Chandigarh, Oct 24 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday laid the foundation stones of various urban development projects entailing an expenditure of Rs 700 crore in all 167 towns and cities with urban local bodies in the state.
It kick-started Phase-II of the Rs 11,000 crore Urban Environment Improvement Programme (UEIP) with an announcement of a one-time settlement scheme for pending VAT assessments to promote economic activity in urban areas.
The Chief Minister, while virtually launching the projects, said that the Department of Excise and Taxation will soon notify the scheme, which his government had decided to initiate in view of the concerns of businesses that issues related to their Value Added Tax assessments and grievances were not been redressed speedily.
Noting that cities are also centres of economic activity, with focus on trade and industry, he further said he had asked the Industries and Taxation Departments to work out a more user-friendly system to ensure that businesses, industry and traders do not have to go from one office to another.
Amarinder Singh also underlined the need to ensure cleanliness of towns, urging all cities to segregate domestic solid waste.
He appreciated Nawanshahr for its consistent good performance in the Cleanliness Surveys of the government of India.
The Chief Minister said he was confident that the UEIP schemes, under which projects of Rs 3,000 crore had been completed in the first phase, would help the state make significant improvement in the infrastructure of the cities and thus the lives of its residents.
Connected digitally to over 45,000 people at 940 locations, the Chief Minister pointed out that the state had succeeded in securing finances for these projects, amid Covid-19, despite the acute financial crunch.
Among the key projects, he cited canal-based water supply in four big cities of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala, with work in Jalandhar launched on Saturday and the foundation stone for Patiala to be laid on Sunday.
The government was also close to allotting work for cleaning of Buddah Nullah in Ludhiana, with the operations expected to commence in a month’s time, he added.
Noting that around 40 per cent of Punjab’s population lives in cities, which are generally regarded as engines of growth, Amarinder Singh said the projects were in line with the various steps taken by his government for the welfare of people residing in the cities.