July 2018 News

Govt Constitutes Official Panel For Panchayat, ULB Polls

19 July 2018
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Srinagar: The government Thursday constituted State and Divisional level committees for preparing for the Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies polls in the State. The move comes after the State Administrative Council (SAC) in its previous two meetings asked the Rural Development Department (RDD) and Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) to start the process for the elections expected to be conducted in September this year. An order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) Thursday read, 'Sanction is hereby accorded to the constitution of State Level and the Divisional Level Committees comprising of the following officers to conduct preparatory work for elections to the Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies.' The State Level committee would be headed Principal Secretary Home as Chairman; while Director General of Police; Principal Secretary Transport department; Additional Director General of Police (CID); Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir and Jammu); Secretary Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department and representative of Housing and Urban Development department as members. As per the order, the State Level Committee is mandated to draw a roadmap and detailed schedule for conduct of elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats across the State on the basis of inputs from the divisional level committees and an assessment of the ground level situation taking into consideration security, logistical, personnel, equipment and all other requirements. The order states that the divisional level committees would assess the manpower, security, logistical transport, equipment and all other requirements. It states that the divisional level committees should submit an 'outline of the possibilities and constraints to the state level committee. These reports shall be submitted by July 27, 2018.' 'The state level committee shall submit its report to the government by August 10. These committees shall be serviced by the department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Housing and Urban Development department in respect of elections to the Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies polls,' the order further states. The divisional level committees of Kashmir and Jammu are to be headed by the respective Divisional Commissioners as Chairmen while Inspector General of Police (Kashmir and Jammu); Director Rural Development (Kashmir and Jammu); Director Urban Local Body (Kashmir and Jammu) as members. National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress have all expressed reservations on conducting elections in the State owing to the prevailing law and order situation in the Valley. Only the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has welcomed SAC's decision asking the Governor to hold polls without any delay. Last week, the SAC reversed the PDP-BJP government's controversial decision of indirect election for sarpanchs and amended the law to facilitate direct election for the village body heads. The Chief Electoral Officer J&K requires 75 days to prepare from the date when the elections are notified. In February this year, PDP-BJP government had called a meeting of all political parties, following which it was conveyed to Government of India that there could be serious law and order problems in the Valley, especially in south Kashmir, if any elections were held. Last year elections to the Anantnag parliamentary seat had to be postponed just two days prior to polling date as the government anticipated deterioration in law and order situation. The election to 81 municipal bodies (municipal corporations, municipal councils, municipal committees) were last held in 2005, the term of which ended in 2010. The elections to municipal bodies have not been held since last eight years. Jammu Kashmir has 4378 panchayats and the last Panchayat polls were held in 2011 with 80 percent turnout.

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