LAHORE - The Punjab cabinet which met on Monday with Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in the chair took up 19-point agenda on varying matters besides condemning the Indian act of revoking special status of the occupied Kashmir. It also condemned the targeting of civilian population through cluster bombs and the state-sponsored Indian terrorism in the Indian occupied Kashmir.

Showing utmost concern over revocation of Article 370 from the Indian constitution, the cabinet termed it a nefarious effort to usurp the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people.

Addressing the meeting, CM Buzdar said the Modi government was making disastrous decisions under a policy of brute military jingoism. He said August 5 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 said, adding Pakistani nation was fully standing with their Kashmiri brethren.

The CM urged the international community to play its role for freedom of Kashmiris. The meeting offered Fateha for the Kashmiri martyrs. 

Also, the meeting decided to start the second phase of Greater Thal Canal Project (Chobara Branch Canal System) and approved taking financial assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB). The CM said 0.394 million acres of land will be irrigated through Chobara Branch Canal System in five districts – Jhang, Khushab, Bhakkar, Layyah and Muzaffargarh. This project will be completed with the cost of Rs 190 million, he said.  

The meeting decided to benefit from project readiness financing for Punjab Water Resources Management Programme and approved seeking financial assistance from the ADB. The upgrade and rehabilitation of upper Jhelum Canal system will cost 170.40 million dollars. The project of using water of hill-torrents will be completed in DGK and Rajanpur with 310.60 million dollars and Greater Thal Canal Phase-III will cost 600 million dollars. These projects will also help in overcoming water-logging and salinity issues.

The meeting also decided to complete civil work for installing 24km long 500kv transmission line from Guddu to Muzaffargarh.

The cabinet also decided to do away with the existing policy of relocation of sugar mills in Punjab. The CM said it would help protect rights of sugarcane farmers. The cabinet also approved draft of Punjab Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 2018 to control narcotics by setting up new excise department force. New excise department stations will be established in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Mianwali for the purpose.

The meeting approved reconstitution of Directorate of Reclamation and Probation. The decision, the first of its kind in 92 years, will benefit as many as 51,636 prisoners who show good behavior and those who have had completed their jail terms. It also approved the draft of the Punjab Industries Rules, 2019 for dealing with matters of control of cement plants and their expansion.

Usman Buzdar said rules and regulations with regard to the establishment of cement plants were being constituted for the first time adding that installation of cement plants will not be allowed in negative areas to protect wildlife and forests. The meeting gave approval to Punjab Sales Tax on Services (Refund) Rules, 2019 along with approval of proposed amendments to 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 were being provided the facility of online registration.

Cabinet also approved the rules governing 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 and Punjab Schools Construction and Rehabilitation Programme to establish one hundred model schools with the cooperation of DFID. Besides construction of 2,500 classrooms, one thousand computer labs and an 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. It also approved reconstitution of board of directors of Punjab Economic Research Institute besides approving 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 implementation of federal excise duty on crude oil and enforcement of Article 154 of constitution. The meeting endorsed the decisions made in 15th meeting of cabinet.