Paperless administration for Panchayats part of govt plan to turn J&K, Ladakh into model UTs

Digitised offices, public grievance cells and scorecards to evaluate the work of Panchayats are some of the proposals which are part of a specially designed initiative by the Centre to transform the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into models of administrative excellence, a senior official has said.

The initiative under the ‘Sushasan Sankalp’ (good governance oath) resolves to replicate the innovations and best practices in successful national governance initiatives, including digital governance and citizen-centric grievance redressal.

The two UTs came into existence on October 31 after Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated in accordance with the government’s August 5 announcement revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370.

The unique scorecard system for Panchayats will help monitor the work of all village councils as well as the usage of the funds given to them, V Srinivas, the additional secretary at the Centre’s Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances said.

Besides, a new e-platform that would help apple traders of Jammu and Kashmir to connect with buyers at the national level would be started soon especially after apple growers of the state suffered a colossal loss of trade due to curfew imposition and communication blackout in the wake of the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, he said.

According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Jammu and Kashmir has suffered a loss of Rs 10,000 crore due to the clamp down.

“The initiative is all set to be rolled out soon. Starting from an e-platform for apple traders to making J&K and Ladakh administrations par excellence… the Centre has several projects in the pipeline,” Srinivas told PTI.

Once the digitisation of apple trading system is complete, efforts would be made for similar trading of all other fruits in the UT, he said.

According to the official, steps are being taken to revive stalled development projects in the two UTs and bring them at par with the most developed states and UTs of the country.

“The initiatives are part of Sushasan Sankalp which was made public during the first ever all India administrative conference led by the DARPG to transform Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into models of administrative excellence,” said Srinivas, who led the conference under the leadership of Minister of State for the Department of Personnel and Training Jitendra Singh in Jammu on November 15-16.

Stating that the reforms would give a new direction to the overall governance structure in the two UTs, Srinivas said, “Within a very short span of time there would be an improvement in the citizen’s interface with government by promotion of digital, citizen centric governance, innovation and capacity building in the UTs.”

To make ground-level governance more effective, the government would also digitise the Panchayati Raj system and monitor all the developmental work done through it with an eye on the utility of developmental fund given by the Centre.

Talking about the monitoring of Panchayats, Srinivas told PTI, “As part of the initiative the Centre has also sanctioned Rs 65 lakh for two projects — development of inventory management system of software application for the Panchayati Raj Department and portal and mobile app for one stop solution for citizen’s grievances.”

Srinivas said Jammu and Kashmir, during its statehood, received huge sums of money yet failed to progress in terms of infrastructure development and has seen the least socio-economic progress despite having a huge potential.

“Apart from tourism, all other economic activities were mostly hampered due to the frequent closure of the valley and intense terror activities,” he said.

He said that the Centre is also ensuring all types of contractual works are awarded through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) platform to eliminate corruption.

Part of the National Public Procurement Portal, GeM is a one-stop-shop to facilitate online procurement of common use goods and services required by various government departments/organisations/public sector undertakings.

While the Centre would implement all the initiatives, a special training programme would be initiated to train the mid-level officers of Jammu and Kashmir administration and Ladakh to operate such system, he said.