Omar Hails Indo-Pak Dialogue19 July 2011
Poonch: Welcoming Indo-Pak dialogue, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Tuesday said that better relations between the two neighbours are sine-quo-non for peace and progress in the sub-continent. “The thaw in ties between the two countries and peace in the area always accrue dividends to Jammu and Kashmir”, he said expressing best wishes for the successful progress of talks. Omar said that from the day first his Government took over it worked for better Indo-Pak relations and supported peaceful settlement of all issues between the two countries through a process of sustained dialogue. “We will continue to work in this direction”, he asserted. Addressing the newly elected panchayat members of Surankote, Poonch and Mendhar Assembly constituencies at three separate functions after inaugurating 4-day orientation training camps at these places, the Chief Minister said that peace is must to address all issues of social, economic and political nature. Omar said that creation of economic activities, generation of employment and holistic development depend on peace and tranquility, as such, all of us have to join hands to create peace and move forward on road to progress and resolve issues. He said the people living in border areas best know the benefits of calmness at borders which enables them carry on their normal life activities smoothly. “They are the first who have to bear the brunt of uncertainty at borders”, he added explaining the benefits of peace for everyone. Equating development and social justice with empowerment of people at grass-roots, the Chief Minister said that faster and balanced progress in hilly, remote and backward areas is associated with the establishment of local self government. “Panchayats and urban local bodies are right institutions to look after local needs and plan area specific development as per the aspirations of the residence of these areas”, he said terming strong democratic institutions imperative for equitable progress of all areas. Omar Abdullah said that reaching out to people across the State on development front is the benchmark of his government and his current programme of interaction with panchs and sarpanchs constituency wise is aimed at giving patient hearing to public representatives and listen their suggestions about strengthening of panchayat system in the State. “We are giving you powers to the degree possible so that you are able to provide best services to the people not only in the rural development sector but in the sectors of communication, consumer affairs and public distribution, social welfare, health, education and other related sectors”, he told them asking for honest, dedicated and fair service to the people. He said effective, scrupulous and powerful panchayats can act as an important agent of socio-economic change and help in addressing the local problems to a greater extent. Omar said that in a State like Jammu and Kashmir, the decisions on development fronts cannot be taken at the secretariat or provincial level. “We need basic units of power and decision making to accommodate public requirements and plan area specific development”, he said adding that panchayats will act as these units of power and delivery. The Chief Minister said that a high level committee under Chief Secretary has identified the road map for transfer of functions, functionaries and funds to the panchayats and this would be announced soon after the Cabinet approval. He said that power necessarily carry with it responsibilities as such panchs and sarpanchs have to be prepared to render their service to people with highest degree of responsibility and care. Omar said that the administration at all levels has been sensitized about the role and authority of panchayats in the process of development adding that elected public representatives and the local administration has to work together to deliver and ensure benefits of funds reach to the people at all levels. “Every panch and sarpanch will be given photo identity card to enable him to discuss public issues with officers without any difficulty of identification”, he said adding that the oath taking of panchayat members will begin soon. The Chief Minister said that after halqa panchayats, block and district panchayat councils would be established to involve these institutions in the development activities at block and district levels. He said a 3-tier strong and effective panchayat system in the State is in offing after a gap of over 33 years. “The success of this system will be the success of democracy and elected public representatives”, he added.