The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta today chaired a marathon meeting with the Chairpersons of District Development Councils (DDCs) of all districts of Jammu and Kashmir to stay abreast with the ground realities, local needs, and issues faced by the local self-governments.Principal Secretary, Home Department, Principal Secretary Rural Development Department, besides, Divisional Commissioners, Kashmir/Jammu, Deputy Commissioners and District SPs of all districts participated in the meeting.While interacting with the elected representatives of the 3rd-tier government, the Chief Secretary informed that the District Development Councils, Block Development Councils and Panchayats have laid the foundation of vibrant grassroot democracy and given expression to the local needs in the Union territory.He said that the recent devolution of powers with respect to 29 functions enumerated in the 11th schedule of the Constitution of India has further strengthened the Panchayati Raj Institutions in Jammu and Kashmir. “Although the reforms have recently been introduced in the UT, J&K has rigorously implemented the provisions in letter and spirit and has caught up with better performing states/UTs in empowering the PRIs as institutions for local government and project planning and implementation in accordance with felt needs”, he added.The Chief Secretary urged the District Development Councils to encourage participatory democracy during plan formation through wider public outreach and participation. He also asked them to remain vigilant to the COVID threat and vigorously promote COVID appropriate behavior within respective jurisdictions.The DDC Chairpersons apprised the Chief Secretary on various district-specific needs and issues faced by them. The Chief Secretary assured the District Development Councils of extended support and assistance towards progressive strengthening of PRIs and effective implementation of various provisions enshrined in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. He directed the divisional and district administrations to extend support and cooperation to the members of DDCs and BDCs.