Govt announces 16 new ULBs: 12 for Kashmir, 4 for Jammu

Govt announces 16 new ULBs: 12 for Kashmir, 4 for Jammu

20 February 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In yet another glaring example of discrimination with Jammu region, the National Conference-Congress coalition Government ahead of Municipal elections has announced 16 more new Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for the State with only four for Jammu region and 12 for Kashmir. Not only this, the Wards of 76 existing ULBs have been raised by 105-here again 65 in Kashmir and only 40 in Jammu. The new Municipalities as well as increase in their Wards were announced by the Housing and Urban Development Department of the Government vide two SROs No. 45 dated 30-1-2012 and 9-2-1012 just a couple of days before the State Cabinet gave formal approval to announcement of Municipal elections in April, official sources said. The Government created 16 new ULBs days before the elections were formally announced taking total number of the Municipalities from 76 to 92. Surprisingly, out of 16 new ULBs, 12 went to Kashmir region and just four to Jammu region notwithstanding the Governmentís oft-repeated announcements that all regions would get equal treatment. As per the Government SRO, 12 new Municipal Committees announced for the Kashmir valley included Langet in Kupwara district (13 Wards), Watergam in Baramulla district (13 Wards), Chadoora in Budgam (13 Wards), Devsar, Yaripora, Mehmoodpora, Trisal and Quimoh in Kulgam district (13 Wards), Ashmuji in Kulgam district (7 Wards), Aishmuqam, Shangus and Seer Hamdan in Anantnag district (all with 13 Wards). Four new Municipal Committees approved for Jammu region were Thathri in Doda district (7 Wards), Kalakote in Rajouri district (7 Wards), Surankote in Poonch district (13 Wards) and Purana Daroor near Ban Ganga, Katra in Reasi district (7 Wards). Through another SRO, the Government has increased Wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation from 65 to 75. However, the Wards of Jammu Municipal Corporation would remain unchanged at 71. A total of 65 Wards have been added to the ULBs in Kashmir including 10 in SMC. Other Committees, where Wards have undergone change included Kunzar, Baramulla (5 to 7), Uri (5 to 13), Ganderbal (13 to 17), Budgam (14 to 13), Charar-e-Sharief (12 to 13), Magam (5 to 13), Khan Sahib (6 to 7), Awantipora (7 to 13), Khrew (7 to 13), Kulgam (11 to 13), Anantnag Municipal Council (21 to 25), Achabal, Anantnag (8 to 13), Bijbehara (13 to 17), Kokernag (8 to 13), Mattan (12 to 13), Qazigund (5 to 7) and Dooru, Verinag (15 to 17). In Jammu region, the Municipalities where Wards have been increased included Doda (13 to 17), Udhampur Municipal Council (17 to 21), Kathua Municipal Council (17 to 21), Billawar (7 to 13), Rajouri (13 to 17), Thanna Mandi (7 to 13), Nowshera (7 to 13) and Sunderbani (7 to 13). A Municipal Committee was created at Tangmarg in Baramulla district last time for one vote. However, the election was not held there. This time also, the Municipality existed. Number of the voters in the Committee would be known after revision of voters for the ULB elections would start in the next few days. The Ladakh region has also been a sufferer. The Wards of Leh Municipal Committee have been decreased from 21 to 13 and Kargil Municipal Committee from 16 to 13. It may be mentioned that even during the Panchayat elections, number of the voters in Jammu regionís Panchayats was much more than the Kashmir region. However, number of the Panchayats was more in Kashmir than Jammu region. With the formation of 20 new Committees and increase in number of Wards of existing ULBs, the total number of Wards for which elections would be held in April-May this year has gone up to 1046 from 790 in 2005, official sources said. They added that the Wards and their area of 16 newly constituted Municipal Committees has also been identified by the Housing and Urban Development Department. However, official sources were not forthcoming on criteria adopted by the Government for creating 16 new Municipal Committees in which the lionís share has gone to the Kashmir valley. Even in the creation of new Wards in the ULBs, Kashmir region has been the major beneficiary as it has gained 65 new Wards as against just 40 in Jammu region. Ladakh region has witnessed a decline of 11 Wards-eight in Leh Municipal Committee and three in Kargil Municipal Committee. Worthwhile to mention here that the Government has announced elections to the ULB in April-May this year more than two years after 76 elected Committees had completed their five years term. After the completion of delimitation process, the electoral revision would be initiated for one and a half month. Only after the votersí revision is completed that the Election Department would announce the polling schedule, sources said. The elections to ULBs were held in January 2005 after a gap of 26 years. The ULBs had completed their term in March 2010 but elections to them couldnít be held on different pretexts. The Government now proposed to hold the elections in April-May this year.