Punjab assembly Question Hour: Minister assures probe into Hindu Coop Bank scam, keeps mum on infusing funds

Man Aman Singh Chhina
Punjab assembly session extended till March 4

AAP MLA from Bathinda Rural, Rupinder Kaur Ruby took on Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla, for stating that no government school building is unsafe in Bathinda Rural constituency.  (File/Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Punjab Cooperation and Jails Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa Thursday assured the Vidhan Sabha of a probe into an alleged cooperative bank scam in Pathankot, which he said, was on the lines of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank scam in Mumbai.

Answering a question of Congress MLA from Pathankot, Amit Vij, Randhawa said that the state government is trying to merge the Hindu Cooperative Bank, Pathankot, into cooperative bank of the state. “We are looking at the RBI guidelines. We cannot go beyond the RBI guidelines but whatever the state government has proposed, the RBI is broadly in agreement with that,” he said.

The minister informed that the Hindu Cooperative Bank got the initial six month cash withdrawal limit enhanced from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 on September 24, 2019 and to Rs 15,000 on January 13, 2020 by its improved performance. “Bank has sanctioned an amount of Rs 1,628 lakh to 4,208 account holders for the purpose of marriage, education, medical and other requirements after obtaining approval from the RBI,” he said.

He added that the bank had also been able to reduce its losses from Rs 5,649 lakh to Rs 2,285 lakh. However, the minister was non-committal when a demand to infuse Rs 20 crore into the bank was made by Vij.

Get expertise from Orbit bus service to run BRTS, AAP to Manpreet Badal

Finance Minister Manpreet Badal’s defence of the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) making losses in Amritsar led the AAP MLA from Kotkapura, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, to comment that in case the state government was facing problems in running the service, it should hire the services of some manager of Orbit Aviation Ltd (owned by Badal family and which runs over 200 buses) because the private service was still being run efficiently.

Answering a question of Amritsar MLA Sunil Datti, Manpreet admitted that the BRTS was making a loss of Rs 3 crore per month. “All train, metro, bus services run in losses. As compared to the BRTS services in Faridabad, Jaipur and Pune, the Amritsar service has the least fare,” he said. Manpreet added that the school students could use the service free while college students get a concession of 66 per cent and senior citizens 50 per cent. He added that the government could still consider lowering the fare.

Coronavirus: 489 people in home isolation

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu Thursday said that while no state resident has been reported as having been infected by coronavirus, 489 passengers who from came from China or nearby are in home isolation. In reply to an unstarred question by AAP MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan, Sidhu said that till February 18, 1701 passengers had been put under surveillance. “Thirty nine samples have been tested till date and all are negative; 1099 passengers have completed 28 days of observation and are fine,” the answer stated.

The minister said that advisories have been sent to all deputy commissioners, all departments of state government and department of school education for sensitisation. He added that check posts have also been established at Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to screen the passengers coming from Pakistan.

Education Minister faces flak over unsafe school buildings

AAP MLA from Bathinda Rural, Rupinder Kaur Ruby took on Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla, for stating that no government school building is unsafe in Bathinda Rural constituency. “This is a very strange thing. The previous education minister asked us to give a list of unsafe buildings and the new one says that there are none. I myself have given a list of 15 schools, which have been declared unsafe by the PWD department,” said Ruby.

The minister responded by saying that there could be instances where some classrooms may have been unsafe but there was no case where entire building is unsafe.

Consumer Affairs minister cornered by AAP

Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema Thursday cornered the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, over the failure of the ministry to post consumer court judges to their respective places of posting despite their selection. Cheema said that the candidates were selected in December 2019 but were awaiting posting orders.

Ashu’s reply that the selection procedure had to go through several levels and that the Chief Minister would give the final nod did not satisfy Cheema, who said this was not a question of selection. “They have already been selected. Why are you not posting them,” he asked.