As part of the Captain Amarinder Singh led government’s sweeping administrative reforms to wipe out corruption and Inspector Raj from the state, and to undo the wrongs perpetrated on the people under the erstwhile Badal regime, the Punjab cabinet on Saturday decided to abolish the post of District Transport Officers, while initiating steps to do away with the controversial Halqa Incharge system that was introduced during the SAD-BJP rule.
It was also resolved that all decisions taken by the previous government in the last six months would be reviewed by the administrative departments, whose reports would be submitted by the Chief Secretary in the next meeting of the council of ministers. Till the completion of the review process, further action thereon would remain stayed except in cases where it was not feasible to do so owing to some legal or administrative implications. Such cases would be put to the Chief Minister through the Chief Secretary, an official spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting.
A proposal to abolish the Improvement Trusts and amalgamate their activities with the concerned Municipal Corporations/Councils was also considered at the meeting but a final decision on the same was postponed to the next cabinet meet after Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu sought more time to examine the matter. The cabinet took note of the fact that similar institutions had already done away with in neighbouring Haryana.
Cracking down on corruption and Inspector Raj in the transportation services and end the unnecessary harassment of transporters due to frequent checking, the cabinet decided to abolish the posts of District Transport Officers (DTOs) in the state, and reassign and distribute the work of their offices to the SDMs/SDOs for their respective territorial jurisdiction. It was noted that the DTO post had been abolished by Haryana about a decade ago.
The cabinet also decided to open up the transport sector, and ensure free and fair grant of licenses for buses, mini buses and other commercial vehicles in a transparent way, thus freeing the sector of the SAD stranglehold. The Department of Transport would review and reformulate its existing policy and submit the next policy for consideration in the next meeting. A Punjab Road Safety Authority will be set up to study the causes of road accidents and deaths in the state with a view to minimize the same through effective planning.
In a bid to improve functional and operational efficiency, the cabinet decided to withdraw the previous government’s notifications on territorial restructuring of police stations, and also to abolish the Halqa Incharge system introduced by the SAD-BJP regime, making sub-divisions and assembly constituencies conterminous. The council of ministers noted that the Halqa Incharges had become parallel power centres, controlling the administration and the police in their respective regions, and misusing their powers to indulge in political vendetta and corruption.
To fulfil another key PPCC manifesto promise, the cabinet decided to establish a Commission of Inquiry to review all false cases and FIR's registered during the last decade of the SAD-BJP Government with a view to ensuring justice to innocent people and fix accountability of the guilty so that such things were not repeated in the future. The Department of Home would put up a draft notification in this regard for the approval of the Chief Minister, it was decided.
The cabinet further decided that the Departments of Governance Reforms and Finance would prepare a White Paper exposing the false claims of the previous SAD-BJP regime on development, governance reforms and the financial position of the state to apprise the common man of the legacy inherited by the Congress government.
Another important cabinet decision relates to carrying out, within three months, a third party professional audit of rural and urban infrastructure in the state to identify the existing inadequacies and deficiencies for remedial measures. The cabinet noted that the previous regime had allowed the infrastructural foundations of the state to fall to ruin and decided that Infrastructural Renewal Plans would be prepared for all the blocks and municipalities for time-bound action.
It was also decided to reconstitute Governance Reforms Commission as Governance Reforms and Ethics Commission (GREC), to be manned by professionals who are experienced in governance processes and procedures. The Department of Governance Reforms would issue the requisite notification after approval of the Chief Minister.