Apex, Divisional Level Committees constituted
By-polls to pave way for framing of Distt Boards
JAMMU, Sept 15: Government has set into motion an exercise to draw road-map and schedule for conduct of elections to 12,650 vacant seats of Panchayats and large number of Block Development Councils (BDCs) spread over 20 districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir by framing Apex and Divisional Level Committees.
The final decision about conduct of by-polls is likely to be taken in the month of October on the basis of report from the Apex Committee as these elections will pave the way for framing of District Planning and Development Boards under 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India, which along with 74th amendment, will be implemented in the Union Territory as sufficient hints in this regard have been given by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha a number of times.
The by-elections were necessitated as large number of seats were left vacant in 2018 Panchayat elections especially in the Kashmir valley in the absence of candidates followed by election of around 280 Chairpersons of Block Development Councils from amongst the Sarpanchs and Panchs.
As per the Government order, Apex and Divisional Level Committees have been constituted to conduct preparatory work for elections to the vacant Panchayat and Block Development Council seats.
The Apex Level Committee headed by Principal Secretary to the Government Home Department has been asked to draw a road-map and detailed schedule for conduct of elections on the basis of inputs from the Divisional Level Committees and upon assessment of ground level situation.
The Committee comprising of Director General of Police, Additional Director General of Police (CID), Commissioner Secretary to Government Transport Department, both Divisional Commissioners and Secretary to Government Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj will take into consideration various requirements including security, logistics, personnel and equipment etc.
The Divisional Level Committees headed by respective Divisional Commissioner and comprising of Inspector General of Police of respective zone and Directors of the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj will submit an outline of the possibilities and constraints on the basis of an assessment of manpower, security, logistics, transport, equipments and all other requirements to the Apex Level Committee.
Both the Divisional Level Committees have been directed to submit reports to the Apex Level Committee by September 21, 2020 while as Apex Level Committee has been asked to submit its report to the Government by September 29, 2020.
The report of the Apex Committee will be tabled before the Lieutenant Governor, who in consultation with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, will take final decision about holding of elections to vacant Panchayat and BDC seats most probably in the month of October.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the month of February this year the Chief Electoral Officer of J&K in consultation with the Government had even announced the schedule for holding election to these vacant Panchayat and BDC seats. It was also declared that by-polls will be conducted on party basis unlike the Panchayat polls in November-December 2018 which were held on non-party basis.
However, within few days of announcement of schedule, the Home Department issued an official communication advising the Election Authority to defer the conduct of polls based on credible inputs received from the law enforcement agencies.
“The framing of Apex and Divisional Level Committees indicates that Government wants to fill vacant seats as early as possible as in the absence of the same the formation of District Planning and Development Boards—the third tier of the Panchayati Raj System is getting delayed”, sources said.
They disclosed that District Planning and Development Boards will be constituted under 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India, which along with 74th amendment, will be implemented in the Union Territory as announced by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha a number of times.
During recent interactions with the representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions, the Lieutenant Governor reiterated the administration’s commitment for effectively implementing the 73rd and 74th amendments for empowering Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies.