Jammu: Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shantmanu on Tuesday briefed Governor N N Vohra and members of State Administrative Council (SAC) about the status of preparations for conduct of Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies elections in J&K, at the Raj Bhavan here.
The CEO informed that the preparations are well on course for conducting free and fair Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections in the State and that the electoral roll will be finalised before March 31, 2016.
Discussions were held with the CEO about the schedule of elections to all Urban Local Bodies in the coming months.
Khurshid A Ganai and Parvez Dewan-Advisors to the Governor; B.R. Sharma, Chief Secretary; B.B. Vyas, Financial Commissioner Planning and Development Department; P.K Tripathi, Principal Secretary to the Governor participated in the meeting. Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Secretary Rural Development and Panchayati Raj was also called in to discuss issues relating to the Panchayat elections.
The Governor noted that holding of timely elections to the Urban Local Bodies will enable the State to derive maximum benefit from the 14th Finance Commission Award which provides about Rs 5480 crore for the decentralized democratic framework: Rs 3463.73 crore and Rs 1305.64 crore for the rural and urban local bodies, respectively, and Rs 346.73 crore and Rs 261.13 crore as Performance Grants for rural and urban local bodies. It was also noted that the State had lost over Rs 169 crore for the non conduct of ULB elections and an allocation of over Rs 125 crore was lost in 2015-16 for want of duly constituted municipalities.
The Governor also reviewed the status of preparations with regard to conduct of Panchayat elections. It was noted that after the elections in 2011 the Panchayats were notified on 14th July, 2011, with a term of five years. As per the law, the new Panchayats will have to be in position on or before 14th July, 2016.
As per the J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, the election to the Halqa Panchayat shall be held one month prior to the expiry of the term. In this context the Governor asked the Chief Secretary to have an urgent meeting with CEO, Secretary Rural Development and other concerned to work out an Action Plan for the conduct of Panchayat elections in the State by June, this year, on the lines of the experience gained in the 2011 elections.
A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said the Panchayat elections 2011 were held in 17 phases from 13th April, 2011 to 27th June, 2011. Keeping in view the need to establish Panchayati Raj Institutions in the State for securing effective participation of the people in the decision making process and for overseeing the implementation and developmental programmes, it was imperative to hold timely elections to the Panchayats.
Shantmanu, CEO, who has already been designated as State Election Commission for holding Panchayat polls, informed the meeting about the to-date status of the preparations underway for timely holding Panchayat elections.
The Raj Bhawan spokesman added that the Governor will very shortly hold discussions with the leaders of various political parties for securing their support and involvement in the forthcoming elections to rural and urban Local Bodies this year.