Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar presided over a meeting of provincial cabinet at Civil Secretariat here on Monday. The meeting strongly condemned the illegal and unconstitutional step taken by the Modi government to revoke the special status of Indian occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also condemned the targeting of civilian population through cluster bombs at LOC and the state-sponsored Indian terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir. The cabinet expressed its strongest concern over the decision of the Indian government to revoke the special status of Indian occupied Kashmir and termed it a nefarious effort to usurp the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people.
Addressing the meeting, Usman Buzdar said that the Modi government is making disastrous measures under a policy of brute military jingoism and asserted that this Indian step will be remembered as the darkest day in the history. In fact, India is snatching the rights of the people in occupied Kashmir through state-sponsored terrorism, he added. He reiterated that the Pakistani nation is fully standing with their Kashmiri brethren and vowed that diplomatic, political and moral support of the Kashmiri brethren will be continued. The Chief Minster directed the ministers and assembly members to fully participate in a rally organized at Faisal Chowk to show solidarity with the Kashmiris and added that India can never usurp the fundamental rights of Kashmiris through military aggression. The peaceful struggle of the Kashmiri people is aimed at achieving the goal of self-determination, he said. He said that durable peace and stability cannot be achieved in the region without first solving the core issue of Kashmir and stressed upon the international community to play its role for security peace and freedom of the Kashmiri people. The cabinet expressed complete solidarity with Kashmir people. The meeting offered Fateha for the Kashmiri martyrs who became victim to the barbarity of Indian occupied forces and prayed for early recovery of the injured. Auqaf Minister Saeed-ul-Hassan Shah offered the prayer.
The meeting decided to start the 2nd phase of Greater Thal Canal Project (Chobara Branch Canal System) and accorded approval to take financial assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Chief Minister said that 3.94 lakh acre land in five districts including Jhang, Khushab, Bhakkar, Layyah and Muzaffargarh will be irrigated through Chobara Branch Canal System which will be completed with the cost of 19 crore dollars. This project will help the people to get rid of poverty besides increasing agricultural productivity as availability of ample water will be helpful in growing cash-crops, he added. The meeting decided to get benefit from project readiness financing for Punjab Water Resources Management Program and also gave approval to seek financial assistance from the ADB. Usman Buzdar said that ADB will provide 90 percent funds for this mega project. Under Punjab Water Resources Management Program, remodeling and up-gradation of DG Khan canal system will be done with an amount of 6.80 crore dollars. Meanwhile, up-gradation and rehabilitation of upper Jhelum Canal system will be done through Water Resource Management Program with an amount of 17.40 crore dollars. He said that the project of using water of hill-torrents will be completed in DG Khan and Rajanpur with a huge amount of 31.60 crore dollars. Along with it, Greater Thal Canal Phase-III will be completed with an amount of 60 crore dollars to provide water to thousands of acres of land. It will also help in overcoming water-logging and salinity issues. The meeting approved steps for immediately removing hurdles in completion of civil work for installing 24km long 500kv transmission line from Guddu to Muzaffargarh. The meeting also gave approval to the decision of ending reallocation policy for sugar mills in Punjab; and after this decision, sugar mills would not be relocated to any other area. The Chief Minister said that the purpose of this policy is to protect sugarcane farmers. Cabinet gave approval to the draft of The Punjab Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 2018. Usman Buzdar said that this act will help to control narcotics adding that new excise department force will be set up. New excise department stations will be established in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Mianwali so that the youth could remain safe from drugs.
The meeting approved reconstitution of Directorate of Reclamation and Probation and the meeting was told by the Chief Minister that 51636 prisoners will benefit from this reform which is being done after a long gap of 92 years. This reform would help in releasing of prisoners showing good behavior and those who have had completed their jail terms. The meeting also gave approval to the draft of the Punjab Industries Rules, 2019 for dealing with matters pertaining to the control of cement plants and their expansions. Usman Buzdar said that rules and regulations with regard to the establishment of cement plants are being constituted for the first time adding that installation of cement plants will not be allowed in negative areas and further said that this would help in protecting wildlife and forests. The meeting gave approval to Punjab Sales Tax on Services (Refund) Rules, 2019 along with approval of proposed amendments in Partnership Act of 1932 to exempt private firms from paying registration fee. Usman Buzdar said that this would help in ensuring implementation of policy of bringing ease in businesses and private firms are being provided the facility of online registration.
The meeting gave approval to the notification relating to the establishment of Mir Chakar Khan Rind University of Technology in DG Khan. It also gave approval to various matters including devising the establishment criterion of search committee to review different matters including experience and qualification required for posting of vice chancellor of the university. The cabinet approved the establishment of search committee and other necessary laws for the posting of VC Punjab University of Technology Rasool. The Chief Minister said that only merit will be given preference for appointing universities’ VCs in the Punjab. The meeting approved notification for the establishment of Punjab Skills Development Authority which will ensure implementation of laws for the establishment of technical institutions. High standards will be ensured in governmental and private technical institutions to provide world-class education to the students, he said. The cabinet also approved Punjab Schools Construction and Rehabilitation Program and one hundred model schools will be set up under this program with the cooperation of DFID. Rs.1.20 billion will be spent on it while another amount of Rs.3.20 billion will be spent on the construction of 2500 classrooms. Similarly, one thousand computer labs and equal number of libraries will be upgraded in schools with an amount of Rs.1.64 billion. The cabinet also approved amendments in Aab Pak Authority Act. The meeting decided to scrap duty on Ethanol besides giving approval to amendments in Family Courts Act, 1964. The meeting approved reconstitution of board of directors of Punjab Economic Research Institute. It also gave approval to exit of Punjab Rural Support Company from public sector companies list of Local Government Department. The establishment of DG Khan Waste Management Company was also approved. The meeting reviewed matters pertaining to implementation of federal excise duty on crude oil besides reviewing matters relating to enforcement of Article 154 of Constitution of Pakistan 1973. The meeting endorsed the decisions made in 15th meeting of cabinet. Provincial ministers, advisors, special assistants, chief secretary and concerned officers attended the meeting.