In a region which has yet to properly get 3-G and 4-G internet, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government have devised a mobile-application based system to monitor the progress of development programmes.
Implemented for the Prime Minister Community Infrastructure Development Programme (PMCIDP), the Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD) Secretary Dr Mahmoodul Hassan told The Express Tribune that WhatsApp groups and Android-based applications were generated to monitor the programme in the ten districts of the region.
The groups include project leaders and other staffers which share progress on programmes from work orders to the completion of schemes – everything is shared with pictures. All of this is monitored by the LG&RD secretary.
Talking about the programme, he explained the PMCIDP was among a number of development programmes in the region aimed at providing basic facilities to people in rural and urban areas of AJK.
“Water, sanitation, link roads, walkways, hospitals, renovation educational institutions renovation and public washrooms are all part of the PMCIDP in all ten districts of AJK from Neelum Valley to Intifkharabad in Bhimber,” the LG&RD secretary said, adding that education has been prioritised.
He explained that all schemes under the programme are started on the recommendations of notables of the 29 electoral constituencies of AJK, with development and uplift schemes being sanctioned without any politicking.
“I think to issue the community development schemes on the recommendations of notables in all 29 electoral constituencies in AJK was a paradigm shift from political accommodation and helps respond to the specific needs of the people of the region,” Dr Hassan added.
The government for its part, had set aside over half of the Rs1.5 billion budget for the LG&RD department, with Rs997 million allocated in 2016-17.
The programme was endorsed for a second year in 2017-18 with an allocation of Rs1.3 billion.
“We are optimistic that this programme will bring revolution at the grassroots level and would be a success story in the development sector of AJK,” he hoped.
Answering a question, Dr Hassan said that funds under the project have also been extended to the 12 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of Kashmiri refugees from Indian Occupied Kashmir settled in the all four provinces in Pakistan who will each receive given Rs5 million to operate the programme in their respective constituencies.
About the public complaints against the PMCIDP, Dr Hassan said that every report and complaint is taken seriously and that one project leader was suspended after complaints of mismanagement were received against him, showing how the government was not ready to compromise on quality and standards.
“Yes there were a few serious complaints on water supply and that pipes purchased were of low quality which is why we dropped [project leader] and now any kind of purchasing would be ensured on the basis of project organisation and through this mechanism, purchasing would be exempted from taxes as well,” Dr Hassan said.
“All water pipes [purchased under the project] would be marked ‘not for sale’ and ‘LG&RD’ after every foot.”
Mir, A. Application-based governance comes to AJK. The Express Tribune, September 25, 2017.