Punjab on Thursday leapfrogged into a new era of development and progress with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh launching a slew of milestone welfare projects, including free sanitary pads for high school and college girl students in the state.
Even as he kickstarted the process of the realisation of the dream of owning a home for thousands of slum dwellers, the Chief Minister further powered the state’s digital leap with the rollout of a Rs 75.64 crore Smart Metering project and an ‘e-Daakhil’ portal for e-filing of consumer complaints.
Youth and girls have been earmarked as the beneficiaries of the two other schemes launched virtually by the Chief Minister, dedicated the month of January to the girl child as ‘Dheeyan Di Lohri’ and also paved the way for distribution of 2,500 sports kits to promote health awareness and sports culture among youngsters.
Launching ‘Dheeyan Di Lohri’, the Chief Minister, in a symbolic gesture, blessed five girl children, along with their mothers, with a ‘shagun’ of Rs 5,100 and baby kits for each.
Under the special scheme, a series of events will be held every day across districts, beginning with Mohali district, through the month to mark the occasion of Lohri, which will see congratulatory letters penned and signed by the Chief Minister being handed over to the parents of more than 1.5 lakh girls celebrating their first Lohri this year.
Acceding to the demand of state Congress President Sunil Jakhar, the Chief Minister also announced free sanitary pads to all girl students of high schools and colleges besides those residing in rural areas, especially in slums across the state.
Expressing gratitude to the Chief Minister on the move, Punjab Youth Congress president Barinder Singh Dhillon said this step would inculcate a sense of self confidence among the girls.
Social Security, Women and Child Development Minister Aruna Chaudhary said the concluding event of the ‘Dheeiyan Di Lohri’ month would be marked by grand celebrations during a state-level function at Ferozepur where the parents and grandparents of newborn girls would be honoured.
With the launch of the BASERA programme, 2,816 slum dwellers in 10 slums of Patiala, Bathinda, Fazilka and Moga districts will get proprietary rights in the first phase.
Terming this initiative as a milestone step towards inclusive urban development and planning of the state government, Amarinder said he had been nurturing this dream for the past 52 years of his political career.
He asked the Local Government Department to ensure basic civic amenities, including potable drinking water, street lighting and roads, to the slum dwellers for a comfortable life.
Local Government Minister Brahm Mohindra said Punjab was the first state in the country to launch the Chief Minister’s Slum Development Programme ‘BASERA’ to confer proprietary rights to every slum household occupying state government land in a slum in any urban area on the date of notification of the Punjab Slum Dwellers (Proprietary Rights) Act, 2020.
Launching the Rs 75.64 crore third phase of Smart Metering project, the Chief Minister said the consumer-friendly scheme will help reduce human error in manual reading through automatic uploading of data.
From January to December, a total of 96,000 meters will be installed across the state under the project, which will also help to curb the malpractice of reading concealment and theft of electricity and improve the billing efficiency and quality, he said.
Launching the scheme for distribution of 2,500 sports kits through community participation, especially of the Ludhiana industry, the Chief Minister said it would help promote health awareness and sports culture.
It would motivate youth to take up sports in a big way, thus enabling the state to regain its lost glory in the arena of sports both at national and international levels, he said