Jammu, Nov 14: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday said that elections for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would be held after the completion of delimitation exercise.
Speaking after felicitating the councilors of Jammu Municipal Corporation, whose tenure ended today, the LG said, “Elections for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would be held after the completion of delimitation exercise of wards and reservation of wards for Other Backward Classes”.
The Lt Governor’s statement comes days after there were reports regarding delay in conducting ULB polls.
On the occasion, LG also commended all the councilors for serving people, fighting Covid pandemic and ensuring municipal services in respective areas.
He said that common public and elected representatives must work in synergy and focus on resource generation.
Praising union government, Lt Governor said, “Despite delayed implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments in J&K, under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jammu and Kashmir administration has ensured basic principles of decentralization of decision making and development by transferring more departments and works to elected representatives after Aug 2019.”
He said under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ULBs of J&K were provided with greater financial resources for strong and accountable self-governance and to ensure holistic ecosystem for last-mile access to services.
He said the Municipal Corporation is a symbol of the aspirations of the citizens in the 21st century. “Urban governance inculcates a spirit of cooperation among the citizens with the aim of bringing transformation in the urban development paradigm to fulfill people’s aspiration,” the LG said.
Earlier, reports suggested that urban local body and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be delayed as the administration is mulling changes to municipal acts and rules to address skewed distribution of electors.
The administration is considering the delimitation exercise for municipal wards and panchayat segments in the backdrop of a delimitation exercise that was carried out by the Election Commission for assembly and parliamentary seats, said an official, requesting anonymity.
The Housing and Urban Development Department is actively pursuing a communication from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, which, among other things, suggested transfer of mandate to conduct the municipal electoral processes to the State Election Commission (SEC) in accordance with constitutional provisions.
The five-year term of most of the municipalities, including the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) and the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), ends this month, while the term of panchayats is expiring on January 9 next year. The term of the SMC ended on November 5 and the JMC’s ended on November 14.
The tenure of block development councils (BDCs) and district development councils (DDCs) is ending in October 2024 and January 2026, respectively.
The last ULB and Panchayat elections were held between October and December 2018 after a long delay.
The CEO’s office, in its letter, also referred to various petitioners who have objected to the large-scale difference in the electoral base of each seat of the two municipal corporations and demanded a fresh delimitation of all bodies.
“…there is a large difference in the elector bases of different wards wherein there are wards with elector bases in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 on one side and 12,000 to 15,000 on the other extreme. Similar variance is there in most of the municipal councils and committees also. This skew in the representation strength of each ward can be addressed by a fresh delimitation exercise,” the letter said.
The officials said the rural development department is also considering the demand for rationalization of electorates in panchayat segments.
It said the demand for reservation of other backward classes in consonance with constitutional provisions was also highlighted.
Out of the 75 wards of the JMC, having 4,65,794 voters, 25 wards are reserved for women, 10 for scheduled castes and two for scheduled tribes. Similarly, in the 75 wards of the SMC, having 7,46,711 voters, 25 wards were reserved for women.
Quoting a Supreme Court ruling on the subject forwarded by the petitioners in support of their demand, the CEO’s office said that “if reservation has to be made in favour of OBCs then corresponding amendments in municipal acts and rules are required”.
They said the elections to ULBs and Panchayats is likely to be held next year after completion of the ongoing process.