Election process for BDCs to be complete by August: govt
Srinagar: In a meeting at SKICC here of a delegation of 30 sarpanchs with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday, the J&K government assured the sarpanchs that the process for elections to Block Development Councils is expected to be completed in August after the culmination of the 45-day Amarnath Yatra.
Amit Shah met the delegation of sarpanchs on the second day of his maiden visit to the Valley after assuming charge as home minister. Twenty sarpanchs were from Kashmir and the rest from Jammu.
On the occasion, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said that the process for Block Development Council elections is targeted to be completed by the end of August.
Besides the elections, the sarpanchs also raised the issue of vacant panch and sarpanch seats. The other demands they put forth included construction of burnt panchayat ghars, a separate Election Commission and Finance Commission for panchayats, untied funds on the pattern of CDF to sarpanchs and panchs, constitution of next two tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions, and unemployment issues, a sarpanch told Kashmir Reader.
He described the response of Shah as positive towards resolving the issues faced by sarpanchs. The long overdue panchayat elections in J&K were held last year but saw sluggish voter turnout in Kashmir Valley, leaving many seats uncontested.
“You are our representative and are to implement schemes launched by Modi ji. People should get basic facilities even though you will face problems (in the process),” Shah told the sarpanchs, according to general secretary and chief spokesperson of the Panchayati Raj cell, Altaf Thakur.
Shah urged them to be agencies of inclusive growth and development in rural areas, while assuring them that the government would address all their issues and provide all kinds of administrative and financial support. He insisted upon them to ensure that all central government schemes are implemented at the grassroots level in their true spirit. He asked them to work in an honest, fair and just manner so that public reposes faith in them and they become the true representatives of people.
The home minister emphasised that while the sarpanchs are being provided with all rights and authorities, they should always keep in mind their responsibilities and make every effort to serve people selflessly. He said that only legislation and government orders cannot strengthen panchayats until the sarpanchs and panchs take upon themselves the responsibility of bringing development and benefits of all government schemes to every rural household.
Earlier, during a review meeting of development programmes, the home minister stressed for strengthening panchayat and municipal system in the state.
The minister asked the state government to focus on better and more efficient implementation of development schemes so that corruption and leakages are plugged.
He directed the state government to ensure that old age, disability and widow pensions reach all those entitled, in a timely manner. There should be quick scrutiny of all eligible people who are left out and ensured that they are included, he said. He assured that the government of India will provide additional funds.
Shah said that the dairy and animal husbandry sector had great potential in this state. The state should work towards signing an MoU with Amul or Mother Dairy and create a programme for ensuring that it becomes a surplus producer in this sector, he added.
The poultry sector, too, has great potential even though the state imports large volumes of poultry products, Shah said. The state should create schemes for improving the poultry sector and the central government would support efforts in this direction, he said.
Shah also mentioned the handloom and handicraft sector as one of the brightest spots on J&K’s economic landscape. The state should take the help of Khadi & Village Industries, MSME and Textiles departments of the central government to improve nearly 40 various spheres in this sector, he said.
Shah said the state should ensure that the newly established Panchayati Raj and Urban Local Body system takes deep roots and establishes itself as the third tier of government. There should be a drive to ensure that Panchayats and ULBs spend the funds given to them. These funds run into thousands of crores of rupees and ensuring their proper utilisation would benefit the people, he said.
Shah said that the reservation benefits extended to many socially disadvantaged groups, such as Paharis, Gujars, Bakarwals and other Economically Weaker Sections, be implemented vigorously and no posts in these classes should go vacant.
Women, he said, were the key to any development process and need to be at the centre of all programmes. The state should work in this direction so that women can get better employment opportunities and livelihoods, he said.
Similarly, the state should prepare a programme for reaching out to the youth who are highly skilled such as MBBS, Engineers, MBAs etc, but do not have gainful employment or livelihood, the minister said.