Panchayat elections will empower people at ground level:Sagar

Jammu, Feb 12 (PTI) The upcoming panchayat elections inJammu and Kashmir will ensure empowerment of people atgrass-root level, besides accelerating the pace of developmentof rural areas, a senior minister said here.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating a model villageat Lohai-malhar here today, Minister of Rural Development,Panchayat and Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Sagar saidthat it was up to the people to "ensure full participation" inthe panchayat elections.

A cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullahon February 9 decided that three-tier panchayat elections onnon-party basis will be held in the state and process forpolls will be completed by May-end.

The absence of Panchayat Raj institutions in the statehampered flow of funds from the Centre for rural developmentand the early establishment of these institutions willaccelerate development works in rural areas, said Sagar.

The Minister warned that strict action would be initiatedagainst those officials found misusing funds alloted fordevelopment.

While praising the role played by rural developmentschemes in changing the landscape of villages, the Ministersaid that an amount of Rs 650 crore had been earmarked underMGNREGA for the state. He also urged people to come forwardand avail maximum benefits from the MGNREGA scheme.

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