Panchayats election in J&K


In a much awaited decision, Union Territory Government has announced election to 13,161 vacancies in Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, the schedule for which will be shortly announced by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) taking into consideration the weather conditions and security scenario amid indications that the elections would start in the month of March. The Rural Development Department has issued the notification under Rule 7 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules 1996 announcing elections to vacant Panchayat Halqas of Sarpanchs and Panchs on the dates to be fixed by the Election Authority. There are 13,161 vacancies in Panchayats across the Union Territory, sources pointed out. Elections to third tier of Panchayati Raj System i.e. the District Planning and Development Boards (DPDBs) will be held only after vacancies of Panchayats are filled up in the by-elections.
The Election Authority might begin the poll process from plain areas in March and hold elections in higher reaches in last couple of phases in April taking into account the winter weather conditions.
The Union Home Ministry has asked the Union Territory Government to keep additional para-military forces in Jammu and Kashmir till completion of elections as majority of vacancies in the Valley fall in sensitive and militancy-infested South Kashmir, where elections couldn’t be held in November-December 2018 along with other Sarpanch and Panch seats in the absence of contestants. However, following elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs) in which 280 Chairpersons from amongst the Sarpanchs and Panchs were elected, the seats of those elected to the BDCs have also fallen vacant and elections to them will be held along with other vacancies. There were 12696 total vacancies in the Panchayats in Kashmir division including 922 Sarpanch seats and 11774 Panch constituencies as against just 465 vacancies in Jammu including 145 Sarpanchs and 320 Panchs. In Kashmir division, maximum number of vacancies were in Baramulla district (2310) followed by South Kashmir’s Anantnag district (2130), Budgam (2097), Pulwama (1588) and Kulgam (1353). Compared to Kashmir, vacancies were negligible in Jammu division with highest 118 in Kishtwar district followed by 55 in Jammu, 47 in Ramban, 45 in Kathua, 42 in Doda, 41 in Rajouri, 38 in Poonch, 32 in Udhampur, 25 in Samba and 22 in Reasi district.

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