Rashid Paul

B2V: As Admin gears for 3rd round, people question deliverance post earlier phases

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Srinagar: Third phase of the Back to Village (B2V) programme which is set to begin October 02, is failing to enthuse common villagers who allege that the earlier two rounds of the programme have not delivered encouraging results.

The B2V programme, according to the administration, is aimed at directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation. It also wants to create among the villagers a serious desire for decent standard of living.

Two rounds of the programme have been concluded in which government officers left their offices for two days to attend to the village needs.

However, their words to transform the countryside Kashmir seem to have gone the politician’s way. Execution of the majority of the identified infrastructure works in the first and second phases is abysmally low, people say.

Official information reveals that 1607 petty works incurring an expenditure of Rs 165 crore have been taken up so far.

The erstwhile state has a rural population of 91,08,060 (2011 census) spread over 6,671 villages.

Distributing this amount means a village shall invite an average investment of Rs 2.47 lakh. The administration claims to monitor this spending using digital technology, say the officers.

But experts fear this petty funding cannot change the socioeconomic dynamics of the villages in Kashmir.

“The aspiration to have a better life is there for the past seven decades. But has the government been able to stimulate the rural economy? Has it been able to build up agricultural and rural infrastructure? Has it enabled the farmers’ access to quality inputs, technology and markets?” ask the observers.

Phrasing B2V as “an official spectacle”, Iqbal Ahmed, president Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Congress said, “It has neither energized the panchayats nor captured the specific economic potential of villages”.

The officers, according to the programme were supposed to collect feedback on delivery of government programmes. They were also tasked to undertake an assessment of needs of villages besides promising to execute the identified works.

Its two phases have concluded over the year and another one is in the offing. “But results are hardly visible,” said Iqbal.

“The situation of my native block of Achabal (south Kashmir) is as bad as rest of the 4483 Panchayat halqas spread across Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

About the promise of grant of Rs 10 lakh in favor of each Panchayat for execution of B2V works, he said, “the money is yet to be transferred to us.”

The non-observance of the official words in the two rounds of B2V is widening the trust-deficit between the subjects and the class exerting authority across the union territory.

Recent tendering of en mass resignations (copy lying with this newspaper) by Sarpanches of 15 panchayat halqas in Handwara (north Kashmir) is testimony of the growing disaffection with the administrative machinery.

Mega B2V functions were held by the officers in Bakahar, (Rajwar area of Handwara) also. “But on ground there is no improvement in either delivery of government services or development of infrastructure for the village community,” said Ashiq Ahmed, a village resident.

Nauseated at the mention of the campaign started in the June 2019, Nisar Ahmed Pir of Machipore Batakote (Handwara) said, “2000 people living in my village are yet to have drinking water facility. The pressing demand fell on deaf ears during the B2V campaign,” said Pir.

The impact of the exceedingly publicized programme is no different for Chill, the last village of the (Khansahib tehsil) in central Kashmir district of Budgam.

“A kind of jamboree was organized in this naturally beautiful village inhabited by 2900 people,” said the village Sarpanch, Fayaz Ahmed.

Construction of a bridge over Sukhnag Nallah that could connect them to the civilized world was the pressing demand of the villagers.

“One year has elapsed since the issue was flagged in the B2V programme, and even today we have to carry our ailing on ‘charpoys’ to cross the Nallah for reaching the nearest public health center. Many a children dropped their schooling midway as they were unable to traverse the river during rains,” the Sarpanch said.

“The village road was macadamized during the reign of Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammed — the last Prime Minister of the then autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir”, recollected the Sarpanch.

“The concept of B2V is beautiful. It could prove a stepping stone in taking democracy to the grass-roots thus ensuring participation of basic units of the society (villages) into the development of UT. But the question is of the deliverance,” say experts.

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