J&K Panchayat members protests against RDD for freezing Funds

Jammu : All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, representative body of elected PRI members on Tuesday held a protest against the Jammu and Kashmiradministration for its decision to freeze the funds for further utilization that were already available with the Panchayats under 14th Finance Commission.

Panches and Sarpanches from different areas of Jammu division participated in the protest.

The protestors while raising slogans against the Commissioner/secretary Rural Development condemned the officer for her dictatorial approach and undermining the Panchayati Raj Institutions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Anil Sharma, president of the AJKPC here told reporters that an order has been issued by the office of Commissioner/Secretary Rural Development wherein all the BDOs have been asked to freeze the funds available with the Panchayats under 14th Finance Commission and submit amount surrender statement by Janyary 22.

Sharma intimated that earlier the union government had issued an order wherein the deadline for utilization of these funds (under 14th FC) was fixed till March 31, 2023 and all the PRI members and the officers of the Rural development department were working accordingly, but out of blue, government order No. 21-JK(RD & PR) of 2023 dated 16/01/2023 has been issued without any application of mind or taking any brief and inputs from the PRI members, Block Development Officers or district level officers(ACDs) of the Rural development department.

“Earlier the e-tendering process took so much time and now when the time has come for execution of developmental work, this order for freezing of amount under 14th FC within 6 days has come as a big shock for the elected Panches and Sarpanches as they are accountable to the people unlike the bureaucrats sitting in their cozy chambers of civil secretariat and sipping exotic coffee and juices”, Sharma lamented.

The other protestors also vowed to continue such protests outside the civil secretariat if such an authoritarian order is not rescinded back by the government.

They said, the PRI members laid down their lives for strengthening democracy in J&K and bridging the gap between the people and government but the officers instead recognizing the sincere efforts of the PRI members are hell bent to make them laughing stock in the eyes of the citizens.

The protesting Panches and Sarpanches demanded that the deadline for utilization of these funds be relaxed till 31/March/2023 as earlier stated by the union government and the Gram Sabhas be delegated powers to utilize these funds and to allot work to the local educated youth because otherwise all the time would be lost in completing formalities of inviting e-tenders, fixing eligibility criteria of contractors and finalizing the rates etc.