Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla inaugurated the Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre, Srinagar, yesterday.
Besides Shri Birla, the programme was attended by Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Manoj Sinha; Union Minister of State for Ministries of Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel; Union Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri RamdasAthawale; Union Minister of State, Ministry of Education, Smt. Annpurna Devi; Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Member of Parliament from Srinagar, Former Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Nirmal Kumar Singh, Members of Parliament and other eminent dignitaries.
Outlining that the objective of the Outreach Programme is to make our democratic institutions at the grass-root level stronger and more transparent and accountable, Shri Birla said that democratic institutions like Gram Panchayats can make people’s lives better and for that collective and coordinated efforts are needed at the ground level. He said that Empowered Panchayats will make our democracy stronger and will increase confidence of the people at large.
Shri Birla lauded the developments in Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and said that the UT is on the path of peace, progress and development. The Speaker observed that collective and coordinated efforts by democratic institutions at the grass-root level would take the fruits of development to the last man standing in the row. He emphasized that democratic institutions need to fulfill their responsibilities as agents of development to make the country, including the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, Aatmanirbhar. He further said that Jammu and Kashmir has the potential and skill in the fields of tourism, handicrafts and agri-products and grass root level democratic institutions should work in the direction of providing a marketing platform to them at the national and international level. He hoped that Jammu and Kashmir would lead the country in development and employment.
On this occasion, he also assured that elaborate arrangements would be made by Lok Sabha Secretariat for capacity-building programmes for representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the Union Territory. He hoped that properly trained representatives would be able to work professionally which would ultimately make a qualitative change in the lives of the people. Shri Birla further informed that he would suggest to the Parliamentary Standing Committees to undertake regular Study Visits to the far flung areas of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to understand the ground realities and possible solutions for mitigation of grievances of the local people.
Suggesting that development should start from the bottom as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Independence, Shri Birla appealed for active participation of the people in democratic institutions and democratic processes. He felt that elections to local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir have strengthened our democracy and this process would ultimately help the people.