Jammu, Mar 29: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Tuesday addressed 20,000 PRI members from across the UT during a Virtual PRI Conference organized by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in collaboration with IMPARD, J&K at the Civil Secretariat.
Speaking on the occasion, the Lt Governor termed the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) as the foundation of Rural construction and development programmes.
In governance, from policy to service delivery, PRIs act as the living cell of the system. By strengthening the PRIs, we are empowering a more effective system to truly realize the vision of Gram Swaraj, the Lt Governor said.
Expressing gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for establishing a three-tier Panchayati Raj system in J&K, the Lt Governor said that under the guidance of PM, we have been strengthening the roots of PRIs to build an inclusive society.
“Our effort is to remove the gap between rural and urban, so that prosperity reaches the home and heart of every citizen of J&K”, the Lt Governor added.
While appreciating the initiative taken to bring the PRIs on a common platform, the Lt Governor said that the unprecedented participation of PRI representatives reflects the untiring efforts of the government to make Panchayati Raj Institutions more empowered, participatory and vibrant.
The Lt Governor observed that the effective devolution of three Fs- funds, functions and functionaries has established the centrality of Panchayats in governance and implementation of public welfare schemes.
It will bring effective social and economic empowerment, besides ensuring that the benefits of rapid economic growth actually reach the last person in the queue, he further added.
A historical decision was taken to involve PRIs to formulate District Capex Budget to effectively plan and carry out development works. Funds are also being provided to the PRIs to evolve their development schemes as per the needs of local population, observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor said that special efforts are being made to ensure smooth functioning of offices of PRIs. Recently, 1889 Panchayat Accounts Assistants have also been recruited.
“On average, about Rs 1.47 crore has been given to each panchayat for developmental works, besides in this year’s record budget of Rs 1.13 lakh crores for J&K, an amount of Rs 1000 crore has been allocated to all panchayats, Rs 200 crore for Development Fund for 20 District Development Councils (Rs 10 crore for each DDC) and Rs 71.25 crore for Block Development Councils (Rs 25 lakh each). Apart from this, Rs 313 crore has also been given to local bodies and about Rs 1727 crore has been given to all panchayats under MGNREGA, 14th Finance Commission, Mid Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Scheme”, he added.
The Lt Governor called for invoking a renewed sense of Jan Bhagidari in the socio-economic development process to make villages of J&K AatmaNirbhar.
A vibrant and productive agrarian economy is the foundation of high and sustained economic growth. As a watchdog of developmental activities, PRIs can help in making the governance more transparent and accountable to the citizens, the Lt Governor added.
The Lt Governor also laid stress on continuous capacity building of the elected members and termed it a key aspect of better service delivery at the grass root level.
‘Capacity building of elected PRIs will yield productive capacities of agriculture, rural employment, access to basic services like education, health, nutrition, safe drinking water supply, swachhata, social security & transforming rural J&K a business hub’, said the Lt Governor.
He further advised the District Administrations, DDCs, and Panchayats to replicate the best practices of others and make concerted efforts to meet the aspirations of people.
On the occasion, a 100 point programme was also finalized for Gram Swaraj Month which will mainly focus on Rural Infrastructure, Good Governance, Livelihood generation, Financial Inclusion, Youth Empowerment, Environment Protection and Women Empowerment.
Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary said that the Sarpanches, Panches are the foremost priority of the administration. He hoped that the UT of J&K will lead by example for other UTs/ States in the Panchayati Raj system in the coming months.
Mandeep Kaur, Administrative Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj highlighted the reforms being undertaken by the department to change the rural landscape of J&K.
She also gave a detailed briefing on the capacity building and training programmes of PRIs, 100 point programme for Gram Swaraj Month, measures taken to ensure proper fund utilization etc.
Saurabh Bhagat, Director General, Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development J&K delivered the welcome address, Dr Ruchi Gupta conducted the proceedings, while Prof Reva Sharma, Director Training IMPARD presented the Vote of Thanks.
DDC Chairpersons, Sarpanches, and other PRI members shared the development transformation taking place in their respective areas.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor released a Coffee Table Book on IWMP sector achievements of District Udhampur. PRI members, officials of UT Administration took pledge to ‘Save Water’ and a success story of pilot project on Rooftop Rainwater harvesting in District Udhampur was also showcased. The Lt Governor complimented the District Administration Udhampur for the good work done under IWMP.
Atal Dulloo, Additional Chief Secretary, Finance Department; Vivek Bhardwaj, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department; Nitishwar Kumar, Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Administrative Secretaries, HoDs, senior officials also attended the Conference, in person and through virtual mode.