SRINAGAR: Taking a big leap in empowering Panchayats, Jammu and Kashmir government has authorized Panches and Sarpanches to use funds for developmental works under ‘Back to Village’ programme.
Under this programme, finance department has sanctioned Rs 121 crore for different developmental projects across the state. Each district would be receiving Rs five crore to kick start the works.
The first of its kind, ‘Back to Village’ programme was held from June 21 to 27. During this period, government officers panned out across the state to receive feedback from Panches and Sarpanchs about the developmental needs in different Panchayats.
Sources said the exercise was primarily aimed at energizing the 4483 Panchayats. This follows Centre’s directive to J&K government to ensure empowerment of Panchayats in the state.
“The funds for developmental works will be used by Sarpanches and Panches. District development commissioners will only monitor the funds. They (DCs) have been directed to prioritize the developmental works. Repairing of roads, transformers, high tension lines and schools are some of the works which would be taken up initially under this programme,” sources said.
Earlier, Centre had enhanced financial powers of Panchayats from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Besides, financial powers of block councils were enhanced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh. This was part of the initiative to empower around 40,000 Panchayat representatives in the state.
However, there were complaints in the past that funds meant for Panchayats were not reaching to the grassroots.
Waking up to the complaints, Director Rural Development Department Kashmir shot off a letter to the concerned officials asking them to ensure transparency of funds meant for Panchayats in the valley.
“It is mandatory to ensure that the funds in the account of the Halqa Panchayat are properly used. And that the funds balance available in these Halqa Panchayat account prior to the notification of constituted Panchayats or appointment of administers, are in order and every transaction in the said Halqa Panchayat account is as per the financial rules,” reads an order issued by Rural Development Department, in July.