SAC initiates exercise for Municipal elections in J&K

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, July 11: The State Administrative Council (SAC)  today set into motion the process for holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, which haven’t been held in the State for last more than eight years.
At its meeting today in Srinagar chaired by Governor NN Vohra, the SAC directed the Housing and Urban Development Department to initiate the process of holding elections to the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees across the State in consultations with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jammu and Kashmir, who has been designated as the `Election Authority’ for conduct of Municipal polls in the State as there was no State Election Commission.
Excelsior had only a day before exclusively reported that the Governor had set the electoral exercise for Municipal and Panchayat elections in motion but wanted to conduct Municipal elections first as Municipalities exist in cities and towns. If the Municipal elections were conducted successfully, they will be followed by the Panchayat polls.
“The SAC observed that as per Section 282 (1) of the J&K Municipal Act and Section 9 (1) of J&K Municipal Corporation Act, the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K has been assigned with the responsibility of superintendence, directions and control of preparation of electoral rolls, determination of wards etc.
The SAC also directed the Housing and Urban Development Department to initiate the required steps in consultations with the Chief Electoral Officer including preparation and updating of electoral rolls for holding of the Municipal elections.
The Municipal elections to the State were last held in January-February 2005 and the elected bodies had completed their five year term in March 2010. Since then, successive Governments didn’t hold elections to the Urban Local Bodies.
During 2016 when the State was under spell of Governor’s rule after the death of then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Vohra had ordered holding of the Municipal elections and majority of formalities were completed for the polls. However, before the election scheduled could be announced, the Governor’s rule was over as the PDP-BJP again formed the Government on April 4, 2016.
Sources said the Government wants to test the waters by holding the Municipal elections. If the election exercise was successful without any major violent incidents, the Panchayat elections would follow in the State.
Since the Panchayat elections are confined to rural areas, the Government anticipates that the militants could target candidates to sabotage the polls and it was in this context that it has gone for Municipal elections first.
An official handout said:- Dispelling the reports regarding purported disruption of the academic activity due to the detachment of staff in the Education Department, the Government today made it clear that while implementing the policy decision on detachment of Government employees, it would be ensured that the academic environment in the State is not affected any way.
“Out of the total academic manpower strength of 1.32 lakh in the Education Department, just 1035 (0.78%) detachments have been ordered by virtue of the policy decision issued vide Order No: 22 of GAD dated: 06-07-2018,” said Rigzian Sampeal, Secretary to the Government, School Education Department.
He said the deployments made on the basis of rationalization of educational institutions, in the interest of smooth functioning of schools, and on the basis of providing subject specialists through a proper Government order won’t be affected by this decision in academic interest.
The Secretary Education further said that the attachments/deployments made on the grounds of health, marriage, security and compassion through a proper Government order also won’t be disturbed.
He said the Government is alive to the academic interest of the students and on the directions of the Governor all possible efforts are being made to ensure continuity of the academic activities without any disruption and distraction.
Meanwhile, the SAC approved roll-out of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission (PMRSSM) in the State.
The flagship scheme is aimed at providing assured health coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization for 1350 identified diseases through a cashless procedure with the help of a smart health card with unique ID, which would be issued to the beneficiaries.
The healthcare services will be delivered through a network public and private healthcare providers. In the State of J&K, 6,13,648 families comprising 36 lakh beneficiaries, which is about 29% population of the total population, would be covered under the Scheme.
In order to implement the Scheme effectively, a State Health Agency has been constituted with a Governing Council under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary. Similarly, an Executive Committee has been constituted for proper implementation of the Mission under the chairmanship of a Chief Executive Officer, who would be assisted by various health experts from the field of health insurance.  All Government Hospitals would be automatically empanelled and private hospitals would have to get empanelled to act as healthcare providers. Every Private and Public Hospital will have “Ayushman Mitra” who will act as a facilitator for admission and processing the claims of beneficiaries of the Mission.
The salient features of PMRSSM include, cashless and paperless scheme which provides access to services in any public and private empanelled hospitals across India; there will be no cap on Family Size so as to ensure all members of designated families, specifically girl child and senior citizens, get coverage; the main feature of the scheme is its portability which means beneficiary can avail treatment in any empanelled chain of hospitals, both public and private, in the country; for all beneficiaries, a health card with a unique ID will be provided.
The main aim of the Mission is to cut down out of pocket expenditure of the population in SECC categories, which eventually will raise the Standard of Living of their families by way of savings on medical expenditure and leaving it for expenditure on health, nutrition and education.
Earlier, the Governor chaired the 3rd meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) at Raj Bhavan, Srinagar.
Advisors to the Governor, B B Vyas, Vijay Kumar and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai besides Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam attended the meeting.
The SAC deliberated upon the various proposals submitted by Administrative departments for its consideration and approval.
In a major decision having far reaching benefits for the entrepreneurs of State in general and youth in particular, the SAC approved exemption of turnover and experience conditions for all State Start-ups and Micro & Small Enterprises (MSEs) registered in Jammu and Kashmir including price preference of 20% for public procurement by Government Departments and Organizations.
The decision aimed at creation of a favourable ecosystem for the State start-ups and MSE Sector by enabling them to participate in the tendering process of all State Government Departments and agencies on an equal platform vis-à-vis experienced entrepreneurs and companies without worrying for turnover and experience qualifications.
The decision would help generate large scale employment opportunities among skilled and budding entrepreneurs of the State.
The SAC approved the Bill titled “The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018”, contemplating massive up-gradation of infrastructure, particularly for improving the living conditions of the Jail inmates.
In this context, reference was made to a Public Interest Litigation, pending before the Supreme Court of India regarding inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons and relating to various reformative measures for Prisons. The Apex Court has, from time to time, passed several directions to the Union and the State Governments vis-à-vis overcrowding of Prisons, inadequacy of staff and poor living conditions for the inmates.
Taking note of the directions passed by the Supreme Court, the SAC emphasized the need for massive up-gradation of Jails at Jammu, Udhampur, Anantnag, Kupwara and Central Jail Srinagar.
The SAC accorded approval to the establishment of Medical Block at Zainapora in District Shopian along with the creation of seven posts of various categories for the block including one post each of BMO, Health Educator, Accounts Assistant and Senior Assistant, two posts of Basic Health Worker and one post of Driver.
With the establishment of BMO Office at Zainapora, the monitoring/supervision of healthcare facilities in the area would be done in an effective manner. The area has two Primary Health Centers, 24 Sub Centers, 5 New Type PHCs and 4 Medical Aid Centre.
Earlier these health facilities came under the Medical Block Shopian and the general public had to travel a long distance of about 22 km to get their healthcare issues resolved at the BMO office, Shopian. Now with the creation of new Medical Block at Zainapora, the public of the area would not have to travel long distances to reach the BMO Office for availing necessary facilities.
The SAC accorded sanction to the creation of 22 posts of Full Time Secretaries (Sub-Judge) and 22 posts of Steno-Typist I (with knowledge of Accounts) for 22 District Legal Services Authorities (DSLAs) of the State.
The SAC approved the proposal for seeking of prior clearance/concurrence of the Finance Department before referring non-gazetted vacancies under direct recruitment quota to J&K Services Selection Board and other recruiting agencies, as the case may be.
While this measure will help to correctly appreciate the manpower requirement of various departments, it will also facilitate data capturing of the vacancy position in the departments and referrals made to the recruiting agency during a particular period, so as to avoid duplicity of referrals noticed in the past.