Monthly Archives: JANUARY 2018


WILL UNDERTAKE TOUR OF EACH WARD TO KEEP A CHECK
Pull out all stops to ensure Punjab comes out top in Swachh Bharat sarvekshan: Sidhu
24.01.18 - TEAM PT
Pull out all stops to ensure Punjab comes out top in Swachh Bharat sarvekshan: Sidhu



CHANDIGARH: "The Local Government Department would pull out all stops to ensure the success of Swachh Bharat Mission and is taking as a mission the task of making sure that Punjab comes out top in the Swachh Bharat Sarvekshan."

This was disclosed on wednesday by the Local Government Minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu here at the Punjab Municipal Bhawan while presiding over the meeting of all the Commissioners of the Municipal Corporations, Executive Officers (E.O.s) and the Deputy Directors of the department.

Exhorting the officers present to work diligently and devotedly towards the task of making the State count during the Swachh Bharat Sarvekshan, the minister said that to make the mission a success as well as provide a clean and green environment for the posterity a multi-pronged strategy would be adopted. Elaborating, he said that in every ward a nodal officer would be accountable for maintaining the cleanliness and hygienic standards in the area under his jurisdiction. Furthermore, the attendance of each sweeper would be marked in the biometric mode. He further divulged that the information with regard to the Nodal Officer, and every other employee including the sweeper along with their photographs and contact details would also be made public which would be uploaded Urban Local Body (ULB) wise on the departmental website besides on the notice board of every ULB.

Spelling out the visionary approach, the minister said that the E.O.s would also conduct inspection of the wards on fortnightly basis the report concerning which would be submitted to the Deputy Director Local Government who would in turn send the same to the Director, Local Government. The minister further said that the wards would be graded on the various parameters of development of which hygiene would be the main component. Addressing the issue of payment of salaries to the sweepers, the minister made it clear that the amount pertaining to the payment of salary to contractual outsourced employees would be released only after thorough verification of the bank statement of every employee that they have received last payment in their bank accounts.

Batting for transparency in the implementation of goals related to the mission, the minister directed that the entire exercise must be completed by the 29th of January after which he would undertake a tour of each and every ward to keep abreast of the actual ground position.

The Commissioner of Municipal Corporation Bathinda, President Nagar Council Nawanshahar and Regional Deputy Director Patiala Jeewanjot Kaur also showcased the success stories of the mission in their respective areas.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

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PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

 




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TO SET UP PANEL TO ADDRESS PROBLEMS AROUND CHANDIGARH AIR STATION
Will set up high level committee to resolve land acqusition issue with armed forces: Amarinder
24.01.18 - TEAM PT
Will set up high level committee to resolve land acqusition issue with armed forces: Amarinder



CHANDIMANDIR: The Punjab government, led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, has decided to set up a committee to resolve issues relating to acquisition of land for setting up military facilities in the state and another to address infrastructural and garbage dumping problems around the Chandigarh air station.

These decisions were taken during a liaison meeting between the civil and military administration here on Wednesday, with top government and army officials participating in the parleys aimed at sorting out various ongoing issues and preparing a mechanism to address any such issues that may crop up in the future. 

The committees will meet regularly to take timely decisions, an official spokesperson said after the meeting, adding that the officials of the government and the armed forces would be part of the panels. The committee proposed to be set up to look into Chandigarh airport problems would be headed by Secretary Civil Aviation and would also have a representative of the airport authorities.

The meeting discussed problems relating to acquisition of land for various facilities for the armed forces, development of access roads and railways crossings at strategic places, bird menace arising out of dumping of garbage around Air Force stations, illegal mining and storage around vital installations, etc. 

Observing that he had come for such a meeting after 12 years, the Chief Minister expressed concern that the various issues raised by the armed forces had not yet been resolved. The ammunition depots, for instance, were established many years ago but the manifold growth of Punjab necessitated a relook in the context of the current situation, he said, adding that this necessitated fresh look at the provisions for such facilities. The latter came up in the context of non-promulgation of gazette notification with respect to ammunition depots at Dappar and Naaingarh in the state of Punjab. Failure to issue the notification had made it difficult to stop proliferation of construction activity in the vicinity of the Ammunition Depots, the government was informed by the armed forces, requested notification of the Notified Zone by publishing a gazette. The state government said it would issue the notification once the discrepancies found in revenue records of the areas were removed.

According to the spokesperson, the General Officer Commander-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Western Command Lt. Gen. Surinder Singh and the Chief Minister suggested formation of a joint committee of mid-level officers to meet on a regular basis, instead of once a year, to resolve all issues relating to land acquisition/exchange. The GOC-in-C suggested quarterly meetings of the proposed committee. 

Government officials informed the meeting that one of the key demands of the military for acquisition of 388 acres of 5 kanal and 13 marla land to strength security around Air Force station, Barnala, had been pending due to delay in release of funds to PWD to compensation for construction of a new road post acquisition. The issue of acquisition of 5 Bighas and 9 Biswas land in village Bhabat, for passage of Air Force between air force stations at Chandigarh and Highgrounds, was also under consideration and the process would be initiated once the government approval comes, the meeting was further apprised.

The meeting also discussed the military’s concern regarding throwing of mud and cowdung heaps, as well as illegal constructions in the notified area, affecting security of Chandigarh airport and impeding movement of vehicles through emergency exits. Besides removing the mud and cowdung from the spot, the Mohali district authorities have put a stop on further unauthorized constructions in the Jagatpur and Kandala villages. It was decided that regular checks be carried out to prevent such constructions in the future and efforts be made to restrict the traffic of heavy vehicles near the Air Force Station.

The armed forces also expressed concern over drainage connectivity for Air Force Station Chandigarh, with the airport getting flooded quite frequently during monsoons. The authorities in Mohali and Zirakpur had already initiated work to ensure regular cleaning of the drains as well as removal of illegal encroachments that had led to blockage of drains. 

On the issue of land at village Bir Gugiana, district Faridkot, which is notified with the Army authorities for training and manoeuvre activities upto July 2020, the Chief Minister agreed to extend the notification for another 10 years, till 2030 and assured the meeting that the extension would be granted at least a year before the current notification is scheduled to expire. The DC Faridkot has, meanwhile, been directed to expeditiously decide the court case pending in the matter, as per the provisions of the law.

It was also decided at the meeting to set up a committee, under Secretary Civil Aviation, to resolve the problem of dumping of garbage at Kambali village, which was causing increase in bird activities and resulting in serious flight safety hazard for operations at the Chandigarh airbase. The committee would comprise army officers, airport director and officials of the Punjab government.

With regard to the complaint of illegal mining and storage nearby Bhabat air force station, the district administration had informed that there was no such mining activity in the area, while the heaps of bricks stalled in the area by brick kiln owners had been removed, an official spokesperson disclosed after the meeting. On the issue of damage to Dhussi bund due to sand mining in the operational area of 15 Infrantry Division District Amritsar and Gurdaspur, the meeting was informed that the state government had submitted its response to the Government of India.

On the problem of camping grounds land for barter, to enable the armed forces to conduct training, the Chief Minister assured that the government would look into the matter. The government proposes to examine the Kandi belt and Hoshiarpur areas for the purpose, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said, with Additional Chief Secretary Revenue Vini Mahajan suggesting purchase of land through negotiation instead of the prolonged and complex process of acquisition. 
 
Another issue discussed at the meeting related to damage to Dhussi bund due to sand mining in the operational area of 15 Infrantry Division District Amritsar and Gurdaspur, about which the meeting was informed that the state government had submitted its response to the Government of India.

Responding to the G-o-C’s concern on filling of posts reserved for ex-servicemen, the Chief Minister said the Guardians of Governance had already appointed 3000 ex-servicemen, which will be gradually increased to 13,000. These ex-servicemen were being paid an honorarium, he added. It was pointed out by the G-o-C that since advertisements for filling of such vacancies were published only in a few newspapers, ex-servicemen and army authorities were not always aware of the same. The Chief Minister directed that all such advertisements be also put on the Sainik Welfare website in future.

Taking cognizance of the request for an MoU on lease of land for Old Age Home and Transit Cum Hostel Facility at Sector 68, Mohali, the Chief Minister directed PUDA to expedite the case.

The meeting was attended by senior Punjab government officials and officers of the Western Command (Indian Army) and Indian Air Force.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

AMARINDER, BADALS, KHAIRA, AROOSA ALAM & A JOURNALIST OF TRIBUNE

BUT AAP WON'T GET IT. TUM TO THEHRE SHEHARI 

NAPOLEON PAINTING ROW: Punjab Govt insists on riding its high horse

PLAYING WITH SIKH SENTIMENTS: Punjab Govt’s ad depicts Tenth Sikh Master astride Napoleon’s horse

HOW DHUMAL WAS ASSASSINATED POLITICALLY, BY THE BJP

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

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MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

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MR HOME MINISTER, WILL YOU BE VISITING FAROOQ AHMAD DAR'S HOUSE? 

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THE GORAKHPUR DEAD SPEAK TO PUNJAB  From Patiala to Gorakhpur, the tale of the dead

WE WILL KILL 40-50 – Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

LET'S KILL PAASH – Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu on the importance of Paash

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: When Indian jawans killed everyone at Pak post

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

 




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TO USE THE BUILDINGS FOR RUNNING ANGANWADIS AND PANCHAYAT GHARS
Punjab cabinet decides to close down more than 1600 sewa kendras
24.01.18 - TEAM PT
Punjab cabinet decides to close down more than 1600 sewa kendras



CHANDIGARH: The Punjab cabinet has decided to close all but 500 of the state’s 2147 Sewa Kendras, with the Chief Minister directing the concerned department to explore the possibility of using the infrastructure of the remaining centres as Anganwadis or Panchayat Ghars.

The decision was taken on Wednesday at a meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

The cabinet decided to serve a 180-day notice, as required, to end the contract with the current service provider of the Sewa Kendras. The contract with the provider, who was charging the government Rs.220 crores annually, was for five years.

It was pointed out during the discussion on the issue in the cabinet meeting that the Sewa Kendras were constructed at a cost of Rs 200 crores, with Rs 1400 crores estimated to be spent on their operations in five years. Health Minister Brahm Mahindra described this as a criminal waste of public money and called for an inquiry into the matter.

In taking the decision, the cabinet took note of a proposal of the Department of Governance Reforms, which suggested rationalization of the operations of the Sewa Kendras, as well as the report of the committee formed under the Chief Secretary to study the functioning of these Kendras. The committee had found that the state required only 500 such centres, which could be managed by the DCs.

To make the Sewa Kendras project financially viable, the cabinet decided on shifting their operations to a new model. A suggestion was made to use the buildings and other infrastructure of the Kendras which are shut down for running Anganwadis and Panchayat Ghars. The Chief Minister agreed to consider the proposal and sought a detailed report on it from the concerned department.




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ALSO SEEKS SPECIAL GRANT FOR 550TH PRAKASH UTSAV OF GURU NANAK DEV
At pre-budget meet with Jaitley, Manpreet seeks all India farm debt waiver, restoration of 90:10 RKVY funding
18.01.18 - TEAM PT
At pre-budget meet with Jaitley, Manpreet seeks all India farm debt waiver, restoration of 90:10 RKVY funding



New Delhi: Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday sought an all India farm debt waiver scheme on the pattern of Punjab, while calling for restoration of the 90:10 funding pattern under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to provide more avenues to the states to determine priorities in Agriculture sector, besides inclusion of Punjab under the special category for Border Area Development Programme.

Badal made these submissions while taking part in the deliberations during Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's pre-budget 2018-19 meeting with state finance ministers here. Badal stressed on the need for close coordination between the Centre and the states. 

To celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the finance minister requested the Union Government to provide a special grant of Rs. 500 crores to the State Government. In addition, another Rs. 100 crore should be provided for academic, research and museum projects for observing the 550th Year celebrations in a most befitting manner, he said. 

Noting that the nation will observe the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh sacrifice, that took place on April 13, 1919 (on Baisakhi Day), in 2019, he requested that a special grant of Rs. 100 crore may be sanctioned to the State Government for improvement of the monument, its surrounding environs and observance of the event in a befitting manner. 

Raising concerns over the state’s natural boundaries with Pakistan, the Minister urged that GoI should provide a special grant to line by studs and spurs in the rivers forming natural countries. To combat terror activities, the Minister demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernize the police to counter anti-terrorism operations efficaciously. 

Advocating the need to make states financially more strong, Manpreet Badal said that GoI should release the share of Central Taxes on account of tax devolution of corporate tax and income tax on a monthly basis instead of 4 quarterly installments in 2018-19, to avert severe impact on development works in states, besides increasing fiscal stress. 

Badal said increasing the RKVY ratio back to 90:10 from 60:40 would not only help in boosting Agriculture infrastructure, farm extension activities and diversification but also in achieving Government of India's (GoI) vision of doubling farm income by 2022. A special cess of 0.5 percent can be levied on payees having more than Rs. 5 lakh annual income with a view to creating a corpus for bailing out beleaguered farmers/farm suicides besides soil rejuvenation and tackling the issue of ground water depletion, he suggested.

On the issue of farm debt waiver, the finance minister told the meeting that the Punjab government had taken the initiative to announce a loan waiver scheme to the extent of Rs. 2 lacs for all the marginal and small debt-stressed farmers of the State.  This covers more than 60% of the State's farming community and will benefit almost 10 lac farmers with a financial outlay of approximately Rs. 9,500 crore. 

Badal further suggested the inclusion of all aspects of rural economy like farmer incomes and farm productivity by the 15th Finance Commission in its recommendations. He informed the meeting that the state government was keen to embark on a comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Project in Punjab at an estimated cost of Rs. 1750 crore. He urged the Government of India to provide assistance over a period of 3 years for providing a special push to agriculture in Punjab.

Pointing out that there were different versions of agriculture insurance schemes, the Minister suggested introduction of a New Agriculture Insurance Scheme with GIS at field numbers level. He also suggested that to encourage Agriculture Diversification, a separate Sub-Mission for Livestock and Dairy Farm Mechanization should be established to facilitate transfer of technology and acquisition of machinery and equipment by the livestock and dairy farmers.

Raising the demand to cover Border Area Development Programme (BADP) under special category, the Minister informed that since 2016-17, this programme had been converted to 60:40 between the Centre and the non-special category states. For the special category states, the ratio was 90:10. With the changed funding pattern, Punjab, which was a non-special category state, had to bear an additional amount of Rs. 25 crore approximately annually, on account of meeting 40% of the state share. The state has also requested the Central Government to consider institutionalizing a grant/ economic package for development of Border Areas of Punjab, which it deserves on account of National Security.

Seeking grant to establish a National Horticulture University at Abohar, the Finance Minister said that a one-time special grant should be given in this regard besides one-time grant to support Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

With the initiation of GST and introduction of debt waiver scheme, the state’s cash flows had been affected, said Badal, adding that the Centre should increase the state's net borrowing ceiling from 3 percent to 4 percent of GSDP to enable the government to meet its committed liability during the current and next fiscal year. He also urged that consent under Article 293 (3) of the Constitution should be given to Punjab for swapping of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) loans with low cost market borrowing, as the rate of interest on NSSF loans was on higher side, besides seeking monthly release of GST compensation in place of bi-monthly basis… 

Seeking increase in bank loan limit from Rs. 1 lac to Rs. 2 lac, the finance minister said that livestock rearing and milk production was the source of livelihood for majority of the landless and poor people. The Minister also sought special focus on animal husbandry sector by tripling the funding for small ruminants like Piggery, Goat, Sheep and Buffalo meat with backyard poultry, fisheries and beekeeping. Govt. of India should also pay 100% insurance premium for small ruminants for landless & small farmers, he suggested.

Urging the GoI to launch a scheme to provide financial assistance to States to appropriately put in place the pre-school system, the Finance Minister said that to prefix the pre-school system to primary education as per the vision of the National Policy, there is need of recruiting staff and creating physical infrastructure, and, more importantly, of developing age-appropriate learning material which has financial implications. Further, Right to Education Act should also be extended to cover pre-primary classes, said Badal.

To undertake research on emerging challenges for climate variability on agricultural production, Manpreet Singh Badal said a sum of Rs. 125 crore should be provided to establish a state-of-the-art Climate Control Chamber at PAU Ludhiana.

On the proposal to set up National Horticulture University at Abohar, the finance minister said this initiative will provide a major fillip to horticultural development in the region and would also help increase farmers’ incomes in line with Prime Minister’s announcement of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.

Seeking renaming of National Highway from Patiala to Paniyali (near Ropar) via Fatehgarh Sahib after Mata Gujri ji, Manpreet Badal said the State has already requested for naming the National Highway project being taken up for four-laning in the memory of Mata Gujri Ji, the mother of Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji to commemorate the 350th year of the Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji. 

Demanding a Shaheed Bhagat Singh Employment Guarantee Scheme (SBSEGS) for Urban Areas on the lines of MNERGA, the Finance Minister proposed that an Employment Guarantee Scheme, titled SBSEGS, should be introduced for the urban areas under which Urban Local Bodies can also provide 100 days of gainful employment as labour component for their various development/infrastructure projects.

In the Health and Family welfare sector, the Minister urged that the GoI should also evolve a system of maintaining national patient records, which should be linked to Aadhar and the National Health Register.

Requesting the GoI to set up of a Light Combat Vehicles (LCV) Manufacturing Unit in the State, the Minister informed that the "Industrial and Business Development Policy 2017” had recently been launched by the Govt. of Punjab offering various incentives to the industry but there was no major unit manufacturing items for defence or of the Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India. The State Government requested the Ministry of Defence to consider setting up of a unit for the manufacturing LCV at an appropriate place in the State of Punjab, as this would not only help in setting up of ancillary units but would also help in providing jobs to the unemployed youth of the State. In order to attract investments in Punjab, the Govt. of Punjab had initiated the Invest Punjab Campaign, which had been a huge success, he said, urging the GoI to take steps to set-up Make in India Centre in every district like ‘INVEST PUNJAB’.

The Govt. of India should take the initiative to set-up Enterprise Skills Club in every district with the target to enroll 1000 new enterprises in every district, and which will lead to assisting 4 million startups (non- tech) every year in next five years, Badal further suggested.

Requesting the Union Government for extension of EDFC upto Attari in Amritsar for cross border trade with Pakistan and central Asia, the finance minister said the GoI had already announced a Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC) from Amritsar (Punjab) to Kolkata (West Bengal). Several manufacturing clusters are being planned along AKIC and the Govt. of Punjab is going to set up Integrated Manufacturing Cluster (IMC) at Rajpura district Patiala for which concept plan was under finalization. The AKIC will be aligned with the EDFC and, as such, the EDFC needs to be extended up to Amritsar, so that the industrial development of Punjab and other north Indian states get a big boost. 

To strengthen the rail network in the state, the Finance Minister demanded to expedite the Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri New Railway Line project falls in District Rupnagar, Punjab and District Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. The cost of the project for the Punjab portion is approximately Rs 1700 crores. Allocation of 300 crores has been made for the year 2017-18 for the project. Likewise, there is a long-standing demand to connect the Majha region (Amritsar) with Malwa (southern Punjab) by providing railway linkage between Patti and Makhu. This will also lead to improved connectivity with northern Punjab with Rajasthan and Gujarat and also improve business linkages. 

He also highlighted the much needed demand of state for rail link between Rajpura to state capital Chandigarh. The Finance Minister said that this issue has been taken up with the GoI. He requested that railways should immediately initiate the work on this section of around 25 kms. He also requested that the Ministry of Railways should be asked to bear the cost of land acquisition as the State Government is severely debt stressed.

The minister also urged the Centre to announce a National Highway from New Delhi to Katra via Amritsar in the coming Budget 2018. Seeking resumption of Shahpurkandi Dam Project Administration, the Minister requested the Union Government to approve the Revised Cost Estimate of the Project at the earliest in view of its national importance.
 

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AFTER MEETING RAHUL GANDHI
Amarinder accepts resignation of ‘tainted’ Punjab cabinet minister
18.01.18 - TEAM PT
Amarinder accepts resignation of ‘tainted’ Punjab cabinet minister



Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has accepted the resignation of Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh Thursday following a meeting with AICC president Rahul Gandhi.
 
Rana Gurjit had submitted his resignation to Amarinder a few days ago. But the CM had not accepted it. He had left it to Rahul to take a call. The decision to accept the resignation was taken after a thorough discussion on the issue during a meeting of CM and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi today morning.

While sources said Amarinder was still backing his loyalist, Rahul and other leaders in the meeting are learnt to have prevailed upon the CM. PPCC President Sunil Jakhar, General Secretary Incharge Asha Kumari and AICC Secretary Harish Choudhary were also a part of the meeting.
 
"Rahul has made his stand on corruption clear. The party cannot be even perceived to be overlooking it,” Jakhar said after the meeting.

The feedback from state leaders and party’s central nominees to Rahul was that the allegations against Rana in sand mining auctions followed by summons to his son by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for raising funds abroad without mandatory permissions were damaging the party’s image.
 
Amarinder forwarded the resignation to Punjab Governor V. P. Singh Badnore for necessary action, while taking over the crucial portfolios himself.

"Captain Amarinder has taken charge of Rana Gurjit's portfolios for the time being," said a spokesperson for the Chief Minister.
 
In a statement, the CM said Rana has cited in his resignation that though he had not been associated with his family business for the past 10 years, the controversy surrounding it in recent months had left him with no option but to tender his resignation in the interest of his party.
 
He did not want the issue to mar the good work done by the Congress government in Punjab and had, in the bigger interest of his party and government, chosen to step down.

Asked about the cabinet expansion, the CM said it would be done after the Ludhiana municipal council elections. "The new ministers will be a mix of youth and experience, with merit as the only criteria,” he said.
 
Considered one of the most powerful ministers in Punjab and a close aide of Amarinder Singh, Rana Gurjit, a billionaire businessman with business interests in liquor and sugar manufacturing, had courted controversies in the past few months in the multi-crore sand mining auction done in the 10-month-old Amarinder Singh government.

People associated with Rana Gurjit and his companies, including his former cook, had bagged multi-crore rupee sand mining contracts in May last year. It was alleged that these people were just fronts for the minister and his companies and the sand mining contracts were picked up through the 'benami' (proxy) route.

Rana Gurjit was facing much pressure to quit despite a one-man commission headed by retired Justice J. S. Narang giving him a clean chit.

The Chief Minister had been defending him despite the corruption controversies. Rana Gurjit's son Inder Pratap Singh was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday in Jalandhar over allegations of raising Rs 100 crore abroad without taking permission from the Reserve Bank of India.

The Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal, who were seeking the resignation of Rana Gurjit following the allegations of corruption and conflict of interest against him, on Thursday demanded that he be booked for corruption and that all sand mining auctions be cancelled.

AAP leader and Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira welcomed the resignation and said that many more skeletons would tumble out of the closet of the Congress government in Punjab.




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