Jammu, Jan 18: Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Law and Justice Abdul Haq Khan on Thursday said the government is committed to strengthen the democracy at grassroots level by holding Panchayat elections.
“All arrangements are being put in place to ensure smooth conduct of the polls and the formal notification in this regard will be issued soon by the competent authority,” the Minister said while winding up the debate on the Demand for Grants of the Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and allied Departments in the Legislative Assembly today.
The Minister enumerated in detail the achievements of Rural Development department during the past three years and outlined the future plans of the Department.
He said the department has laid a network of roads, bridges and culverts in the state under MGNREGA scheme that has changed the socio-economic status of the rural populace.
Stating that the improved implementation of RDD schemes has given flip to the rural economy, Minister said the department has done tremendously well in all facets of human endeavour and a silent revolution is taking place in rural areas.
He said the coalition government under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is relentlessly focusing on energizing rural economy as engine of growth and that the government is uplifting rural poor through a number of key initiatives related to rural housing & infrastructure, farm income, job creation and entrepreneurship promotion.
Mr Haq said since the launch of MGNREGA in the State, Rural Development department has for the first time done some commendable works which has been acknowledged at national level and has also won many awards in last three years.
He said the department shunned its tradition of constructing lanes and drains on political considerations and instead concentrated on building a network of roads, culverts and other durable assets while providing job to lakhs of unemployed youths of the state and added that the department has witnessed several changes during last three years in its emphasis, approaches, strategies and programmes and has assumed a new dimension and perspectives as a consequence rural development has been richer and more meaningful only through the participation of people as people are now actively participating in Gram Sabhas.
He said during the last three years department has set short terms missions with an aim to create durable assets for the people of rural areas while jobs are created under MGNREGA.
He said though the prime aim of the scheme is to create jobs but if simultaneously durable assets are created that would be blessing for the area.
Minister said the department identified the rural connectivity a major issue in rural areas and hence took up the task to focus on rural connectivity in first two years. He said the department constructed 679 bridges, 2283 culverts, 31337 roads during past three years that speaks volumes about the success of the implementation of this scheme in rural J&K.
Minister said also took up the task to build sports infra in rural areas to help youth to showcase their talent and in this regard the department constructed 561 play fields.
He said Government is making all out efforts to promote sports activities in the State by providing requisite facilities to youth.
He said the department is using the flagship program to generate employment and creation of durable assets in rural areas of the state adding that funds are utilized for creating productive assets in the rural areas instead of squandering the same on unproductive works and focus is being laid for improving connectivity in villages, flood protection works and creating durable and useful assets for villages.
He said the department has also constructed 2696 ponds, 885 check dams , 3617 water harvesting tanks , 561 play fields, 72 fisheries ponds, 55 Anganwari centres, renovation of 4622 traditional water bodies and 20143 micro irrigation works while providing jobs to 23.90 lac persons.
He said the department had an available budget of Rs 2800.63 crores in past three years out of which Rs 2458.31 crore have been spend. He said in 2017-18, Rs 819.80 crore has been spend out of the total available budget of Rs 1138.37 crore.
Minister said now when the department has been able to lay a web of roads and culverts, the department will shift the focus to water conservation and stress will be laid on the initiatives to conserve water. He said main focus will be on water harvesting in Kandi areas including construction of Water harvesting tanks, Check dams and other small dams in upper belts to conserve the water.
The Minister also stated that the government is committed to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level and he has directed the field officers to organise Gram Sabhas so that people of the villages decide themselves about the development works to be taken up in their village and not the contractors or officials. He said the Gram Sabhas should play a vibrant role in effective execution of the developmental programmes by taking advantage of the flagship schemes like MGNREGA. Minister said he has directed officers to create awareness among masses and persuade them to participate in Gram Sabhas so that they can be part of the decision making process at the grassroot level.
He said he has also directed the officials to make the decisions of Gram Sabhas public soon after its commencement that will ensure transparency in plans and no work will be included without the approval of the Gram Sabhas.
Giving details about introduction of technology to monitor the assets, the Minister said all the assets in the districts have been geo-tagged and is a touchstone of transparency that will enforce better monitoring, recording and management of development works at the cutting edge level.
He said to bring transparency and accountability in the system one ombudsman will be shortly engaged for two districts in the state to look into any complaints.
He said the Department achieved another milestone in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the State by adopting e-FMS. The system allows direct transfer of fund from State Account to Job card holder’s Account, reducing human intervention at bare minimum level, thereby considerably reducing delays in wage payment.
Under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna, Minister said 15081 beneficiaries have been registered while 9655 houses are under construction and Rs 52.82 crore have been spend so far out of the total available budget of Rs 123.94 crore. He said the department has also received Rs 26.60 crore for clearing the liability of IAY.
While talking about the success of State Rural Livelihoods Missions’ Umeed scheme, the minister said that the biggest success of UMEED scheme in the state is that it has boosted the self esteem and self confidence of women folk especially living in rural areas. He said the scheme has not only helped the women to earn their livelihood and contribute in the family income but has also boosted their morale, self esteem and self confidence so much so that they are now actively participating in decision making process in their villages.
Minister said currently that 2.08 lac women are associated with the 22270 Self Helf Groups formed under the scheme in 68 blocks of the state. He said 206 Automatic Milk Collection Centres (AMC’s) established under this scheme has recorded a turnover of Rs 6.67 crore since 2016-17 and has sold about 24.27 lac kilograms of milk. He said the AMCs are managed and operated by the women associated with the SHGs and have registered success in every intervention so far.
Abdul Haq further stated that JKSRLM has also been entrusted with the responsibility of training and placing over 1.24 lakh JK youth with an allocation of Rs 1,601.51 crore for a period of three years under Himayat Scheme. He said so far 948 youths are undergoing Skill Development Training in five training centres across the country while two new training centres will be started in next two years. He said the government is bearing all the financial expenses of the training including lodging, boarding, transport and the fees of these trainees.
He said in this regard the department has received an amount of Rs 104.24 crores and has spent Rs 45.21 crore so far. He said an additional target of 10790 individual will be allotted to five identified PIAs who had earlier target of training 11952 youths.
He said Himayat is a skill development cum placement programme for unemployed youth in J&K under the umbrella of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gramin Koushalaya Yojna (DDU-GKY), Union Ministry of Rural Development with focus on sustainable employment for rural poor youth
Under Swach Bharat Scheme the minister stated that there are 1075604 households without toilets while the department has covered 360411 households till the end of year 2017 and has spent Rs 263 .35 crore out of the received budget of Rs 350.62 crore.
He said Leh and Kargil has already been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) while 12 blocks and 146 Gram Panchayats have been declared ODF. He said 2210 Community Sanitary Complexes have also been completed so far under this scheme.
Under Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP), minister said the objective of the program is to conserve natural resources like soil and water, improve the water table, restore the ecological balance, increase vegetation cover and provide livelihood to asset-less people. He said under the program the department has taken steps to conserve the runoff water and soil by way of construction of rain water harvesting tanks, recharge pits, percolation tanks, check dams, development of spring, farm ponds and bowlies etc.