Jammu: Facing flak from ally Congress over its alleged failure to fully empower Panchayat Raj system, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Friday promised to soon make it a reality.
“A three-tier and fully empowered Panchayat system ruling the roost in the state will also be a reality. The fully empowered Panchayat System in the state is my goal,” he said.
Omar was speaking to a group of Sarpanches and Panches who called on him here to discuss issues related to strengthening of Panchayat and expanding their orbit of activities.
The Chief Minister described establishment of Panchayat Raj by enacting 73rd and 74th amendments of Central PRI Act in Jammu and Kashmir as a historic measure to strengthen democratic institutions from grassroot level and empower people to draw blueprints of development.
The Congress as well as Opposition parties besides Panchayat members were critical of Omar Abdullah government for its alleged failure to empower Panchayat Raj system in the state which would give decision making and financial powers to Panchayats.
Even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been demanding implementation of these acts in Jammu and Kashmir and its Youth Congress members have held anti-government and anti-Omar protests in the past.
“My government rejuvenated Panchayats in the State by holding elections after a gap of over 30 years even though speculations and suspicions were floated by many in this regard when we decided to hold Panchayat polls. We went ahead and today the Panchayat Raj in the State is a reality,” he said. Omar said that services and powers from 14 important departments have been transferred to Panchayats as recommended by the high powered committee chaired by the then Chief Secretary.
He said the transfer of further powers to Panchayats through Legislation is also in offing.
“We have taken so many decisions for ensuring welfare of the Panchayat members,” the chief minister said, adding that handholding of Sarpanches and Panches by his government would continue.
Omar told Sarpanches and Panches to exercise the powers entrusted to them in best of their capacity and help in upgrading the service delivery of various important services in the rural areas.
He asked them to monitor works and make public aware of the powers given by his government to them to ask questions to the government departments regarding their performance on development front, status and nature of expending funds and allotting works besides other matters.
“You should also make people aware of the benefits of utilising powers the government has equipped the people under the Public Services Guarantee Act where under service delivery of about 80 important public services in 13 departments have been made time bound,” Omar said.
The initiatives taken by the government to give good governance and involve people in scanning administration and checking corruption need to be made fully public by the Panchayat members, he added.