Ramesh writes to PM, seeks help on central aid to J&K panchayat heads
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At a time when fresh violence against J&K panchayat members have led many to resign, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has in writing sought the Prime Minister's "guidance" on the state government demand for Rs 75-crore central assistance every year as remuneration for panchs and sarpanchs.
Ramesh's letter dated January 2 follows a letter to him by J&K Minister for Rural Development, Panchayats, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affair Ali Mohammad Sagar in December 2011 demanding special assistance for panchayat members. He had said that there is lot of resentment among the members on account of non-payment.
Sagar had said that though there is a provision to remunerate panchs under the state's Panchayati Raj Act, the state does not have funds to implement it. Earlier in the month, 20 of them had resigned following an attack on a woman sarpanch.
In his letter, Ramesh said that while the matter has more to do with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, a larger decision had to be taken by the PM and the Finance Minister. Ramesh has said he has also received representations on this issue that he has handed over to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
Ramesh's ministry now seems to be laying more emphasis on implementing its schemes in J&K. On January 23, the day Home Minister recommended the execution of Afzal Guru, Ramesh wrote to the PM pushing for a more inclusive rural package for the state under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission.
Ramesh's letter came after J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah demanded that NRLM should not be restricted to BPL households in the state. But such a move would require an additional Rs 960 crore over the next 5-6 years.
The scheme has a budgetary allocation of Rs 3,915 crore in the current financial year and cover only BPL households. Abdullah had said that he expects to cover 67 per cent of the families in each village under NRLM that was rolled out in the state in January.
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