Jammu’s huge tourism potential will be explored to fullest: LG

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Jammu, Mar 25 (PTI) The Jammu region possesses huge tourism potential which would be explored to the fullest, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said on Thursday while stressing that uniform development across the union territory will be ensured.

The administration’s focus is on strengthening the Panchayati Raj institutions, he said, adding that granting Rs 200 crore for the newly-elected District Development Councils (DDCs) and doubling the funds from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for each panchayat was part of the plan.

'Jammu has a lot of potential for tourism and attempts will be made to tap its potential to the fullest,' Sinha told reporters here.

Replying to a question about tourist attractions in Jammu region lacking facilities for visitors, he said, 'Legacy cannot be changed in one day... I have myself visited many places and noticed lack of proper infrastructure.' 'We will utilise the massive budget sanctioned by the central government for creation of proper facilities and tapping of unexplored areas,' he added.

He said the tourism sector has got Rs 786 crore provision in the budget for the next financial year, which is more than Rs 509 crore compared to the current financial year.

'This amount will be utilised without any discrimination,” he said, adding that the focus will be on areas that have been neglected so far.

The Lt Governor said prominent tourist destinations would also get special attention.

'We will ensure that there will be no discrimination (against any region) and development takes place everywhere. We have already strengthened the Panchayati Raj institutions and through 'back to village' programme reached out to people at their doorsteps,' he said.

He said each panchayat will get Rs 1 crore from next financial year instead of Rs 50 lakh in the past.

'We have full faith in DDC members and they will decide the work to be started on priority in their districts. They would get a grant of Rs 200 crore – Rs 10 crore for each of the 20 DDCs -- in addition to the district plan,' he said.

Similarly, the Block Development Councils would get Rs 25 lakh while Rs 30 crore have been kept for the construction of offices for DDCs and BDCs wherever required. On the recent protest by DDC members over the issue of protocol and monthly honorarium, he said, “They are happy (after meeting him) and they will get the revised paper (warrant of precedence).” He said there will be no payment for works on just papers.

“The treasury bill will not get cleared unless there is tendering, sanction of work and geo tagging of the completed job. Some people have trouble with it,” he said. Meanwhile, Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam said checks and balances are part of democracy and those DDC members who do not perform their job satisfactorily can face a no confidence motion.

He said complaints that no work is taking place have come down drastically over the last year but at the same time, the expectations of people have also gone up.

The Lt Governor said the administration is working to ensure the release of funds for upcoming development projects with the start of the next financial year in April.

'The administration will keep a watch but we have also ensured over the past couple of months that the people have an eye on the developmental works going on in their areas,' he said, adding the government would ensure that the projects are completed within stipulated time.

He said each penny is being accounted for.

'How much money has come and where is being utilised is being monitored. Everyone can see it through the Budget Estimation and Allocation Monitoring system (BEAMS),' he said. PTI TAS AB RHL