With eye on Gujarat poll, Punjab Cabinet okays old pension scheme
Chandigarh: With an eye on the upcoming polls in Gujarat, the chief minister Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Cabinet on Friday approved the restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS) in Punjab.
Briefing newspersons after the Cabinet meeting, Mann said that the OPS approved by the Cabinet would benefit about 1.75 lakh state government employees who had joined service after 2004. There are about 1.26 lakh employees who are already covered under the existing OPS.
Punjab is the fourth state in the country – after Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – to implement the said scheme; the timing of OPS notification could be of AAP advantage in Gujarat where it has promised the same. Pertinently, the state cabinet had already given its in-principle approval to implement OPS on October 21, last.
Referring to the farmers demand, Mann said that the Cabinet had also given its approval for sugarcane procurement at the rate of Rs 380 a quintal – which, he held – was the highest in the country. The crushing of sugarcane in the sugar mills would also start by November 20, he said and added that the Cabinet had also given its nod to fill the vacancies of 645 lecturers in government colleges.
MANN TAKES ON FARMERS
Reacting to the ongoing farmers’ stir, Mann, however, took on farmer unions for holding protests against the state government in spite of his government making various unprecedented decisions in favour of the farmers.
The chief minister’s reaction was in wake of ongoing “dharnas’’ (protests) of different farmers’ fora across the states including at Amritsar, Faridkot, Patiala and Talwandi Sabo. Mann bemoaned that because of these dharnas, the common man was being inconvenienced.
The farmer unions’ main demands included jobs for kin and financial compensation for families of farmers who died in the year long struggle against farm laws, bonus for wheat yield loss and cancellation of police cases against farmers for stubble burning.
Stating that his government had accepted almost all these demands, Mann “urged upon the agitating unions to exercise their democratic right of protest without creating any inconvenience to the general public. Mann said that harassment of common man on the hollow pretext of rights must be avoided. Taking a strong exception over stopping of roads by such unions to harass the general public, Mann added that though protest was democratic right of any citizen of the country, these unions must be sensitive towards the agonies faced by the common people due to this.
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