ULB elections to miss latest deadline of Oct-Nov24 September 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), which have been held up for past more than one and a half years 'without any reasoníí, have been delayed further in the absence of any directive from the Government to the Election Department to fix deadline for completion of polls. The Union Government has stalled grant worth several crores of various urban development projects in the absence of elected ULBs in the State. Official sources confirmed to the Excelsior that October-November deadline set by the Government for holding elections to 93 ULBs, 76 of 2005 elections and 17 added later, canít be met. The deadline is set to be missed in the absence of any Government directive to the State Election Department to complete the election process by a particular date. The State Cabinet has to finalise the deadline for completion of election, which is to be formally announced later by the Housing and Urban Development Department, responsible for holding elections to the Urban Local Bodies including two Municipal Corporations, six Municipal Councils and rest Municipal Committees. Sources said the delimitation process, which has been necessitated after creation of new ULBs and addition of new areas in some of the bodies including Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), hasnít been completed so far. 'Only after the delimitation process is completed that the Election Department can undertake revision of electoral rolls of all ULBsíí, sources said, adding a minimum period of one and a half months is required for revision of the rolls. During January 2005 elections to ULBs, there were 14.5 lakh voters for 76 ULBs including two Corporations in rotational capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, six Municipal Councils (three each in Jammu and Kashmir regions) and rest Municipal Committees. With addition of 17 new Municipal Committees and proposed inclusion of some more besides, addition of young voters, who had attained the age of 18 during past six and a half years since last elections were held to the Urban Local Bodies and inclusion of more areas in some of the existing bodies was expected to take up the number of voters in the ULBs considerably, sources said. They, however, added that revision of electoral rolls of the ULBs could be taken up along with the largest exercise of revision of rolls being undertaken by the Election Commission from October 1 followed by publication of photo electoral rolls for Parliament and Assembly constituencies in the State in first week of January next year. The revision of electoral rolls could start only when delimitation of the Wards in all ULBs is completed, sources said. Entire process of delimitation and revision of electoral rolls was expected to take at least a couple of more months making it impossible to hold elections to the ULBs in October-November or even during the current year as schedule for elections can be announced only when the electoral rolls were finalized. It may be mentioned here that Central grants running into several crores have been held up by the Union Government for Jammu and Kashmir due to non-existence of the ULBs. The grants pertained to urban development related works. Elections to ULBs were held in January 2005 and all Local Bodies were constituted by May that year. The ULBs ceased to exist in March 2010 after completion of their five years term. Since then, the elections were not held to the ULBs despite of repeated announcements by the Government. The latest announcement of ULB elections in September-October followed by October-November would in no case be met with, sources said, adding even holding of the elections to ULBs in the current year looked impossible as the Government has so far not announced any deadline for completion of the process. The Government had to announce a deadline for the Election Department for completion of elections to the ULBs after which the ED had to announce a schedule for the elections.