Inadequate infra

TNN Bureau. Updated: 4/27/2022 11:53:05 AM Edit and Opinion

Around 1,400 Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir are functioning either in rented accommodations or under open sky as they don’t have own buildings. Moreover, only 318 Panchayats in the Union Territory don’t have computers—a claim strongly contested by Panchayat representatives. The Jammu and Kashmir has a total of 4,291 Gram Panchayats out of which 1,388 Panchayats don’t have Panchayat Bhawans, notwithstanding the fact that the Central government had been providing liberal funding for raising infrastructure in Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir. As far as availability of computers in Gram Panchayats is concerned, there are only 318 Panchayats which don’t have computers, while only 358 Gram Panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir have active or operational Wi-Fi facility. The UT president of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, Anil Sharma, rejected the government claims that only 318 Panchayats don’t have computers in Jammu and Kashmir. “I would rather say that even 318 Panchayats don’t have a computer facility in Panchayats. The official statistics are quite misleading. Our Panchayats still don’t have basic facilities including toilets, leave aside the facility of computers and Wi-Fi,” Sharma said, adding “there is a need to create adequate infrastructure for Panchayats to make them vibrant institutions”. Pertinently, Government of India has started BharatNet project to provide broadband connectivity to all the Gram Panchayats in a phased manner. Till February 2022, a total of 1, 72,361 GPs (1, 68,010 GPs on OFC and 4,351 GPs on satellite) have been made Service Ready in the country. The government of India has provided a whopping amount of Rs 1,858 crore to Jammu and Kashmir from 2015-16 to 2018-19 for the welfare of Panchayats including improvement of infrastructure under 14th Finance Commission. An amount of Rs 1049.49 crore was allocated for Jammu and Kashmir as final installment of 14th Finance Commission in 2019-20 but no funds were released because J&K was granted the status of Union Territory on August 5, 2019. Thereafter, J&K was not provided the first installment of 15th Finance Commission in the year 2020-21. Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India, supplements the efforts of the States through Central Finance Commission Grants and Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA). The RGSA scheme provides financial and technical support to the states for Capacity Building and Training of elected representatives and functionaries of PRIs with focus on Gram Panchayat Development Plan so as to enable them to discharge their mandated functions effectively.

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