The preparations for holding much-awaited elections to Urban Local Bodies in Jammu and Kashmir have finally begun, with the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syeed Monday formally having asked Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for putting in place these grass root level democratic institutions as early as possible. KNS has learnt from the highly placed sources that the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syeed on Monday evening held a detailed meeting with the CEO Jammu and Kashmir, Shant Manu at his Jammu residence and discussed the preparations about holding the Municipal polls in the state. “During the meeting Mufti emphasized that the Government is committed to put these duly elected Urban Local Bodies in place as soon as possible so that State can receive huge grants under 14th Finance Commission awards and empower people to decide their developmental needs at the local level,” sources said while quoting CM. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jammu and Kashmir, Shant Manu confirmed to KNS that the meeting regarding the Municipal polls was held in Jammu. “Yes I had a meeting with the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syeed regarding the holding of Municipal polls in the state. I can say that these elections are likely to be held in March,” he said. He added that the elections will be in four phases and after the Municipal elections, the Panchyat polls will be held subsequently in the state in May. CEO said that the office of Chief Electoral Officer has already started preparations for holding polls to Urban Local Bodies. “We have asked all the Deputy Commissioners to send the proposals for appointment of Electoral Registration Officers and Assistant Electoral Registration Officers for Municipal Corporation, Council and Committee falling in their districts for hearing claims and objections for preparation of electoral rolls of wards of Urban Local Bodies,” he added. The State Cabinet had on April 6 given nod to holding of Urban Local Bodies elections and this decision was conveyed to the office of Chief Electoral Officer by the Commissioner Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department vide letter No.HUD/LSG/ULBK/113/Part-III. As per the detailed summary prepared by the Housing and Urban Development Department, there are 47 Municipal Council/Committees in Kashmir division and their number in Jammu division is 37. For capital cities, there are Municipal Corporations. The Municipal Corporation of Srinagar has 73 wards while as there are 71 wards in the Municipal Corporation of Jammu. There are three Municipal Councils each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions. The 14th Finance Commission has recommended award of Rs 4769.37 crore to the Jammu and Kashmir for the local self Government for a period of five years from 2015-16. Of the total award, an amount of Rs 1305.64 crore has been recommended for the Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Corporations, Councils and Committees). The amount would be released in two installments-first in June and second in October every year and if the Government succeeds in holding elections in March it would be able to receive installment of the next year. It is pertinent to mention here that elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) were last held in the year 2005 and their five-year term expired in 2010. Thereafter, no attention was ever paid towards holding fresh elections to these grass root level democratic institutions in urban areas of the State.
2015 Kashmir Despatch