Developing Adarsh Villages in the state

Punjab is known to have a number of villages in the major portion of the state, and these require a lot of development in terms of infrastructure, education, governance and more. The government has now decided to uplift this segment of the state, which holds the roots of Punjab and make it a better place for the people and the community.

The government has developed a huge plan with great ambitions and aspirations, which will help in overall development of the rural areas and create Adarsh Villages all across Punjab. Officers at the district levels have been informed about the same and given instructions to implement this plan at the earliest and in the best possible way. To help in monitoring the development of this plan and creation of Adarsh villages in the right direction, the government has decided to create Planning Units at the Gram Panchayat level.

The 14th Finance Commission had already allocated a good amount of funds for this project to be carried out smoothly and in the best of its spirits. The authorities are trying to implement public representation at the level of the villages so as to induce the Panchayat Raj in the state and make it a stronger practice for managing and developing the respective villages. Under the plan, the Gram Panchayat would be the one that would formulate the Development Plan at the Planning Units with a number of members, including, Sarpanch of that particular village, Panchayat Secretary, Gram Employment assistant, engineers, school teachers, workers and more. Once this has been well-formulated, then NGO, self-help groups and suggested retired officers and workers can also be made a part of the team to help in better suggestions and working.

The guidelines by the Centre Government has been the base of the formulation of this development plan, where the main focus and concern has been given to being transparent in giving out grants and also taking suggestions from the people wherever required. The main issues of the society and specially the villages have been the major concern while developing this plan, like sex ration, welfare of the community, malnutrition, education, increasing death rate of the mother and child, social security, issues of farmers and more.

The state government has been working hard to lift up the social as well as the financial status of the scheduled caste of the society, so that they can get an equal opportunity to develop their future in the society. Cleanliness, safe potable water, development of parks and playgrounds for the kids are a few more major concerns that the development plan will be taking care of.

Amritsar gets its first Woman MC Commissioner

Earlier posted as MC Commissioner in Moga, Sonali Giri has now been transferred to Amritsar and will be taking charge of her duties from 6th April. This 2009 batch IAS Officer is the first lady MC Commissioner of the city; she is all set for the challenges on her way, as the current state of affairs in the city is under turmoil.

Amritsar gets its first Woman MC CommissionerShe is a well-experienced girl in her field and knows how to tackle challenges of all kinds. She has even served earlier as ADC in Bathinda and Faridkot. Her practical approach helps her in solving problems efficiently and her quick decision making abilities has helped her in reaching to this stage in her career.

She hails to Lucknow, and along with the help of her husband, Vipul Ujwal, who is also a very efficient IAS Officer has efficiently developed the smart voting application I-Vote in different parts of the state. She has had her own share of ups and downs in her tenure of working in different departments of the city and along with delivering positive results at times, she has also been under the burden of finances and delayed developmental projects due to some uncertain conditions.

The commissioner has a tough task to take care of various points with her duties in the city. The civic body of the city has always been falling short on their targets, whether it is revenue generation or tax-recovery from the city. The policies, which have been made, have not been up to the mark and they have not even been able to apply them efficiently around the city. Poor application of policies is one of the major drawbacks that the city has been facing. The citizens have also been complaining for a lot of departments in the authorities being inefficient, like the Department of Birth and Death Registration and even the Advertising and MTP Department. Along with the departments being inefficient in policy making and coordination of all the work concerned, salaries of sanitation workers and MC employees is another department of concern, which the Commissioner will have to look into as soon as she joins her office.

Punjab Government expands the scope of Right to Service act

For the purpose of development, the government and the governance plays a very crucial role. The working of the government gives direction to the development of the state. In order to develop the state in the right direction, the Punjab government has taken a major step by expanding the scope of the Right to Service act.

With a view to ensure time- bound delivery of public services, the Punjab government has announced to bring 206 public services in the ambit of Right to Service Act (RTS), 2011.

The state government has issued amended notification in this regard and appointed designated officers to deliver services within stipulated time limit for the purpose of RTS   Act.

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Besides fixing time frame for delivery of all services, the state government has also nominated first appellate authorities and second appellate authorities to decide appeals against the delays in provisioning of service.

The implementation of this order will ensure that the government of the state is more accountable and accessible to the public. The Punjab government wants the public of the state to get the maximum benefit out of this expansion.

The agenda of the State government is to push reforms and accountability in its internal governance by bringing or introducing reforms in the present administrative system.

As per the notification issued by the government, out of 206 services listed under the preview of RTS act includes 32 services related to home department, 30 services of health, 28 of local government, 14 of power and electricity, 12 of revenue, 14 of agricultural and mandi board, 9 each of social security and transport, 8 of technical education, 7 related to welfare of SCs and BCs.

Other services will include 5 of town and country planning, 3 of industry, 2 of rural development and panchayats and 1 each belongs to personal, food, civil supply and consumer affairs, rural water supply and sanitation, dairy development and grievances and pensions departments.

Apart from this, 3 services of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences UniversityGADVASU) and rectification of error occurred at the level of an official while delivering the services has been also included under RTS act.

With regard to implementation of RTS Act at district level, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) would be the Nodal Officer for all departments in a district whereas Special Secretary/Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary of the concerned department, as the case may be, would be the Nodal Officer of respective department at the State headquarters.

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Punjab sets up 163 Fard Kendras

The Punjab Land Record Society (PLRS) was formed by department of Revenue with the objective of computerizing land records and make these accessible to the citizens.

Farad Kendras - Akali Dal

The society has setup 163 FARD Kendras in Public Private Partnership to facilitate citizens to collect their documents across the counter after paying nominal fee. Record of Rights of about 12780 villages has been computerized. The data of all 22 districts has already been put on the website for Public access. Currently citizens can get the copy of FARD (nakal) across the counter by paying a very nominal fee on the same counter. The PLRS is planning to deliver more land record services though these Kendras in near future. In fact no service connected with land records would be left uncovered by Fard Kendras in times to come.

The initiative is such that other state governments are following the Punjab model.  The State Government has done it so fast that Fard Kendras have been opened at all 157 Tehsil/Sub-Tehsils of Punjab. The land records of all villages of Tehsil/Sub-Tehsil available at the Fard Kendra in computerized form. The Fard Kendras facilite on the spot delivery of ‘Nakals’ of all land registers and these are available at Fard Kendras.

The Punjab Government has ensured that all the 163 Fard Kendras become operational and the mega task of computerising all land records has already been achieved.  The land record of all the villages has been computerized and now every villager can get a copy of Fard across the counter at a nominal rate of Rs. 20 per page instantly. This is the initiative that Punjab Government has brought about for the benefit of farmers and other rural people. This would also lead to solving lot many disputes relating to land records because authentic information would be available at the click of a button.

For its effective implementation and to ensure that benefits reach people of Punjab, the Punjab Government has issued directions to Financial Commissioner Revenue to start helpline numbers in every district so that any villager can get any mistake in the land record rectified by reporting on this. The future would see these portals becoming interactive for an interface with people and mainly farmers.

The Revenue Department has also started putting land record on the web so that any person can view the status of his land record sitting at home. This would eventually lead to transparent, corruption-free and people-friendly revenue administration. The endeavor would be to improve the interaction of people with the department and he would ensure that every citizen gets due respect from all revenue authorities.

Already the difference in the functioning of Revenue department is being felt by all and sundry. Now there is no need to make visits to Revenue officials and wait for a copy of “girdwari” of crop sown and other entries in revenue record. The ownership of land and who is tilling the same would be there in the computerized form in the “nakal” so provided at the Fard Kendra in a most transparent manner.

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Punjab’s Aadhaar journey

Punjab is one of the forerunners to create a repository of Residents’ Aadhaar Demographic information called State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) created to assist line departments in Aadhaar enablement. Currently departments such as education, revenue, transport and food are working for Aadhaar enablement of their services.  Tech savvy Punjab people have come forward in a big way to get access to the new schemes and e-governance.

Punjab’s Aadhaar journey

In Punjab the Aadhaar journey got wings on 23rd June 2010 with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Punjab and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that flagged State vide Aadhaar Enrolments. During the first phase of enrolments, state achieved the man month target of enrolling more than one crore residents engaging State as well as non-state machinery. The Phase II commenced in March, 2012 with more than 500 State and Non State Registrar enrolment stations operating to capacity with a target to enrol the entire state by Feb 2014. November 2013 the total site enrolments stand close to 90% of targeted population. Foreseeing the ongoing enrolments to reach saturation gradually, 737 permanent enrolment centres are being set up to benefit the left out population which will also help finish the left out enrolments.

Punjab has always been in the forefront of adopting new technologies and newer things. Little doubt that Punjab has lapped up this scheme. Total enrolled population in Punjab is 2,50,91,071 crores.  To utilise the available resources, the Punjab government has engaged all available resources to reach out to people for 100 per cent inclusion under the scheme.

In Punjab Suwidha Centres with their network spanned across the state geography, have been further engaged for the delivery of e-Aadhaar to ensure easy access to Aadhaar services to the common man.  This has ensured that the citizens get the Aadhar Cards on time and without any doubts of delivery.  It for record that the Government of India has setup Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) with the mandate of providing a unique identity (Aadhaar) number to all residents of India. Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is issuing for all residents in India. The number is stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information – photograph, ten fingerprints and iris – of each individual.

A portal for citizens

For Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) where Aadhaar forms the core engine, Punjab has lead the chart at national level by benefit transfers to Aadhaar linked bank accounts through various Govt. Schemes. The UID Punjab has also developed a web based portal to assist in the smooth implementation of (DBT) schemes in Punjab. The portal will standardize the process for the fulfilment of pre-requites for the execution DBT transfers. In Punjab the project is implemented by Registrar, UID Project, and Department of Food and Civil Supplies Punjab. UIDAI proposes on-line identity authentication which have the potential to bring about the transformation in the method of service delivery.

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E-office comes to Punjab

The e-Office envisages transforming conventional Government Offices into more efficient and transparent e-Offices, eliminating huge amounts of paper work.  Indeed it is a much needed step that would revolutionize the working of government offices, must different from the old hackneyed style.

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Government of Punjab has computerized all the branches of Deputy Commissioners and the offices of Divisional Commissioners. For Computerization of these offices; National Informatics Centre (NIC) Punjab has been given responsibility of implementation of the e-Office (Electronic Office) software.  The coming up of e-office would do away with need of huge files and paper work. In a way, it would be eco friendly measure and in keeping with environmental protection trends too. It would be a game changer for the people of Punjab as it would bring most needed transparency and efficiency in the delivery of services.

Field Offices Revamped

The NIC Punjab has already completed the assessment of computing infrastructure of various field offices of the State and has submitted the techno-commercial proposal of Rs.41.70 crores. The e-Office product pioneered by National Informatics Centre (NIC) aims to support governance by using in more effective and transparent inter and intra Government Processes.  It would facilitate ease of doing office work and would be a people friendly measure.

Mansa chosen as pilot district

The Mansa district has been selected as a Pilot district for the implementation of e-Office project. The pilot projects in Mansa district shall be completed by October, 2014. After the successful completion of the pilot project, the project shall be rolled out in the remaining districts across State of Punjab.

Focus on Back Office computerization

With a view to provide faster, transparent and efficient services to Citizens, it is suggested that all departments must focus on computerization of their back office workflows in next 3 to 5 years. To facilitate this, e-District state wide roll out project should be implemented in a time bound manner for 47 services planned in its scope. For remaining services, state funding may be provided to achieve the goal of end to end electronic service delivery.

To achieve integrated delivery mechanism for back-end automation, Punjab Government has proposed to identify all G2C services being delivered across the state by various departments using various models of backend work flow. So it has proposed to create one master service matrix so that a strategic plan can be made to further automate and integrate backend workflow of all these services in a phased and planned manner. The government has suggested computerizing the back-end work flow of service in a seamless manner to make all these services inter-operable so that these can be accessed through various channels.

Agriculture dept adopts e-governance

Department of Agriculture, Punjab has initiated to introduce e-Governance by leveraging ICT to provide agriculture related information or data and to improve upon its functioning in order to bring efficiency, transparency and accountability.   Interestingly, the agriculture is the mainstay of majority of people in Punjab and its computerization and introduction of e-governance in agriculture department would be a boon for the farmers.

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Citrus Estates, a boon for Punjab growers

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Citrus Estates have emerged as one of the most successive initiatives of Punjab government in providing a viable alternative for farmers who are left with no option but to diversify from the traditional farming.

It was in 2007, that the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal announced setting up of five Citrus Estates in Punjab. The objective was to enable farmers move away from the water consuming and soil depleting crop patterns by encouraging them to take up non-conventional farm activity, through citrus cultivation.

The five Citrus estates were set up in citrus growing area of Tahliwala Jattan, Abohar, Badal, Hariana and Hoshiarpur.

The estates have been provided with the state-of-the art laboratories besides latest and imported farm implements like Orange picker, pruning saw, harvesting and pruning ladders, power spray pumps and hydraulic pruner. These laboratories have been helping improving the quality of citrus through Research and Development.

Besides all the facilities for cold storage and marketing have also been provided with the help of  Mandi board so as to provide commodity based market.

No wonder, ever since the formation of citrus estates, the area under citrus has grown from 42795 hac to 46290 hac. The number of growers too has risen considerably and at present there are around 8000 growers in state.

Kinnows, sweet orange, lime and lemon are the citrus fruits being grown in Punjab though 90% of the production is of kinnows.

Ferozepur, Muktsar and Hoshiarpur are amongst the top citrus producing districts in Punjab, with Ferozepur leading in the production.

Experts feel it’s the holistic approach of the Punjab government, backed by the experts, which has helped making this venture a success in the state.

Experts from Punjab Agriculture University have been setting up linkages with the horticulture department and industry to guide farmers in site selection, soil quality, plant variety and Orchid layout.

Recently the Punjab government had approved procuring more infrastructure for cultivators to give a fillip to their yield of farm products. Further the government plans importing 50 Electrostatic Knapsack Spray Pumps (EKSP) to tackle the problem of under surface pest in case of citrus estates. It has also been decided to further encourage citrus estates in the state, solubilising bacteria wil be produced by setting up a facility at Hoshiarpur.

Besides, expert advise there are a number of facilities which are being provided under one roof in these Citrus Estates. These include Plant health clinic for on-the-spot solution in regard to every kind of disease, Leaf analysis lab to check and maintain the nutritional balance in citrus orchards and arrangement of quality planting material and delivery of suitable package and practices for citrus cultivation.

Today there are more than 400 villages in Punjab where citrus farming has become a common practice and the Citrus estates are proving to be a boon to them.

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