Chief Minister referred to some key areas of education, quality healthcare, drinking water, food along with employment generation for all, including disadvantaged sections of the society. He urged Dr. Ahluwalia to address these problems within a time frame and also invited him to visit the villages of the state to take stock of the situation and feel the pulse of the rural people who were living in extreme conditions of penury and were unable to manage even two square meals a day. "If this trend is not arrested immediately it would ultimately lead to unrest and would pose serious law and order implications for the nation, because at this critical juncture these poor and hapless people are outrightly dejected and disillusioned for the want of socio-economic justice in terms of basic necessities of food, shelter and livelihood despite our tall claims of the national growth rate of 9%", rued Mr.Badal.

On the agriculture front, Mr. Badal urged the Planning Commission to review the present system of fixing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) which had also been recommended by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture. He said; 'farm labour needs to be skilled and MSP should be linked with overall price index. He reiterated what Dr. MS Swaminathan said hat the MSP should be equal to the cost of production plus 50%. He also impressed upon the GoI to come to the rescue of the farmers by granting a special package including a one time waiver of all agriculture loans amounting to Rs. 26000 crore. It may be recalled that the farm indebtedness has become an alarming problem in the state. As per national survey, per farming family debt stands as Rs. 41000 which is the highest in the country. The Chief Minister also mooted a proposal for creating an Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) to be financed through a payment of additional sum of Rs. 100 per quintal on paddy and wheat procured in the state. This fund would help to rejuvenate agriculture and rehabilitate the century old canal system and redress the problem of water logging.

Demanding an industrial package for revitalizing the sick industry in Punjab, the Chief Minister thanked the GoI for replacing the tax concessions given by it to our neighbouring states of Uttrakhand, Himachal and J&K. He urged the Centre to include Punjab in its proposed Manufacturing Investment Region Scheme besides including more items in the list to be traded across the land route with Pakistan.

Making a strong plea for the welfare of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, Mr.Badal demanded a fresh survey for identification of BPL families and redefining their status accordingly. He said; 'the present definition of BPL families does not cover all the poor people. Even a committee appointed by Supreme Court has recommended doubling of cut off income limit for poor household to Rs. 49000 per year'. It may be recalled that the present number of families in Punjab is only 5.23 lakh against 13 lakh SC families. He also advocated the concept of the inclusion of the percentage of SC population as one of the criteria for transfer of funds from Centre to the States as the SC population in the state constituted 28.85% of the total population which was highest in the country. Referring to the implementation of NREGA in 4 districts, Mr.Badal said that it would be implemented through out the state in the coming year and requested the centre to enhance the norms fixed under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) from Rs.25000 to Rs.50000.

The Chief Minister also mentioned that the state government was committed to arrest the decline in child sex ratio, which has improved from 796 in 2002 and 818 in 2005 and the state was hopeful to raise it further to 850 by the end of 11th plan. He also pointed out that the state government had introduced the component of gender budgeting with an allocation of Rs.684 crore in the state plan 2008-09.

Dwelling on the Irrigation potential in the state, Mr.Badal urged upon the GoI to fund this entire project of Rs. 3200 crore under relaxed Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) norms for rejuvenation of canal network, which had virtually collapsed with the passage of time. Similarly the 'one for one' restriction for funding of projects should be removed as it was a bottleneck in taking up new projects for execution both under AIBP and Command Area Development Water Management (CADWM) schemes. He also demanded the funding of the lining of the Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind feeder at a cost of Rs. 425 and Rs. 225 crore in order to remove water logging in the South-Western districts of the state and the funding Shahpur Kandi Project under special AIBP norms (90:10) applicable for important inter-state projects. He also demanded the funding the Shah Nehar Project under AIBP norms for special category states as it was a project for Himachal Pradesh exclusively.

Referring to the scope to enhance the employment generation in the state, Mr. Badal urged the GoI to open atleast one Skill Centre in every block of the state under the proposed "National Skill Development Mission" to further enhance the chances of employability of our youth in the state.

Underlining the need to make Punjab self reliant in power by adding 5000 MW generation capacity in the 11th plan through public private participation, Mr.Badal sought assistance from GoI in four specific areas viz. approval for 49% equity participation in Rajasthan Atomic Power Projects (VII & VIII) as well as allocation of power from the Banswara Nuclear Power Project, GAIL's expeditious connectivity with Punjab to the Dadri Nangal Gas Pipeline, release of Rs.143 crore pending APDRP incentive grant for the year 2003-04 and clearance of 165 coal projects under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY).

The Chief Minister also urged the GoI to financially aid the state to strengthen science education at school level as our government had planned to open one 'Adarsh School' in each of the 141 blocks in the state besides upgrading infrastructure in 351 rural senior secondary/high schools through Rs.141 crore NABARD aided project. He also impressed upon the Centre to extend the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to cover secondary schools also and the funding pattern should not be diluted from 65:35. He also sought Central Assistance for setting up an Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Indian Institute of Management in Punjab.

Mr.Badal also requested the GoI for the up-gradation of Govt. College Amritsar, which was the oldest college in the state under Pardan Mantri Swasthya Surakash Yojana (PMSSY) with an outlay of 120 crore. He also demanded Rs.12 crore for the replication of Amritsar model for urban health care for Bathinda town. Apart from this, he also asked for upward revision of the State Illness Fund for Punjab which could not exceed Rs.6 crore and was too meager as per the present guidelines. Mr.Badal also pointed out that the state government had initiated a pilot project for providing potable water in Gidderbaha through Reverse Osmosis in collaboration with an NGO Naandi Foundation. The capital cost of Rs.5 lakh per village had been paid by the state government for 53 villages while the operating cost would be recovered from the end users who would be supplied water at the rate of 10 paise per litre.

On the transport sector which was an integrated component of infrastructure development, the Chief Minister urged the GoI to extend the Kolkatta-Ludhiana Dedicated Rail Freight Corridor upto Attari border which will boost international trade with and through Pakistan . He also demanded the Centre for a new rail link between Amritsar-Ferozepur. He also sought Centre's clearance to release the backlog of Rs. 130 crore in Central Road Fund allocation to Punjab besides Rs. 150 crore annually for the upgradation of rural roads under Bharat Nirman Programme/ Pardan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana. He also sought immediate release of Rs. 21 crore by GoI for construction of Domoria Bridge in Jalandhar for fulfillment of the announcement of then Prime Minister Mr.IK Gujral. Mr.Badal profusely thanked the GoI for approving an International Airport at Chandigarh and requested for naming it after great martyr Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh as a befitting tribute on his birth centenary. He also urged the GoI to ask the Airports Authority of India to develop Sahnewal Air Strip near Ludhiana as a domestic airport besides seeking expeditious clearance from Ministry of Defence for setting up civil terminals at Bathinda and Adampur.

Emphasizing the need to enhance the present annual allocation under Border Area Development Programme (BADP), which was too meager, Mr.Badal asked for special fiscal and other incentives to be granted for four border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur and Tarn Taran. He also impressed upon the Centre to grant compensation to the farmers at the rate of Rs.10,000 per acre for 18,500 acres of land being cultivated across the border fence which would entail total expenditure of Rs.20 crore. Likewise, the Chief Minister also requested the Ministry of Rural Development to approve its proposals for the construction of the link roads in the border districts and upgradation & strengthening of rural electrical infrastructure in 18 border blocks at an estimated cost of Rs. 200 crore and Rs. 312 crore under BADP.

Appreciating the Chief Minister's concern for the plight of the common man, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia assured him that the Planning Commission would extend full support and cooperation in the implementation of the state's annual plan. He also lauded the state government for initiating measures that had put the stagnated economy of the state on the path of recovery. He urged the state government to sustain the momentum of economic growth which was showing signs of revival so that the state could once again emerge as a front runner state in the country.

The members of the Planning Commission critically evaluated the functioning of health, education, social welfare and agriculture and power sectors and suggested that the state government should fully utilize the funds provided under various schemes and programmes in the annual plan.

Prominent amongst others in the meeting included Local Government & Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia, Finance & Planning Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Vice Chairman State Planning Board Prof.JS Bajaj, Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Finance & Planning) Raj Khurana, Chief Secretary RI Singh, Principal Secretary Finance DS Kalha, Secretary Planning Satish Chandra and other senior officers of the state government. Besides the Deputy Chairman and members of the Planning Commission, Secretary Planning GoI Subhash Pani and other senior Advisors of the Planning Commission were present.


Chandigarh: February 19, 2008
A meeting to plan sports infrastructure hub of Jalandhar was held here today between the Local Government Minister Mr. Manoranjan Kalia and Mr. I.S. Bindra, President Punjab Cricket Association.
Mr. Kalia said that it has been decided to upgrade the Burlton Park Jalandhar into an ultra modern sports stadium which would be even better than the Mohali Cricket Stadium. It was also decided that upkeep and maintenance of Burlton Park would be taken over by the Punjab Cricket Association which would also sponsor other sports in the Sports Complex. The other sports are Hockey for which a National turf already exists and other games are Billiard, Snooker, Chess and Squash etc.
He further said that an Olympic size swimming pool with all modern facilities would be created there. A two member committee has been formed with Mr. M.P. Pandove and Mr. Ajay Mahajan Additional Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Punjab, to decide the modalities for upgrading sports facilities in Jalandhar. The Punjab Cricket Association would spend 30 percent of the funds to sponsor other games.
It has also been decided to create a four/five star Hotel to promote cricket tourism in the area, Mr. Bindra, President Punjab Cricket Association also promised that the ICL matches and international tournaments would also be played in Jalandhar through out the year.



Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) today evinced keen interest to tap the renewable energy in Punjab through making huge investment in this sector as the state had a tremendous potential in non conventional sources of energy which could be optimally utilized to further augment the power generation.
An assurance to this effect was given by the delegation led by Group President of Corporate Affairs RIL Dr. A.Shankar to the Punjab Chief Minister Mr.Parkash Singh Badal in a meeting at Kapurthala House, New Delhi this afternoon Dr. Shankar requested the Chief Minister to enhance the subsidy component for the installation of projects based on non-conventional sources of energy in the state. He said that RIL had a proven track of expertise and technology in the field of renewable energy and they had deliberately chosen Punjab as their investment destination because it had an investor-friendly climate coupled with pro-investor policies.
Taking part in the deliberations, Mr. Badal also asked Dr.Shankar to explore the potential in the wind energy in Punjab. He reiterated his firm commitment to make Punjab as a power surplus state by adding 6000 MW within next three years. He assured fulsome support and cooperation to the RIL for setting up their ventures in the renewable energy. He also said that he would soon take up the matter with the Ministry of Renewable and Non-conventional Energy for the reviving the subsidy on the solar water pumping sets which had been discontinued by the Centre from the past few years.
Science Technology, Environment and Non-conventional Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said that renewable energy in any form of either solar or wind was far more cost effective as well as environmentally non hazardous as compared to thermal, hydro and bio-mass. He asked the RIL to also study the viability of the generation of wind energy in the state which could also be harnessed especially for the agrarian sector. He assured the RIL that the state government would soon urged the Centre to grant more subsidy on the installation of 10 MW power plans from solar energy.
Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting Chief Secretary RI Singh, Secretary Science, Technology, Environment & Non-conventional Energy AS Chhatwal, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister KJS Cheema, Chief Executive PEDA TPS Sidhu, besides Vice President Corporate Affairs Amit Kalra and General Manager Sales & Marketing (Solar Energy) Gurjit Bharara from RIL.



Chandigarh, February 19, 2008

The Government of Punjab has initiated a major drive to enlist vacant and under-utilized Government lands and to put them to better use and generate revenues for the Government. As part of the drive, it has obtained information from Deputy Commissioners regarding lands owned by different Government Departments as well as other bodies. The information is being compiled and inventoried by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, which has been designated as the Nodal Agency for the Optimal Utilization of Vacant Government Lands (OUVGL) Scheme. Earlier, PUDA had been assigned the responsibility and the Government for proper commercial utilization had transferred large number of properties to it.
Giving details, Managing Director PIDB Dr. SS Sandhu stated that the real purpose was not to sell these lands, as was being generally perceived. The exercise was aimed at first identifying and enlisting all lands owned by the Government and its bodies, as no ready record was available at either the district or Government level. The present physical status of the land would be known and in the event of any encroachment, the Government would take suitable legal action for restoration of Government’s possession.
Lands prone to encroachment would be identified and protected. Also, land records pertaining to these properties would be checked and updated as it was possible that in the absence of timely up nation, unscrupulous elements may have taken advantage to grab these lands by manipulation of land records. Government would computerize these inventories to facilitate the management of these lands.
Elaborating further, MD PIDB said that the Government would also be utilizing some of the vacant Government lands for establishing new infrastructure like new grid stations or tube wells, etc. in new or old localities for improving the power and water supply network, new bus stands, new parks, and offices, etc with proper planning. The remaining lands would be disposed of under the OUVGL Scheme in a phased manner. The revenue generated from the disposal of some of these properties would be spent to improve infrastructure like roads, street lights, water supply distribution and sewer network, etc where priority will be given to the area/ department to which such properties belong. Thus, the revenue generated from the sale of properties would not be deposited in the consolidated fund. The coming year would see PIDB engaging itself more actively in both large and medium-level development projects where some of the funds so generated would be gainfully utilized, he added. Even Government of India Departments, like the Railways, was also leveraging their under-utilized property assets for future projects.





NRI News