Walkouts Over Delay In Implementation Of 73rd Amendment

Walkouts Over Delay In Implementation Of 73rd Amendment

18 March 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: Accusing the Government of intentionally delaying the implementation of 73rd Amendment and discriminating with the Jammu region in providing model villages, Opposition MLAs today created uproar in the Legislative Assembly and staged walkouts. However, the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, while pointing towards the revelations made by EXCELSIOR vis-à-vis rejection of major provisions of the 73rd Amendment by the Government appointed high-level committee, assured that report would be tabled in the House in the shape of bill for thorough discussion. When the House assembled this morning, Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs stood up from their benches and started protesting against the Government for not implementing the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, which otherwise is aimed at empowering the Panchayats. Supported by Jammu State Morcha (JSM), Ashwani Sharma, the agitating BJP MLAs said, “the Government had assured that Panchayats will be given sufficient powers but till date nothing has been done to implement the 73rd Amendment”, adding “there is widespread resentment among the Sarpanchs and Panchs over the dilly dallying tactics of the State Government and now they are left with no other option but to start hunger strike in support of their demand”. While the Panchayats have been fully empowered in rest of the country with financial and decision making powers and they are directly funded by the Centre, J&K Panchayats have been deprived of such facilities, BJP’s Jugal Kishore said, adding “they are working by risking their lives but the Government continues to adopt cold shoulder response towards their demands”. As there was no response from the Government over the implementation of 73rd Amendment, all the BJP MLAs staged walk-out while dubbing the Government as anti-Panchayats. The issue of empowerment of Panchayats once again figured when the National Panthers Party (NPP) MLA, Harshdev Singh while raising supplementary to his main question asked the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ali Mohammad Sagar to inform the House about the steps taken by the Government to implement 73rd Amendment. Mr Singh also sought to know from the Government about any proposal for providing honorarium to the members of Panchayati Adalats too on the analogy of Sarpanchs and Panchs and reason behind discrimination with Jammu region in sanctioning model villages under State Sector. “As far as model villages under State sector are concerned, only two have been sanctioned for Jammu region while as nine have been provided to Kashmir valley”, Mr Singh said, adding “Government owes an explanation as it has been repeatedly claiming that all the regions and sub-regions are being treated equally”. Bharatiya Janata Party and JSM MLAs too raised the issue of discrimination with Jammu in sanctioning Model Villages and said,“we cannot tolerate discrimination”. While replying to the supplementaries of Opposition members, Mr Sagar tried to convince them by stating that committee constituted to make suggestions vis-à-vis incorporation of provisions of 73rd Amendment has submitted its report and a bill in the House will be tabled soon after the Cabinet gives nod for the same. However, CPM MLA, Mohd Yousaf Tarigami said, “the report has already been published by the Daily Excelsior and indicates that main demand pertaining to election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of District Planning and Development Board has been turned down by the committee and it has virtually supported the Government’s stand”, adding “the Chairman should be elected one otherwise democratization process will not succeed”. On this Minister reiterated that the report would be placed before Cabinet and a properly drafted bill would be tabled in the House for discussion on the recommendations. About the honorarium for members of Panchayati Adalats, he said, “a proposal in this regard is under the active consideration of the Government”. On the issue of model villages, Mr Sagar said, “presently, there is no scheme in the department for the development of model villages under State sector. However, in order to improve the living condition of people and concede demands projected by the legislators and general public a village is considered for development of infrastructure on the pattern of model village”. This infuriated the Opposition MLAs, who left their seats and moved near the front row. After staging protest for some time and lashing out at Government for discriminating with the Jammu region, they staged walk-out. Earlier, the National Conference MLA and former Minister, Qamar Ali Akhoon, while raising supplementary to the main question of Harshdev Singh, informed the House that six out of nine blocks in the Kargil district have been lacking Block Development Officers besides the post of Assistant Commissioner Development was lying vacant. Responding to Qamar Ali Akhoon’s issue, the Minister assured the House that vacant posts would be filled up shortly.