48 newly elected Sarpanches of Panchayats from Jammu and Kashmir called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi today. The delegation was led by Shafiq Mir, President of the All Jammu &Kashmir Panchayat Conference.
The delegation conveyed its appreciation to the Prime Minister for empowering the institutions of local self-governance through the successful and peaceful conduct of Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Prime Minister conveyed his best wishes to the newly elected representatives. He exhorted them to strive for the welfare and upliftment of people. He assured the delegation that he and his Government are committed to the empowerment of the people, and will stand shoulder to shoulder with the local government representatives for the welfare of the State, to fulfill the aspirations of the masses. He urged the members of the delegation to prioritize people’s interests, as the people have reposed enormous faith and hope on them.
The Prime Minister congratulated the local representatives for the courage displayed by them in the face of heavy odds; and for successfully participating in the democratic process, despite threats and intimidation. He assured them of the Government of India’s full support for making the Panchayati Raj model a success, and responsive to the people’s basic necessities and grievances. Empowerment of grassroots institutions is a significant step in taking Jammu and Kashmir away from the path of violence and secure the rights and development of the local populace.
He also appreciated the participation of women in the recent Panchayat elections. Background Devolution of powers at the grassroots level is a unique opportunity for people to become stakeholders in their own developmental process. The J&K Panchayat Act was passed in 1989, but only three of the allotted 25 functions under the Act were actually provided budgetary support. The Government has now amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act of 1989 and transferred Rs 2,000 Crore per annum to the Panchayats. Another Rs 1,200 Crore has been made available to the Urban Local Bodies. The Panchayats will directly monitor activities pertaining to 19 departments/subjects and carry out audits of government schemes and projects.
Elections to 1,100 Urban Local Body wards were held after a gap of 13 years; and 35,000 Panchayats after seven years in Nov-Dec 2018. 74 percent voter turnout (out of total 58 Lakh voters) was witnessed in the Panchayat elections.
To take the process forward, a training program for 40,000 grass-roots representatives will be undertaken soon. The Sarpanches will be provided a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 per month will be disbursed to each Panch.