Other States

J&K Chief Secretary pledges support to elected representatives

In the wake of the allegations by elected representatives of being neglected and sidelined, J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta on Monday met chairpersons of the District Development Councils (DDCs) and pledged support in strengthening the institutions.

In his first official meeting since he assumed the office last week, Chief Secretary Mehta described the elected representatives of the third-tier government, including the District Development Councils, Block Development Councils and Panchayats, as ‘the foundation of vibrant grassroots democracy’.

“These institutions have given expression to the local needs in the Union Territory. They should stay abreast with the ground realities, local needs and issues.”

He said the devolution of powers with respect to 29 functions enumerated in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution has further strengthened the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in J&K.

“Although the reforms have recently been introduced in the UT, J&K has rigorously implemented the provisions in letter and spirit and has caught up with better performing States and UTs in empowering the PRIs as institutions for local government and project planning and implementation,” he said.

He also called upon the District Development Councils ‘to encourage participatory democracy during plan formation through wider public outreach and participation’.

There has been voices of concern raised by the elected representatives in parts of J&K, especially in the Valley, that DDC chairpersons were not being consulted by top officials while framing the development policy of the districts. They had even sought the intervention of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to ensure participation of the elected DDC members in such meetings.

An official spokesman said the DDC chairpersons apprised the Chief Secretary of district-specific needs and issues faced by them.

“The Chief Secretary assured the DDCs of extended support and assistance towards progressive strengthening of the PRIs and effective implementation of various provisions enshrined in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. He directed the divisional and district administrations to extend support and cooperation to the members of the DDCs and the BDCs.

The Panchayats, DDCs and BDCs are the only elected institutions in J&K after the BJP withdrew its support from the Peoples Democratic Party in 2018. After the Centre ended J&K’s special status in August 2019, elections to these institutions were seen as new layers of representation in the UT, where the Assembly polls are nowhere in sight.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 9:26:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-chief-secretary-pledges-support-to-elected-representatives/article34757010.ece

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