Chandigarh, March 29, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
To combat the COVID-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to amend the conditions for utilization of the 14th Finance Commission grants for emergency relief in urban areas.
Seeking the personal intervention of the Union Finance Minister, Capt. Amarinder asked her to advise the Ministries of Housing & Urban Affairs and Panchayati Raj to initiate immediate action in this regard so that the said grants could be used to make provision of emergency relief (medicines, food etc.) for the poorest sections by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) as a fit charge.
ULBs and PRIs should be allowed to utilize grants received under 14th Finance Commission for emergency provision of relief to mitigate the suffering caused in towns and villages due to the lockdown imposed in the country on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Chief Minister.
In his letter, Capt. Amarinder pointed out that the Punjab government had recently allowed ULBs to use these funds for fumigation of urban areas.
Pleading the State’s case, the Chief Minister said emergency relief (medicines, food etc) should also be allowed both for ULBs and PRIs to ease the burden stress on the State’s resources and provide much needed relief immediately to the most deserving at the grassroots level.
In continuation of his earlier DO letter addressed to the Union Finance Minister on March 28, 2020, wherein certain suggestions had been made for the consideration of the Ministry of Finance, Capt. Amarinder further informed Sitharaman that these grants are utilized as per guidelines issued by Government of India.
The Chief Minister said that both urban and rural local self-government institutions have unspent funds available which could be immediately utilized for provision of relief by way of food, medicines, etc to the poor, distressed and the most vulnerable population living in slums, etc.
Noting that these groups were the worst affected due to COVID-19 pandemic on account of dearth of resources, Capt. Amarinder stated that in order to mitigate their distress, the Urban Local Bodies and the Gram Panchayats are well placed to contribute effectively as structures of local self-government at the grassroots.