The Congress government in Punjab led by CM Charanjit Singh Channi has decided to provide free power to all Rural Water Supply (RWS) schemes with effect from October 1. The cabinet took this decision on Monday at a meeting chaired by the CM.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, this would entail an annual expenditure of Rs 440 crore. The cabinet has also reduced the monthly service charges on all RWS schemes by 70 per cent—from Rs 166 to Rs 50 per household in the villages.
Moreover, funds will also be provided through budgetary support or grants to settle outstanding arrears of Rs 1,168 crore in power bills of RWS schemes.
Extending a major relief to people living in urban areas, the cabinet has decided to reduce water usage charges to Rs 50 per month for domestic connections of all categories with plot size above 125 sq. yards in municipal councils/nagar panchayats and municipal corporations.
Notably, plots up to 125 sq. yards in urban areas have already been exempted from paying water and sewerage user charges. Both these concessions would benefit nearly 25 lakh families living in urban areas.
Further, the cabinet also decided to waive all outstanding arrears of water supply and sewerage charges for domestic connections. This is likely to cost the state exchequer to the tune of nearly Rs 700 crore.
In another significant decision, the cabinet gave the go-ahead to recruit Group-D employees on a regular basis. This fulfills their long pending demand to instill a sense of job security.
The cabinet also gave its approval to recommending the appointment of Jagbans Singh as the new chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission.