STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A day after the successful completion of the eight-phased maiden DDC polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Sunday hoped the grassroots-level elected representatives would help the Union Territory scale new heights of development.Thanking voters, the election machinery and security agencies besides political parties and independent candidates for their participation in the festival of democracy , Sinha said he kept his promise of ensuring free and fair polls.The festival of democracy ended yesterday (Saturday) and I am hopeful that this will prove a milestone in the development of J&K. The turnout of electorates (in all eight phases of the DDC polls) makes one thing clear that everyone participated enthusiastically to strengthen the democracy at the grassroots level for the development and taking the Union Territory to new heights, Sinha told reporters here.He said the people, whether young or old, men or women, farmers, labourers, middle-aged, professionals and traders, all queued up before polling stations despite challenging weather conditions in all phases to express their faith in democracy.Despite harsh weather conditions, the polling stations across the UT witnessed long queues of enthusiastic voters and people came out to vote in large numbers, with the voter turnout percentage even in the traditionally low percentage areas registering manifold increase as compared to earlier held Parliamentary elections, which itself manifests that faith of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the democratic process has deepened, he added.He further said that with the culmination of DDC elections, the people of J&K will, for the first time in history, see a truly empowered grass root democracy entailing direct funding and decentralized decision making in the planning and development of rural areas.“The 3-tier democracy will make J&K modern, AatmaNirbhar, besides giving a determined push to the developmental process. I am sure the elected representatives will give momentum to the developmental schemes on the ground”, maintained the Lt Governor.If we compare this election with the last Lok Sabha polls, the turnout this time was double and I give the credit for this to the direct interaction the administration had with the people at their doorsteps (during back to village programme) to address their problems, Sinha said.He said his administration worked over the past four months to implement the 73rd and 74th amendment of the Constitution to address the shortcomings hampering the strengthening of the Panchayati Raj System.The DDC elections were held for the first time in J&K I want to thank all political parties and independent candidates who reposed their faith in the constitution of the country and accepted the constitutional changes, the Lt Governor said.Before the elections, I had promised peaceful and free and fair polls. I am glad that barring a few minor incidents, the elections concluded peacefully in a free and fair way, he said, adding in other parts of the country, there were more incidents during polling than what was witnessed here. He congratulated the State Election Commission, his administration, J&K Police and other forces who were part of the exercise for the successful conduct of the polls.In coming days, the DDCs will be formed for the development of each district. The elected representatives will get full responsibility and we will work together to strengthen democracy at the grass-roots level to take J&K to the new heights of development and the welfare schemes will reach every household, the Lt Governor said.Sinha said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will roll out the social Endeavour for Health and Telemedicine (SEHAT) scheme in the Union Territory on December 26.He said his administration had already accorded sanction to rolling out the J&K health scheme to provide free of cost Universal Health Coverage to all residents in convergence with Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).The scheme was earlier meant to benefit 30 lakh people living below the poverty line. One crore more people will be covered under the scheme, covering all the population of the UT, he said, adding the distribution of the golden cards would start with the rolling out of the SEHAT scheme by the Prime Minister.The beneficiaries are entitled to free health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year on a floater basis and there is no restriction on family size, age or gender.We have already registered 16 lakh people under the scheme and rest of the population will be covered on war footing, the Lt Governor said.
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