Proposal mooted several months back yet to get Govt’s approval

Life insurance cover for Panchayati Raj Representatives

Inordinate delay despite repeated assurances

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 22: Much to their disappointment, a proposal about providing life insurance cover to the thousands of Panchayati Raj Representatives in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has failed to become reality even after the lapse of several months.
This is notwithstanding the fact that such a step on the part of the Government would instil sense of security among the Sarpanches and Panches especially after the recent barbaric killing of a Sarpanch by the terrorists in the Kashmir valley.
Actually, the demand about life insurance cover was projected by a delegation of Sarpanches and Panches before the Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the month of September last year and the Union Minister had assured to consider the same sympathetically keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
As directed by the Union Home Ministry, the Government of J&K Union Territory started an exercise in this regard through the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. Moreover, the issue was debated in numerous meetings of Committee of Secretaries headed by the Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam.
On January 6, 2020, the Chief Secretary while chairing the Committee of Secretaries meeting directed the Administrative Secretary of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to finalize the life insurance premium for the Panchayati Raj Representatives as early as possible.
“Thereafter discussions involving senior officers of the Finance and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Departments were held from time to time but despite lapse of almost six months the proposal about providing life insurance cover to the Panchayati Raj Representatives has not become reality”, sources said, adding “six months was sufficient period to arrive at conclusion about initiating this step, which will instil sense of security among the representatives of these grass root level democratic institutions”.
When contacted, Director Panchayat in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Mohd Rafi said that recently on the directions of the Government some corrections were made in the proposal and the same has now been forwarded to the higher authorities. “Shortly, the Department will submit the memorandum for placement before the Administrative Council headed by Lieutenant Governor for clearance”, he said in response to a question.
“Such a step is imperative to boost the morale of the elected representatives of the people at the grass root level, who otherwise are once again in the grip of fear because of recent killing of a Sarpanch in the Kashmir valley”, sources said.
The inordinate delay in clearance of the proposal has received sharp criticism from the Panchayati Raj Representatives, who when approached, said, “if this is the fate of the assurance given by none else than the Union Home Minister what would be the outcome of other demands which we are projecting before the Government can be easily gauged”.
“Giving life insurance cover doesn’t mean that we are no more in need of security the demand which was also projected before the Union Home Minister”, they said, adding “keeping in view the fact that we work at the ground zero level it is not possible especially for the Sarpanches and Panches elected from the militancy infested areas to work fearlessly in the absence of security”.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah had conveyed to the delegation that he doesn’t want families of Panchayati Raj Representatives to fend for themselves in case of any mis-happening as such life insurance cover will be granted shortly.
“Probably, it will be for the first time in the country that Panchayati Raj Representatives will get life insurance cover if the proposal is cleared by the Administrative Council”, sources said, adding “the Government owes a lot to these representatives of grass root level democratic institutions as they have already been entrusted with numerous responsibilities for changing the developmental profile of the rural areas by way of devolving of funds, functions and functionaries of different departments”, sources further said.