The Punjab Cabinet today gave its nod to a proposal to amend the excise act which will enable hotels, restaurants and clubs to serve alcohol within 500 meters of highways. By amending Section 26-A of Punjab Excise Act, 1914, all ambiguities for serving of liquor at hotels, restaurants and clubs would be removed by adding provisions whereby it is cleared that no retail vend would be opened within 500 meter of the national and state highways. However, these restrictions shall not apply to the hotels, restaurants and clubs situated on national and state highways, an official release said. The Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, gave a go-ahead to the draft amendment bill, 2017, in this regard, to be tabled during the current Budget session for enactment. The Cabinet gave its formal approval to the budgetary proposals to be presented by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal in the state Assembly tomorrow. The Congress government will present its maiden budget tomorrow. The Cabinet also approved restructuring of the departments of governance reforms and removal of grievances by merging them and renaming the merged entity as ‘Department of Governance Reforms and Public Grievances’.
The move is aimed at improving and synchronising the existing online grievances redressal mechanisms for effective citizen service delivery which would not only reduce the number of complaints but also bring in governance reforms, an official spokesperson said here. Additionally, the Department of Governance Reforms has also been mandated to bring e-governance in all departments of the state and usher in administrative reforms. The merger is also in line with the pattern followed in the central government where the department concerned is known as Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances under the Ministry of Personnel, the spokesperson said. In another decision, the Cabinet approved certain amendments in the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 through a draft bill. The proposed Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2017 will be tabled in the current Budget session in the Assembly for enactment.
The Cabinet also approved the setting up of a dedicated horticulture university to promote crop diversification in the state, to help in bringing changes in cropping patterns to include the planting of vegetables, fruits, herbs, aromatic and medicinal herbs, fiber and tuber crops, sericulture, fodder crops and floriculture. At present, the total area under fruit plans and vegetables is approximately 3 lakh hectares in Punjab, constituting only approximately 4 per cent of the total and being a fraction of country’s area. The Cabinet also gave approval for tabling of I K Gujral Punjab Technical University (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 and Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 for enactment during the ongoing budget session of Punjab Assembly.