All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference—a registered organization working for strengthening the Panchayati Raj institutions on Monday staged protest against the Rural Development Department alleging the Bureaucracy of conspiring to undermine the authority and autonomy of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Over 100 elected Panchayat members and senior members of the Panchayat Conference led by its president Anil Sharma held protest raising slogans against the Rural Development Department outside Press Club of Jammu for its order to revoke and retract amount of Rs 200 Crore that was actually available at the disposal of Panchayats under 14th Finance Commission.
Agitating PRI members informed that earlier also around two months ago a similar order to rescind funds under 14th FC was issued but later the Rural Development department after severe criticism and condemnation from the elected Panchayat members had assured that it would not fiddle with the available funds and the Panchayats would be allowed to use these funds till March 31 and they will be allowed to make payments against the completed and started developmental works in the Panchayats that have the approval of the Gram Sabhas.
Conference President Anil Sharma stated that despite assurance from Lieutenant Governor the Panchayat would be allowed to use the funds under 14th FC till March 31, the RDD has again issued a dictatorial order dated March 1, 2023 and has issued instructions to the J&K Bank not to allow Panchayats to use these funds and instead transfer the money in the 14th FC award account maintained by J&K RDD .
Sharma termed this order of Rural Development Department as direct assault on the autonomy of the Panchayats and warned the officers there to respect the grass root level democratic institutions that are elected by the people through legal and democratic means.
Explaining supremacy of PRIs, AJKPC President further stated that after 73rd amendment of Constitution of India, the elected Panchayats draw their power directly from the constitution of India and statutes of the respective states and Union Territories therefore the Bureaucrats must not undermine these basic institutions of self governance rather contribute in strengthening them.
All the protesting PRI members urged the Government of India and Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha to caution the Baabus to stop infringement and contravention of the Panchayati Raj Act.