JAMMU Governor Mr. N. N. Vohra today said that the establishment of Panchayati Raj and the corresponding devolutions in the arena of municipal administration would contribute to the establishment of a decentralised democratic framework at the grass root level in the entire State.
Greeting the people on the 64th Republic Day, in a message, the Governor observed that this shall provide an excellent opportunity for all our people living in the villages and towns to become fruitfully involved in the planning and implementation of various schemes and programmes which are envisaged to promote their interests. He added that the effective establishment of rural and urban self-governing bodies in each of the three regions of the State would be a revolutionary landmark in the governance of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Governor observed a momentous event took place in the State about a year and a half ago, when elections to Panchayats were conducted after a gap of nearly three decades and 80 percent of the voters turned out to elect about 33000 Panches and Sarpanches. Last year, the State Government had planned to hold elections to establish the second tier of the Panchayati Raj set up. This would have been another milestone development in the history of the State as it would have further empowered the people at the grass roots and enabled the Panchayats to start participating in the planning and implementation of programmes which promote the welfare of the rural population. I trust that the pending elections to establish the decentralised democratic set up at the Block level and above will materialise during the course of this year and that, meanwhile, a secure environment shall be engendered to enable the elected elements to fearlessly discharge their responsibilities.
The Governor said that the Government had planned to conduct elections to the Urban Local Bodies last year and, side by side, also carry out the required institutional and taxation reforms to upgrade and rationalise the entire municipal frame work in the State. I trust that these changes shall materialise in the coming months, he said.
The Governor observed thanks to the role played by the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the supreme sacrifices made by J&K Police and the Security Forces, the State is moving ahead on the path of peace and development. If our people remain committed to thwarting the activities of anti-national elements, the State shall achieve lasting peace and move rapidly on the path of progress and prosperity. In this context, I would reiterate that growth and development can materialise and sustain only in an environment of peace and normalcy and yet again appeal to the leaders of all political parties, social, cultural and religious organisations and all other segments of society, in each of the three regions of our State, to close their ranks for the resolution of all remaining issues through dialogue and discussions and not through agitations and confrontations which have already cost us enormous human and economic losses, besides damaging the educational prospects of our youth.
The Governor said growth and development can take place only in an environment of sustained peace and normalcy, adding that Jammu and Kashmir has not been able to timely pursue and achieve its developmental goals because of the malicious trans-border factors and the serious internal disturbances which our people have had to face for so many years. In the past two years there has been a decline in the incidence of terrorist violence. If there are no adverse developments along our frontiers in the coming time our people can look forward to enjoying the fruits of peace. However, till such time as sustained calm prevails on the north western frontiers our Security Forces cannot even think of lowering their guard, under any circumstances.
The Governor observed the growing peaceful environment in the past two years has contributed to a spurt of developmental activities in various spheres. A significant outcome has been the visible surge in the number of tourists arriving in the State. He said that last year, over 12 lakh tourists visited the Valley and over six lakh pilgrims undertook the Amarnathji Yatra. Despite the non-operation of certain Delhi-Leh airlines the Ladakh region also received a good number of tourists. In Jammu region, over one crore pilgrims undertook the Mata Vaishno Deviji Yatra last year. Hopefully, this year we shall see a much larger number of visitors to the State. However, if tourism is to increase on a continuing basis the State Government, and all the stakeholders in the private sector, shall have to work on time-bound basis to significantly upgrade and enlarge the obtaining tourist facilities.
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