LAHORE: Most of the Punjab Cabinet members have proposed that the provincial government must go ahead to impose lockdown in the cities facing high coronavirus rate.
As many as 2,100 coronavirus deaths and 85,900 new positive cases have been reported during the past one month. Lahore alone is facing 22.7 per cent positivity rate at present. Twenty-three districts are reporting over 8pc infection rate in Punjab.
However, the cabinet in its 43rd meeting at chief minister’s secretariat on Thursday did not immediately decide to propose lockdown in select cities to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
The Punjab government says it looks simple theoretically but in real terms the lockdown demands establishment of a complete food supply chain for those, who work for their families on a daily basis. “Our country’s economy cannot sustain such a large economic burden immediately,” Special Assistant to Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told media persons after the meeting.
It may be mentioned that the NCOC too had recommended the provinces including Punjab to carry out necessary planning for two-week lockdown in districts with high infections on April 27. The NCOC’s selected cities in Punjab were: Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Bahawalpur. However, very next day [April 28], the NCOC issued a fresh letter calling that the April 27 letter should be treated as cancelled.While expressing serious concerns over non-implementation of Covid-19 SOPs by the citizens, the cabinet for the time being decided to further tighten restrictions in cities with a more positive ratio to save lives.
“The cabinet has decided to use force against the SOPs violators,” said Dr Awan.
Cabinet decides to tighten Covid curbs; meeting told sufficient wheat stock available
She, however, agreed that the Punjab government would also be looking to develop a parallel strategy to feed the unemployed, once the government felt compelled to impose lockdown in high disease prevalence districts.
The cabinet referred the matter to a special [cabinet] committee to finalise recommendations after reviewing the proposal of complete lockdown to submit the same to the NCOC.
The cabinet instructed the health department to increase the number of ventilators. The proposal of discontinuing supply of oxygen to industries was also brought under consideration but no decision was taken. However, the government would approach the Centre for the import of oxygen. The meeting also decided to increase the number of vaccination centres in the province to create a shield against the corona infections.
SOUTH PUNJAB SECRETARIAT: The cabinet approved the rules of business for the south Punjab secretariat while giving a go-ahead to the recommendations of the cabinet standing committee for legislation.
The administrative secretaries appointed in the south Punjab secretariat will now be fully empowered to take independent decisions.
SMBR: On the presentation by the Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR), the cabinet approved the lease of Jinnah Park Rawalpindi to Headquarters 10 Corps Rawalpindi. The value of the lease will be determined by the district price assessment committee and provincial price assessment committee.
The Jinnah Park was already with the Headquarters 10 Corps Rawalpindi since its establishment 18 years ago.
The cabinet approved to give the status of tehsil to Chowk Sarwar Shaheed in Muzaffargarh district along with the approval of amendments to Punjab Border Military Police and Baloch Levi Service Rules 2009. Under this amendment, Baloch Levi could be posted in the Rajanpur district.
WHEAT: The cabinet was briefed that 69pc of wheat crop had been harvested and around 1.8 million metric tonnes wheat had been procured by the Punjab government. It was told that now a sufficient wheat stock was available.
LTC: The Punjab government approved enhancing the scope of Lahore Transport Company by converting it into Punjab Transport Company for province-wise operations.
The cabinet also approved the draft of Punjab Road Safety Authority Act, 2020 to improve the drivers’ training standard and the safety of vehicles. The meeting also approved amendments in Motor Vehicles Rules, 1969 along with the approval of amendments in section 2 (S), 21 and 38 of Punjab Wildlife (protection, preservation, conservation and management) Amendment Act, 2007.
PSPA: The cabinet approved the Punjab Social Protection Authority’s annual reports for the years 2017-20, annual performance reports of PPRA as well as approval of notification of controlled areas of Ravi Urban Development Authority.
The meeting also approved giving university status to the Namal Institute, Mianwali, along with the decision to grant university status to Ghazi Institute of Engineering, DG Khan. Uniform implementation of LDA building by-laws to all the development authorities in Punjab was also approved.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021