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Proposal to grant Panchayat, BDC powers in final stage, order soon

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BDOs, Panchayat Secys, Administrators under consideration

Jammu, Jan 7: After 77 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), two of them Corporations, term of 4291 Panchayats and 310 Block Development Councils (BDCs) will end on January 9 and a Government decision on conferring their financial and administrative powers to the officers is expected to be announced within few days.

Official sources told the Excelsior that a proposal on grant of powers of BDCs and Panchayats is in the final stage. The powers would either go to Block Development Officers (BDOs) and Panchayat Secretaries or the Government can appoint Administrators to ensure that development of Panchayats and blocks don’t suffer till elections to the BDCs and Panchayats are held.

The Panchayats and BDCs generally finalize next financial year’s budget in the month of March after their grants are approved in UT’s annual budget presented by the Finance Minister in Parliament and nod by the J&K Government.

“A proposal is lying with the Administrative Department on grant of powers of BDCs and Panchayats. As term of both the bodies expires on January 9, a decision is expected to be taken shortly. Two options under consideration include grant of powers to BDOs and Panchayat Secretaries or appointment of Administrators by the Government,” the sources said.

There are a total of 310 BDCs and 4291 Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir. However, as per the officials, only 280 BDCs are fully in place. There could be around 25,000 Sarpanchs and Panchs. While Sarpanchs and Panchs will complete their five-year term on January 9, the tenure of BDCs will abruptly come to an end the same day, nearly 10 months before scheduled completion of their term.
Five-year term of BDCs was scheduled to end in October 2024 but as per the Rules and Panchayati Raj Act, term of BDCs is co-terminus with the Panchayats and they too will cease to exist along with Panchayats on January 9.

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Election to nearly 310 BDCs were held in October 2019 while that of polls to the Panchayats were conducted in November-December 2018 and the Panchayats were formally constituted on January 8, 2019.

Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner (SEC) BR Sharma has 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.

Sources said after completion of term by the Panchayats and BDCs, 20 District Development Councils (DDCs)-the third tier of the PRIs, will remain function. Five-year term of the DDCs is scheduled to end in January 2026.

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.

Sources, however, ruled out the possibility of conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections before or along with Lok Sabha polls scheduled in April-May on the ground that after grant of reservation to OBCs, an exercise has to be undertaken to identify Wards for them after percentage of reservation is fixed. Moreover, some Wards of Municipalities and Panchayats too have uneven number of voters and for that the process of delimitation is required which will take time.(By Daily excelsior)

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