Voters want empowerment of Panchayats

People in a long queue to cast their votes at a polling booth in Samba on Saturday. —Excelsior/Gautam
People in a long queue to cast their votes at a polling booth in Samba on Saturday. —Excelsior/Gautam

Hope elected Reps will tackle drug menace

Avtar Bhat
SAMBA, Dec 1: Increasing drug menace in twin districts of Samba and Kathua, relief from water scarcity and rising power crisis as well as development of their respective Panchayat halqas dominated issues for the voters who exercised their franchise in twin Assembly segments of Samba and Vijaypur in this district during ongoing Panchayat elections today.
In almost every polling booth where the Excelsior team visited today to see the voters response to the polling, the public in general wanted to get rid of increasing drug menace which if not controlled will ruin the younger generation completely. This was the main demand of the people almost in every Panchyat Halqa of the twin districts.
Ravinder Jamwal of Panchayat Halqa Upper, Birpur whose wife Veena Jamwal is contesting as Sarpanch from this reserved Panchayat Halqa said “drug addiction has ruined our generation and we hope that the new Panchs and Sarpanchs will launch a crusade with the support of public and Government against this menace so that the promising future of the youth is not ruined”.
Shiv Karan Singh of Ward No 3 Upper Birpur, who had just returned after casting his vote, said that they are fed up with drug addiction and alcoholism. The youth in the Kandi belt are falling a prey to the same. He said “we are hopeful that with the constitution of Panchayats, the newly elected representatives will take some serious steps at village level in curbing this menace”.
The development was another major issue for the people in this belt and the voters are hopeful that after the election of Panchs and Sarpanchs they will take steps for development of their areas by taking up the issues with the Government and seek special funds as well as motivate the Legislators or Parliament members to provide some assistance from their CDF or MPLAD Fund for the development of the area, said Ramesh Jamwal a youth from the area who was on way to cast his vote.
As elections are called as festival of democracy there was really a festive look in front of each and every polling booth and around them with men, women the children had gathered to enjoy the occasion. At some polling booths, people were also seen in queues from the early morning waiting for their turn to cast the votes.
Interestingly in almost all areas the participation of women voters was in no way less than their male partners and at some polling booths women had outnumbered men in casting their votes.
In Upper Birpur Panchayat Halqa, six ladies were trying their luck and all have promised sky but it will be seen after election of Sarpanch how far they can fulfill the promises and develop the village, said Veena Devi of Birpur. Every candidate has promised development of their Ward and Panchayat Halqa besides launching a crusade against drug menace but will they succeed, the time will only tell, she added.
The people in different Panchayat Halqas in the Kandi belt of Vijaypur and Samba Assembly segments have different problems. At some places, people face acute scarcity of drinking water as well as power crisis. The electric wires are lying in precarious condition and can turn as death traps if not repaired, said Anjli who cast her vote in a polling booth of Ward No 2 which was housed in Government Middle School , Kotli Birpur Zone in Vijaypur Assembly Segment.
She said “we are hopeful that new representatives will take care of development of the area which has been totally neglected over the years”.
However, at many places it was seen that the candidates contesting the elections especially women were not knowing what role they have to perform after their election and it seemed that they were contesting as proxy candidates of their husbands. Salma Bibi, who is contesting as Panch from Ward No 2 from Panchayat Halqa Rajpur Koular was ignorant of her role or the issues she will raise or can solve after her election. She could not reply what role she will play after her election and said she will do whatever she will be asked to do by the people .
However, some conscious people at various Panchayats including Panchayat Halqa Rajpora Koular in Panchayat Halqa Birpur Upper and Birpur Lower said that holding of Panchayat elections can’t serve purpose till Panchayats are empowered. The main stress of people including some former Sarpanchs and Panchs in this belt was implementation of 73rd Amendment of Indian Constitution to give teeth to Panchayats in the State and strengthen democracy at grass root level. Both Gautam Sing, ex -Sarpanch and Raghdev Singh Jamwal, who is contesting as Panch from Ward 3 in Upper Birpur, said there is no fun of holding the Panchayat poll till implementation of 73rd Amendment of Indian Constitution.
Punjab Singh whose wife, Kanta Devi is contesting from the Ward as Panch candidate said there can’t be development with meager funds allocated to Panchayat and without the legislators and MPs support the problem will remain as it is. He also stressed empowerment of Panchayats in the State by implementing 73rd Amendment.
Ganga Ram who is a Panch candidate from Ward No 7 Lower Khara Madana Panchayat in Purmandal Block of Samba district said that he will work for the development of the area while Shakeel Ahmed from Ward No 4 of the same Panchayat said that no development has taken place during last 50 years in their area. His main agenda was to get the money released for girls which the Government has deposited for their marriage from the time of their birth as in various cases in the area, the money was not released to girl child on their marriage, he added.


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