With the uncertainty continuing to prevail over the conduct of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections in the Jammu and Kashmir , the state is not only losing crores of Central funding, but the urban infrastructure projects in the state are also getting affected. Sources told KNS that the Election Department (ED) has not received any official document from government to already overdue ULB polls. “Since the formation of the new government in the state on March 1, 2015, people are awaiting the announcement of the elections. Due to the non-conduct of polls, central Government withheld crores of rupees under various urban development schemes to be implemented through these elected self government units,” official sources disclosed to KNS. Sources also said the delay in carrying out urban local bodies elections were the main reason for non-inclusion of any of the J&K cities in the Smart City project of the Central government. It is to mention here that recently, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said the elections would be held in April 2016 while Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh claimed that the government intended to conduct the elections by year-end. There are 74 Municipal Committees, six Municipal Councils and two Municipal Corporations in J&K. The elections to these were last held in 2005 after 23 years. Incidentally, the last municipal elections were held in 2005 when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Chief Minister and headed the coalition with the Congress. The 14th Finance Commission recently decided to enhance the funding for the local bodies in the state. The commission proposed Rs 4,161 crore for the state which included Rs 3,117.36 crore for the Rural Local Bodies and Rs 1,044.51 crore for the Urban Local Bodies with a precondition that the funds will be released only if the elected local bodies were constituted as a measure of democratic decentralization. “The 14th Finance Commission had provided a grant of Rs 125.30 crore in the first instance for 2015-16 which, however, could be availed only if the elected municipal bodies were in place during the current year,” one of the officials of the housing department told KNS.
2015 Kashmir Despatch