Cabinet gives nod to holding of Municipal polls by April

Cabinet gives nod to holding of Municipal polls by April

8 February 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: State Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah here this afternoon, gave nod to the holding of elections to the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Committees by April 2012. It also ordered enhancement of salaries of the Councilors of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils of Leh and Kargil and approved Governorís Address to be presented on February 23, 2012. As per Section 5(2) (a) and (b) of the J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000, the elections to constitute the Corporations are required to be completed before the expiry of the duration of the Corporations or before the expiry of a period of six months. Similarly, as per Section 14 (2) (a) and (b), the elections to constitute the Municipal Councils and Committees are required to be held before the expiry of their duration or before the expiry of a period of six months. But due to various reasons the holding of elections to Municipal bodies got delayed by two years as the last elections to the Municipal bodies were held in 2005 and they completed their term in February-March 2010. Official sources told EXCELSIOR that soon after the expiry of term of the Municipal bodies in February-March 2010, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) was asked to take necessary steps for completing the elections of Municipal Corporations, Councils and Committees by first fortnight of May 2010. However, some MLAs during the Budget Session of the State Legislature 2010 expressed their concern about the inaccuracies in the electoral rolls and demanded revision of the rolls. Keeping in view the demand of the MLAs, the last date for publication of electoral rolls was extended from May 19, 2010 to May 31, 2010. The progress of revision of electoral rolls, however, again got delayed due to unfavourable law and order situation in the Kashmir valley in the subsequent months as a result of which the elections could not be held, sources further said. Later, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah in various official meetings and during the public addresses said that the elections to the Municipal bodies will be held after the completion of the Panchayat elections. Keeping in view the announcement made by the Chief Minister a number of times, Housing and Urban Development Department, which has administrative control over the Municipal bodies, asked the Chief Electoral Officer vide communication dated July 7, 2011 to initiate and complete the process of de-limitation of wards and preparation of electoral rolls for the holding of elections to the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Committees, sources said. Today, the Housing and Urban Development Department with the approval of Deputy Chief Minister placed the issue before the Cabinet and accordingly the nod was given to the holding of elections to Municipal Corporations, Councils and Committees by April 2012. 'Now, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) would work out the schedule and accordingly issue notification for the polls', sources said. The Cabinet also gave nod to the enhancement of salaries of Councilors of LAHDC Leh and Kargil from ' 10,000 to ' 30,000 per month. 'The issue was discussed with the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah in a meeting held on September 6, 2011 and it was decided that Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, who is also holding the portfolio of Ladakh Affairs, would examine the issue', sources said, adding 'later Ladakh Affairs Department placed a proposal before the Finance Department, which vide its order dated December 21, 2011 agreed to the enhancement of monthly salary of the Councilors with the conditions that the financial implication involved in the increase will be borne by the Planning and Development Department'. Later, the Planning and Development Department also cleared the proposal and today Cabinet approved enhancement of salary from ' 10,000 to ' 30,000 per month prospectively. It is pertinent to mention here that Chief Executive Councilors (CECs) of the two Councils are drawing salaries applicable to the Ministers and the Executive Councilors are getting salaries equivalent to Legislators. Both the Ministers from Ladakh-Nawang Rigzin Jora and Qamar Ali Akhoon played important role in getting the long pending demand of the Councilors conceded by the Government. The Cabinet also approved the Governor Address to be presented by N N Vohra on February 23, 2012. The Cabinet also approved upgradation of pay scales of Principals of Government Medical Colleges of Srinagar and Jammu.