Grassroots democracy:It is raining sops for Panches and Sarpanches in J&K
17: From insurance cover to paid
holiday, Jammu and Kashmir government has gone all out to open purse strings
for Panchayat representatives in the Union Territory.
At least 35 Sarpanches from the Union
Territory are on a 10 day tour of Maharashtra and Gujarat since January 10.
“We (Sarpanches) are being taken to various
cities. We will also get to know how the Panchayati Raj system works there,”
said one of the Sarpanches, who is part of the tour.
An official of
Rural Development Department said the second leg of tour for Sarpanches would
start from January 23. “Centre has directed J&K administration to
strengthen the Panchayati Raj system in the Union Territory. Organizing tours
is part of providing additional incentives to Sarpanches,” he said.
40,000 Panchayat members are being brought under the insurance cover in Jammu
and Kashmir at par with government employees.
“The demand was
raised by a group of Sarpanches and Panches who met Union Home Minister Amit
Shah in September last year. Following which, Centre told J&K
administration to take all measures in this regard,” the official said.
J&K administration is finalizing modalities for providing life insurance
cover to the Panchayat Raj representatives. “Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam
has held several meetings with Financial Commissioner Finance Department and
authorities of Rural Development Department. Discussion is going over amount of
risk cover and the premium,” sources said.
Sources said once
the process is finalized, government would float tenders for engaging insurance
company. “Centre believes that insurance cover would provide a sense of
security to Panchayat members,” they said.
political gap, government has also decided to treat Panchayat members and
councilors as ‘VIPs’ on Republic Day celebrations in Kashmir. As per official documents, district
development commissioner Srinagar has been directed to prepare a list of
include VVIP and VIPs. They include chairperson of BDCs, Panches, Sarpanches
and councilors,” the document reads.
of political parties were being invited as VIPs. Centre, as part of its initiative to empower
around 40,000 elected local representatives in J&K, had earlier enhanced
the financial powers of Panchayats 10-fold from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh, and
that of block councils from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh.
There are 21
departments including Rural Development, Social Welfare, Health, Education,
Power, Horticulture, Fisheries and Agriculture, which come under the
administrative control of Panchayat members, the official said.