Gram sabha wants to tax on J&K govt

In first move of its kind, a village panchayat in north Kashmir district of Baramulla has passed a resolution for levying taxes on the forest department and State Forest Corporation (SFC) for extracting timber from the village, which the panchayat considers to be the village’s property.

Reports said a meeting of the panchyat members of Gogaldara in Tangmarg was held on Friday in which the resolution was passed.

Mohammad Maqbool, sarpanch said the government was earning crores of rupees revenue from the timber which is being extracted from the village.

“But the villagers don’t get even few hundred cft of timber for construction of houses and people are forced to cut down green trees,” he said.

“We want our share from the sale of timber. We have passed this resolution in Delhi Majlis as it is the village assembly, we want our rights democratically.”

The villagers vowed to protect the forest and said nobody will be allowed to cut green trees in the area which has a hundreds of acres of forest.

Under J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 there is a provision for conducting a Delhi Majlis which is known as gram sabha in other states and the meeting, which was convened in the village was part of it.

Village resources

J&K Panchayati Raj Act also, has provisions for levying taxes on various village resources and the panchayat considers forest as one such resource which belongs to the village.

The gram sabha criticised revenue, health, social welfare, forest and wildlife officials for not attending the programme. The officials did not turn up got the programme despite being intimated in advance.

“This clearly shows that government officials are not interested in empowering the panchayats and gives an indication that these officials hardly care about Panchayati Raj,” said Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, convener of J&K RTI movement.

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