Early Times Report
Srinagar, Jan 29: Panches and Sarpanches get all sops in Jammu and Kashmir who are provided additional perks and incentives by the government and taken to tours in various cities. Jammu and Kashmir administration and Centre government have been organizing tours of Sarpanches to various cities of India.
At least 35 Sarpanches from the Union Territory went on a 10 day tour from January 10 to visit various cities of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
One of the Sarpanches, who was part of the tour, said, “We (Sarpanches) were taken to various cities. We also got to know how the Panchayat Raj system works there.”
An official of Rural Development Department said second tour of Sarpanches started from January 23.
“Centre has directed J&K administration to strengthen the Panchayat system in the Union Territory. Organising tours is part of providing additional incentives to Sarpanches,” the official said. Similarly, over 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.
Sources said J&K administration is finalising the modalities of providing life insurance cover to the Panchayati Raj representatives. “Chief Secretary B V R 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 finalised, government would float tenders for engaging insurance company. “Centre believes that insurance cover would provide a sense of security to Panchayat members to work on the ground,” they said.
The Centre, as part of its initiative to empower around 40,000 elected local representatives in JK, 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.