Srinagar: With the PDP-BJP government having failed to conduct urban local bodies elections in the state, the Jammu and Kashmir state lost an allocation of over Rs.125 crore in 2015-16.
Sources said that holding of timely elections to the Urban Local Bodies will enable the State to derive maximum benefit from the 14th Finance Commission Award which provides about Rs 5480 crore for the decentralized democratic framework.
Sources however said that the Election Department (ED) has so far not received any official document from government to already overdue ULB polls. “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,” sources told KNS.
There has been an intentional inordinate delay in the conduct of local bodies elections even by the earlier government.
The government sources confirmed that the ruling governments even in the past and present have shown no inclination to decentralize the power to the elected ULB members.
A senior officer of government whishing anonymity said that the powers if percolated to the elected members would render the ministers and MLA’s, MLC’s powerless.
There is growing resentment in the state as both coalition partners had promised to hold the elections within months of forming the government to decentralize power and involve people in the decision-making process for development of cities and towns in J&K.
“Current uprising in the state has also made the government apprehensive of the outcome of the elections, if conducted at this time. The municipal elections are important to improve the conditions of people,” said a senior official of the Urban Development Department.
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.
Non-constitution of the Urban Local Bodies has also enabled the government to rule and administer the urban areas by proxy in the absence of the grass-roots democratic institutions in the municipal areas.
It is to mention here that the Governor N N Vohra during his recent term had directed the Election authorities to hold Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir in first week of May 2016.
Sources said that the Governor was understood to have conveyed his decision on holding the Municipal elections in first week of May to election commission of India.
According to sources, it was decided during the governor rule that the elections were likely to be held in first week of May, however the PDP-BJP government has so far failed to announce the ULB elections. (KNS)
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