EC seeks 4 to 5 months time for holding ULB elections in J&K

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Apr 12: The State Election Department has reportedly sought at least four to five months time to conduct the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the Government formally approached the Department for holding the elections following the Cabinet nod on April 6.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Election Department has asked for four to five months time for holding the ULB elections, which is inclusive of three months mandatory period for revision of electoral rolls of the bodies. The revision can start only after the Urban Development Department submits Ward wise list of the Corporations, Councils and Committees to the Election Department.
The Election Department will start revision of electoral rolls for all 82 ULBs including two Municipal Corporations in Jammu and Srinagar after it gets complete list of the Municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir with specific mention of the Ward wise areas.
The Election Commission had completed summary revision of electoral rolls in September last year before Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. However, according to sources, the revision of electoral rolls is mandatory as per the State Election Laws before holding the ULB elections. This revision will be confined to areas falling under the ULBs, they said.
Sources admitted that process of the Urban Development Department to submit Ward wise list of the Local Bodies to the Election Department followed by revision of electoral rolls could consume time of at least five months, thus, pushing the elections to as early as October.
On its part, sources said, the Government would also like to hold the ULB elections in October when it would be free from Amarnath yatra (which would conclude this year on August 29 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan) and the Monsoon session of the Legislature. Moreover, weather conditions would also be suitable for all three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in the months of October and November.
Sources said the Election Department would appoint Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and AEROs shortly after getting Ward wise list of all the ULBs from the Urban Development and Local Bodies’ Departments.
The ULB elections are being held in Jammu and Kashmir after a gap of more than five years. The ULBs elected in January 2005 during the then PDP-Congress regime of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had completed their five years tenure in March 2010. But the then NC-Congress coalition Government continued to defer the elections on one pretext or the other despite initiating the process several times.
It may be mentioned here that there were 82 ULBs including Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) and Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). There were 74 Municipal Committees and six Municipal Councils. Poonch, Udhampur and Kathua in Jammu region, Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag in Kashmir division were the Councils and the rest were Committees.
The Government could lose huge sum under 14th Finance Commission awards if the elected ULBs were not in place in the current year, sources said.
At present, Anantnag district topped with 11 Municipalities followed by Jammu and Baramulla with 7 each, Kathua and Budgam 6 each, Rajouri, Kulgam and Pulwama 5 each, Samba 4, Udhampur, Doda, Ramban, Bandipora and Kupwara 3 each, Reasi and Poonch 2 each, Kishtwar, Shopian, Ganderbal, Leh and Kargil one each.
Sources said apart from holding the elections, the Government was also planning to empower the Municipalities including the two Corporations in the twin capital cities of the State by bringing several Depar-tments under their control.
“A proposal to this effect would also be prepared shortly,’’ they added.

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