Mumbai: After convening a Cabinet meeting, The Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi Cabinet on Monday decided to waive water bill arrears for consumers in urban and rural areas, ahead of the assembly polls scheduled in the state next year.
At a press conference, the chief minister announced, “We are waiving water bill arrears of Rs 700 crore of all cities.”
“The government is committed to providing free water and sewerage facility to people of Punjab. Rs 50 fee has been fixed as per Centre’s directive to charge for these services,” added Channi.
The Punjab government will also pay electricity bills for tubewells that supply water.
“The government will also waive the power bill arrears of tubewells meant for public water supply in urban and rural areas. In future, the power bills of such tube wells will be paid by the Punjab government,” he said.
“In villages, the panchayats’ pending water bills will also be waived,” said Channi, adding that this would amount to roughly Rs 1,168 crore.
As a result of the decision, the state will face an additional burden of an estimated Rs 1,800 crore.
The cabinet also decided to conduct regular appointments for Group-D posts including peons, drivers, etc.
The Punjab government also underlined that it will seek Union Home Minister, if necessary, on the Centre’s decision to extend the jurisdiction of Border Security Forces in the state.
“I wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in this regard (BSF jurisdiction extension). This is an issue of Punjab’s rights. We will also call an all-party meeting, if necessary,” said Channi.
Punjab goes to elections in February next year along with other states like UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Mizoram.