Centre To Release Rs 460 Cr Worth Package For Panchayats

Centre To Release Rs 460 Cr Worth Package For Panchayats

8 November 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Centre has finally assured the State Government that it would be releasing a special package worth Rs 460 crores for empowerment of Panchayats in the State. The State Government would have to keep the funds exclusively at the disposal of Panchayats for execution of development works identified by the ‘Deh Majlis’ (Panchayat members with majority and local people). However, the Government of India was yet to make it clear that whether it was one time grant to the Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir or it would be released every year for development of rural areas. The State has, however, proposed that the grants should be made an annual feature. Top official sources told the Excelsior that the Centre has worked out Rs 460 crores worth special package for 4145 Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir. Each Panchayat Halqa would be given Rs 10 lakh each for executing development works in their Panchayats, which would be identified in ‘Deh Majlis’ by the Panchayat members and the local people after issuance of a notification by the Block Development Officer (BDO). “There would be no interference of MLAs-MLCs in the works to be executed by the Panchayats from special Constituency Development (CD) grant to the Panchayats,’’ sources said dispelling the impression created by some quarters that the funds would be kept at the disposal of MLAs. “The Centre has assured us the release of Rs 460 crores worth grants for the Panchayats. The funds would be released in favour of the Panchayati Raj Ministry of the State, which, in turn, would distribute funds among every elected Panchayat to the tune of Rs 10 lakh. The Panchayats (by majority) would identify the development works to be executed in their areas with the help of local people. The works would be executed by the Panchayats only and not the MLAs,’’ sources said. The Government of India hasn’t made it clear as to whether Rs 10 lakh worth grants to Panchayats would be one time grant or made every year. “We will take up the matter with Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh for making the grant an annual feature for development of rural areas of the State. Let us see whether the Centre concedes our demand or not,’’ sources said, adding that Jammu and Kashmir is the only State, which was being given Rs 460 crores worth grants for the Panchayats. No other State has been given such grants, they asserted. The State Government had sometime back submitted a detailed document to the Government of India for approval of funds worth Rs 10 lakh annual to each Panchayat Halqa in Jammu and Kashmir, which has become the bone of contention between the Panchayat members and the State. The Centre was working out various modalities before clearing the proposal for 4145 Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir, sources said. They explained that the Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh had asked the State Government to submit a detailed proposal on number of total elected Panchayats in the State, the number of elected Panchayat members in each Halqa, the funds being provided to them by the State Government and the procedure to be adopted for expenditure of Rs 10 lakh worth Constituency Development (CD) grant to each Panchayat Halqa of the State by the Government of India. A couple of days back, AICC (I) general secretary, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir, Ambika Soni had assured the Panchayat members that the file for sanction of Rs 10 lakh Constituency Development Fund for every Panchayat Halqa has already reached the office of Union Finance Ministry and the funds would be released in the next few days.