Governor again calls for urgent holding of Municipal elections

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 14: In yet another reminder, Governor NN Vohra today pointed out the dire need of holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies without any further loss of time saying large financial grants under the Finance Commission have been lost and the State might face more financial losses in the event of further delay in holding the polls.
The Governor gave the reminder to Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Sat Sharma during a meeting at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar this afternoon.
Confirming that the Governor stressed the need for immediately holding of elections to the Municipalities, Sharma told the Excelsior that he conveyed to Vohra that the Government would try to conduct Municipal elections as early as possible.
“Panchayat elections are to be held first. Whenever they are held, we will conduct ULB elections immediately thereafter,” Sharma said.
An official handout issued by the Raj Bhavan said the Governor pointed out the dire need of holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies without any further loss of time during his meeting with Sat Sharma.
Noting that elections to the Municipalities were last held 14 years ago, Vohra referred to the very large incentive grants under 13th Finance Commission, which had been lost and those under the 14th Finance Commission, which may also be lost unless urban governance was restored.
This is not the first time when the Governor has categorically asked the State Government to hold elections to Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies. Earlier, he had a number of times taken up the issue of conducting elections to Panchayats and Municipalities with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had asked the State Government to hold elections to the Panchayats.
The Chief Minister had announced Panchayat elections in February this year followed by the Municipal polls. However, the elections were later called off by the Government despite conducting the exercise like updating the voter lists etc after an All Party Meeting.
An official handout said Sat Sharma briefed the Governor about the functioning of the departments under his charge and the steps being taken by the Housing and Urban Development Department for improving the basic infrastructure facilities in the cities and towns of the State and implementation status of various Centrally Sponsored Schemes for which his departments are responsible.
The Governor advised Sharma to initiate effective steps to  ensure that there is no construction in any town or city which has not been cleared by the concerned authorities, enforce town planning in all urban areas, act against encroachments and unauthorised constructions, enforce strict adherence to building bye-laws  and facade control of all new constructions, garbage collection and planned disposal systems,  sewage treatment and other required measures  for people to live in clean, sanitary and un-congested towns and cities.
Vohra observed that if there is any lapse in the most stringent adherence to Master Plans and Building Bye-Laws the natural beauty of the Valley and other scenic areas in the State will be wiped out in the coming years.
Pointing to the loss of the most magnificent Wullar Lake and the continuing degradation of Dal and Nigeen lakes, the Governor urged Sharma to take urgent steps to save these beautiful water bodies from extinction.