Shah announces implementation of 73rd, 74th Amendments in J&K

Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a meeting with Sarpanchs from J&K in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a meeting with Sarpanchs from J&K in New Delhi on Tuesday.

5 jobs for each village, Rs 3000 cr more for Panchayats
New leadership emerging in Valley: Dr Jitendra

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 3: Union Home Minister Amit Shah today announced implementation of 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India pertaining to empowerment of Panchayats and Municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir and grant of Rs 3000 crore to Panchayats in addition to Rs 3700 crore given under the Award of 14th Finance Commission.
Implementation of 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India in the State was long pending demand of the people especially the elected representatives of Panchayats and Municipalities as these two Amendments were applicable in the entire country excepting J&K.
Shah also announced five Government jobs for unemployed youth in each village, two lakh insurance cover for Sarpanchs and elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs) in the State as quickly as possible.
The Home Minister gave these assurances to a delegation of 25 Sarpanchs drawn from different parts of Jammu and Kashmir, who called on him in his office at New Delhi under the chairmanship of Anil Sharma, president All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC). Shah also met representatives of fruit growers, agricultural markets and Horticulture Associations.

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Apart from Shah, the meeting was attended by Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and MHA Additional Secretary, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Division Gyanesh Kumar.
The Sarpanchs submitted a memorandum to the Home Minister.
Sarpanchs told the Excelsior on telephone from New Delhi that the Union Home Minister categorically told them that 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India, which empower Panchayats and Municipalities, will be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir soon after the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will come into existence.
This will meet a long pending demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir including representatives of people in Panchayats and Municipalities that 73rd and 74th Amendments should be applied in the State.
Shah was also reported to have assured the Sarpanchs and Panchs that the Panchayats would be given Rs 3000 crore for developmental works which will be in addition to Rs 3700 crore already released under the 14th Finance Commission Award for Panchayats.
Another significant assurance given by the Home Minister to Panchayat members pertained to provision of five Government jobs in every village purely on the basis of merit after following due procedure of recruitment. Mechanism for the employment in rural areas will be devised shortly.
Shah assured Rs 2 lakh insurance cover for the Sarpanchs and protection to the Panchayat members in vulnerable areas but told the delegation that the Central and State Government will create such conditions in the State that need of protection for the Panchayat representatives won’t arise.
“The Block Development Council (BDC) elections will be held in the State as early as possible, which will further empower the Panchayats,” the Home Minister assured the delegation. He told the Sarpanchs that majority of Government schemes will be implemented through the Panchayats.
Shah told the Sarpanchs that the demand for increasing the honorarium of those holding the post of Sarpanch’ and ‘Panch’ will be considered.
According to a Home Ministry statement, on the issue of mobile connectivity and restoration of communications, Shah said the matter would be expedited and a solution found as quickly as possible. Shah clarified that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir would be restored as soon as the situation warrants and asked the representatives to not believe any rumours, the statement said.
“He reassured the representatives that nobody’s land would be taken away and Government land would be used for the establishment of industries, hospitals and educational institutions. This would not only create employment opportunities for the locals but also enhance tax revenues for the State, which in turn would be used for the welfare of the people,” the statement said.
In his meeting with fruit growers from the state, Shah said it was essential to change the atmosphere and bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the mainstream, the statement said.
He told the representatives, “… your fight is against terrorism, as is ours; hence we should ensure an atmosphere of peace in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest”.
In another meeting with representatives of the people displaced from Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he assured them that they are being considered for inclusion in the scheme under which displaced families registered in Jammu and Kashmir are given financial assistance. The delegation comprised the displaced people who were initially registered in various States of India but later settled in J&K.
All three delegations congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Minister for the courageous step of abolishing Articles 370 and 35A, the statement said.
The representatives of fruit growers expressed their concern regarding the possibility of unsold and wasted produce. Shah reassured them by saying that the Government is in touch with concerned agencies to resolve the issue. He noted that with the abrogation of Article 370, the benefits of various Government schemes like PM Fasal Bima Yojana would reach all farmers of Jammu and Kashmir now.
Shah said it was essential to change the atmosphere and bring the people of Jammu and Kashmir into mainstream.
Union Minister of State in PMO and Lok Sabha member from Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary constituency, Dr Jitendra Singh lauded the Sarpanchs for defying diktats and boycott calls of Hurriyat Conference, separatists and militants and participating in the Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir in large numbers.
“This has proved that the Sarpanchs are true representatives of Jammu and Kashmir and they represent new and genuine emerging leadership in the Valley,” Dr Jitendra Singh said.
He said the Central Government’s initiatives will lead to massive development in the State including the rural areas through Panchayats.
The Sarpanchs said they will give new leadership to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, where politics earlier was dominated by few families.
Anil Sharma, president, All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference, who led 25-member delegation of Sarpanchs in meeting with the Union Home Minister, told the Excelsior from New Delhi that Shah conceded majority of their demands including insurance cover and protection.
“We told the Home Minister that 17 to 18 Panchayat members have been killed by the militants and they should be given security and insurance cover. The Home Minister was very positive,” he said.
Zuber Nishad Bhat, a village head from Harvan in Srinagar district, told reporters after meeting Shah that the Home Minister assured them that the mobile phone services in the State will be restored in the next 15-20 days and Rs 2 lakh insurance coverage will be provided to all of them.
Mobile, landline and internet connectivity was snapped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, when the Centre announced the revocation of the State’s special status and its bifurcation into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Mir Junaid, a Sarpanch from Kupwara, said they have requested the Home Minister to provide them security and “he has assured us that the administration will provide us security”.
The security will be given to those Panchayat members whose threat perception is high, Junaid, also a former president of Kashmir University Students Union, told reporters after the meeting in the Union capital.
Junaid said Shah assured them that the election to the Block Development Councils will be held in next two months. There are 316 blocks in Jammu and Kashmir.
“People are happy due to the abrogation of Article 370 as they were intimidated by the Muftis and the Abdullahs in the past,” he said.
Nazir Ahmed, a Sarpanch from Ganderbal district, said there is complete normalcy in rural areas.
Manoj Pandita, a Sarpanch from Pulwama, said the Home Minister told them that they should visit each village and each household and convey the benefits of removing Article 370.
Ali Mohammad, a Sarpanch from Srinagar district, said they were keen to carry forward development work but needed uninterrupted funds.
Bobita Bhat, a Sarpanch from Pulwama, expressed similar sentiments.
Neelam Kaul, a Sarpanch of Kulgam, said she has urged the Home Minister to increase the honorarium of Rs 2,500 given to each Panch and Sarpanch and the Home Minister assured that he would consider it.