CHANDIGARH: Under fire from the opposition over the alleged "transport mafia" operating in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday announced 5,000 new mini bus permits for youth and 2,000 extra route permits, aimed to check monopoly and undue profiteering from the business.
Besides, the chief minister also announced in the Punjab Assembly that 50 per cent concession in fare for women passengers in the government-owned public transport buses.
"I have been hearing about the transport sector here all the time. To check monopoly and undue profiteering in the transport business, we have decided that we are giving 2,000 extra route permits. We are also going to allow 5,000 mini bus permits for youth," Singh said in the House.
Singh assured the House that any transport permit found illegal would be cancelled and said show-cause notices had already been issued for 142 permits, which were being examined as per law.
"Any permit found illegal will be cancelled," said Singh in the assembly. He further said the transport department was in the process of issuing 15-day show cause notices for the remaining 212 permits as well and promised total transparency in issuance of permits, along with all possible steps to break the monopoly in the transport sector.
On the issue of the state transport policy, he pointed out that the matter was sub-judice but necessary action would be taken as per the directions of the court as and when the issue was settled.
The opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been targeting the Amarinder Singh-led government over the issue of alleged transport, liquor, sand and drug mafias in the state.
The AAP had been alleging that the state government had failed to check transport mafia in the state and claimed that the Badal family had been one of the main operators of private transport in the absence of any transport policy.
On the issue of mining, Singh said a mining policy would be brought out soon to eliminate the mining mafia completely from the state.
"Very soon a policy will be declared on this (mining)," said Singh. On the issue of reducing retirement age of government employees by two years to 58, Singh said all vacant positions move would be filled in the next two years.
He pointed out that a single case of retirement in a high pay scale could help generate jobs for three youth in the lower bracket.
On the issue of crop diversification, he said under this programme, for which a provision of Rs 200 crore has been made, the focus would be on alternative crops, mainly the summer maize, pulses, cotton, basmati and horticulture crops.
He further announced his government's decision to increase the number of ambulances from existing 242 to 400 in the next two years to enable round the clock access to ambulance services for every cluster of 30-35 villages.
To further strengthen the health delivery network, the chief minister said all doctors in government hospitals should double up for both administrative and clinical work.
Of the total of 4,036 doctors currently available, 1,000 do not engage in clinical work at present, he said, adding that if vice-chancellors of universities could do both teaching and administrative work, then why not doctors.