In a first J&K to have 3-tier Panchayati Raj System

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Panchayati Raj Act amended, UT to have elected District Development Councils
RATTAN SHARMA
JAMMU: For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory is now all set to have three-tier Panchayati Raj System to strengthen democracy at grass root level as the Government, in a major move, today amended Jammu & Kashmir’s Panchayati Raj Act for establishment of District Development Councils in each district. Each district will have directly elected members, marking the implementation of the entire 73rd Amendment Act in the Union Territory.
According to Official sources, every district will be divided into 14 territorial constituencies to elect members of the body.
It is pertinent to mention that majority of States in the country have switched over to three-tier system, which has proved very effective in giving powers at the grass root level, but Jammu and Kashmir, never in the past, had held elections beyond Panchayats. Even elections to Panchayats were held in 2011 after nearly about four decades. With both Central and J&K Governments now serious in giving powers to the people at grass root level, this will be for the first time that Jammu and Kashmir would have the District Development Councils.
Official sources said, District Development Councils will comprise members directly elected from 14 territorial constituencies of the district as well as the Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Chairperson of all Block Development Councils of the district.
Seats for SCs, STs and women have also been reserved which will be filled by direct election to the District Development Councils, an official spokesman said adding that the Additional District Development Commissioner shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the District Development Council.
Meanwhile, a statutory order issued by the UT government said the Deputy Commissioner of a district shall divide the District Development Council area into 14 single member territorial constituencies provided that the ratio between population of the territorial area of a constituency and the number of seats in the District Development Council shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout.
While delimiting the constituencies of the District Development Council, Halqa Panchayat shall be a unit. The constituencies shall be delimited from the map of the District Development Council (DDC) area starting from North towards East and ending towards South to West and every constituency shall be assigned a serial number and a name.
“The name of the constituency may be assigned on the name of a Block having the largest population in that constituency. Thereafter, the constituencies shall be arranged alphabetically on the name of such constituencies,” the order said.
The statutory order said while delimiting the constituencies, the Deputy Commissioner shall determine the number of constituencies to be reserved for SCs, STs and women in every constituency of DDC in accordance with the provisions of the act and distribute seats reserved for SCs, STs as far as practicable in those areas in a DDC where the proportion of their population to the population in total is comparatively large.
The order further read that the Deputy Commissioner shall also cause to publish a proposal for delimitation of constituencies by dividing a DDC area into single member constituencies and also indicate the territorial limit of each such constituency and shall keep the proposal open for inspection in the office of Halqa Panchayat, BDC and DDC and by affixing a copy of such proposal at two conspicuous places for inviting public objections.
It may be recalled that it was in November 2012 that then Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition Government had initiated the exercise to hold elections to the Block Development Councils for the first time in history of the State. While the process was on, senior Congress leader and then Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had objected to holding of elections without reservation of seats in the Councils. In view of the objections, the process was shelved and it was never initiated again even as the Panchayats completed their five-year term in July 2016.
With both Central and J&K Governments now serious in giving powers to the people at grass root level, this will be for the first time that Jammu and Kashmir would have the District Development Councils.