J&K to hold panchayat polls in January next

Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in January next year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.

Jammu: Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir will be held in January next year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said.

"We intend to hold non-party panchayat elections in January 2011. A large scale participation of men and women is the need of the hour to elect the right candidates as their representatives," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said while addressing a public meeting at Bagga Mahore in Reasi district after inaugurating a power receiving station yesterday.

"My government is committed to strengthen democratic institutions at all levels and empower people to take decisions on development front by themselves," Omar said,
adding that panchayat elections will be an important step in this regard.

Panchayat elections were last held in a truncated manner in 2001 and since then the new bodies could not be elected due to security problems.

Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has already called for a boycott of the panchayat elections in the state.

He said micro planning of development and implementation of schemes at the panchayat level could be better performed by the people`s representatives instead of
the officers at the secretariat level.

"Public representatives at village level are better placed to adjudge the priorities of works in accordance to the aspirations of people," he said, adding that they would act as
best monitors of schemes and captains of integrated development.

Underlining the need for fielding women candidates in the panchayat polls, he said the issues pertaining to the fairer sex could be better addressed by women representatives.

"You are 50 percent of the population and your participation and candidature in panchayat elections is imperative," he said.

On the development of hilly and backward areas of the state, the chief minister said that all-round development of such areas is a priority concern in the government`s
development policy.

"We are concentrating on opening up of these areas for economic activities and generation of jobs," he said, adding that the power and tourism potential in these areas would be focused for proper harnessing.

He said reaching out far-off areas on the front of education was another priority of his government and measures were afoot in this direction.

On intra-district road communication, the chief minister said that the demand of people of Gulabgarh, Reasi for linking the area with Damhal Hanjipora, Shopian would be
soon looked into.