Srinagar, Oct 18: Efforts to revive grassroots democracy has suffered a major setback after majority of Panches and Sarpanches expressed reluctance to visit their constituencies citing militant threats.
Panches and Sarpanches, who are presently putting up in Srinagar hotels, are unable to review the developmental works in their respective villages.
Centre has sanctioned Rs 3700 crore for Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir of which around Rs 1000 crore has been released so far.
“I have not visited my constituency for the last two months. People of my constituency visit me at a hotel to discuss their problems. We are not able to review developmental works in our constituencies,” one of the Sarpanches from south Kashmir, told The Kashmir Monitor.
What have added to fear psychosis are the recent attacks on non-locals in south Kashmir. “The attacks and threats have created a panic among all Panches and Sarpanches. Due to security reasons, we have been lodged in different hotels at Srinagar,” he added.
Such is the fear that Panchayat members have also shifted their families to Srinagar. “We fear for our lives and prefer to stay in Srinagar. Even the contractors meet us in hotels. The attack on non-local labourers has sent shivers among the Panches and Sarpanches,” said a Sarpanch from Shopian, who is living in Srinagar along with his family.
Panchayats, in addition to being involved in the selection of eligible beneficiaries for various government welfare schemes, shall receive Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh per year for implementation of key national schemes such as the National Health Mission, Samagra Shiksha, etc.
To ensure funds reach grassroots, authorities have directed officials to maintain transparency in funds meant for Panchayats in Kashmir.
Director Rural Development Department, Kashmir, has also written to concerned officials to ensure transparency of funds meant for Panchayats in the valley. In fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed for empowerment of Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir.