DDC members call off agitation as LG assures better protocol, powers

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Jammu: UT’s Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday assured the agitating DDC members including their vice-chairpersons and chairpersons of reconsidering their demand for better protocol and empowerment.

The assurance, according to Jammu DDC chairperson and a senior BJP leader, Bharat Bhushan, came when their 12 member delegation including six from Kashmir called on the Lt Governor at Raj Bhawan here to apprise him of their grievances. The meeting, which lasted for 45 minutes beginning 5 pm, was also attended by Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Principal Secretary PDD and official spokesperson of the UT government, Rohit Kansal and Commissioner-Secretary Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Sheetal  Nanda.

The meeting took place in a good environment, with Lt Governor receptive to our demands like better protocol and empowerment. Though he did not promise as to what will be the protocol of DDC chairpersons, he hinted that they too will be empowered like Mayors of the Municipal Corporations at Jammu and in Srinagar, Bharat Bhushan said.

Mayors of both the Municipal Corporations of Jammu and Srinagar enjoy the status of cabinet minister.

“Like Municipal Corporations, the government will transfer functioning of various departments to DDCs as well,’’ said a member of the Jammu DDC Taranjit Singh Tony quoting Sinha. He also assured that like Mayors, DDC chairpersons too will convene meetings of the respective Councils with local MLAs attending them as members, added Tony who was part of the delegation meeting the LG. He the delegation to revise the warrant of precedence which placed DDC chairpersons with administrative secretaries or divisional commissioner, vice-chairperson with vice chancellors of universities and members with deputy commissioner, Tony said, adding the LG instructed the Chief Secretary to redraft the warrant of precedence in consultation with the DDC members.

In view of the Lt Governor’s assurance, Bharat Bhushan said that they have called off their agitation and appealed the DDC members including chairpersons and vice-chairpersons to return to their respective places. The LG has assured adequate empowerment of DDCs and provision for offices for functioning of members and vehicles for their movement.

Tony said that LG clearly said that he was for more empowerment of DDCs and for this, his administration was already studying various models of panchayati raj system in vogue in the country.

DDC members including their vice chairpersons and chairpersons had on Tuesday boycotted the two day training programme-cum-workshop to be inaugurated by Lt Governor in protest against administration’s new warrant of precedence placing chairpersons with administrative secretary or divisional commissioner, vice chairpersons with vice chancellors of universities and members with deputy commissioner. They had accused the administration of insulting them by lowering the stature of DDCs which used to be headed by cabinet ministers.