Kashmir panchayat member goes the extra mile to implement government schemes
Mir Iqbal, a 37-year-old panchayat member from north Kashmir’s Narwav area, is reputed to go the extra mile and not just figuratively, as he moves from village to village trying to solve people’s problems and implement government schemes on the grassroots level.
His indefatigable zeal to help villagers has won him several accolades, including an award from the Prime Minister at Palli village in Samba last month. Iqbal, a post-graduate from Kashmir University, joined politics in 2011 as a young Congress worker. “I am not from a political family and started as a grassroots worker. In 2018, I became the sarpanch of my village, Gantamulla, and was elected as block development council chairperson of Narwav block the next year,” says Iqbal, who is also the Jammu and Kashmir Congress youth general secretary.
During the pandemic, he came up with the slogan “respect all, suspect all,” earning the appreciation of the Prime Minister during a video conference with select panchayat members. “Our work during the pandemic --- when people were afraid to leave their houses, and collecting samples and quarantining was the need of the hour --- was appreciated by the health department and district administration,” he said.
Farooq Ahmad Mir, former block medical officer, Sheeri, says, “Iqbal and his team played a crucial role during Covid. Not only did they help the villagers, but also the health department officials in arresting the spread of the virus in the area.”
The Narwav block, spread over 56 square kilometres, comprises 17 panchayats. Iqbal and his team, through their remarkable work, have also brought recognition to the panchayat. “We won the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar for improving service and public goods delivery. The award has invigorated our passion for serving the people.”
Iqbal, the coordinator for block development councils in Baramulla district, said we used 100% funds under the back-to-village programme and 80 and 70% funds under the 14th Finance Commission and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, respectively.
Ask him about the work done for the area’s development, and Iqbal says, “We got a ₹25-crore water supply and filtration plant sanctioned and upgraded the power grid station from 50 to 100 MVA, besides setting up 30 dairy and mushroom units for unemployed youngsters. We also managed to get some spots on the tourism circuits of the Valley.”
On what more needs to be done, he says, “Due to the pandemic, I could not do much for the education sector as schools were closed. We need to upgrade the education system in our block.”
With his term ending next year, Iqbal wants to reach out to as many villages as possible. “It is my dream to see the villages in the block flourish in every field.”
Acknowledging Iqbal’s efforts, Mohammad Yasen, a village elder from the Narwav block, says, “He is always on the move, trying to get villagers’ work done. He has done several good things, but there is still lots to do before we can boast about our panchayat.”
Narwav BDO Abdul Rashid Gania said many development projects have been taken up in the block. “The role of BDC and PRIs has been pivotal for those projects,” he added.
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