Blockimg fresh grants


The Centre has refused to release Rs 1000 crore worth grants-Rs 700 crore for Panchayats and Rs 300 crore for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to Jammu and Kashmir for not holding elections to two civic bodies despite being asked to do so by Union Ministry of Home Affairs. While the State Government didn't initiate the process to hold elections to the ULBs (Municipalities), the Panchayat elections were abandoned after an announcement by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that they would be held from February 15. With Centre Government's refusal to release grants for Panchayats and Municipalities unless the elected bodies were in place in Jammu and Kashmir, the ULBs have suffered a total loss of Rs 1200 crore as Rs 900 crore worth grants had been blocked during the past few years by the Union Government in the absence of any elected bodies in place for the past eight years now. The Panchayats got their due grants for full five years from 2011 to 2016 but the grants amounting to Rs 700 crore were blocked by the Government of India once the elected Panchayats ceased to exist as no elections were held to them after 2016.
The total grants of the ULBs, which the Centre Government has refused to release, have gone up to Rs 1200 crore including Rs 300 crore for the current financial year of 2017-18. The Panchayat grants worth Rs 700 crore have not been released for this year. A total of Rs 1900 cr worth grants now stood blocked by the Centre for the urban and rural civic bodies and the Centre has made it a point that the "particular grants" would be released only to the elected bodies, whether they are Panchayats or Municipalities. This practice, was aimed at encouraging the State Governments to hold regular elections to Panchayats and ULBs for keeping democracy restored at grass-root level and facilitate developmental works identified by the local representatives of the people. The State Government was expecting some kind of relief from the Centre in release of blocked ULB grants to help carry out certain specified works. However, the Centre now wants the State Government to hold the ULB elections for securing future grants, which were due to them under 14th Finance Commission Award and other heads. About Rs 900 crores worth grants for elected Municipalities since 2010-11, which were due to Jammu and Kashmir either under 13th Finance Commission Award and other categories, were set to be lost with the Government of India declining to release full, or even part payments, citing no election to the Municipalities for past eight years in the State.

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