Governor N.N. Vohra has advised the Chief Secretary to review all pending issues to enable timely elections to the Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats in the State. The Governor was reviewing the matter with the Chief Secretary B.R. Sharma and Shantmanu, Chief Electoral Officer in a meeting held at Civil Secretariat. The Governor was informed: (i) Chief Electoral Officer has published the updated electoral roll after conclusion of Summary Revision, on 11th January, 2016 with reference to qualifying date as Ist January, 2016; (ii) the Electoral Roll pertaining to different wards of Local Bodies are being segregated from the main Electoral Roll and shall be put to public domain in the second week of February, 2016 for objections; (iii) Final Electoral Roll is envisaged to become available by the end March, 2016; (iv) the process of reservation of wards for women, in accordance with the provision for reservation of one third seats for women, is also being concurrently undertaken. The Chief Secretary was advised to: (i) draw up an Action Plan for holding of elections to all the Urban Local Bodies in April this year; (ii) to ensure provision of requisite funds in the Budget for holding the elections and for timely filling up of the vacancies in the office of Chief Electoral Officer. The Governor noted that early holding of elections to the Urban Local Bodies will enable democratic decentralisation of powers to the institutions at the grass root level in the urban areas to address all the issues relating to Urban Local Self Government. It will also enable the State to derive maximum benefit from the 14th Finance Commission Award. It was noted that the 14th Finance Commission Award provides Rs. 3463.73 crore and Rs. 1305.64 crore for rural and urban local bodies, respectively, and Rs. 346.73 crore and Rs. 261.13 crore as Performance Grants for rural and urban local bodies. It was also noted that for non conduct of ULB elections, the State lost Rs. 169.29 crore which was provided under the 13th Finance Commission Award. Further, no grants have been released to the State against the allocation of Rs. 125.30 crore during 2015-16 in the absence of duly constituted municipalities. The Governor also reviewed the status of preparations with regard to holding of Panchayat elections later this year. It was informed that the constitution of Panchayats after the elections in 2011, was notified on 14th July, 2011 with a term of five years. As such, the new Panchayats will have to be in position on or before 14th July, 2016. The Governor advised the Chief Secretary to take urgent action for clearing the decks to enable the Chief Electoral Officer to undertake preparations of Electoral Rolls and conduct of Panchayat Elections. A Raj Bhavan spokesperson recalled that the Panchayat election 2011 were held in 17 phases from 13th April, 2011 to 27th June, 2011. Keeping in view the expediency to promote and develop Panchayati Raj in the State as an instrument of vigorous Local Self Government to secure the effective participation of the people in the decision making process and for overseeing implementation and developmental programmes, timely elections to the Panchayats need to be ensured. Spokesperson stated that the Governor will be holding discussions with leaders of Political Parties regarding the schedule for elections to the Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats.
2015 Kashmir Despatch