Jammu, July 1 (IANS) After having successfully presided over the elections to more than 4,000 panchayats, the Jammu and Kashmir government Friday pledged to shift power from the secretariat to the village councils.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, accompanied Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and Minister of State for Rural Development Aijaz Khan, visited the hilly areas of Billawar and Basholi in Jammu region, where he assured panchayats would have the final decision-making powers in development, health, education and other matters concerning the people.
'The secretariat's powers will shift to you,' Abdullah told gathering of newly-elected panch members and sarpanches at the two places.
The 17-phase panchayat elections to 4,120 panchayats, which began on March 13, concluded on June 27, with Zanskar in Kargil district of Ladakh region going to polls in the last phase.
The elections were held after a gap of 10 years.
The chief minister has constituted a committee headed by Chief Secretary Madhav Lal to suggest the quantum of power to be transferred to the panchayats.
The transfer of powers to panchayats has become a major issue, as Jammu and Kashmir doesn't have a clear description of powers for the panchayats in the absence of the 73rd and 74th amendment to the constitution, applicable in other states of the country.
In fact, Abdullah had recently tweeted that 'there was opposition to the empowerment of panchayats from within the system', but had vowed to 'overcome all this and grant powers to the panchayats'.