Step 1 in saving groundwater: Punjab to pay Rs 1,500 per acre if farmers adopt DSR

The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 1500 per acre incentive to farmers for sowing paddy using direct sowing of rice (DSR) method. A sum of Rs 450 crore has been earmarked to provide incentive to the farmers for promotion of less water consuming and cost effective DSR technology.

A government statement after the meeting said that this step would be instrumental to save nearly about 15-20 percent water as compared to the conventional puddling (kaddu) method during the life cycle of crops.

“The alarming situation arisen out of fast depleting ground water mainly due to water guzzling traditional method of paddy transplantation needs bold measures to check this serious trend immediately. Currently, the water table is falling at rate of 86 cm per year leading to a precarious situation, where no underground water will be available across the state in coming 15-20 years,” the statement added.

It added that the technique will majority of farmers to adopt this proven technique which needs less water for irrigation, improves percolation, reduces dependence on farm labor and improves soil health, thus enhancing yield of both paddy and wheat encouragement by 5-10 percent. In order to incentivize the farmers going for DSR, the Cabinet also decided to pay the financial assistance worth Rs 1500 per acre to the farmers through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for which Anaj Kharid Portal of Punjab Mandi Board has already database of approximately 11 lakh farmers linked with their Aadhaar details, mobile number and bank account details.

Likewise, farmers opting for DSR will have to register on a portal which will be developed by a team of software developers of Mandi Board. It will utilize farmers’ database from Anaj Kharid Portal and the officials will conduct on the ground verification of farmers who opt for DSR. At present, there are approximately 4000 officers/officials of various departments including Agriculture, Horticulture, Mandi Board and Water & Soil Conservation who will be put on duty for verification. After the verification, the incentive amount will be credited to farmers’ accounts through DBT.

As per data available, last year, farmers had done DSR over 15 lakh acres area and with the present availability of implements, it can be increased to 30 lakh acres or even more.

In another decision, in recognition with the gallantry services of defense services personnel, the Cabinet approved enhancement by 40% in rates of cash in lieu of land and Cash award to Distinguished Services Award Winners, which would lead to greater satisfaction to these awardees and motivate others for selfless service towards nation in future.

Accordingly, rates of cash in lieu of land have been enhanced for Sarvotam Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.80 lakh, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.40 lakh, Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000, Sena/Nao Sena/Vayu Sena Medal (D) winners from Rs 30,000 to Rs 42,000, Mention-in-Dispatches (D) winners from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000, Param Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.80 lakh , Ati Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1.05 lakh and Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 30,000 to Rs 42,000.

Likewise, the rates of cash award have also been enhanced for Sarvotam Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000, Yudh Seva Medal winners from Rs 10,000 to Rs 14,000, Sena/Nao Sena/Vayu Sena Medal (D) winners from Rs 8,000 to Rs 11,200, Mention-in-Dispatches (D) winners from Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,800, Param Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 20,000 to Rs 28,000, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 10,000 to Rs 14,000 and Vishisht Seva Medal winners from Rs 5,000 to Rs.7,000. These rates have not been enhanced since 2011.

Ex-gratia grant to families of martyrs increased

The Cabinet also gave its approval to enhance rates of ex-gratia grant to families of martyr soldiers from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. Notably, Punjab is the country’s ‘Sword Arm’ and the massive contribution of Defense has been laudable in safeguarding national integrity and sovereignty. The soldiers from Punjab have brought laurels for the nation in various battles. Next of Kin (NOK) of soldiers who laid down their lives in various operations for the defense of the country are being given financial assistance by Punjab government.

On Market committees

In another move to reform the agriculture sector, reling under the mismanagement legacy inherited by the previous government, the Cabinet also okayed the supersession of the existing nominated Market Committees. As per the cabinet decision, Section 12 of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1961, will be amended to appoint Administrators for implementation of the policies and programs of government expeditiously and in a more efficient manner, who shall perform the official duties and exercise powers of the Market Committees for a period of one year or till the nomination of Market Committees, whichever is earlier. At present under Section 12 of Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961, the Chairman, Vice Chairman and members have been nominated in the various Market Committees of the State.

On Patwaris

To bring far more efficiency in the functioning of the Revenue Department, the Cabinet decided to hire services of retired patwaris/ kanungos on contract basis against 1766 regular posts of patwaris. The Cabinet accorded ex-post facto approval to fill 1766 regular posts of revenue patwaris from among the retired Patwari/Kanungos on contract basis for initial one year in Rural Circles (except Urban/Semi Urban). This decision has been taken to ensure smooth functioning of the Revenue Department until regular recruitment of Patwaris, which is already underway through Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board thereby reducing the burden of additional charge given to the Patwaris across the state.

Civil judges posts

The Cabinet also decided to fill 79 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate through Punjab & Haryana High Court by bringing out the purview of Punjab Public Service Commission, Patiala. This decision will help to expedite the process of recruiting new Judicial Officers to ensure speedy dispensation of work at the Subordinate Courts.

Secretariat service rules

The Cabinet also approved to amend the rules 7 (2) of the Punjab Financial Commissioners’ Secretariat (Group-A) Service Rules-2016 and Punjab Financial Commissioners’ Secretariat (Group-B) Service Rules-2018 to further bring clarity to the employees of the Financial Commissioners’ Secretariat about the Punishing Authority and Appellate Authority in the cases of disciplinary proceedings initiated under Punjab Civil Service (Punishment and Appeal) Rules-1970.

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