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LS Speaker advises par panels to regularly visit far-flung areas in J&K, Ladakh, NE

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Pledges to organise training, capacity-building programmes for PRI representatives

Srinagar: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday advised the parliamentary standing committees to undertake regular study tours of far-flung areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh as well as the northeastern states and suggest possible solutions for mitigation of grievances of local people.

Birla stated this after inaugurating the ‘Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the Empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions of Jammu and Kashmir’ at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre here.

Addressing Panchayat leaders from across Jammu and Kashmir, Birla said with the holding of local elections in the union territory, democracy has strengthened at the grassroots level and democratic institutions have become more answerable to people.

“Jammu and Kashmir is moving towards peace, prosperity and development. And I invite all Panchayat leaders to visit parliament in the national capital. The Lok Sabha Secretariat will organise training and capacity-building programmes for you,” Birla said.

The programme was attended by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha; Union Minister of State for Ministries of Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries, Prahlad Singh Patel; Union Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale; Union Minister of State, Ministry of Education, Annpurna Devi; Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Member of Parliament from Srinagar among others.

Outlining that the objective of the outreach programme is to make democratic institutions at the grass-root level stronger and more transparent and accountable, 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.

“Empowered Panchayats will make our democracy stronger, and will increase confidence of the people at large,” he said.

He said that democracy in India has been strengthened over the period of time. “The hopes and aspirations of the people have been fulfilled to a large extent and now India is leading the world community in the journey of democracy,” he said.

Birla also said “it is democracy which connects our diversities and makes us a collective force,” and stressed that “our collective force can help us to overcome the adversities that impede our progress”.

According to an official press release, he 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, and 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 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.

Suggesting that development should start from the bottom as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Independence, Birla appealed for active participation of the people in democratic institutions and democratic processes.

Birla also said that formulation of SoPs for democratic institutions is the need of the hour to facilitate the smooth conduct of their proceedings, and appealed to the democratic institutions at the grass-root level in Jammu and Kashmir to devise their rules and procedures for structured functioning and fulfillment of people’s hopes and aspirations.

Speaking on this occasion, Union Minister of State for the Ministries of Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries Prahlad Singh Patel referred to various government schemes like Pradhan Mantri AwasYojana, Jal Jeevan Mission and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana that have reached the intended beneficiaries in the recent past.

He said that in democracy, Panchayats have a significant role in channelizing of the fruits of development at the grass-root level. Patel also said that government schemes, which have been overseen by the representatives of local bodies, have improved the way of life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Later at a press conference, Birla said he would advise all parliamentary committees to regularly visit remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the northeastern states.

“I would suggest all parliamentary standing committees to regularly go on study visits to far-flung areas of UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and north-eastern states. The aim of these visits would be to understand the ground realities and suggest possible solutions for mitigating grievances of the local people,” Birla said.

During his visit, Birla visited remote areas of both UTs such as Pangong Tso Lake and Pahalgam and interacted with local Panchayat leaders. He is scheduled to visit Gulmarg on Wednesday.

In the last few months, 13 parliamentary committees and more than 300 MPs have visited the Kashmir Valley and more than 200 MPs have visited Ladakh.

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