February 2017 News

Govt Gears Up For Panchayat Polls

26 February 2017
Rising Kashmir
Ishfaq Naseem

Srinagar: The Rural Development department has geared up for Panchayat elections, following the directive from Election Commission of India (ECI) to remain prepared for polls, and would be completing the delimitation of the Panchayat wards by first week of March. Director Rural Development Kashmir, Gazanfar Ali, said Monday is the last day for the filing of objections against the delimitation of wards in Kashmir region following which the notification for the new wards will be issued before the first week of March. He said that the staff has been geared up for the holding of elections, which are expected to be announced in April, and will be followed by the Parliamentary polls. 'Our staff works till late into the night to complete the process of delimitation of Panchayat wards and the new wards will be notified after taking into consideration any objections filed by the people,' he said. The Rural Development department has undertaken the job of delimitation of Panchayats after government changed the rules governing the holding of elections. Instead of earlier practice of getting elected through the voters, now the Sarpanchs will be elected by the panchs due to which in some of the Sapanch constituencies, where the number of Panchayat wards is less than six, additional wards have been carved out. A senior official of the Rural Development department said that the before the notification of the Panchayat wards specific objections including those by political parties will be taken into consideration. Mainstream parties, particularly the Congress has alleged that the new panchayat wards were being carved out to help out those panchs and sarpanchs who are affiliated with the ruling PDP-BJP alliance. Congress opposes the election of Sarpanchs through indirect mode. At present there are a total of 33,500 Sarpanch and Panch constituencies in the state comprising 4098 Sarpanch halqas and 29402 Panch wards, but the number is expected to increase after the notification of the new wards is issued by the government. According to officials while there was no specific number of people who could be part of the Panchayat ward, a Sarpanch halqa has to comprise maximum of 3,000 voters in hilly areas and 4,500 in plains. Ali said that officials have been asked to comply with the delimitation deadline. 'We have also suspended some employees including the Block Development Officers (BDOs) and lower rank officers for the dereliction of duties. We have been working till late night hours so that the elections could be conducted in time, but these officers were found to have turned off their cell phones even during duty hours. Some of the officials have been detached,' he said.