Promising to continue the good work done in the past to further improve the public delivery system, UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore, who is also the Governor of Punjab, spoke to Chandigarh Tribune on various issues, including fund crunch, being faced by the city in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Chandigarh is the best governed UT as per the Public Affairs Index, 2020. How do you plan to retain the ranking?
This index measures the quality of governance. Due to consistent efforts, we could attain the first rank among UTs. The good work done in the past will be continued to further improve public delivery. The record and services in the Estate Office is also being digitised to ensure hassel-free, transparent and time-bound services to residents.
- The UT succeeded in keeping Covid numbers under control, even when cases surged in neighbouring states. What steps will the UT take to prevent a second surge?
From day one after the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, the UT Administration geared itself and held meetings with officers of the tricity, heads of medical institutions and the deputy commissioners of Mohali and Panchkula. The UT implemented the following strategies to prevent a surge of the infection as chances of an increase in Covid transmission were anticipated after the festive season.
- Increase in RT-PCR and rapid antigen testing.
- Formation of five mobile testing teams for Covid testing in different parts of the city setting up of containment zones. One such mobile testing team has been stationed at the bus stand for travellers coming from Delhi and other states in view of the surge in cases in Delhi.
- Increase in the number of micro-containment zones
- Increased focus on contact tracing, testing and isolation.
- People are being advised to maintain discipline in following Covid appropriate behaviour.
- There is a regular meeting with all health authorities and officers of the tricity to review the status and accordingly prepare for the challenges.
These efforts will be further strengthened if the situation so warrants.
- Punjab and Haryana have conducted sero surveys. Is the UT also planning a sero survey?
As of now, there is no such plan. However, we are in touch with doctors, including those from the PGI. On their recommendations, we will go for a sero survey as and when it is required.
- Coordination between the UT, Punjab and Haryana has always been a challenge, be it policing or controlling Covid cases. What measures can stop trigger-happy youngsters from neighboring states?
In addition to the regular tricity meeting on Covid-19, a tricity coordination committee has also been formed for other matters relating to law and order, and connectivity. Regular meetings are being held in this regard. Chandigarh has offices of both Punjab and Haryana governments as well. The norms for Covid appropriate behaviour at workplaces, markets and public places have to be followed by all visitors from the neighbouring states. Enforcement of traffic laws and Covid appropriate behaviour is relatively much better in Chandigarh. In meetings, we involve the Mohali and Panchkula administration and also the control rooms set up to combat the pandemic.
- In the wake of restrictions imposed by the Union Finance Ministry on spending, the UT could not take up projects such as the elevated road from PGI to Sarangpur village. Will it seek funds to launch new projects?
The elevated road project from the PGI to Sarangpur village is in the planning stage and has not been held up for want of funds. We have been getting adequate funds from the Centre for development works and we shall keep seeking funds for important projects and development in the city.
- For the past few years, the issue of shortage of funds in the MC could not be resolved? The UT has even written to the Centre seeking funds as per the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission recommendations, but there has been no reply. What is the way out?
The Administration has taken up the matter regarding acceptance of recommendations of the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission pertaining to Chandigarh with the Centre and it is still under consideration. However, the allocation in the form of grant-in-aid has been consistently increased in the past three-four years for the MC and despite the financial constraints, this year it shall be ensured that no cut is imposed on the approved allocation for the MC. Only recently, two new petrol pumps, fully automated, have been inaugurated in the Industrial Area, Phase II, and Sector 51, Chandigarh. The MC is also looking for new avenues to generate funds in addition to the revenue generated from these petrol pumps.
- The UT is facing a shortage of officers with key posts lying vacant. Will you take up the issue with the Centre for deputation of officers in the UT?
There is no shortage of officers at the senior level in the Administration. Eight IAS officers, eight IPS officers and 17 PCS/HCS officers have been posed in the Administration as against nine sanctioned posts of IAS officer, six of IPS officer and 17 of PCS/HCS officer. Additionally, two IAS officers have been posted against ex-cadre IAS posts in Chandigarh. Further, the panels for the post of Finance Secretary, Chandigarh, and the Joint Secretary, Finance, have already been forwarded to the Centre.
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