Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Shri Manoj Sinha ji, my Cabinet colleague Giriraj Singh ji, the son of this soil and my colleague Dr. Jitendra Singh ji, Shri Kapil Moreshwar Patil ji, my Parliamentary colleague Shri Jugal Kishore ji, all the public representatives of Panchayati Raj connected from the entire country including Jammu and Kashmir, brothers and sisters!
(Greetings in local language)
Wishing everyone from all over the country a very Happy National Panchayati Raj Day!
Today is a big day to give impetus to the development of Jammu and Kashmir. I can see an ocean of people before my eyes. Perhaps after so many decades the people of India are able to see such a majestic sight on the land of Jammu and Kashmir. I would especially like to extend my heartiest greetings to the brothers and sisters of Jammu and Kashmir today for your love, enthusiasm and resolve to develop and progress.
Neither this land is new to me, nor am I to you. And I have also been connected to and familiar with every nook and corner of this place for several years. I am extremely delighted to say that today connectivity and electricity related projects worth 20 thousand crore rupees have either been inaugurated or the foundation stone has been laid. This is a phenomenal figure for a small state like Jammu and Kashmir. To give a new impetus to the development of Jammu and Kashmir, work is going on at a rapid pace in the state. These efforts will provide employment to a large number of youths in Jammu and Kashmir.
Today many families have also received property cards for their houses in villages. These 'Svamitva' cards will encourage new possibilities in the villages. Today 100 Jan Aushadhi Kendras will become a medium of providing cheap and affordable medicines and surgical items to the poor and middle class families of Jammu and Kashmir. In line with the country's resolve to make the country carbon neutral by 2070, Jammu and Kashmir has taken a huge initiative today in that direction. Palli Panchayat is moving towards becoming the first Carbon Neutral Panchayat of the country.
The world's major stalwarts had gathered in Glasgow. A lot of speeches, statements and announcements were made about being carbon neutral. But it is India which is moving towards the carbon neutral goal with the first ever carbon neutral panchayat of the country i.e. Palli Panchayat, a small panchayat in J&K today. Today in Palli village, I have also got the opportunity to connect with the people's representatives of the villages of the country. Heartiest congratulations to Jammu and Kashmir for this great achievement and development projects!
Before coming on stage here, I was with the members of the Panchayat. I could feel their dreams, resolves and noble intentions. And I am glad that the people of Palli, Jammu and Kashmir have shown what 'Sabka Prayas' is, the call for which I had made from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi. The Panch-Sarpanch here was telling me that when the event was being organized here, the government officials, the contractors and the builders used to come here regularly. But there is no dhaba or arrangement of a langar here. Then how to feed the people coming here? So they used to collect 20 rotis or 30 rotis from every house and all the people who had come here for the last 10 days were fed by the villagers. You have shown what in real terms 'Sabka Prayas' or 'everyone's effort' is! I salute all the villagers here.
Brothers and sisters,
This year's Panchayati Raj Day, being celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir, symbolises a huge change. It is a matter of great pride that I am interacting with Panchayats across the country at a time when democracy has reached the grass roots in Jammu and Kashmir. When the Panchayati Raj system was implemented in India, it was immensely publicised and everyone was proud of the initiative; and that was not wrong either. But we forgot one thing. Although we used to say that the Panchayati Raj system has been implemented in India, but the countrymen should know that despite having such a good system, the people of my Jammu and Kashmir were deprived of it. It was not there. You gave me the opportunity to serve in Delhi and the Panchayati Raj system was implemented on the soil of Jammu and Kashmir. In the villages of Jammu and Kashmir alone, more than 30 thousand people's representatives have been elected and are working here today. That is the power of democracy. For the first time, the three-tier Panchayati Raj system – the elections to Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and DDC were held peacefully here and the people of the village are shaping the future of the village.
Be it democracy or the resolution of development, today Jammu and Kashmir is setting a new example for the whole country. In the last 2-3 years, new dimensions of development have been created in Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 175 central laws which empowered the people were not implemented here. We implemented those laws to empower every person of Jammu and Kashmir and made you powerful. The sisters, the daughters, the poor, Dalits, the oppressed, and the underprivileged have benefited the most here.
Today I feel proud that finally after 75 years of independence, my brothers and sisters of Valmiki Samaj from Jammu and Kashmir have got the legal right to be at par with the citizens of rest of India. The fetters which were put at the feet of Valmiki Samaj for decades have now been broken. They have got 'independence' after seven decades of independence. Today sons and daughters of every society are able to fulfil their dreams.
Those who did not get the benefit of reservation in Jammu and Kashmir for many years are also getting the benefit of reservation. Earlier there was a deprived corner in India, but now Babasaheb's soul must be showering blessings upon all of us as Modi government has fulfilled his dreams now. The schemes of the central government are now being implemented rapidly here, which is directly benefiting the villages of Jammu and Kashmir. Be it LPG gas connection, electricity connection, water connection or the toilets under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jammu and Kashmir has reaped a huge benifit.
New Jammu and Kashmir will write a new story of development during ‘Azadi ke Amritkal’, i.e., in the coming 25 years. I got the opportunity to talk to a delegation from UAE a short while back. They were very excited about Jammu and Kashmir. Just imagine, during the 7 decades after independence, a private investment of only Rs 17 thousand crore was made in Jammu and Kashmir whereas within the last two years - this figure has reached Rs 38 thousand crores. Private companies are coming here to invest Rs 38 thousand crores.
Today, every penny sent from the centre is being honestly utilized here and investors too are coming to invest money with an open mind. Manoj Sinha ji was telling me that three years ago, all the districts here including Leh-Ladakh used to get only Rs 5000 crore rupees, as it is a small state with less population. But in the last two years, the pace of development has increased manifold. This time in the budget, Rs 22 thousand crore are being given directly to the panchayats for the development of the districts. Only Rs 5000 crore were given for the development projects to be undertaken by the grass root level democratic system in the state whereas now Rs 22 thousand crores have been given. This is the kind of work that has been done, brothers.
Today I am glad to say that when the Ratle Power Project and the Kwar Power Project will be ready, Jammu and Kashmir will not only get enough electricity but will also open up a huge avenue for generating employment which will take Jammu and Kashmir to new economic heights. Now see, try to understand my point. Earlier a government file from Delhi used to take two-three weeks to reach Jammu and Kashmir. I am glad that today this 500 KW solar power plant was installed within just 3 weeks and started generating electricity. Solar power is now reaching all the houses of the Palli village. This village has also become a great example of ‘Gram Urja Swaraj'. This change in the work culture will take Jammu and Kashmir to new heights.
I want to tell the youth of Jammu and Kashmir something. Friends, mark my words. The youth of the Kashmir valley will not suffer like their parents and grandparents. I will prove this to you. I have come here to assure you of that. In the last 8 years, our government has worked day in and day out to strengthen the mantra of 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat'. When I talk about 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat', our focus is also on connectivity and bridging distances - be it of hearts, language, behaviour or resources. Bridging the gap is our biggest priority today. As it is said in folk music about our Dogras – मिट्ठड़ी ऐ डोगरें दी बोली, ते खंड मिट्ठे लोक डोगरे I Such sweetness and sensitive thinking become the strength for the country's unity and the distances are also reduced.
Brothers and sisters,
Due to the efforts of our government, now the distance between Jammu and Srinagar has been reduced by 2 hours with the Banihal- Qazigund tunnel. The country is also going to get an attractive arch bridge linking Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla soon. The Delhi-Amritsar-Katra highway is also going to reduce the distance from Delhi to the abode of Maa Vaishno Devi. And the day will not be far when Kanyakumari is going to connect with Vaishno Devi by one road. Be it Jammu and Kashmir or Leh-Ladakh, efforts are being made from all sides to ensure that most parts of Jammu and Kashmir are connected to the rest of the country all months of the year.
Our government is also working on a priority basis for the development of border villages. Vibrant Village Scheme for the remotest village on the borders of India has been approved in the budget this time. Its benefit will be available to all the remote villages of India which are adjacent to the border under Vibrant Village Scheme. Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir will also get a lot of benefit out of this.
Today Jammu and Kashmir is also setting a good example of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'. Be it good and modern hospitals, new means of transport, and institutions of higher education, these schemes are being implemented keeping in mind the youth of the state. Tourism has started flourishing again in Jammu and Kashmir in the growing atmosphere of development and trust. I am told that till next June-July all the tourist places here have already been booked. It is difficult to find bookings. The tourists are thronging the valley in the last few months like never before.
'Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal' is going to be the golden period for India. This resolve is going to be proved by everyone's efforts. In this period, your role, the role of the grassroots democracy, the Gram Panchayat, is very crucial. Understanding this role of Panchayats, the Amrit Sarovar Abhiyan has been started on 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'. By the next year i.e. by 15th August 2023 we have to develop at least 75 Amrit Sarovars in every district.
We also have to make efforts to plant Neem, Peepal, Banyan and other saplings around these lakes in the name of the martyrs of that area. Also, we should ensure that the foundation stone of Amrit Sarovar is laid by a martyr's family or the family of a freedom fighter. Let this Amrit Sarovar campaign be a glorious event.
Brothers and sisters,
In recent years, relentless efforts have been made to empower Panchayats with more authority, more transparency and technology. The system of planning to payment related to Panchayat is being linked to the e-Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. A beneficiary from the village can now get information on his mobile phone about the work being done in the panchayat, its status as well as the budget. Online arrangements have been made to audit the funds which are being received by the Panchayat. Through the Citizen's Charter campaign, states and gram panchayats are being encouraged to complete tasks related to birth certificates, marriage certificates, and many other things related to property at the gram panchayat level. Property tax assessment has become easier for Gram Panchayats with the Swamitva Scheme, which is benefiting many Gram Panchayats.
A few days ago, a new policy related to the use of modern technology for training in Panchayats has also been approved. In the same month, from April 11 to 17, Iconic Week was also celebrated with the resolve of restructuring Panchayats so that the work of providing basic amenities to the villages could be done. The resolve of the government is to ensure development of every aspect like education, healthcare for every person and every family in the villages. The government is trying to ensure that the Panchayat plays a greater role in planning and implementation of every project related to the development of the village. With this, Panchayat will emerge as an important link to the achievement of national resolutions.
The goal of giving more powers to Panchayats is to make Panchayats a centre of empowerment in the true sense. It is also being ensured that the increasing power of the Panchayats and the amount received by the Panchayats gives a new boost to the development of the villages. A lot of emphasis is being laid by our government on increasing the participation of sisters in the Panchayati Raj system.
India's experience has shown and taught the world during the Corona period what India's sisters and daughters are capable of! Our daughters, our mothers and sisters have strengthened the fight against Corona by doing every little thing. The ASHA-Anganwadi workers have done everything from tracking to vaccination.
The village's health and nutrition network is getting its energy from women's power. Women Self-Help Groups are creating new dimensions of livelihood and public awareness in villages. Water related arrangements - every Panchayat should expedite the task of ensuring women's participation as stipulated in the Har Ghar Jal Abhiyan.
I am told that till now 3 lakh water committees have been formed all over the country. It is mandatory to have 50 per cent women in these committees and up to 25 per cent should be members of the weaker sections of the society. Now piped water supply is reaching the villages but at the same time, the work of training women to ensure its purity and continuous supply is also going on all over the country; but I would like to accelerate it. Till now more than 7 lakh sisters and daughters have been trained across the country. But I have to increase the scale as well as the speed. Today, I urge the Panchayats across the country to ensure that this system is implemented at the earliest in places where it has not been done yet.
I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a long time and I have realized that whenever I had entrusted any responsibility related to water in the hands of women in Gujarat, the women accomplished a commendable job in the villages because they knew what lack of water meant. Those women understood it better and acted responsibly with great sensitivity. And that's why based on the experience, I want to say, the more these panchayats of my country involve women in this water related work, the more women they train, the more they trust women with it, the faster and better will be the results. Mark my words. Trust the power of our mothers and sisters. We must encourage and increase the participation of women at every level in the village.
Brothers and sisters,
India's village panchayats also need to have a local model of funds and revenue. Try to see how the resources of Panchayats can be used commercially? 'Waste to Wealth', Gobardhan Yojana or the natural farming scheme will increase the possibilities of funds. So, new funds can be created. Small plants should also be set up for Biogas, Bio-CNG or organic manure. This can also increase the income of the village. So, better management of waste is necessary for the same.
Today, I would urge the people of the village, the people of the Panchayat to strategize, develop new resources by collaborating with other NGO's, and organizations. Moreover, today in our country 50 per cent of representatives in most of the states are women. In some states it is more than 33 per cent. I would like to make a special request. Try to separate the wet and dry waste of your house in the house itself. If this habit is inculcated, the domestic waste will turn into gold for you. I want to run this campaign at the village level and today I request the people of panchayats across the country to join me.
Water is directly related to our agriculture. Agriculture is also related to the quality of our water. The kind of chemicals we are putting in the fields is ruining the health of our mother earth. Our soil is getting harmed. And when the rain water percolates down, it carries the chemicals with it further down and we - our animals, our children drink the same water. We are planting the roots of diseases in our bodies. Therefore, we have to free our mother earth from chemicals and chemical fertilizers. So, if our villages and our farmers move towards natural farming, then the whole of humanity will be benefited. How can we encourage organic farming at the level of Gram Panchayat? Concerted efforts are needed for the same.
Brothers and sisters,
Our small farmers are going to benefit the most from organic farming. Their population is more than 80 per cent in the country. When there is more profit in less input cost, it will give a lot of incentive to the small farmers. In the last few years, these small farmers have benefited the most from the policies of the central government. Thousands of crores of rupees from PM Kisan Samman Nidhi are benefitting the small farmers. Through Kisan Rail, fruits and vegetables of small farmers are also reaching the major markets across the country at a low price. The formation of FPO i.e. Farmer Producer Association is also boosting the power of the small farmers. This year, India has exported record fruits and vegetables to foreign countries. So, the small farmers of the country are benefitting a lot.
Village Panchayats will have to do one more work with everyone's participation. People have to be made aware about the initiative taken by the central government to save the country from malnutrition and anaemia. Now rice given by the government under various schemes is also being fortified or nutritionally enriched. It is the responsibility of all of us to spread awareness about how important this fortified rice is for health. In the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav', we must take a pledge to free our sisters-daughters-children from malnutrition and anaemia and we must not leave this humanitarian work till we get the desired result, till it is accomplished. We have to continue with the task and eradicate malnutrition from our land.
The development of India is hidden in the mantra of 'Vocal for Local'. Local governance is also the driving force for the development of democracy in India. The scope of your work may be local, but its collective impact is going to be global. We have to recognize this power of local. My wish on Panchayati Raj Day today is that - the image of the country should be further enhanced, the villages of the country should be more empowered with every work you do in your Panchayat.
Once again, I congratulate Jammu and Kashmir for the development projects. I would like to say to the lakhs of elected representatives of the people across the country, whether it is Panchayat or Parliament, no work is small. If you move ahead with the resolution of 'I will take my country forward by working in the Panchayat, then the country will progress in no time. And today I can see the enthusiasm, ardour and determination of the elected representatives at the Panchayat level. I am sure that our Panchayati Raj system will become a powerful instrument to take India to new heights. And with that expectation, I wish you the very best and thank you very much.
Raise both hands with me and say aloud -
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Thank you very much!!