Panchayats basic pillars of democracy: Omar

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Omar Abdullah
Jammu, July 2: Asserting that power necessarily brings responsibilities with it, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said panchayats are basic pillars of democracy and asked the newly-elected panchayat members to make public service the standard of their functioning.

Addressing sarpanches and panches of Billawar and Basholi Assembly constituencies in Kuthua district yesterday, the Chief Minister told them to come up to the expectations of the people and deliver efficiently.

"It is your prime responsibility to devote yourselves to the public cause. Voters have reposed highest faith and trust in you. Your success is in your befitting performance," he said and added that the success of Panchayati Raj lies in the sincere, honest and efficient functioning of the elected panchayat members.

The Chief Minister said that holding of elections to panchayats was a challenge which the Government successfully met and completed the poll process in a free and fair manner. He said transfer of powers to panchayats is the exact goal of his Government.

"We want to make you powerful enough to perform your role beyond the rural development area," he said.

Omar said that in the sectors of social welfare, health, roads, communication and rural water supply panchayats have an important function to perform.

He appreciated the huge voter turnover in the elections and said that this indicated public faith in the democratic institutions in getting their day-to-day problems redressed. He congratulated the voters for their large participation in the elections. .

The Chief Minister said that elections to Block Panchayat Committees will follow the Halqa Panchayat elections and ultimately that of District Committees.

"There will be a Vice-Chairman in the District Development Board as a representative of panchayats who will share the responsibility and powers with the Minister in formulating district development plans and ensuring its implementation on ground," he said terming it as an important turnaround in the governance.

Omar said that about Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore will be available to panchayats annually to spend on development schemes. He said that judicious spending as per public aspirations should be the standard of panchayats to achieve.

He said that Government is determined to empower people at the grass root levels to strengthen the democratic set up in the State.

The Chief Minister said that establishment of Panchayati Raj is the cherished goal of his Government and "we are marching to achieve this successfully".

He said panchayat system is answer to many problems that people face at the village level.

"It will also act as an important tool to reduce the chances of corruption and help completion of schemes in a fixed timeline," he said.

Honesty and sincerity are the basic ingredients of a viable and efficient panchayat system, he added.

Omar said that the hilly State like Jammu and Kashmir cannot be run from the Secretariat and decentralization of powers and involvement of public representatives in the governance at grass roots is imperative to ensure equitable and holistic development of all the regions and sub-regions of the state which forms basic objective of his Government.

PTI

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