Ready for Assembly polls but EC has to take final call: Guv

Governor Satya Pal Malik addressing the Sarpanchs in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Governor Satya Pal Malik addressing the Sarpanchs in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

‘Sarpanchs will have protocol’

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 11: Governor Satya Pal Malik said today that the State administration was ready to hold Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but made it clear that a final call on it (the polls) has to be taken by New Delhi i.e. the Election Commission of India even as he announced that massive Central funding for Panchayats and Municipalities has been cleared by the Union Finance Ministry and the funds will be made available shortly to the civic bodies for undertaking developmental works.

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In a brief chat with media persons after attending ‘oath ceremony’ of Sarpanchs and addressing them, Malik told reporters that the State administration was ready for conduct of Assembly elections in the State. However, he said, a final call to this effect has to be taken by New Delhi i.e. the Election Commission of India.
“Whenever, they (the Election Commission of India) tells us, we are ready for the polls to the Assembly,’’ he said.
On IAS officer Shah Faesal’s resignation, Malik said he didn’t wish to comment on the matter.
Addressing the Sarpanchs, the Governor said he was with Prime Minister in New Delhi on January 6 and was told that the Union Finance Ministry has released grants for Panchayats and Municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir, which would be received by the State Government shortly and further given to the civic bodies to initiate developmental works in their areas.
Central grants for Panchayats and Municipalities running into hundreds of crores had been blocked by the Central Government for Jammu and Kashmir in the absence of elected Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies. The Centre had promised to release the grants once the elected Panchayats and Municipalities were in place.
Malik said he was told that the grants have been released.
“The grants will be shortly released to you. It’s now up to you to initiate the developmental works expeditiously,’’ he said addressing the Sarpanchs.
The Governor announced that a protocol would be devised for the Sarpanchs.
“Like Governor, Chief Minister, MLAs etc, the Sarpanchs will have their protocol. We will devise a proper protocol for you so that you are treated as duly elected representatives of the people and given due respect and place by the administration,’’ Malik said and assured the Sarpanchs that his doors will always be open for them without any appointment.
“You can come to meet me at any time,’’ he told the Sarpanchs.
The Governor declared that the Sarpanchs will be fully involved in development of their areas.
The Sarpanchs, he said, will have a role in planning development works of their areas. “Requirements of the Sarpanchs will be duly considered. Based on your requirements, we will implement the developmental works’’.
Malik said all Deputy Commissioners have been asked to give land for playfields in their areas so that the youth in the age group of 13-23, who have solution to all issues of Jammu and Kashmir, could play as they had nothing to do after 6 pm.
“This has worried some especially those, who don’t want youth to play but indulge in other kind of undesirable activities,’’ he added.
An official handout said:- Governor Satya Pal Malik attended the oath ceremony function of the newly elected Sarpanchs of Jammu division, organized by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, here today. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and K Vijay Kumar, Advisors to Governor, Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor and many senior officers from civil and police were present on the occasion.
Malik observed that the Panchayati Raj Institutions can truly represent and fulfill the developmental aspirations of people due to direct participation of people in planning development of their areas and implementing Government welfare schemes under close monitoring.
He complimented Sarpanchs and Panchs for their whole hearted participation in the Panchayat elections which were held after a gap of 7 years and saw a voter turn out of 74.1 %. He lauded people and Government functionaries for making it a well conducted and incident free elections even under very trying circumstances. He described it as the victory of democracy in a country which has faith in democratic institutions since time immemorial.
The Governor observed that major amendments in the Panchayati Raj Act have been incorporated through which the Government intends massive devolution of funds, functions and functionaries of 19 departments to the Panchayati Raj Institutions. He advised the Sarpanchs to use funds judiciously and urged them to ensure development which is in sync with the natural environment. He stressed that survival and existence of vegetation, trees, ponds, indigenous animal species etc should be taken into consideration while formulating development plans.
Malik assured every possible support of his administration to the Sarpanchs and Panchs and observed that planned development of any area would be done in consensus with the Panchs and Sarpanchs of respective Panchayats.
He emphasized upon the Sarpanchs to ensure that institutions responsible for ensuring primary health and education at grass root level are strengthened and attention is given to develop sports infrastructure at the village level with opportunities to youth to explore their capabilities to the maximum.
Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Advisor to Governor, congratulated the Sarpanchs on their election and advised Sheetal Nanda, Secretary Rural Development to print multilingual literature for ready reference of elected Panchs and Sarpanchs regarding their roles and responsibilities.
K Vijay Kumar, Advisor to Governor, also congratulated all the Sarpanchs on their successful election and advised them to work for the development of their areas as per people’s aspirations.
Sheetal Nanda, Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj assured her Department’s full co-operation to the Panchayats and informed them about their training programmes which will be shortly conducted by the Rural Development Department.
Earlier, Governor visited the stalls put up by the Government Departments for generating awareness about the various Central and State Government welfare schemes.
A short film on Panchayat elections was screened on the occasion.
Rehana Batul, Director General, Rural Development Department presented the welcome address and Muddasir Latif Tasir, ACD Samba gave a vote of thanks on the occasion.

I’ve come to J&K in 4 ‘Kurta-Pyjamas’
Asking newly elected Sarpanchs and Panchs to honestly perform their duties and responsibilities, Governor Satya Pal Malik today said that he has come to this State in four ‘kurta-pyjamas’ and will go back in the same.
“I belong to a normal family and was born in a village. At the age of 26, I was elected as MLA and the journey started. I remained MP, Minister and now here as Governor to serve you,” Malik said.
“I have come to J&K in four ‘kurta-pyjamas’ and will go back in the same but I assure you that for how long I will stay here, will try to work with honesty,” said the Governor.
He said that whenever he receive any call from someone anytime, he tries to address the issue at the earliest adding, “many forces predicted that Panchayat and Municipal elections will not be held in the State and we were ‘threatened’ in many ways.”
“I congratulate you (Panchayat members) and the officers for peaceful conduct of polls,” he said and added that not even single bird was harmed during elections and the exercise ended peacefully.
“We will try our best to secure every Panchayat representative and get them more funds for an overall development,” said Malik.