Six months on, only one of 26 Punjab advisory panels have met

It has been six months since the Punjab government constituted 26 high-powered state advisory committees (SACs) comprising SAD and Congress MLAs. As many as 25 of these are yet to meet, even for the first time. The tenure of these committees will end on March 31, by which time, these should have met at least thrice.

In August 2012, the government had notified 26 committees to advise the ministers in the working of their departments. Each committee was chaired by the minister and had official members, including department secretaries with the minister and 10 MLAs as non-official members. Five MLAs were drawn from the ruling SAD and the rest from among the Congress, the BJP and independent MLAs.

The notification had stated that these committees are to meet at least once every three months. According to sources in the parliamentary affairs department, till date, only one of these 26 committees have met.

"I have attended one meeting held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. It was on excise and taxation. Later, there was an invitation for a SAC meeting on food and civil supplies but it was postponed," said SAD MLA from Nakodar, Gurpartap Singh Vadala.

SAD MLA from Jandiala, Baljit Singh Jalal Usma, is a member of the SAC on general administration, personnel, power and vigilance. He is yet to attend any meeting. This committee as well as many others are chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. "I think Badal saab might have been busy and thus these meetings could not be held," he said.

In some cases, members are not even aware that they are on these committees. Qadian Congress MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, who is member of SAC on social security, women and child development, doesn't know she is a member of which committee. "I came to know about the formation of these committees from another Congress MLA. Obviously, I have not received any intimation about any meeting," she said.

Kuljit Singh Nagra, Congress MLA from Fatehgarh Sahib, said he had not even heard about these committees. "It is news to me that I am a member of some committees formed way back in August. I think Congress MLAs are not being informed about the meetings," said Nagra. He is a member of SAC on higher education and languages and the SAC on sports, youth services and tourism.

Some other Congress MLAs, however, said they knew they were members of these panels but have not been called for any meetings. "I received a notification where my name was listed in some committees. Later, I also received a letter asking for my suggestions on the working of some departments. But I have not been called for any meeting. Though I know the committees of which I am a member, I don't know the scope of the committee and what are we to do. No agenda has been sent," said Aruna Chaudhry, Congress MLA from Dina Nagar.

Though SACs under the chief minister have not met, sources said the Chief Minister Office (CMO) had recently wanted to know the status of other ministers who have not been holding these meetings. "We are aware that committee meetings have got delayed. We will be holding these soon," said a CMO official.

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