DDCs need Planning Committees

One step forward two steps back, the proverbial approach, depicted a situation where how to proceed further from a point of realisation of a part of an aim, is either not given due importance or there was a casual approach in place. Agreed, Jammu and Kashmir Government having embarked upon a path of making Panchayati Raj Institutions not only coming into being fully in a democratic process but to ensure its three tier structure was well organised and functioned smoothly for development of villages, Halqas and districts. Formation of District Development Councils (DDCs) by dint of a fair transparent and smooth democratic process with mass participation of the voters in the elections was a major milestone in the process which though achieved both in the basic objective, however, remains overall in a half heartedly position so far as taking the process forward is considered as to the role, functions and performance with emphasis on ultimate speedy development of districts. However, one year of the coming into being of the DDCs has already passed but to make them truly functional in a planned and sustained way, there is no Planning Committee nor are several other standing committees formed as yet. These committees are in fact the guiding forces for functioning of these DDCs and thus play a crucial role. Such committees are formulated individually to oversee important areas like finance, development, public works, Health and Education, welfare etc. Even the constitution of such standing committees entails a democratic process from within for election of members to these committees. In other words, “what next” like priority list is nowhere to be found in the concerned Rural Development Department which has to take the grand initiative in making these DDCs function on expected lines. Not only this, the Government has still not even constituted Finance Commission for three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions which include District Development Councils, Block Development Councils and the Panchayats . It may be underlined that constituting of such Commissions not only is mandatory under duly amended Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act read with Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2020 but to assess, review and recommend financial aspects of these grass root democratic institutions and discipline financial handling and prevent misuse or any diversion of funds which otherwise are now made available very reasonably adequately to them. The functions of such a Financial Commissions can be gauged in the context of making suitable recommendations to the Governor /Lt. Governor about the steps and considerations which can govern the distribution of tax proceeds between the Panchayats and the state/UT etc. As on date, therefore, none of these DDCs are functioning with the requisite support of Planning committees. How can therefore, development plans of the districts, which otherwise aim to translate the aspirations of the people into realities, be shaped and implemented is a big question. We know, the process may be in the pipeline and administrative lethargy can delay but not deny it but this delay means messing up of funds and delaying of development of respective districts. Needless to add, either the role of District Development Committees is not known especially in respect of formulation of developmental plans and non -plan budget for each district and implementation of various developmental schemes or the implications of non implementation of the provisions of the amended Act in this behalf is not felt which means the entire gamut of the Panchayati Raj Institutions functioning in half baked way, not delivering the expected results. Hence, it is expected that a holistic view of the entire functioning of the three tiers of PRIs will be taken to bring about necessary improvements and have the requisite standing committees, financial commissions and the like constituted so that the spirit of 73rd amendment to the constitution of India is maintained in letter and spirit