Two days after taking over the reins of power in Punjab, the new Congress government under chief minister Amarinder Singh started work on the state's development agenda at its first cabinet meeting on Saturday, taking several key decisions.
The first cabinet meet of the new government adopted the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee manifesto as its work programme for the next five years, and took more than 100 important decisions aimed at fulfilling one-third of the electoral promises in the first phase, an official spokesperson said.
To meet some of the expenses involved in taking the work programme forward, the cabinet decided to recall the unutilised funds, amounting to thousands of crores of rupees, which had been granted by the previous SAD-BJP regime to various government departments in the run-up to the polls, he said.
The key decisions taken by the cabinet, attended by all the nine ministers of the newly-constituted government, include a major crackdown on the drug mafia and corruption, abolition of Inspector Raj and VIP culture, time-bound waiver of farm loans, constitution of various high-level committees to bring agriculture and industry on track, reforms in education and health, extension of various benefits to Dalits and other backwards and employment generation.
To ensure rule of law and speedy justice, a series of new legislations, as proposed in the manifesto, will be enacted at the earliest. This includes the vital Confiscation of Drug Dealers' Property Act. The concerned departments would prepare the necessary legislation for immediate enactment through an ordinance.
Thanking the people of Punjab for their emphatic mandate to the Congress in the recent assembly polls, the cabinet resolved that the administrative secretaries would be entrusted with the task of time-bound implementation of every single commitment in the manifesto relating to their respective departments.
It was also resolved that the government would pursue all legal and administrative measures on the SYL canal issue to protect the state's water.
During the meeting, which lasted over three hours, Amarinder directed his ministerial colleagues and the various departments of the government to get down to the task of implementing the manifesto promises in all earnestness, taking all necessary measures to ensure that there is no delay in taking the reforms and development process to the people.
Abolition of District Transport Officers (DTOs), as well as elimination of the "controversial halqa in-charge system" of the previous Akali government, are among other important decisions taken by the cabinet as part of the anti-corruption agenda of the government. "Immediate steps will be taken to abolish the VIP culture in the state in line with the promises made by the Congress in its manifesto," he said.