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In a major decision to regularize the services of the employees working on contract and daily wagers among others, the Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday approved the ‘The Punjab Protection and Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill-2021’ to be introduced in the forthcoming session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha for enactment.

This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi here at Punjab Bhawan this afternoon. According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, with this decision, the services of nearly 36,000 aforesaid employees with more than 10 years of service would be regularized. Likewise, the Cabinet also gave approval for the extra creation of deemed posts.

The provisions of the reservation policy would be followed during the regularization process of these employees. However, this decision of regularization would not be binding on the boards and corporations.

Repeal of Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013

Keeping in view the dilemma and fear in the minds of the producers, farmers of the state due to the strict provisions incorporated in the Punjab Contract Farming Act, 2013 like imprisonment, monetary penalties and other rigorous punishments, the Punjab Cabinet has decided to repeal the aforesaid Act in the larger interest of Punjab Farmers.

Nod to Amend the ‘Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961’

In a bid to ensure an effective ecosystem and restore the agricultural safeguards besides protecting the interests of farmers, farm labourers and those engaged in ancillary and incidental activities, the Cabinet also gave the approval to amend Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets, Act 1961 to revoke the anti-farmer provisions.

Notably, the time tested Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act 1961 (1961 Act) is a legislative measure enacted by Punjab Government to facilitate the development of markets/mandis infrastructure, to provide better facilities and amenities to farmers to sell their agricultural produce seamlessly besides to regulate the marketing of agricultural produce for the elimination of malpractices prevalent in the trade.

It may be recalled that over the years, certain amendments to the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets, Act 1961 have been undertaken that has introduced several vulnerabilities and distortions to the grave detriment and prejudice of agriculture and communities associated therewith. These amendments have left the rural communities especially the farmers and those engaged in agriculture are vulnerable, thereby jeopardizing the sustainable agricultural development and security of livelihood of the persons engaged in agriculture in the state.

Repeal of Punjab (Institutions & Other Buildings) Tax Act, 2011

The Cabinet also approved ‘The Punjab (Institutional and Other Building) Tax Repeal Bill, 2021’ to be introduced in the current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to waive off un-paid dues in all cases. It may be recalled that Punjab (Institutional and Other Building) Tax Act was implemented on the Industrial and other Institutional Buildings, which come outside the Municipal limit. This decision would give a relief of Rs. 250 crore to the beneficiaries.

OTS Of Non-Compoundable Violations In Buildings

The Cabinet also gave its nod to promulgate ‘The Punjab One-Time Voluntary Disclosure and Settlement of Violations of the Buildings Bill, 2021’ for all unauthorized constructions, which have come up till September 30, 2021. The move is aimed at providing one time opportunities to the violators within the Municipal areas who have made non-compoundable violations in the buildings for regularization without compromising on public safety/security and convenience. However, the compounding fee has also been reduced by 25 per cent.

Notably, there are a large number of unauthorized buildings where the buildings plans have not been approved. Most of the violations are non-compoundable and therefore such buildings cannot be regularized under the existing provisions. These unauthorized constructions have been coming up for the last many years and at this stage, it is not possible to demolish such buildings nor it is desirable to demolish them. State Government, therefore, feels that the best course of action to deal with such buildings is to regularise them provided these buildings meet fire and safety standards and do not compromise on public safety/security and convenience & also to stop future unauthorized constructions.

Enhancing Minimum Wages of Skilled Workers

The Cabinet also approved the enhancement of Minimum Wages with effect from March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 as per the provisions of ‘The Minimum Wages Act, 1948’ and revision of wages from March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 after the decision of the Punjab Minimum Wages Advisory Board constituted under the provisions of the said Act. Increase in labour wages/rates will lead to an increase in purchasing power of labourers/workers and in turn will boost economic activity in the state. It will also result in better job satisfaction to the worker which will subsequently result in better productivity and harmonious relations with the employer. The Minimum wages based on CPI was due on March 1, 2020 with a raise of Rs 415.89. Resultantly, the Minimum Wage has now been revised from Rs. 8776.83 to Rs. 9192.72. Similarly, with the hike in Minimum Wages, the worker would also be entitled to get arrears of Rs. 8251 from March 1, 2020 up to October, 2021. 

Approves Punjab Energy Security, Termination of PPAs and Redetermination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021

The Cabinet also accorded approval to the Punjab Energy Security, Termination of PPAs and Redetermination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021 to be placed in the current session of Vidhan Sabha. With the passing of this Bill by Vidhan Sabha, Power Purchase Agreements with M/s Nabha Power Limited & Talwandi Sabo Power Limited shall stand referred to PSERC for re-determination of tariff.

Redetermination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021

In order to enable the state government to evolve statutory measures for sustained development of the electricity sector in the state and to make available the electricity to the consumers at an economical, affordable and sustained basis, the Cabinet also gave a go ahead to the Punjab Renewable Energy Security, Reform, Termination and Re-determination of Power Tariff Bill, 2021 to be placed in the ongoing session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

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