Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said rural empowerment was the key to prosperity and development of the violence-ravaged state.
Addressing a public gathering in Jammu, Mufti termed villages as the basic parameter of gauging prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister electronically inaugurated 152 Panchayat houses in the Jammu division.
She said it was her wish to develop villages as complete units of governance under Panchayati Raj.
She said the development of the state was incomplete without the development of villages.
Mufti said her government intended to empower Panchayats substantially so that democracy and development is taken to people deep in villages.
She said the Panchs and Sarpanchs after the Panchayat elections would be empowered enough so that they are able to resolve village issues at their level rather than taking them to district and secretariat levels.
Elections to Panchayats and urban local bodies are scheduled next year in the state.
The Chief Minister hoped that the 152 Panchayat houses, built at a cost of Rs 31 crore, would be used as community assets in villages for extending IT facilities and other welfare programmes to people besides functioning as centres of local governance.
Mufti also directed that the smart classrooms in schools be made available to the people of the areas after 4 p.m. to impart computer training to them.
She also directed utilisation of Panchayat houses for extending computer literacy and IT-enabled services to people of the catchment areas.