J&K set to lose Rs 350.01 cr worth grants in absence of elected ULBs

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 17: Jammu and Kashmir is at the verge of losing Rs 350.01 crores worth grants for Urban Local Bodies in the absence of elected Municipalities while it would get Rs 598.29 crores worth grants for Panchayats during upcoming financial year of 2017-18 as against Rs 517.81 crores in the current year of 2016-17. Another handsome amount of Rs 258.41 crores would be lost if the elections were not held to the Municipalities.
Official sources said Jammu and Kashmir will get Rs 3117.36 crores worth grants for Rural Local Bodies i.e. the Panchayats as per the 14th Finance Commission Awards from 2015-20. During current financial year, the Panchayats were scheduled to get Rs 517.81 crores and the amount would go up to Rs 598.29 crores in the upcoming financial year of 2017-18.
The grants to Panchayats would further go up to Rs 692.11 crores in 2018-19 and Rs 935.19 crores during 2019-20. The grants were Rs 373.96 crores in 2015-16.
The Performance Related Grants for the Panchayats would be to the tune of Rs 67.92 crores in the current financial year and Rs 76.86 crores in 2017-18, which would subsequently go up to Rs 87.29 crores in 2018-19 and Rs 114.3 crores in 2019-20.
The Performance Related Grants are released after reviewing performance of the Panchayats. The Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir had ceased to exist in June last year as the Government didn’t hold timely elections to them. The Government now proposed to hold Panchayat elections in the State in March-April this year so that the Panchayats are in place by May-June and they could get the normal grants as well as Performance Related Grants for 2017-18.
However, Jammu and Kashmir is in for a major setback in terms of grants for Urban Local Bodies as the grants are released only to the elected Municipalities, which were not in place in the State since March 2010.
Sources said Jammu and Kashmir’s Urban Local Bodies were entitled to Rs 125.3 crores worth grants in 2015-16 and Rs 173.5 crores during current financial year of 2016-17, totaling Rs 298.8 crores. Rs 51.21 crores were Performance Grants for the Municipalities during 2016-17, which would take the total loss to Rs 350.01 crores.
“The State was at the verge of losing these grants in the absence of Elected Municipal Bodies in the State. And if the elections to the Municipalities were not held this year, the grants to the tune of Rs 258.41 crores including Rs 200.46 crores Basic Grants and Rs 57.95 crores worth Performance Related Grants, would also be lost, to which the State is entitled during 2017-18,” sources pointed out.
The grants for Urban Local Bodies have been pegged at Rs 313.35 crores during 2019-20. The total Urban Local Bodies’ grants during 2015-20 were pegged at Rs 1044.51 crores.
The total Performance Related Grants of the Municipalities during 2015-20 were projected at Rs 261.13 crores.
Sources said the Basic Grants are released to elected Panchayats and Municipalities while Performance Related Grants are released after review of the performance of Panchayats by the concerned Ministries of the Union Government.
While Jammu and Kashmir Government proposed to hold Panchayat elections in March-April, there was no word by the Government on holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies so far.
The Panchayat elections were held in 2011 and the Rural Local Bodies had completed their term in June 2016. The elections to them were due to be held in April-May last year so that they could be in place well in time.
Similarly, the Urban Local Bodies elections were last held in January 2005 and five year term of the Municipalities was completed in March 2010. For the last seven years now, the Urban Local Bodies elections have not been held, first by the PDP-Congress and now by the PDP-BJP Government.