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Punjab Current Affairs - August 2018


On I-Day, Punjab CM seeks freedom from drug menace, Launches farm loan waiver
  • Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday launched the ‘TuMera Buddy’ programme to tackle the problem of drugs in the State.
  • The programme, he said, would take the campaign against drugs to the grassroots through schools and colleges. 
  • The ‘Tu Mera Buddy’ programme would be led by class teachers and supervised by the principals and District Education Officers, he said.
  • Following the good response to 118 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment Clinics, 80 more such clinics would be set up by September, the Chief Minister said. 
  • Over 26,000 addicts have so far been treated in these clinics
  • Capt. Amarinder also handed over certificates to 10 farmers for waiver of loans up to ₹2 lakh from commercial banks. 
  • He announced a slew of development projects worth over ₹3,600 crore for Ludhiana district, ranging from infrastructure to water supply and industries to education. 
Punjab House passes Bills to curb sacrilege
  • The Punjab Assembly unanimously passed Bills for an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to make desecration of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment. 
  • The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, has inserted Section 295AA to provide that “whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people shall be punished with imprisonment for life.”
  • It also states, “In the Indian Penal Code, 1860, in its application to the State of Punjab, in Section 295, for the words “two years,” the words “10 years” shall be substituted. 
  • Section 295 in The Indian Penal Code: 295. Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.—Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage or defile­ment as an insult to their religion, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.)
Punjab govt. flags off information vans
  • Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra flagged off five vans to make people aware about the State’s de-addiction programme. 
  • These vans would provide information about treatment facilities and the ill-effects of drugs.
Punjab paves way to enact law on ‘office of profit’
  • The Punjab government paved the way for the enactment of the law to enable MLAs to hold several new categories of ‘office of profit’.
  • The Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, 2018, will be tabled in the upoming session of the State Assembly, after the State Cabinet gave a nod to it.
  • Through a new Section 1(A) incorporated in the bill, compensatory allowance is defined as expenditure incurred in performing functions of that office. It will cover daily allowance, conveyance allowance, house rent allowance and travelling allowance.
  • The section will also define organisations as statutory or non-statutory and add new categories of office of profit such as chairman and members of advisory and inquiry committees, besides chairmen, vice-chairmen and members of boards and corporations.
  • The bill would amend Section 2 of the Representation of People’s Act to include the office of chairman or member of a committee, set up temporarily for the purpose of advising the government or any authority on a matter of public importance or for making an inquiry if the holder of such office is not entitled to any remuneration other than compensatory allowance. 
  • The positions will also include the office of chairman, director or member of any statutory or non-statutory body, if the holder of such office is not entitled to any remuneration other than compensatory allowance.
  • Articles 102(1)(a) and 191(1)(a) of the Constitution bar an MP or MLA from holding an office of profit — a position that can yield some financial benefit. It can attract disqualification from either House of Parliament, if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or any state government, other than an office declared by Parliament by law that does not disqualify its holder. 
  • Under the Representation of People Act too, holding an office of profit is ground for disqualification. 
  • On July 14, Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore had refused to give his assent to the ordinance and asked the government to table the bill in the House.
State Cabinet approves pro-farmer measures
  • In a bid to save farmers from debt trap, the Punjab Cabinet decided to make it mandatory for the private money lenders to secure licence to run their business and limit the sum of farming loans that peasants can raise.
  • In its meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Cabinet decided to provide for these and other pro-farmer measures by amending the existing Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Act, 2016
  • It would also empower the government to regulate the interest rate on farming loans by private money lenders, who will have to secure a licence to operate in the market.
  • The private money lenders operating without the licence would be deemed illegal and would not be entitled to move debt settlement forums to retrieve their loan, it said.
  • The Bill also seeks to bring down the total number of existing debt settlement forums from 22 to five, which would be set up at divisional levels and headed by the divisional commissioners, the release said.
  • These measure would ensure a more systematic approach in handling farm debt cases, it said.
Punjab to form panel for selection of DGP
  • The Punjab Assembly today passed the Police (Amendment) Bill 2018, which would pave way for setting up of a State Security Commission for selection of the director general of police.
  • The Punjab Police Act 2007, enacted on February 5, 2008, which this Bill amends, did not provide for selection of the DGP from the panel as prepared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
  • The Bill provides, "The state government shall select the director general of police from amongst the Indian Police Service (IPS) from a panel of at least three eligible officers borne on the cadre of Punjab or any state cadre, who are in the rank of director general or are eligible to hold this rank for appointment as the DGP, based on their service record and range of experience, having a reasonable period of remainder service left, which shall in no case be less than 12 months as on the date of appointment." 
  • The State Security Commission shall comprise chief minister as the chairperson, the state home minister as the vice-chairperson and in case the CM holds the Home Department then he may nominate any other minister as a member.
  • Leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, a retired high court judge, chief secretary, principal secretary to state government, department of home affairs and justice, state advocate general will be among the members of the Commission.
  • The Supreme Court had, in an order pronounced in June, asked all states to send a panel of five eligible officers to the UPSC, which will shortlist three and the state will then have to choose one of them for the DGP’s post. This had become a contentious issue since law and order is a state subject.
  • The state government led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recently sought Advocate General Atul Nanda's opinion on the appointment of the DGP.
IFFCO forays into food processing, forms joint venture with Spain firm for Rs 325 crore plant 
  • Fertiliser major IFFCO today announced joint venture with Spain's Congelados De Navarra to set up a food processing plant at Ludhiana in Punjab with an investment of Rs 325 crore. With this joint venture, co-operative IFFCO will foray into food processing sector. 
  • The foundation stone of this plant would be laid in December and work would be completed in 18 months.
Two new projects for Pb, Tripura under Swadesh Darshan Scheme
  • The Ministry of Tourism said today it has sanctioned two new projects under Heritage and North East Circuits of Swadesh Darshan Scheme for Rs 164.95 crore in Punjab and Tripura.
  • "In Punjab, the project covers sites of Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Ferozpur, Amritsar, Khatkar Kalan, Kalanour, Patiala at the cost of Rs 99.95 crore," the ministry said in a statement.
  • The project includes development of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar at the cost of Rs 8 crore, development of tourist infrastructure and heritage path at Anandpur Sahib (Rs 28.99 crore), Fatehgarh Sahib covering sites of Samadhi of Shahid Uddham Singhji, Jajah Haveli of Divan Todar Mal, Mir Miran Tomb, Sadna Kasai Tomb (Rs 19.20 crore).
  • The project would also undertake the development of Chamkaur Sahib (Rs 13.99 crore), Hussainiwala Border in Ferozepur (Rs 8 crore), Khatkar Kalan, Kalanaour and Patiala(Rs 17 crore), it added.

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