Sweet shops in Punjab will be allowed to open on August 2 in view of the Raksha Bandhan festival, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Saturday. Shops are not permitted to open on account of a lockdown on Sundays in the state. But the government received several requests that sweet shops be allowed to open on the eve of Raksha Bandhan, which is on August 3.
During his 'AskCaptain' Facebook live session, Singh said his government has decided to accept the requests. An official release quoting the CM added that social distancing and other norms would have to be followed by the shop owners as well as people on August 2 and 3.
To a question on movement of inter-state buses on Raksha Bandhan day, Singh said there were no restrictions on the buses by Punjab but other states might have imposed curbs. In response to a question on restrictions on private vehicles even though all 52 seats in a bus were allowed to be occupied, the chief minister said economic considerations had forced his government to allow buses to ply with full capacity.
But passenger traffic in buses is as low as 25-30 per cent of the normal, he said, adding that he would ask the Transport Department to relook the restrictions for private vehicles. The CM also announced that state government schools will not charge admission, re-admission and tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic session due to the COVID crisis.
As far as fee charged by private schools was concerned, the state government had moved the court, but for government schools no fee would be charged at all for the full year, said the chief minister. He also announced provisional admission to the next class for 31,000 Class 10 students in the open school system who could not be promoted amid the Covid crisis based on internal assessment, as no such assessment exists for them. But they will be required to take examinations once things normalise, he added.
He also announced a cash prize of Rs 5,100 each to 335 students who have scored over 98 per cent in Class 12. Congratulating the government schools for outperforming private schools, the CM pointed out that the 94.32 per cent pass percentage in government schools is the highest ever in the school board history.
The CM said his government will launch a drive to plant 400 trees in every village of the state to mark the 400th 'Prakash Purab' of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. The plantation drive will be part of various programmes and celebrations planned by the state government to commemorate the occasion.
Appealing to people to join the campaign by planting the saplings that will be distributed by the forest department, the chief minister said this would be a fitting tribute to the great Guru who showed the path of divinity to humanity with his 116 poetic hymns that form a part of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.