Govt acting as stumbling block, fails to empower panchayats: Mehbooba

Excelsior Correspondent
Poonch, Apr 18: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti today said that Coalition Government was wasting a historic opportunity to empower the people of the state by creating hurdles in the growth of panchayats as independent community based institutions.
Addressing a public meeting at Surankote today, she expressed her confidence that the government might be able to delay the inevitable empowerment of panchayats but it won’t be allowed to prevent it.
She said the hope and confidence with which people of the state had overwhelmingly voted in last year’s panchayat elections had been shattered by the negative tactics of the Government in empowering these important institutions of self governance. She said both the major coalition partners NC and Cong were responsible for this set back to the empowerment process of the people in the state.
“They are indulging in shadow boxing by raising fingers at each other, while both parties have let down the millions of voters who voted their panches and sarpanches with the hope of shaping their destiny at local level”, she added.
The PDP president said her party was clear from day one about the need for full empowerment of panchayats as was resolved at the panchayat conference organized by it in July last year. The Government on the other hand has only been making hollow announcements without actually giving any powers or development funds to the panchayats. She said the elections to the block and district councils had not been conducted for one full year, neither had any funds been provided to panchayats nor the remuneration released to panches and sarpanches.
Referring to the delay in elections to the urban local bodies Mehbooba said this Government was scared of facing the public and was therefore unwilling to carry forward the process of elections. She said the ruling parties were trying to subvert the entire democratic system on one pretext or the other and the urban local bodies had become the victim of their insecurity at popular level.
She said the price for the corruption and misgovernance was being paid by the common people of the state. She said the money that goes into the pocket of the rulers is actually to be used for our roads, drinking water, schools and medical facilities.
“While the Government failed to perform its duties on these important fronts. It is adding burden on every body by hiking the prices of commodities, power tariff and drinking water fees”, She added. She said the proposed hike in the power tariff which is the third since NC government took over comes with the Chief Minister’s announcement of further cuts in power supply.
She said the neglect of Poonch was evident from the fact that the Parnai hydel project on which work was resumed by previous Government had again been shelved. Similarly, Fazalabad area continues to remain cut off as the work on the bridge started by PDP Government has been abandoned. She said with the opening of Mughal Road scenic places like Bufliaz could be developed as tourist spot of great attraction.
Endorsing the demand for new blocks and nayabats in Surankote, Mehbooba said the NC had once again failed to respond to the special needs of far flung and distant areas. Even though the PDP-Congress Government had opened up the Poonch-Rajouri region to new initiatives of progress and development, the present dispensation has again put a lid on it.