Holding Local Body Elections Meaningless Until We Are Empowered Fully: AJKPC




All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) Wednesday appreciated the state government, administrated by Governor N N Vohra, for taking “all pro-active measures to decentralize powers” at grassroots level by announcing holding of elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Panchayats.

In a statement issued here, the AJKPC (an organization of over 33,000 elected Sarpanchs and Panchs spearheading struggle for empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in J&K) also urged the Governor to take into consideration all “genuine issues raised” by elected Panchayat members before holding elections this year.

“We appreciate the Governor N N Vohra for showing his keenness toward decentralization of powers at grassroots level. By announcing much-delayed ULB polls and timely elections of Panchayats, the state government has made it clear that it is in favour of decentralization of powers and empowerment of grassroots-level democratic institutions,” Anil Sharma, president AJKPC, said after chairing a meeting of Sarpanchs and Panchs in Jammu today.

The AJKPC leader, however, said, “the holding of elections to ULBs and PRIs would prove meaningless and insignificant if these institutions were not fully empowered.”

“Earlier, the political parties objected to empowerment of ULBs and PRIs by not allowing incorporation of 73rdand 74th Amendments of Indian Constitutions in the state legislation. It is the right time to fully empower these institutions as Jammu and Kashmir is under the Governor’s rule at present. The Governor has both the executive and legislative powers and he can easily incorporate these Amendments in the State Act by bringing an Ordinance,” Sharma said.

He hoped that the Governor, who has shown seriousness as well as keenness toward decentralization of powers at grassroots level, would take all possible measures to ensure empowerment of ULBs and PRIs in the larger interest of the people.

Sharma while speaking to the Panchayat members also highlighted the shortcomings of the Rural Development Department which is key and link department for ensuing all the schemes of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Citing the example of insufficient number of Gram Sevaks who perform the duty of being Panchayat Secretaries, he said, “at present a Gram Sevak is Panchayat Secretary of at least 3 to 4 Panchayats and in every Gram Sabha the presence of Gram Sevak is inevitable therefore it is not the Secretary who takes directions from the Halqa Panchayat but it is entire Gram Sabha that remain at the mercy of the Gram Sevak and only when he is free then Gram Sabha can be convened.”

“Similar is the case of Inspectors in the Rural Development Department, each Inspector is looking the affairs of 2 to 3 blocks which is again a major hurdle in ensuring proper monitoring, Inspection and supervision of the developmental works. In the rural engineering wing, a Junior engineer has been assigned the job to look after 6 to 7 Panchayats at a given point of time,” he pointed.

The AJKPC president complained that without adequate staff and manpower with the Rural Development Department there remains a chaos and often the developmental works get delayed. He appealed the governor and Commissioner /Secretary, Rural Development Department to immediately take corrective measures to fulfil all the vacancies there in the RDD.

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