The decision was taken by the Cabinet in a meeting headed by Badal here on Wednesday, an official spokesman said. With an aim to provide housing to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), Lower Income Group (LIG) and other vulnerable sections of society, the authority would construct one lakh dwelling units in the state in next two years.
"The vulnerable sections of society would include scheduled castes, backward classes, minorities, senior citizens and physically challenged persons in the state to ensure that no individual was left shelter less," he said.

The authority would also have Deputy Chief Minister or Housing and Urban Development minister, Local Government minister, Finance minister, Labour and Employment minister, Rural Development minister and Chief Secretary as its members while Secretary Housing and Urban Development as its Member Secretary.

The Cabinet also approved the establishment of three new Forensic Science Laboratories (FSLs) at Bathinda, Ludhiana and Jalandhar along with the creation of 33 posts of group A, B, C and D categories.

"This would reduce the time taken for testing of NDPS samples and also curtail the pendency of testing NDPS samples and help in intensifying the ongoing efforts to curb the drug menace in the state, the spokesman said.

With this decision there would be now four laboratories in the state as one of them was already functioning at SAS Nagar (Mohali). The Cabinet also approved the proposal to entrust the work of selection of 118 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division) -cum-Judicial Magistrate to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Committee after taking these posts out of the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission.

Also, the government approved to slash the rate of VAT from existing 13 percent plus 10 percent surcharge to 5.5 percent plus 10 percent surcharge as a major relief to the trade of heavy machinery including cranes and earth moving equipments in the state.

Also, the rates of VAT have been brought at par with the neighbouring states and it was hoped that it would help sale of these items in the state, the spokesperson said.
Keeping in view the importance and urgency of the work load in the Finance department, the government has created a new post of Director Budget. In a move aimed at imparting high quality technical education to the students of the Malwa region, the Cabinet also gave approval to promulgate an ordinance for setting up Maharaja Ranjit Singh Technical University at Bathinda.

The territorial jurisdiction of this university would be Bathinda, Barnala, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Mansa, Moga, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts of the state, the spokesman said.

The Cabinet also gave nod for amending Section 6 of the Punjab State Cancer and Drug Addiction Treatment Infrastructure Fund Bill-2013 to check the further spread of Cancer and rising tendencies towards drugs and also for the treatment and rehabilitation of patients suffering from such disease besides ensuring the up-gradation of hospitals.
The amendment stipulates that the cess would also be leviable on such properties which were sold through 'allotment also'. The Cancer cess amount would be levied on the bidder/ purchaser of the land rather than on the collecting agency.

In a step aimed at safeguarding rights of the Child efficaciously, the Cabinet also gave nod for amending the Commission of Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 for the creating a post of Vice Chairperson in the Punjab State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.

In a bid to reduce avoidable financial burden on the state government, the Cabinet approved winding up of the Council for Citrus and Agri Juicing, Council of Viticulture, Council for Value Added Horticulture and Organic Farming Council of Punjab.
The work of these councils, which were totally dependent on the state government for the financial assistance, would be transferred to Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, the spokesman said. The Cabinet also gave approval to recruit National Kabaddi player Jaspreet Kaur as Class IV employee by giving relaxation in the existing rules for direct recruitment of category Class IV under sports quota.

The spokesman said that she was rendered 100 percent physically disabled due to a fatal injury during the National Games at Patiala on November 25, 2001.

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