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New buildings to broadband connections: J&K govt pushes for Panchayat infra development to strengthen grassroots democracy

Srinagar: From constructing new buildings to setting-up digital Panchayats, Jammu and Kashmir government has gone into an overdrive to develop infrastructure in a bid to strengthen the grassroots democracy in the union territory.

Officials figures reveal that 4289 Panchayats and 1259 Gram Panchayats are without their own buildings in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Officials said the Centre has advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to take up the construction of these buildings on a priority basis in a phased manner.

“The construction of the Panchayats has to be done in a phased manner by converging funds, resources under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and 14th Finance Commission so as to bridge the gap by the end of 2022,” they said.

Last year, the Centre enhanced the fund allocation to Jammu and Kashmir Gram Panchayats by more than 30 percent for building infrastructure.

An official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed that against Rs 779.40 crores in 2018, the Centre has allocated Rs 1049.49 crores for Panchayats in 2019.

“The states are required to transfer FFC grants received from the Ministry of Finance within 15 days of the receipt of Gram Panchayats. The details of such transfer are to be reflected by the states in their Utilization Certificates,” it said.

Moreover, the digital Panchayats are being set up in Jammu and Kashmir to pave way for the e-governance project in the union government.

Data suggest that only 1174 Panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir have been digitalized so far, making Jammu and Kashmir one of the least covered under the Digital India Programme.

“Under the Digital India programme, BharatNet project is being implemented in a phased manner to provide broadband connectivity in all the Gram Panchayats in the country through Wi-Fi or any other suitable technology Fiber to the Home (FTTH),” a document said.

The document said the Ministry of Panchayat Raj has also enhanced the training sessions for the Elected Representatives in order to prepare them for Gram Panchayat Development Plan.

Figures revealed that in the last two years, 137396 elected representatives, officials, and other stakeholders of Panchayat have been sent for training session under Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.