Union MoS visits religious sites, inspects development scenario

SAMBA, OCTOBER 10: The second day of public outreach program of Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakashi Lekhi, today began with her visit to the ancient Buddhist site, Ambaran.
She inspected the Buddhist stupa, Akhnoor fort and the Jio-Pota Ghat, situated on the banks of river Chenab signifying the rich historical and cultural heritage of the region.
Afterwards, Meenakashi Lekhi visited ancient Narsingh Dham Temple, Ghagwal in Samba and offered prayers there.
Later, Union Minister inaugurated an exhibition of women Self Help Groups (SHGs) stalls in Nakshatra Gardens of Narsingh Dham. She inspected the stalls and interacted with the officials of handloom and handicrafts Department stall. She witnessed a live demonstration of Calico Block printing on fabric and even printed a fabric herself. She appreciated the unique talent of calico printers and provided valuable suggestions on contemporary fabrics and styles. She also commended the work done by NRLM UMEED.
In a heartwarming gesture, she prepared traditional Bajra rotis on a chulha, demonstrating her respect for local traditions and culinary practices.
On the occasion, Meenakashi Lekhi interacted with a large gathering of PRIs and SHG members at the Nakshatra Yoga center, speaking highly of the NRLM’s role in empowering women and providing them with a platform and identity.
Addressing the gathering, Union Minister stated that various government initiatives, such as the Ujjwala Yojana, creation of toilets and Ayushman cards have played an instrumental role in empowering the women. She passionately urged upon women to reduce plastic use, emphasizing the importance of environmental sustainability. She also highlighted the significance of promoting the use of millets due to their nutritional and cost-effective benefits. She recommended the use of bamboo cultivation and products in the district.
Union Minister, SHG members, along with prominent figures, also took a pledge to serve the nation wholeheartedly.
The event was attended by several prominent figures, including MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, DDC Chairman Keshav Dutt Sharma, DDC Vice Chairman Balwan Singh, as well as members of BDC, PRIs (Panchayati Raj Institutions), local residents, and officers from the District Administration.
Later, Meenakashi Lekhi proceeded to Purmandal, where she visited the ancient Shiv Temple. She offered prayers at the temple and inspected the temple site.
While inspecting the old temple, Union Minister directed for implementation of the already approved DPR for development of the temple complex. She also instructed for effective utilization of state land for development and the rejuvenation of Sarais. Additionally, she called for creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for restoration of old buildings.
Meenakashi Lekhi interacted with a delegation of PRI members and listened to their issues. She emphasized the importance of converting Purmandal into a plastic-free area through PRIs’ engagement, awareness campaigns, installation of waste trolleys at all main sites.
She also stressed on the promotion and involvement of local SHGs in preparing Pooja materials like chunris. She instructed that a pledge for cleanliness be taken, involving locals and pandits of Purmandal not to pollute Devika, the holy river.
Director Archives Pardeep Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Samba, Abhishek Sharma, Joint Director Tourism Sunaina Mehta and other senior officers of district administration Samba were present on the occasion.

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