New Delhi, Sep 28: Union Minister for Panchayati Raj Kishore Chandra Deo Friday asked Jammu and Kashmir to provide adequate security to panchayat heads, following the killing of some of them, and hoped the state government would immediately cooperate in devolving powers to the elected village councils.
Expressing condolence over the killing of some panchayat representatives in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said he has taken up the issue of devolution of powers with the state government as he had done with others.
This, Deo said, would “give an opportunity to the people at grassroot to have a say in the process of development and governance”.
He said the holding “successfully the much awaited elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions in Jammu & Kashmir has given rise to hopes that the democratic process in the strife-torn state would be now on the rails”.
He said the Panchayati Raj ministry had been “effectively involved in imparting training to around 33,847 elected representatives, which included 29,719 Panchs and 41,28 Sarpanchs. This mammoth exercise was undertaken with the assistance of National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, and other State Institutes of Rural Development (SIRD)”, said a statement Friday.
“Democratic process does not end with merely holding of elections to the Panchayat,” he said. “A commitment for a vibrant democracy is that the functionaries at the grassroot are able to air and reflect the views and aspirations of the people at large in the respective representative bodies and are also able to take up these issues with the higher authorities.”
“Mere elections to local bodies come to a naught unless the effective devolution of three Fs i.e. funds, functions and functionaries takes place,” the minister observed.
It is unfortunate, he said, that in many states this devolution has not taken place. While many state governments have been demanding for more allocation
“…It is, however, unfortunate to note that many states are reluctant to devolve funds, functions or functionaries to the elected representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions. This actually hampers the feel and free flow of democratic process.”
“..hope that the state wherever devolution has not taken place, including the states of J&K and Jharkhand – where elections were not held for a decade and over three decades respectively – will immediately cooperate in this process and thereby give an opportunity to the people at grassroot to have a say in the process of development and governance.”
On Thursday, a group of panchayat members from Jammu and Kashmir met Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to press for adequate compensation for the kin of those killed in militant attacks and more secure working conditions.
Panchayat members told Gandhi that adequate powers had not been devolved to them, posing difficulties in their work.
Militants have targeted some panches and sarpanches since the panchayat polls were held in the state last year after a gap of over 30 years. The attacks have triggered resignations by elected village council representatives.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has promised to take all possible steps to provide security to the panchayat members.
The Congress is a coalition partner in the state government with the National Conference.