In his first public address in the Kashmir valley since assuming office, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu on Friday laid emphasis on empowering grass-roots institutions.“The government is working on implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendments of Panchayat Raj Act to empower Panchayat members to work more effectively across the Union Territory of J&K,” said Mr. Murmu, who assumed office on October 31.The incorporation of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992, would give constitutional status to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in J&K and make them more powerful, he added.Mr. Murmu chose a ‘Back to Village’ programme at Sonpah, Beerwah in Budgam district to make his first public appearance. The meet, which was held under heavy security cover, was attended by more than 300 locals. The Lt. Governor was accompanied by Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam.“The ongoing programme is meant to empower people at grass-roots level. A review of Prime Minister’s package shall also be taken for its equitable implementation across J&K. Special focus is being given on the completion of 2,500 languishing projects, out of which half of the projects have been completed,” he said.Mr. Murmu said the ‘Back to Village’ programme was going smoothly across J&K and saw overwhelming response, four days after militants targeted it. “The ongoing programme has generated massive response from the public; however, unfortunately some people are trying to sabotage it in some areas,” he added.Condemning the militant attack at Hakura in Anantnag, in which a local sarpanch and an officer lost their lives, the Lt. Governor said, “such incidents are aimed at disrupting the people-centric welfare programmes and schemes. These inhuman and dastardly acts are not going to deter the government in its resolve to reach out to the people and usher a new era of participatory development.”Meanwhile, Mr. Murmu announced a special ex-gratia of ₹30 lakh in favour of the next of kin of the deceased government employee Sheikh Zahoor Ahmed.