LASSIPORA (PULWAMA)/Srinagar, November 07(Scoop News)- Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said that the total empowerment of Panchayat Raj in the State is his commitment adding that he would continue to work to translate his initiative of holding Panchayat elections in the State after a long period of 30 years into a reality of 3-tier Panchayat system ruling the roost in the State.
Omar Abdullah said that actually Panchayat Raj in the State has become a subject matter of politics and politicians want to do politics on it but his government is committed to achieve the goal of powerful Panchayat Raj in the State.
The Chief Minister mentioned the notification issued by the State Government for holding Block Council elections to ensure more financial powers to the Panchayats and said that due to the reservation issue and divergent views expressed by various groups, political parties and others on the subject, the process got held up. However, he said his government would make all out efforts to remove all stumbling blocks in this regard.
Addressing a function after inaugurating Controlled Atmosphere Storage and Pack House established in a Private Sector at the Lassipora Industrial Estate this morning, the Chief Minister said that the fully empowerment of Panchayats both in financial as well as in the sector of service providing would be achieved when the Block and District Council elections of Panchayats are held. He said most of the services of various departments have already been transferred to the Panches and Sarpanches.
Omar Abdullah said that a well established and empowered Panchayat Raj in the State was the dream of Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had also envisioned powerful Panchayat Raj in the Country. He said coalition government is committed in this regard and efforts are on to achieve this stupendous goal. He said coalition government wants to take out governance from the Secretariat to the ground level and is endeavouring to achieve the target and make the grass roots level public representatives empowered enough to be part and parcel in the plan formulation and implementation of development programmes.
The Chief Minister said that the three specialties of Jammu and Kashmir viz natural beauty, handicrafts and fruit is world renowned. “My Government has focused attention to strengthen these sectors and ensuring economic betterment and prosperity of the people and the State.
Omar Abdullah said that attention is being given to upgrade post-harvest techniques and enable growers to market the quality fruit not only within the Country but Internationally. He said the people in Arab Countries like Muscat, Riyadh, Dubai, Qatar etc are highly fond of Kashmiri fruit and flowers. He said that efforts are on to help export of fruits and flowers from Kashmir to other parts of the world by utilizing Srinagar International Airport.
The Chief Minister said that Lassipora is coming up as an economic hub in the Horticulture Sector and his government is encouraging investors for establishing Controlled Atmosphere Stores in North Kashmir, Shopian, Rafiabad, Sopore, Baramulla and other places as has been done in South Kashmir. He said completion of Railway and 4-laning of National Highway will give added impetus to the export of quality fruit from the State to the terminal markets.
In his speech Vice President Indian National Congress (INC), Rahul Gandhi also reiterated the need for empowering Panchayats in the State and said that he has been working in the Country to make Panchayats powerful enough to handle financial and developmental activities at the grass roots.
Citing example of Utter Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi said that instead of running the functioning of the government by a small group of people, he endeavours to make lower level public representatives empowered enough to be part in the governance at various levels. He said he has similar intension for other States and in Jammu and Kashmir. He also stressed on early holding of Block and District Council elections and expressed the hope that the reservation issue would be settled as soon as possible.
The Vice President Indian National Congress said that UPA Government has initiated special programmes in the State for youth to enhance their employability and help them get employment within and outside the State. He cited the example of HIMAYAT and UDAN and said that the two schemes run by the Central Government in the State has already provided jobs to 15000 youth adding that another one lakh youth would get benefited under these schemes within next some years.
Rahul Gandhi also mentioned the UMEED programme sponsored by Central Government in the State for the development and empowerment of women. He said Rs. 750 crore have been sanctioned by the Central Government for the State for this programme. He said in UP about 10 lakh women are getting benefits under this scheme.
Rahul Gandhi said that the Union Government would also help the State to ameliorate the lot of over 3 lakh families associated with fruit cultivation and horticultural activities in Jammu and Kashmir. He said Banks have to come forward to assist the fruit growers so that they are able to export their fruit to all over the world.
Present on the occasion were Union Minister for Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh, General Secretary INC, Ambika Soni, President Pradesh Congress Committee J&K, Prof. Saif-ud-Din Soz, Minister for Horticulture, Raman Bhalla, Minister of State for Horticulture, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, Parliament Members, Dr. Mehboob Beg and Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri.
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