Srinagar, June 25(ANI): Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday reiterated his government's determination to involve the public in crucial decision making for holistic and all-round development of the state.
He termed holding of elections to Panchayats as a significant initiative in this direction.
"We are aiming at developing Panchayats as focal centres of power and delivery," he said adding that transfer of decision making authority from the Secretariat level to grass roots is the ultimate objective of Panchayat Raj.
Addressing sarpanches and panches of Bandipora and Khan Sahib constituencies at two separate functions organized by the Rural Development Department in these areas, the Chief Minister said that the completion of peaceful, free and fair elections is a historic achievement of his government.
"Holding of Panchayat elections in the state after a long period of 33 years was a key decision to be taken. We took the decision with strong determination to implement it firmly and sincerely. Thank God we succeeded in our efforts and completed the process smoothly," he said adding that political opponents tried to derail the process by spreading different rumors about the holding of elections, candidature and voter turnover.
He further said that the overwhelming participation of voters in the elections and the sincere efforts put in by the government proved the assertions of the political opponents wrong.
"I have made it clear a number of times that Government is determined to empower the Panchayats to the degree possible. I reiterate it here again with firmness that the transfer of powers to Panchayats is on anvil and you will hear about the same soon," Abdullah said referring to the high power committee headed by Chief Secretary presently finalizing the report about transfer of functions, functionaries and funds to the Panchayats.
The state suffered a loss of about Rs.1200 to Rs.1500 crores for non-existence of Panchayat system in the state during 12th Finance Commission period.
"Now, we are expecting Rs.400 to Rs.500 crores annual grant from the Centre Government under 13th Finance Commission Award which shall be spent by the Panchayats throughout the state," Abdullah said.
Earlier, the Chief Minister heard the views and suggestions of elected sarpanches and panches at both places.
In their elaborative speeches the elected representatives at Bandipora and Khan Sahib shared their experience and presented opinions about the establishment of a viable Panchayat Raj in the state.
They lauded the decision of the Chief Minister for holding Panchayat elections in the state after a long a period of 33 years and completing it in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Abdullah also inaugurated a four-day training programme at both places for the newly elected sarpanches and panches of Bandipora and Khan Sahib constituencies.
He also mingled with them heard their suggestions and received the demands regarding the development of particular Panchayat halqas. By Tahir Nadeem Khan ANI)