Empowering Grassroots Democracy Govt devolves major works in PDD, Forest Dept to PRIs

TNN Bureau. Updated: 6/20/2019 11:39:08 AM Front Page

Panchayats to look after electrification, system strengthening, loss reduction works; Social Forestry dev programmes, activities

SRINAGAR: In a major moved aimed at strengthening the grassroots democracy, the State government on Wednesday devolved to the Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, the important powers and responsibilities concerning the electricity sector being handled by Power Development Department (PDD) as well as a number of schemes and activities of Social Forestry Department.
The government has ordered the devolution of electrification, system strengthening, loss reductions works in PDD to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), while various development programmes, schemes and activities relating to Social Forestry Department have also been devolved to PRIs.
According to an order issued by PDD, the Government has directed the devolution in exercise of powers conferred under sub-section 4 of section 12 of the Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 (amended up to October 2018).
With this, the 4483 panchayats of State would now identify left out houses, or new constructions for electrification, which would also include public installations like Schools, Panchayats, Hospitals, Religious places etc, and report the same to the concerned Sub Divisional Officer of JKPDD for electrification.
Under vision "24x7 quality power" for all, JKPDD has taken up metering of unmetered consumers in the State, which includes consumers in rural areas as well.
It would now be the duty of the Panchayats to make the consumers aware about judicious use of electricity through metering and cooperate in installing meters in unmetered rural areas so as to achieve 100% metering in the State, the order states.
With a view to reduce time of interruption of power supply to consumers in rural areas due to transformer damage, line faults, damage to lines due to rain, snow, wind storm or floods and other such reasons, the Panchayats would report the matter to concerned SDO promptly so that restoration is carried out on fast track basis.
“The Panchayats shall also maintain the monthly interruption statements of each village and submit the same to the concerned SDO for taking up the distribution stabilization works so that interruptions are reduced and reliable and quality power supply is provided to the rural areas,” the order adds.
Further, it says the JKPDD, has taken up repair work of distribution system by way of replacing barbed wire, worn-out/sub-standard poles and conductors. The Panchayats shall identify such assets which are a safety hazard and source of high technical loss, so that same are replaced in a phased manner, it mentions.
The order also states that towards conservation of energy through Demand Side Management (DSM), the Panchayats shall promote use of Energy Efficient LED Lamps, Fans, Standard Water Heating Elements and other home appliances.
“The Panchayats shall make consumers aware about the risk involved with the use of the sub-standard appliances and the huge losses/overloading of the system leading to damage of DTs which these appliances cause and shall promote use of heating elements which bear ISl mark. All water heating elements shall be provided with automatic -thermal-cut off so that element is switched 'Off automatically when desired temperature of water is reached,” the order mentions.
The order also mentions that Panchayats shall identify the unregistered consumers and assist the department in bridging the gap between ration card holders and electrified household. The Panchayats shall also identify those consumers who require revision of agreement as per living standard/load in use so as to achieve 100% registration of electrified households/load in use and minimize the gap between energy supplied and energy billed.
The PDD order says the Department is presently facing difficulties with regard to acquisition of land for a number of Sub-stations and Right of Way (RoW) issues while constructing HT/LT lines. “Panchayats shall help the Department in land acquisition and resolving of RoW issues so that these schemes are completed in a time-bound manner and benefit of schemes reaches general public.”
Further, Panchayats shall install and maintain street lights for lighting streets and other public places during religious and other public gatherings under funding from district plans.
“With a view to promote generation and consumption of renewable energy, Panchayats shall plan, establish, maintain and promote small conventional and non-conventional energy units like solar, including roof top solar panel installation, biogas, wind mill, micro hydro electricity plants etc. The excess non-conventional energy shall be sold to others as per the regulations issued by JKSERC,” the order adds.
Similarly, another order issued by Department of Forest, Environment & Ecology said that the Government has directed for the devolution of programmes/schemes and activities specified in item 3 of Schedule I-A relating to Social Forestry to Panchayati Raj Institutions.
The order says that panchayats shall carry afforestation on wasteland, development of social forestry and farm forestry, and disposal of social forestry produce.
Works like growing trees for cattle feed, firewood and fruits, implementation of farm forestry, establishment of nurseries and their management, planning and implementation of social forestry and farm forestry projects, planting and preservation of trees on the roadside and other public places under control of Halqa Panchayat shall also be done by panchayats, besides Identification of sites for CAMPA/afforestation activities under different schemes and plans.
Constitution of fire protection committees to assist the Forest Department in extinguishing forest fires in coordination with the local people shall be work of panchayats.
Further, the order states that the sites for various afforestation works under all the schemes, wherever feasible/applicable will be identified and proposed in consultation with concerned Halqa Panchayat.
The plans under different afforesation schemes/ sectors will be formulated by the concerned Divisional Forest Officers (SF) in consultation with concerned Village Committees in terms relevant SROs and also in consultation with concerned Halqa Panchayat.
The fencing shall be procured as per the standing norms & will be done through concerned Panchayats wherever `e-tendering' is not required, the order says.
The order also mentions that the plants shall continue to be provided by the Department. However, digging of pits and planting will be done by the existing regular and non-regular staff of the Department and also through the seasonal labour to be provided by the Panchayats under supervision of concerned Block Officer/Range Officer, followed by monitoring by DFO and Regional Director.
“The labour work from seasonal labourers will be hired exclusively by the concerned Halqa Panchayats on a day-to-day basis for execution of plantation related works, as per the plantation targets,” the order says.
Whereas, the watch and ward of the plantations shall continue to be done by the existing staff of the Department together with concerned Village Forest Committees and concerned Halqa Panchayat.
The monitoring evaluation and audit of all the works will be done as per the prescribed norms and rules, however the Panchayats shall be involved in inspections & checking of the works, the order adds.
Besides, the Sarpanch/Panch (as the case may be) will function as Ex-Officio Chairman of Village Executive Committee instead of selection by Village Committee (General Body).
The order also mentions that maintenance and protection of plantation shall be joint responsibility of the Department, and concerned Village Forest Committee/Panchayat.
“The concerned Panchayats will encourage village people to participate in establishing village wood lots by explaining the benefits to be obtained from community plantation and assist the Department in demarcating areas of wastelands on which plantation is to be done.
“They will also explain the advantages of the afforestation programmes to the people in their respective areas and report their progress regularly to the concerned Divisional Forest Officer (SF),” the order says.
The funds for the aforementioned works (wherever required as per the service), shall be placed at the disposal of the concerned Panchayats by the Department of Social Forestry under relevant schemes/sectors, the order adds.

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