No formal order by H&UDD despite lapse of 5 months

Up-gradation of 13 Municipal Committees as Councils

Administrative Council’s decision remains unimplemented

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 2: Despite lapse of five months, the Housing and Urban Development Department has failed to issue formal order regarding up-gradation of 13 Municipal Committees of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as a result of which the much-hyped decision of the Administrative Council has remained unimplemented.
In order to strengthen the Urban Local Bodies, the Administrative Council headed by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu on January 30, 2020 accorded approval to the up-gradation of 13 Municipal Committees as Municipal Councils including seven in Kashmir valley and six in Jammu region.
The criteria of more than 30,000 population was taken into account on the basis of 2011 Census to order up-gradation of Municipal Committees as Municipal Councils. The Municipal Committees which were identified for up-gradation included Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Ganderbal, Budgam, Bandipora and Kupwara in Kashmir division and Reasi, Doda, Samba, Kishtwar, Ramban and Rajouri in Jammu division.
Accordingly, the Housing and Urban Development Department was asked to complete the formalities as expeditiously as possible so that decision of the Administrative Council is translated into reality.
However, despite lapse of five months no formal order regarding up-gradation of these 13 Municipal Committees has been issued by the Housing and Urban Development Department, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “the delay is notwithstanding the fact that formalities including inviting of objections from the people have already been completed as desired by the Department of Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs”.
It is pertinent to mention here that at present there are only six Municipal Councils in Jammu and Kashmir including three each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions namely Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramulla and Sopore.
“Because of delay in issuance of formal order regarding up-gradation of 13 Municipal Committees these Urban Local Bodies have remained deprived of enhanced funding which they were supposed to get after their conversion into Municipal Councils”, sources said.
Not only for up-gradation of 13 Municipal Committees the Housing and Urban Development Department is also required to issue orders for up-gradation of posts of the Executive Officers as Chief Executive Officers as approved by the Administrative Council, sources further said, adding “similarly no step has been initiated till date to fill 19 posts of the Accounts Officers in the existing and proposed Municipal Councils which was also given nod by the Administrative Council”.
This decision was taken to help the Municipal Councils in effective handling of conceptualisation and planning of development activities along with timely execution besides enabling the Councils to perform emerging roles viz., social development, social justice and urban poverty alleviation.
In response to a question, they said, “upgraded posts of Chief Executive Officers can also be filled up initially by deputing officers of the Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Service of equivalent rank/scale”.
The Administrative Council had also accorded sanction for abolition of engineering wings of Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Jammu and Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir and their transfer to the Jammu Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Municipal Corporation respectively. Moreover, nod was given for execution of civil works of Urban Local Bodies through respective divisions/ sub-divisions of the Public Works (R&B) Department.
“If this decision can be implemented in a time bound manner what was the hurdle in issuing formal orders for up-gradation of Municipal Committees”, sources asked and stressed that Government of J&K UT should come up with a mechanism to ensure timely action on the decisions of the Administrative Council otherwise it gives an impression to the general public that there is no change in the functioning of the administration even under new mechanism of governance.
They further said, “since Urban Local Bodies are receiving huge funding from the Government of India for transforming the developmental profile of the urban areas of the J&K UT, all the decisions about Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees must be translated into reality in a time bound manner”.