Even as the suspense over government formation in Jammu & Kashmir continues, the stage seems set for holding municipal and panchayat polls in the state in May and June, respectively.
Sources said that Governor N N Vohra, while chairing a meeting of the State Administrative Council Tuesday, asked the Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu to prepare for conducting municipal polls after nearly 11 years during the first week of May. However, a final announcement of the poll schedule was likely to be made by the election department only after Vohra’s meeting with the representatives of major political parties next week.
Vohra noted that holding of timely elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will enable the state to derive maximum benefit from the 14th Finance Commission Award, which provides about Rs 5,480 crore for the decentralised democratic framework. This includes Rs 3,463.73 crore for panchayats and Rs 1,305.64 crore for the municipalities, besides Rs 346.73 crore and Rs 261.13 crore as Performance Grants for them, respectively.
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It was also noted that the state had lost over Rs 169 crore for not conducting ULB polls; and an allocation of over Rs125 crore was lost in 2015-16 for want of duly constituted municipalities.
Sources said that EVMs may be used for the first time during the municipal elections. There are two Municipal Corporations (one each in Srinagar and Jammu), besides six Municipal Councils and 72 Municipal Committees in the state. Similarly, the state has over 3,200 panchayats headed by an equal number of sarpanches and nearly 30,000 panches.