Srinagar: In a first of its kind, the J&K Government has embarked on an ambitious initiative of reaching out to the people at the grassroots level through a programme named as ‘Back to the Village’. The programme is being organized from June 20-27, 2019 across all Panchayats of the state.
To describe the contours of the programme, Chief Secretary on Friday held a marathon meeting here at the Civil Secretariat with the Administrative Secretaries. Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh besides Deputy Commissioners and HoDs of various departments participated in the meeting through video conferencing.
Specifying the objective of the programmme, Chief Secretary said that ‘Back to the Village’ programme will focus on four main goals viz energizing Panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery of government schemes/programmes, capturing specific economic potential and undertaking assessment of needs of the villages besides affording an opportunity to Gazetted officers to visit the villages.
He said the programmme will involve the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development across all our rural areas. The programme is primarily aimed at energizing the 4483 Panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation and to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living.
As part of this programme, Chief Secretary observed that each gazetted officer will be assigned a Gram Panchayat, where he/she will stay for atleast two days including a night halt in the village to interact and obtain feedback from the Panchayat representatives, elders and other local people about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential of the area. The feedback so obtained will help the government in needs assessment and subsequently to tailor the various central and state government schemes/programmes in improving delivery of village-specific services and making the village life better in terms improved amenities and economic upliftment.
Chief Secretary said ‘Back to the Village’ programme has been conceived with the notion that developmental initiatives that are built on the feedback and cooperation of the people are more result oriented and have greater probability to succeed than those which are top down. He added that the programme revolves around the concept that while the official machinery has to guide and assist, the primary responsibility to improve local conditions rests with the people themselves. Therefore, people must be encouraged to own the programme so that benefits are maximized for them.
To ensure smooth conduct of the programme, Chief Secretary said that officers will undergo programme familiarization training on June 15, 2019 at the divisional level and subsequently training will be organized at the district level. He directed the DCs to remain personally present during the training programmes for better understanding and coordination with the officers to be assigned the Panchayats in their districts.
While emphasizing upon the importance of Panchayats and their pivotal role in the overall rural development, Chief Secretary said that the life of a person living in a rural area is not cut into segments in the way the Government activities are prone to be. “The approach at the village level, therefore, has to be a coordinated one, touching all aspects of village life. Such an approach, has to be made, not through a multiplicity of departmental officials, but through Panchayats” he said and added that the essence of the ‘Back to the Village’ programme is to emphasize the importance of ensuring, right from the beginning, people’s participation, not merely as an agent in the execution of the development works but as owners of the entire programme.