CEO sets process in motion for BDC elections in J&K

Schedule for Electoral College issued
*EROs, AEROs appointed in all 22 distts
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 6: The Election Authority today set the process in motion for conducting elections to the Block Development Councils in Jammu and Kashmir by finalizing schedule for publication of final Electoral College on September 23 while the elections were likely to be held in the month of October.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Address to Nation on August 8 which was delivered following abrogation of special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh had announced conduct of the Block Development Council elections in J&K. The State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik had also given nod to the BDC elections in February this year.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shailendra Kumar, who happens to be the Election Authority for holding the Block Development Council elections in the State, today issued the schedule for preparation of electoral rolls for the BDC polls.
As per the schedule, preparations for electoral rolls will start on September 9 while draft electoral rolls will be published on September 14. September 19 has been fixed as last date for filing of claims and objections and September 21 will be the last date for disposal of claims and objections. Final electoral rolls will be published on September 23.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the election schedule including date(s) for conduct of the Block Development Council elections was likely to be issued anytime after publication of final electoral rolls. If all goes well, the elections were likely to be held in October.
“The chairpersons of the Block Development Councils will be elected by the Electoral College comprising Panchs and Sarpanchs of Halqa Panchayats falling within the Block,” the Election Authority notification issued today said.
There are 316 Block Development Councils in the State.
The Electoral Rolls will be prepared constituency wise. The entire block will be the constituency for election of Chairpersons of the Block Development Councils, the notification said, adding the superintendence, direction and control for preparation of Electoral Rolls is vested in the Election Authority i.e. the Chief Electoral Officer.
It said the jurisdiction of Block Development Councils vis-à-vis the constituent Panchayat Halqas will be as per notification SRO No. 522 dated September 3 issued by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
Along with schedule for preparation of Electoral Rolls, the Election Authority has also appointed Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Assistant Electoral Registration Officers (AEROs) in all 22 districts.
The District Panchayat Officer (DPO) of every district will be the Electoral Registration Officer while the BDOs of every block will be Assistant Electoral Registration Officer of the concerned Block Development Council.
The Block Development Councils will be second-tier of Panchayats to come into existence in Jammu and Kashmir, which will be followed by third tier-the District Planning and Development Boards.
Sources said the second tier of Panchayats might be set up only in the Panchayats which have been fully constituted. In the areas where Panchayats couldn’t be established due to lack of quorum, the BDC elections might not be held.
About 1057 Panchayats haven’t been constituted in Kashmir region due to lack of quorum.
Out of a total of 4483 Panchayats in the State, there were 2135 in Kashmir. As many as 1057 Panchayats couldn’t be constituted in the Valley due to lack of quorum, sources said.
As per the Panchayati Raj Act of Jammu and Kashmir, there should be at least one Sarpanch and one Panch to form quorum for constitution of the Panchayats but in 1057 Panchayats, there was either Sarpanch or Panch and they couldn’t be constituted.
This will be for the first time that elections to second tier of Panchayats are being held in the State in past several decades.
The Central and State Governments had recently announced that three-tier Panchayati Raj system will be established in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time and the Panchayats would be given administrative and financial powers for development of the rural areas. The State Government has delegated several powers to the Panchayats. More powers would be given shortly, they said, adding the powers would increase once the BDCs are set up.
After holding Panchayat elections in 2011 after nearly four decades, the National Conference-Congress coalition Government headed by Omar Abdullah had announced conduct of elections to the BDCs in November 2012. The Election Department had announced schedule for constituting 143 Block Development Councils. However, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had then questioned the BDC elections without reservations. After Azad’s statement, the then Government had deferred the BDC elections, which could never be held again.
However, the present Government has already given 33 per cent reservations to the women besides SCs and STs.