Fund crunch hits CM Amarinder Singh’s guardians of governance plan

Chandigarh, July 17: In the wake of fund crunch, the Punjab government has decided to curtail chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s dream project of recruiting ex-servicemen as guardians of governance (GoG).

The government now plans to hire only 40% of the total proposed strength of 13,000 ex-servicemen as village level guardians to keep a watch on percolation of state-run welfare schemes to the end user in the villages.

Lt Gen (retd) TS Shergill, a former chairman of Punjab Public Service Commission is heading the GoG programme, with CM as the chairman.

As the state government plans to give a monthly honorarium of ₹10,000 to every GoG, the total expenditure for 13,000 guardians would have been ₹13 crore per month and ₹156 crore annually. “Even if we take into account that half the year has gone by, we still need Rs 78 crore to give honorarium to these guardians,” said an official.

‘BUDGETARY PROVISION NOT ADEQUATE’

The government, according to a senior official, has sought ₹40 crore from the finance department to kickstart the project, but the latter is reluctant in releasing the funds.

“A budgetary provision of ₹20 crore has been made, which I think is not sufficient to fund the project. We need more funds,” he said. Meanwhile, Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation has started recruitment of ex-servicemen.

ONE GUARDIAN FOR CLUSTER OF VILLAGES

As per the changed plan, the government might hire one GoG for a cluster of villages. After their recruitment, the government will put GoGs under a five-day training.

Lt Gen TS Shergill, in-charge of the project, has earlier stated that out of one rupee released by the government for a welfare scheme, only 15 paise reaches the end user.

GOGs would be given an application uploaded on their phone to give feedback to the government.

Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, special principal secretary to the CM, admitted that fund crunch is the reason for curtailing the GoG programme.

He also pointed out that some of the villages do not have a single ex-serviceman. “So we plan to make one GoG in-charge of a group of villages. In all circumstances, we would launch the programme very soon,” he added.

3G CONNECTION MANDATORY

For an ex-serviceman willing to become a GoG, it is mandatory to have a smart phone alongwith 4G or 3G connection. All others conditions are flexible — he could be of any rank, or with a physical handicap. “We only want a GoG to be mobile and agile who’s willing to move around and could give genuine feedback to the government,” an officer told HT.

Source: hindustantimes.com