J&K: Lok Sabha speaker inaugurates Parliamentary Outreach Programme at Sher-i-Kashmir

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Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in Srinagar on Tuesday.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in Srinagar on Tuesday.

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], August 31 (ANI): Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla inaugurated the Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar on Tuesday.

Besides Birla, the programme was attended by Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha; Union Minister of State for Ministries of Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries, Prahlad Singh Patel and other eminent dignitaries.

Outlining that the objective of the Outreach Programme is to make our democratic institutions at the grass-root level stronger and more transparent and accountable, Birla said that democratic institutions like gram panchayats can make people's lives better and for that collective and coordinated efforts are needed at the ground level. 'Empowered Panchayats will make our democracy stronger, and will increase the confidence of the people at large, he said.

Birla also referred to the ongoing Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav events and said that democracy in India has been strengthened over the period time. He noted with satisfaction that the hopes and aspirations of the people have been fulfilled to a large extent and now India is leading the world community in the journey of democracy.

Birla also said that it is democracy that connects our diversities and makes us a collective force. He stressed that our collective force can help us to overcome the adversities that impede our progress.

Birla lauded the developments in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and said that the Union Territory is on the path of peace, progress and development. The Speaker observed that collective and coordinated efforts by democratic institutions at the grass-root level would take the fruits of development to the last man standing in the row.

He emphasized that democratic institutions need to fulfil their responsibilities as agents of development to make the country, including the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, Aatmanirbhar. He further said that Jammu and Kashmir have the potential and skill in the fields of tourism, handicrafts and agri-products and grass-root level democratic institutions should work in the direction of providing a marketing platform to them at the national and international level.

He hoped that Jammu and Kashmir would lead the country in development and employment.

On this occasion, he also assured that an elaborate arrangement would be made by Lok Sabha Secretariat for capacity-building programmes for representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the Union Territory.

He hoped that properly trained representatives would be able to work professionally which would ultimately make a qualitative change in the lives of the people.

Birla further informed that he would suggest to the Parliamentary Standing Committees to undertake regular Study Visits to the far-flung areas of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to understand the ground realities and possible solutions for mitigation of grievances of the local people.

Suggesting that development should start from the bottom as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Independence, Birla appealed for active participation of the people in democratic institutions and democratic processes. He felt that elections to local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir have strengthened our democracy and this process would ultimately help the people.

Birla also said that formulation of SoPs for democratic institutions is the need of the hour to facilitate the smooth conduct of their proceedings. He appealed to the democratic institutions working at the grass-root level in Jammu and Kashmir to devise their rules and procedures for structured functioning and fulfilment of people's hopes and aspirations. He was of the firm opinion that the process of development will get a fresh momentum if these institutions work properly and adopt the best practices.

Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha said that Gram Panchayats and PRIs are at the heart of our development process and they can provide good governance at the grass-root level. Referring to the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, he hailed the implementation of the three-tier Panchayati Raj system in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sinha also said that enhanced budgetary support to the PRIs in Jammu and Kashmir is ensuring rapid development of the Union Territory. He also called for improving the transparency and accountability of democratic institutions and the use of technology in this regard. By 2024, all the households in Jammu and Kashmir will be provided 24x7 electricity, said Sinha.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, Member of Parliament from Srinagar said that Panchayati Raj Institutions are the foundation stone of our democracy and called for providing more resources to these institutions and transparency in the implementation of works at the Panchayat level. He exhorted the representatives of these bodies to work honestly and serve the people in all possible ways.

He also recalled several attempts made in the past to implement the three-tier system in Jammu and Kashmir and hoped that newly elected representatives would win the trust of the people, in times to come.

Earlier, welcoming the Lok Sabha Speaker, Nirmal Kumar Singh, former Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, appreciated the initiative of the Lok Sabha Speaker in involving the highest institution of our democracy in strengthening local bodies at the grass-root level. Singh said that the visit of Birla is a milestone in the journey of democratic institution building in Jammu and Kashmir.

Later, three-panel discussions were held on Indian Parliament and Grass Root level Institutions: Potential and Challenges - Stepping stone towards leadership; Leadership of Panchayat: Social Change, Economic Development and Empowerment of women in rural areas, and Role of Panchayats on the promotion of Tourism, Culture and Handicrafts in Jammu and Kashmir. During these panel discussions, the delegates shared their experiences and ideas to fine-tune their work in their respective areas.

Ramprit Mandal, Member of Parliament and Baseer Ahmad Khan Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir delivered the valedictory address. (ANI)

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