Chandigarh, October 15: Terming the Centre’s decision to withdraw from the SC Post-Matric Scholarship scheme as a totally retrograde step, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the new scholarship scheme approved by the cabinet yesterday would secure the future of SC children by enabling them to pursue higher studies.

The Chief Minister was responding to a question from a SC student from Hoshiarpur whose future had been jeopardised by the abrupt end to the Centre’s scholarship scheme. In his #AskCaptain session, the Chief Minister said his government had also decided to raise the income criteria to bring more SC students into the ambit of the scheme which will be implemented once the Bill is passed in the Assembly.

Captain Amarinder also termed the cabinet decision on 33% reservation for women in government jobs, at the direct recruitment stage in PCS, as the fulfilment of an election promise and a measure to ensure that women get what they deserve. “We even have a woman Rafale fighter pilot now…so they deserve it all,” he quipped, adding that women are making massive strides and need to be empowered to progress further.

The Chief Minister further cited other key decisions of the cabinet, including proprietary rights for tenants and slum dwellers, besides the implementation of his promise to provide 1 lakh government jobs to youth in the next 18 months or so, with the advertisements by various departments for Phase 1 recruitment set to be released by October 31.

On the Covid issue, the Chief Minister underlined the need for wearing masks and other protective measures, given that the threat continues to be serious, with even the recovered patients suffering long-term effects. While things had shown improvement, the threat cannot be taken lightly, he said, expressing serious concern over the fact that people continue to ignore the dangers and even the early symptoms of the disease, which was a major cause of the high number of deaths in the state.

Noting that more than half the people at his recent rallies in support of farmers could be seen not wearing masks, Captain Amarinder expressed disappointment over this careless and casual attitude. “We simply cannot afford to be lax, considering that the second wave is hitting many countries,” he stressed, calling for extreme caution, with adherence to social distancing, wearing of masks, hand washing etc.

“We have to protect ourselves, our families and Punjab, our future will depend on how we fight Covid, the expansion of industry, employment etc will all depend on that,” Captain Amarinder said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister congratulated a young lady from Patiala, who shared that she had got her first job through the Rozgar Mela at a time when she was stressed out about not getting employment amid the Covid crisis.

In response to a question from a Batala resident, who said he wanted to visit Kartarpur, Captain Amarinder said his government had already written to the Government of India that the state has no objections but the decision now rested with the Centre.

Addressing the concern of a Khanna citizen, he assured that all precautions were being taken to ensure full sanitisation and adherence to Covid safety protocols in reopening the schools.

Captain Amarinder also responded to various other questions on local issues, including development/construction of roads, adulteration of sweets, especially during the festival season, etc. On the latter, he told the Amritsar questioner that the district administration was being directed to crack down on such adulteration.

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