In a bid to make Urban Local Bodies self-sustaining, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered the Director Local Bodies to formulate a comprehensive framework to give them more teeth, while directing the Local Bodies Minister to review the One Time Settlement (OTS) policy on the regularization of unauthorized constructions and building violations.
Chairing the first meeting of the Urban Renewal and Reforms Consultative Group, the Chief Minister underlined the need to ensure seamless coordination among various departments involved in any public project by providing more autonomy to ULBs. He made it clear that paucity of funds would not be allowed to hamper development work.
During the meeting, Captain Amarinder directed immediate steps to further improve the fiscal and administrative component of all Urban Local Bodies to ensure that the government benefits reach the beneficiaries on the ground.
On the OTS, the Chief Minister asked the Local Bodies Minister, Brahm Mohindra, to relook the existing scheme and suggest changes, if any, to make it more people friendly and result oriented. He issued the direction in response to the concerns expressed by the Corporation Mayors,
Sounding a warning over project delays, Captain Amarinder asked the department to issue legal notices to private players lagging behind in completion of all public projects at the earliest. The Chief Minister also emphasized the need to develop an inbuilt mechanism to ensure timely completion and adherence to strict quality control parameters, to ensure optimal utilization of the funds allocated for the projects.
Expressing satisfaction at the progress under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) Scheme, the Chief Minister said he would soon write to the Union Government to bring three more cities of Punjab in its ambit. He also asked the department to come up with benchmarking of all major cities of Punjab, population-density wise, in comparison with other national cities of matching population, to ensure that a strong case is put before the Centre to allocate adequate funds for their overall development.
During the meeting, Mayor Patiala Corporation requested the Chief Minister to make OTS more effective and relevant to remove the discrepancies in the existing policy by taking all the stakeholders into confidence. Mayor Amritsar Corporation also urged the local bodies authorities to ensure that all components of the OTS policy are complied with to make the buildings safer.
Earlier, CEO Water Resources and Sewerage Board Ajoy Sharma made a detailed presentation on the various ongoing infrastructural projects in urban areas. Under the Amrut Scheme, which has a total outlay of Rs. 2766.63 Crores, GoI’s share is Rs. 1204.67 Crores, while the rest is being provided by the State Government.
Notably, the dedicated group is one of the nine such specialized teams constituted by the Chief Minister earlier this month to assess and elicit recommendations, if any, to enhance performance delivery of his government’s flagship programmes. Captain Amarinder Singh had taken control of improving the Urban Renewal and Reforms programme as well as the campaign against drugs.
The Chief Minister announced that the meeting of the Group would be held twice a month to ensure regular monitoring and corrective action, where needed.
Apart from MLAs and Mayors of all four corporation towns, the meeting was attended by Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Public Works Department Minister Vijay Inder Singla, Food & Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Housing and Urban Development Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, ACS Industries and Commerce Vini Mahajan, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, and Director Local Bodies Karnesh Sharma.