Governor asks CEO to draw schedule for ULB elections

Feb 28: Governor NN Vohra today asked Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shantmanu to immediately draw tentative schedule for holding elections to Urban Local Bodies and gear up for Panchayat elections even as the CEO today notified the list of Reserved Wards and will be publishing draft rolls of the ULBs on March 4. The final rolls will be published on March 28 after which schedule of the elections can be announced.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Vohra in his meeting with Shantmanu in the Civil Secretariat this afternoon, called upon him to draw tentative schedule for holding elections to the ULBs after completing all requisite formalities.
The Governor, who had only a couple of days back designated Shantmanu as the State Election Commission for holding Panchayat elections using the Legislative powers vested with him, told the CEO that both elections (Municipalities and Panchayats) had to be held this year.
Shantmanu told the Excelsior that his Department today published list of the Municipal Wards reserved for women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with 15 days time to the people to give objections to them. He said the list of reserved Wards has been changed from 2005 elections in view of increase in population and number of voters, which necessitated rotation in the Wards reserved for women, SCs and STs.
He said the Election Department has given 15 days time for inviting objections from the public on change in the reserved Wards. The final list of Reserved Wards will be published after eliciting the public opinion, he added.
The CEO announced that draft electoral rolls for the ULB elections will be published on March 4.
“We will invite objections to electoral rolls including deletion, inclusion and correction of names from the people living within the Municipal limits within 10 days. The final electoral rolls will be published on March 28 after which the election schedule, can be announced anytime,’’ Shantmanu said.
However, announcement of the schedule will depend on the Government which would be in place at that time as holding elections is prerogative of the State Government. Sources said if the new Government was formed by then, it will take a call on holding the elections but if the Governor’s Rule continued, the elections could be held in first or second week of May.
On Panchayat elections, sources said, the Rural Development Department will have to first revise the reserved constituencies of Sarpanchs and Panchs. After completion of the process, the State Election Commission will publish draft rolls and final rolls after stipulated time before announcing dates for the elections.
The Panchayat elections will become due in June-July as existing Panchayats will complete their five-year term in July this year.
Sources said the Governor will hold discussions with the political parties on schedule of the elections to both ULBs and Panchayats.
There were a total of 78 ULBs in Jammu and Kashmir including two Municipal Corporations (Jammu and Srinagar), six Municipal Councils (Poonch, Udhampur and Kathua in Jammu region and Sopore, Baramulla and Anantnag in Kashmir region).
Rest 70 were the Municipal Committees including Leh and Kargil in Ladakh region.
The Governor observed that holding of elections to Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats in the State this year will enable democratic decentralisation of powers to the institutions at the grass root level in both the rural and urban areas.
He noted that the timely holding of elections to the Panchayats would secure the effective participation of the people in the decision making process and, besides, the elected representatives being empowered to oversee the implementation and monitor the developmental programmes related to their areas.

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