Rural Development Department in fact attains the present stature courtesy Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Jammu and Kashmir State. Initially during the regime of Maharaja Hari Singh, PRIs in a modest way were introduced in the State and several powers also bestowed on them for raising of taxes and non-taxes besides funding for addressing the infrastructural needs of the rural community.
With the country having attained independence and a democratic order ushered in, PRIs in the State of Jammu and Kashmir came to the fore front for shouldering the massive responsibility of building rural infrastructure by way of funds apportioned to them by the State Government as also on the basis of the various taxes and revenues raised for replenishment of the State’s own resources for creating durable community infrastructure.
Synergy between different departments also was working for the upliftment through this medium under the aegis of Panchayati Raj and extension work also massively carried out through Panchayats in conjunction with different line Departments for popularizing various technologies and scientific tools for bringing about socio-economic transformation of the rural society.
Panchayats adalats were also set up for resolution of local disputes of criminal and civil character by compromise, consensus and reconciliation.
J&K Panchayati Raj Act 1989 was brought in place by which three tier Panchayati Raj system at Halqa, Block and District level, was prescribed as a step forward for de-centralization of the planning process and carrying out various developmental activities for rural up liftment through participatory management process.
In spite of the prevalence of adverse security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir State, elections for the PRIs were held in the year 2001 and tangible steps taken for empowering the Panchayats for their involvement on wholesome basis in the entire development process as also for looking after various subjects transferred to them charged with the responsibility of rendering services to the rural society.
Rural Development Department in Jammu and Kashmir State in fact has come of age through the Panchayati Raj route and has, for last more than two decades, been involved in the implementation of the various Centrally sponsored schemes and the schemes having been carved out by the State government for upliftment of the rural society.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), Sampooran Gramin Rozgar Yojna (SGRY), Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY), Indira Awas Yojna (IAY), Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP –Haryali) and host of other Centrally sponsored schemes are presently being looked after through Rural Dev.Deptt. by which rural infrastructure has been greatly strengthened and wage employment to poor and down-trodden strata of the society afforded at their doorstep. Efforts on sustained basis have been made to eradicate poverty from rural life and provide means of livelihood o the rural poor masses.
Total Sanitation Campaign has also been launched by Rural Development Department in the pursuit to bring about a real revolution in village life providing unpolluted living environment. Provision of individual household latrines, community latrines, institutional latrines, women complexes and Rural Sanitation Marts are being attempted through this programme, which is being implemented in a mission mode manner and aims at to lift the society to the new heights of the glory.
Rural Development Department further has been encompassing various other development programmes like BADP, MPLAD and CDF to ensure providing durable infrastructure with better quality at a low cost to the public besides providing wage employment.
With a view to give boost to the various activities in the Panchayati Raj, halqa Panchayats are being re-organised by which the number of Panchayats is likely to go up to 4000 from 2700. This would provide homogeneous, viable and easily manageable units of governance to the Panchayats ensuring better dividends to public.
The community empowerment is another area which has been gaining considerable attention. A massive programme on this account has been chalked out which besides uplifting the level of comprehension of PRIs would sensitize the officials of Rural Development Department and other line Departments for raising their level of commitment, understanding, skill and technology for more positive application of the schemes with rich dividends.
The all India pattern of DRDA Administration has also been launched in the State so as to provide skill and know-how to the PRIs enabling them to shoulder various responsibilities gainfully with utmost public interest and better output insight.
The Rural Development Development and Panchayati Raj in Jammu and Kashmir State thus in the present context emerges to be the sole movement destined to change the face of the rural society.