The Punjab cabinet has approved the recruitment of 32,218 science teachers and a pilot electricity conservation project, and formed a committee to suggest a procedure for the appointment of chancellors to public universities.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, briefing reporters after Thursday’s cabinet meeting, said the Energy Department’s Annual Plan and Strategy for 2011-12, the annual report of the Punjab Pension Fund, and amendment bills for the Punjab Civil Servants Act 1974 and Disposal of Land by Development Authorities (Regulations) Act 1998 had also been approved.
Sanaullah said that the Punjab government would ensure that the new science teachers are hired on merit. Most of the teachers would be recruited in grade 16 while 2,900 grade 17 teachers would be hired through the Public Service Commission. The merit list for the jobs would be put up online. A high-level cell under the High Court would be formed to register complaints about the process, he said.
The minister said that Punjab’s electricity supply was about 4,000 megawatts short of demand, which was around 12,000 MW. The industrial sector has been worst hit by the power crisis, he said, and the cabinet discussed various measures to address the problem. He said that since the Council of Common Interests had granted the provinces the power to initiate their own energy projects, there was a “heavy responsibility” on the Punjab government to ease the crisis.
He said that to this end, the cabinet had approved a pilot project aiming to convert teaching hospitals and government offices like the Civil Secretariat to solar energy. This would reduce the government’s energy consumption from the national grid by up to 30 per cent in two years, he said.
Sanaullah said a proposal to replace all gas-powered geysers with solar-powered geysers was being considered. This would also ease some of the demand for gas, which could then be diverted to energy-starved industries.
He said that the government had made plans for various projects over the next three years that would add 3,000 MW to the province’s power supply through alternative energy means like coal, bagasse (a sugarcane byproduct that is a potential biofuel), biogas, wind and hydropower. The Punjab government had identified 100 locations for potential small dams that would generate 1400 MW; another 1,000 MW would be generated from bagasse and another 1,000 MW through coal.
One chancellor per university
According to a handout for the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif formed a committee to prepare legislation for the setting up of a University at Dera Ghazi Khan.
Sanuallah said that the cabinet had approved the formation of a sub committee which would recommend a procedure for the appointment of chancellors to each of the over 100 public universities in the Punjab. Currently, there is only one chancellor for all public universities the governor of Punjab.
The minister said this arrangement had not been changed since independence, when there was only one university in the province, the University of the Punjab. He said now there were over a hundred universities and they should each have their own chancellor. He said that applications moved by vice chancellors to the governor, for example for the appointment of professors, were often held up for months. Appointing separate chancellors for each university would resolve such issues, he said.
He said that retired judges, bureaucrats and technocrats would be considered for chancellor posts. He said that the Punjab government was committed to giving more autonomy to the universities. He denied that the move had anything to do with the chief minister’s recent tussles with the governor over the appointment of vice chancellors.
Sanaullah said that the cabinet had approved an amendment to the Provincial Civil Services Act of 1974 that would speed up promotions in the civil service once they had been recommended. He said that in some cases, civil servants had been recommended for promotion but not actually been promoted till after they retired.
According to the handout, the chief minister sought an amendment to the Disposal of Land by Development Authorities (Regulation) Act 1998 which would remove the quota of plots in development authorities allotted to the chief minister for handing out at his discretion. The chief minister hailed the Yellow Cab scheme as a “revolutionary project” that would create jobs and promote industry. He said balloting for the scheme would be completed by September 10, and the distribution of cars would begin on October 10.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2011.
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