Empowering Panchayati Raj institutions our biggest dream: LG

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir administration will focus on strengthening and empowering Panchayati Raj institutions in the coming days to address issues of misgovernance and corruption, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chander Murmu has said.
Effective implementation of the three-tier panchayati raj system will help “mainstreaming of the public participation” in the decision-making process and development of the Union Territory, he said.
“The implementation of panchayati raj system is our biggest target now. We are going to do it. It is our mission. Empowering this setup is our biggest dream. We will ensure its implementation,” Murmu said.
He said three-tier panchayati raj institutions — district chairpersons, block chairpersons and village-level panch and sarpanch — have the potential to create a “new political power-cum-governance structure”.
It will be an alternative model of governance and development and bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir. “It gives people a sense of belonging. The people in local areas becomes their own ‘bhagyavidhaata’,” he said.
They will keep a tab on governance, administration and development, and bridge the gap between the government and the people, he said.
Elections to panchayati raj institutions are not held regularly and thousands of vacancies remain to be filled. Since assuming office, Lieutenant Governor Murmu has taken a host of measures to strengthen the panchayati raj system.
On August 4, Murmu approved the creation of Block Development Fund of Rs 25 lakh which will be at the disposal of block development council chairpersons.
The administration last week announced a life insurance cover of Rs 25 lakh each to all elected members of panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies of the union territory in case of death due to a terror-related incident.
The decision is aimed at strengthening the grassroots democracy by providing a sense of security to the elected members of local bodies who are under constant threat from terrorists.
In this regard, the government on December 19 last year accorded sanction for paying Rs 15,000 per month emoluments to chairpersons of Block Development Councils. The BDC chairpersons will get Rs 13,000 honorarium, Rs 1,500 travel allowance and Rs 500 per month as telephone, mobile usage charges. The government also increased the monthly honorarium of sarpanch from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per month. Last month, the administration amended rules to give block development council chairpersons a status equivalent to that of an Army brigadier.
According to the warrant of precedence issued by the Hospitality and Protocol Department of Jammu and Kashmir, BDC chairpersons have been placed at serial number 28.
They are placed alongside district magistrates, district and sessions judge, major heads of departments, presidents of municipal committees and municipal councils and officers of the rank of brigadier. PTI

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