CHANDIGARH: Women in Punjab can travel free of cost in all state government buses from Thursday, with the cabinet on Wednesday stamping its formal approval of the scheme announced by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh earlier this month.
Amarinder had announced the free travel scheme in the state assembly on March 5, as part of his government’s efforts to empower women and girls in the state. The scheme will benefit over 1.31 crore women and girls across the state. As per the 2011 census, Punjab has a population of 2.77 crores (males 1,46,39,465 and female 1,31,03,873).
Under the scheme, women residents of Punjab can avail free bus travel in government-owned buses, including Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Punjab Roadways Buses (PUNBUS) and city bus services operated by local bodies. However, the scheme is not applicable for government-owned AC buses, Volvo buses and HVAC buses. Documents like Aadhaar card, voter card or any other proof of residence in Punjab would be required to avail the facility.
Also, all women who are family members of Punjab government employees and residing in Chandigarh, or are themselves employees of the Punjab government but live in Chandigarh, can avail the benefit of free travel in the said government buses.
This scheme is expected to not only reduce female dropouts in schools because of the high cost of daily transport but also facilitate working women, who have to travel considerable distances to their workplace.
Meanwhile, in a bid to streamline the functioning of cattle pounds run by the government in the districts, and to effectively redress of the menace of stray animals, the cabinet gave approval for running them in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
There would be no financial burden on the state to run these cattle pounds (except Amritsar and Ferozepur) in PPP mode as these will become self-sustainable by generating the required revenue through various approved activities. The decision to go for PPP mode and accordingly invite Expression of Interest was taken in July last year by the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted in September 2019 to address the problem of stray animals.
Pertinently, 20 cattle pounds have been established in Punjab (except Amritsar and Ferozepur due to court cases by villagers), in which as many as 10,024 stray cattle are managed, with the government releasing Rs 4385.35 lakh in a staggered manner for construction of the cattle pounds and proper upkeep of stray animals. In accordance with the original plan, six cattle sheds were to be constructed, thus making it a total of 132 (22x6). However, in these 20 districts, only 76 cattle sheds have been constructed so far, with the rest of the 56 still to come up.