LAHORE: The Punjab cabinet on Monday approved Rs40 fare for the yet-to-be-inaugurated Orange Line Metro Train, after the chief minister rejected a transport department proposal for fixing the ticket price at Rs50.

The Punjab cabinet’s 35th meeting at the chief minister’s secretariat, chaired by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, strongly condemned the motorway gang-rape incident and assured the victim of early provision of justice. The cabinet expressed its commitment that the prime suspect would be arrested at the earliest.

The chief minister said the Punjab government would leave no stone un-turned for the provision of justice to the gang-rape victim and added that he was in contact with her. He stated that a headway had been made in the case and “good news” would reach the public soon in this regard.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani apprised the cabinet of the details of the unfortunate incident and the progress made in the investigation so far.

He said the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) had been served a show-cause notice for his irresponsible statement on the incident.

Meanwhile, the chief minister tweeted that one of the gang-rape suspects -- Shafqat -- had been arrested, his DNA sample matched and he eventually confessed to have committed the heinous crime. He stated that all police teams were making efforts to arrest the prime suspect, Abid Malhi, and added he would also be arrested soon.

The cabinet was also supposed to take up the matter of provision of alternate land for the Army Welfare Scheme against 1,626 acres and two kanal land situated in Bhakkar district, but it was dropped along with some other agenda items.

Sources say the Punjab government had decided to allot 1,626 acres and two kanal land situated in Bhakkar district to compensate for the land actually allotted under the Army Welfare Scheme for the families of martyrs and war veterans as it was found to be under litigation. Since the allottees could not occupy the land meant for them, a source said the government decided to allot litigation-free land for the scheme as an alternate.

With regard to the cabinet’s approval to ratify allotment of army land to some civil servants, which has also been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), a senior official of the Board of Revenue (BoR) says the cabinet had not ratified the land allotted on the orders of former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf “in contravention of the merit and law”, but closed the case being the competent authority.

The official claimed that the case file kept lying pending with the office of former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif for three years and was eventually returned. “Those, who were allotted land by Gen Musharraf, are in possession of the land from day one. Some had even sold that land,” the official claimed.

The cabinet approved a proposal to introduce a uniform national educational curriculum. It will be introduced from Class I to V in the first phase, in consultation with the federal government. It also approved students’ promotion/examination policy 2020 of the higher education department in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

The cabinet also approved issuance of the notification of Punjab Seized and Freezed Institutions (Madaris and Schools) Act 2019. The meeting approved appointment of the principal of Kinnaird College. It conditionally endorsed the decisions made in the National Tourism Coordination Board.

The cabinet approved the proposal to handover luxury vehicles of different companies and administrative departments to S&GAD pool and the possibility of the auction or any subsequent utilisation would be decided later on.

The meeting decided to give temporary powers of registration of new public transport to the motor vehicles examiners.

Extension in the lease of Jinnah Park management on Adiala Road, Rawalpindi, was approved, besides the appointment of members of Multan Development Authority and annual Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) report for the year 2019.

Similarly, amendment in the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 and approval of the Punjab Drug Amendment Bill, 2020 was also granted.

Approval was given to build a general hospital in the old food godown building in Multan and the CM ordered examining of the possibility of managing the hospital project through public-private partnership mode.

The appointment of unofficial members of the governing body of the Punjab Employees Social Security Institute, the constitution of the governing body of the Punjab Workers Welfare Board and reconstitution of the board of directors of the Punjab Social Security Health Management Company was also approved, along with annual calendar of third parliamentary year of the Punjab Assembly for 2020-21.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020