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Nearly 28,000 Panchayat, BDC members complete their term today, DDCs to stay for 2 more years

Nearly 28,000 Panchayat, BDC members complete their term today, DDCs to stay for 2 more years

Govt likely to appoint Administrators to exercise powers

Voter revision, OBC reservation, delimitation to take time

Jammu, Jan 9: Tomorrow will be the last day of nearly 28,000 representatives of Panchayats and Block Development Councils (BDCs) in office as these bodies will cease to exist after completion of their term and it will not be possible for the administration to hold elections to them for at least six months in view of exercises of voter revision, identification of Wards for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and fresh delimitation.

As exclusively reported by the Excelsior yesterday, the Government will shortly come out with an order appointing Administrators to exercise all powers and duties of Halqa Panchayats. The powers are likely to be given initially for a period of six months and if elections are not held by then, the powers can be extended by another three months, the officials said.

They said nearly 28,000 representatives of 4291 Panchayats will complete their five-year term tomorrow and, therefore, they no longer will be able to occupy their posts. As far as 310 BDCs are concerned, they have their term till October this year but it will abruptly come to an end tomorrow in view of Panchayati Raj Act which states that term of BDCs will be co-terminus with Panchayats.

Some of the posts at Sarpanch and Panch levels in Panchayats and few BDC Chairpersons were vacant either since the time of elections due to non-availability of candidates or because of resignation and death of the elected representatives.

However, five Lok Sabha MPs (three from National Conference and two from BJP) and 280 District Development Council (DDC) members including chairpersons and vice chairpersons will continue to function as elected representatives in the Union Territory.

There are 20 DDCs in Jammu and Kashmir-one each in 20 districts. Every DDC has 14 members each. Out of 10 DDCs in Jammu, the BJP is ruling six including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi and Doda while National Conference is in power in three—Rajouri, Ramban and Kishtwar. Poonch DDC is headed by an Independent female candidate.

The DDCs have nearly two years term left as they were constituted in January 2021 after elections in November-December 2020. This is for the first time that the DDCs, the third tier of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), were established in Jammu and Kashmir post abrogation of special status of erstwhile State.

Meanwhile, as far as elections to Panchayats are concerned, the officials said the UT Government has approved an amendment for providing reservation to OBCs. At the same time, State Election Commissioner (SEC) BR Sharma has ordered annual voter revision for Panchayats and the final rolls are scheduled to be published on February 26. Lok Sabha elections for five seats in J&K will be held along with other parts of the country in April-May.

“Once percentage for reservation to be granted to OBCs in Panchayats is finalized, a decision will be taken on number of Sarpanch and Panch constituencies to be reserved for them followed by delimitation of the Wards,” the officials said, adding that this exercise could take nearly five to six months.

Elections to Panchayats were held after nearly four decades in Jammu and Kashmir in November-December 2018 along with Municipalities in the same year in October after 13 years. Seventy seven Urban Local Bodies including two Corporations of Jammu and Srinagar completed their term in November-December last year.

SEC BR Sharma has already ordered annual revision of voter lists of Panchayats.

As per an order issued by the SEC, draft rolls of Panchayats will be published on January 15. Claims and objections by the voters can be submitted till February 5. The final rolls will be published on February 26.

Elections to 77 Municipalities including 40 in Kashmir division and 37 in Jammu region and 4291 Panchayats were due in October-November last year but were delayed due to grant of reservation to OBCs.

J&K Administrative Council recently carried out an amendment in the Panchayat Raj Act granting reservation to OBCs in Panchayats. A similar amendment is expected to be carried out shortly in Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporations Act and J&K Municipalities Act.–(Daily Excelsior)

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