A sense of elation pervaded the 25-member team comprising sarpanches and panches of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which arrived here on a 12-day tour on Sunday to acquire knowledge about developmental activities across villages in Amritsar district.
These members of panchayats from the Ramban district of J&K are members of the ‘Sair-E-Watan’ team of the Indian Army.
The group has visited villages in the Khadoor Sahib area of Tarn Taran and parts of Amritsar district over the last three days.
The members lauded the peaceful atmosphere of the state, which was primarily responsible for ushering in progress and development in villages after a decade-long period of terrorism.
Sharing their experiences at the Panthers Division headquarters here on Wednesday, the group termed the tour as an ‘eye-opener’ for them.
“Development is the key to move people away from terrorism. People living in villages are content with this phase of development. Some of them narrated their harrowing experiences during the days of terrorism. They told us how their lives changed after peace returned and the measures undertaken to bring overall development,” said Bashir Ahmed, a sarpanch from the Ramban area.
Referring to his visit in the Khadoor Sahib area, Ahmed said, “I was impressed by a fisheries project in a village. It was for the first time that I saw red-coloured fish. The project owner had procured them from abroad.”
He said he would replicate some of the development activities back home and would seek grants from the government.
“The climate back home is more ideal for fish rearing than in Punjab. I will take up the matter with the government officials and seek grant for a fisheries project,” said Ahmed.
Panch Arjan Singh said he was impressed by the dairy farms in some villages and would start his own business soon.
The team members were also in awe of the agricultural tools used by the farmers.
Another project which caught the team’s eye was the World Bank Sanitation and Water Supply project along with the RO-system.
The members felt that the RO-system should be introduced across villages in their state as their water sources did not provide clean drinking water.
The team also pointed out that the Panchayati Raj System (PRS) was not fully formed in their state. “Though the panchayats were constituted two years ago, or block samitis in our state,” they said.
Addressing the panches, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Panthers Division, Maj Gen RS Yadav, said, “I hope the team members will replicate development activities that they saw in Punjab in their villages.”
As part of the Army’s ‘Operation Sadbhavana’, the group will move to Jaipur, Delhi and then return home after a 12-day tour.