Frontier District On The Move With New Initiatives, Focused Growth
Gram Panchayat system has done wonders all across the country. The same model is being implemented with focus and commitment in Kupwara district. Strengthening the grassroots level democratic institutions is key to India’s vibrant democracy. Legislature is just one aspect of the democracy. A strong democratic culture and spirit comes from robust grassroots level institutions that ensure the involvement and empowerment of people.
This was stated by Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Mr Doifode Sagar Dattatray, IAS, in an exclusive interview to Kashmir Central. “It would not be an exaggeration to state that I am here as District Magistrate Kupwara because of the Gram Panchayat System and the Cooperative Movement,” informed DC Kupwara. “I come from a remote village of Maharashtra. There were 250 households in my village. The cooperative movement established a sugar mill in the village followed by a school and a hospital. The villagers earned and learned from the cooperative movement. There are 120 tractors in my village. Now we have huge infrastructure too. My father studied in the village school. His education gave him a strong foundation and he went on to become the Deputy Commissioner of Mumbai “said Doifode.
Strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions, DDC
The DC informed that the same model is being replicated in Kupwara district. “There are around 10,000 elected representatives in Kupwara district. This reflects on the participation of people in the governance. We have 385 Sarpanches, more than 3000 Panchs, 26 BDCs and 14 DDCs,” Doifode said. He said that Panchayat Raj System is revolutionizing the lives of the people of Kupwara.
Kupwara district participates in electoral democracy overwhelmingly, be it the PRI institutions or the assembly, Doifode said. He said that the grievance mechanism is very vibrant and there is quick disposal of public grievances.
The DC pointed out that Kupwara district is a case study of participatory governance. Block Divas program is organized every Wednesday at block level in the district. Every time, more than a thousand people are part of the Block Divas program. There is enthusiastic on the spot registration and prompt redressal of the people’s grievances.
The DC said that his office receives just 1% of the grievances. Meanwhile, 99% of the grievances are addressed at other levels. Responding to a question, DC Kupwara said that the institution of District Development Council (DDC) is still in infancy. The administration is extending every possible support to the institution to make it vibrant and effective.
“We are educating the DDC members about their rights, duties and responsibilities,” said DC Kupwara. He added that it has been observed that the DDC members in Kupwara district have lesser number of complaints as compared to the DDC members from other districts. “We are conscious that these elected representatives are answerable to their voters. They should be provided every kind of support for the larger good of the public,” Doifode said.
On strengthening the institutions of women empowerment, DC Kupwara said that women are actively involved in developmental activities. The DC said he has observed that the women want to work for their self empowerment, and there is urge for socio economic independence among women.
The DC informed that about 50,000 women in the district are involved in handicraft and handloom activities under National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), an initiative of the Ministry of Rural Development.
As part of NRLM, 2,000 women have been trained in stitching, and a large number of women have been skilled to take up village level enterprises. “We are exploring the possibility of having our own brand in handloom,” said DC Kupwara.
It is a matter of pride for Kupwara district that it has the highest production of walnuts in Jammu and Kashmir. The district produces around 30,000 tons of walnuts each year. This is the only district having two walnut processing plants, Deputy Commissioner Kupwara told Kashmir Central.
The district administration is also keen in providing entertainment to the youth of the district. In this direction, one cinema hall with the capacity of 120 seats is likely to be opened for the public in the second week of December. Another cinema hall of the same capacity shall be made available in next three to four months, informed the DC.
It is significant that an elected representative of the district offered a place for the cinema hall to the government. This reflects on the commitment of the elected representative in changing the outlook of the youth of the district.
Developing The Tourism Potential Of Kupwara
Doifode said that Kupwara can be an attractive tourist destination because of its scenic beauty. The government is seriously working towards bringing Kupwara prominently on the map of Kashmir Tourism.
To achieve this, what is urgently required is the development of physical infrastructure. The government has taken many steps in this direction, informed the DC. “Kupwara boasts of the mesmerizing Bangus and Lolab valley. We also have the beautiful frontier locations of Keran, Machil and Tanghdar. People shall love to explore these areas provided there is basic infrastructure,” the DC said.
As one of the steps in this direction, the blacktopped road connectivity to these locations is almost complete, informed the DC. “We are taking steps that Keran, Tanghdar and Machil remain connected to the rest of the world throughout the year. I assure you that all thorugh this winter, we will keep the roads to these areas functional,” said DC Kupwara.
In addition to providing the tourism infrastructure, more is being done to enhance the tourism appeal of the area. “We are developing 12 tourist viewing points on the Kupwara-Keran road. Keran is a site for pilgrimage tourism, and we are developing it to so that the pilgrims can visit the place comfortably. A plan is being worked out to construct a site for the holy dip in the Kishanganga river which flows from the foothills of Maa Saraswati towards Keran in Kashmir valley. A small township with tented accommodation is also coming up at Keran to accommodate the tourists. Infrastructure development in the border areas has been prioritized,” Doifode told Kashmir Central. “This year around 3 lakh tourists visited Kupwara. The district administration is expecting a three-fold rise in the tourist influx next year,” said the DC.
IAS Classes For Aspring Youth
DC Kupwara said that the youth of Kupwara district are ambitious and aspirational. “It is heartening to see that the youth are career-oriented. They are conscious of building a happy and fulfilling life, and working towards a better future,” said Doifode.
The DC highlighted that sports play a major role in the harmonious development of the youth. “It is important to achieve harmonious development, and we are looking even beyond that, taking into consideration the conviction and commitment among the youth to achieve something big. We are providing the educated youth with coaching for Indian Administrative Services (IAS). For this purpose, we have brought teaching faculty from outside Kashmir who can equip the local youth to clear the exam,” said the DC.
“There is fire among the youth to achieve something. We need to channelize their energy. We need to provide them guidance and make their goals easy,” DC Kupwara said. Doifode informed that the district administration is planning a mega sports meet soon, in which youth from every part of the district shall prove their potential. “We are committed to have a playground in every Panchayat across the district,” the DC said with pride.