Janbaghidari is key to efficient development

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In June this year, Jammu and Kashmir will complete four years under direct central rule without having a local assembly or local representatives to run the government. It is second largest spell of direct central rule after the then state reeled under Governor’s rule from 1990 to 1996. The only difference is that those days, the situation was very volatile while as since then there has been a lot of improvement. But fact of the matter is that common Kashmiris feel a disconnect with the government in absence of their representatives who know and understand the issues confronting them. In this scenario, the present dispensation needs to be more open and transparent and share with the public whatever developmental works are under taken.

In this backdrop government’s launching of web portal EMPOWERMENT (Enabling Monitoring and Public Overview of Works Being Executed and Resources for Meaningful Transparency) or ‘Janbaghidari’ which enables citizens to overview works/projects being implemented in their areas and become a partner in the process of development with the features of providing timely feedbacks and suggestions for improving expenditure outcomes, is a welcome sign. The initiative is a path-breaking one that would promote transparency in execution of developmental projects across the Union Territory. As mentioned, umpteenth times in these columns, transparency has something that always lacked in Jammu and Kashmir as far as developmental works are concerned. The entire system was opaque with the real stakeholders – the people – having no idea what is being spend on what. People would notice discrepancies in execution of developmental works but had no one to complain to as there was never any such mechanism in place that would enable them to register their concerns. As the result, most of the developmental works would not be upto the mark thus the state exchequer would go down the drain.

The EMPOWERMENT portal is therefore a great step that would go a long way in ensuring that the developmental projects are completed as per the set norms. It has made the citizens as stakeholders in the developmental process. They can look for their projects of interest, have ample information and come up with their observations based on the realities on the ground. The only thing that the administration has to ensure that whatever the feedback is received from the citizenry, it is not brushed away in typical bureaucratic fashion but assessed and followed regularly. People on the ground are the best judges because they know that whatever developmental projects are taken up by the government are ultimately for their benefit. Therefore, once they know that their input is being taken seriously, they will definitely come up with constructive observations that would add to the efficiency of these projects. It is therefore necessary that the concerned authorities make the use of this portal result oriented by taking each and every feedback from the citizenry seriously and thus do the needful.

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