Panchayats get officers under ‘Back to Village’ programme

JAMMU: The government on Tuesday allotted officers to panchayats across the state for the ‘Back to Village’ Programme, being organised from June 20 to June 27.

editorial@tribune.com

Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 18

The government on Tuesday allotted officers to panchayats across the state for the ‘Back to Village’ Programme, being organised from June 20 to June 27.

Under the ‘Back to Village’ programme, the state administration has assigned each gazetted officer a gram panchayat, where he or she will stay for at least two days, including a night halt in the village, to interact and obtain feedback from the panchayat representatives, elders and other locals about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential of the area.

As per the government, the programme is primarily aimed at “energising” the 4,483 panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery of government schemes, capturing specific economic potential and undertaking assessment of needs of the villages.

According to the order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), the government, at various levels, has detailed officers with other specific responsibilities for smooth conduct of the programme.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has already addressed a letter to administrative secretaries, divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners in this regard, seeking their involvement in the implementation of the programme. The chief secretary has also written to all deputy commissioners for their active involvement and participation in achieving the objectives of the programme.

Meanwhile, confusion over boarding and lodging of gazetted officers has overshadowed the excitement among elected panchayat members.

The elected sarpanches and panches are of the opinion that the panchayats do not have adequate infrastructure for “comfortable stay” of gazetted officers for two days and it would create an “awkward situation” for them if they and villagers fail to host the “guests respectfully”.

“Local officials asked us, though verbally, that we will have to arrange for proper stay and quality food for gazetted officers. We are given a meagre Rs 2,500 per month honorarium, besides there is no proper infrastructure in villages to ensure comfortable stay of officers,” a sarpanch of Bishanh block in Jammu district said.

Shafiq Mir, chairman of All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Conference, described the government initiative as “good and unique” but made it clear that sarpanches would not make any arrangement for stay of officers.

“The government must arrange boarding and lodging of all gazetted officers as this is not the responsibility of any sarpanch. Villagers always treat their visitor as their guest but they should not be burdened to make arrangements of stay and food for officers,” Mir said.

Rehana Batul, Director General, rural development and panchayat raj department, Jammu, however, claimed that the focus of the programme was to generate an honest feedback to improve basic amenities in rural areas. “The focus is not on arranging food and stay for gazetted officers. They can make a night halt at any government building, panchayat ghar or house of a prominent person or sarpanch,” she said.

To visit villages for two days

Under the ‘Back to Village’ programme, the state administration has assigned each gazetted officer a gram panchayat, where he or she will stay for at least two days, including a night halt in the village, to interact and obtain feedback from the panchayat representatives, elders and other locals about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential of the area. 

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