Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday announced 80,000 jobs for educated youth of the state, asserting that employment generation in the government and private sectors was his regime's top concern.
Addressing a rally of panches and sarpanches (village council members and headmen) here, Abdullah said: "We have already set in motion a mechanism to fill up vacancies in government departments as fast as possible".
He also indicated his government's intention to make provision in the next budget for a stipend and insurance cover to sarpanches and panches irrespective of getting any financial support from the central government in this regard.
"We have taken up this issue with the centre for funds, but whether the centre accedes to our request or not we will make the provision in the next budget for providing stipend and insurance cover to panchayat members. This is likely to entail Rs.100 crores annually," he added.
The chief minister said the success of panchayat system is the success of his government.
"Jammu and Kashmir is a state which cannot be governed from the secretariat, but from the grassroots level democratic institutions representing aspirations of the people. As such, we have moved forward with a commitment to create a powerful panchayat system in the state," he said, adding that services of 14 departments have been transferred to these institutions while transfer of many more powers are in the pipeline.
Abdullah also asked the newly-elected members of the legislative council from panchayat quota to keep close rapport with panches and sarpanches and oversee the utilization of powers entrusted to panchayats at block and village levels.
Referring to the development in the state during the last four years of the coalition government, he said that it was on this day four years back that the National Conference and Congress pledged to work together to seek peace and prosperity in the state.
"We worked sincerely towards achieving this goal and the impact of our endeavour is visible on ground whether opposition would like to see it or not," he said.
"Our report card is before the people and they will judge us by our performance. We will ask the people to go through our performance and give their verdict in next elections," he said.
Taking a dig at the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), Abdullah said the PDP who talk of power supply today did nothing during their tenure to launch even a single power project worth one megawatt but instead scuttled the 1,200 megawatt Sawalkote Power Project signed by the previous NCP regime, headed by Farooq Abdullah.
"My government has given top priority to this sector and projects to generate over 1,000 megawatt of electricity have already been launched which would yield benefit for the people in near future."
He said 13 lakh tourists visited the Valley in 2012 generating wide-ranging economic activities.
"We do not say that all has been done, but much progress on peace and development front has been achieved which is visible on ground and much more is to be done for which my government is moving forward with commitment and a pledge," he said.
About 3,000 panches and sarpanches from different parts of the Valley had turned up to attend the rally which was the first public meeting of the chief minister in Kashmir this year.