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Vested political interests responsible for massive losses to ULBs: Harsh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 20:  Harsh Dev Singh, chairman of JKNPP and former minister, today alleged that despite losses of several hundreds of crores sustained by the Urban Local Bodies in the State due to non holding of elections, the BJP-PDP Govt was still apathetic to the grave issue for vested political interests.
He regretted that non holding of local bodies elections was deliberate and politically motivated which had deprived the general masses of the developmental funds to which they were otherwise entitled and urged upon the Governor to take due cognizance of the issue, he being the constitutional head of the State.
Singh said that the 14th Finance Commission had provided a grant of Rs 125.30 crore in the first instance for 2015-16, which however could not be availed and got lapsed due to Government’s failure to hold such elections. “Earlier also, Rs 169.29 crores of funds under 13th Finance Commission for urban local bodies had lapsed for the same reason. Likewise around Rs. 173.50 crore proposed for 2016-17 under 14th Finance and Rs 197 crore for AMRUT scheme, is also likely to get lapsed as Government has no intentions to constitute Municipal bodies before March 2017,” he added.
Harsh Dev Singh said that non holding of immediate elections would further deprive the State of ‘Performance Grant’ of Rs 607 crore for five years, starting April 1, 2015 which had been assured by the 14th Finance Commission as additional grant in case the State fulfilled the benchmarks stipulated by it. “Non constitution of Urban Local Bodies has not only caused financial loss to the State but also enabled the Government to rule and administer the Urban areas by proxy in the absence of grassroot democratic institutions in the municipal areas.
Harsh Dev Singh said that the State Government  has not only been biased and prejudiced in ensuring time bound elections to the said bodies but has committed violations of legal provisions of Municipal Act and Municipal Corporation Acts in the process besides  those of State Accountability Commission Act.  He pointed out that Sec 14 of Municipal Act categorically provides that elections to constitute a municipality shall be completed before the expiry of its duration of five years.
Expressing serious concern over frequent postponements of elections, Singh appealed to the State Governor besides SAC to intervene so as to check further violations of legal provisions for vested political interests and to further ensure that the people were not deprived of their genuine democratic rights and aspirations.

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