Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered state-wide curfew clampdown, making Punjab the first state in the country to resort to this extreme and exceptional measure in the battle against COVID-19.
The CM, after reviewing the situation with chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta, announced ‘full curfew with no relaxations.’
The orders came even as Amarinder announced a slew of relief measures to support the affected masses as a result of the unprecedented restrictions imposed in the light of the growing Coronavirus menace.
These included free food, shelter and medicines for those in need, with Rs 20 Crore sanctioned out of the CM’s relief fund for the same and DCs & SDMs asked to extend all assistance to those in need. The CM has also announced deferment of payment of electricity, sewerage and water bills in the state.
As part of the unprecedented measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government had earlier initiated legal action against violators of home quarantine.
Giving details of the relief measures announced by the state government, chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh said Amarinder has directed the local government department to defer the due date of making payment of water and sewerage bills by one month in all Municipal Corporations and Councils, besides extending the amnesty scheme on property tax till 31 May, 2020.
Likewise, the due date for payment of all those domestic, commercial and small power industrial consumers having monthly or bimonthly electricity bills upto Rs. 10,000, which falls on or after March 20, 2020, has been extended upto 15 April, 2020. The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been asked not to recover the late payment surcharge from these nearly 35 lakh consumers who would benefit from the move.
The CM has also directed the Transport Department to extend the due date of all taxes under the Punjab Motor vehicle Taxation Act by one month up to April 30, 2020. Stage and contract carriage vehicles would be given 100 per cent exemption from the Motor Vehicle Tax for the period in which these are not allowed to ply.
Extending a helping hand to the farmers in this hour of crisis, the Cooperation Department has decided to waive off, for two months (March-April 2020), penal interest on their crop, which is obtained by them from Central Coop Banks and Primary Agriculture Co-op Societies. Consequent upon this decision, these farmers can now repay their crop loans till 30 April, 2020.