J-K: Centre assures full support ahead of local polls

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Sep 28 (ANI): Ahead of upcoming municipal and panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said that the Central Government will provide all possible support to the state to ensure smooth conduct of elections. "These local body elections will have a historical significance in many aspects as it will re-establish the long overdue grassroots level democracy in Jammu and Kashmir," a statement from the MHA said. The financial powers of the panchayats will also be enhanced 10 times from Rs 10,000 to Rs one lakh. Similarly, the financial powers of block councils are being enhanced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh, the statement read. These elections will also pave the way for making available nearly Rs. 4,335 crores of 14th Finance Commission Central granted to the duly constituted local bodies of Jammu and Kashmir. The functions and functionaries of all the 29 subjects transferred to panchayats under the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India will also be transferred to the panchayats of Jammu and Kashmir. "The Central and State Government funds will further supplement "own funds" of the Panchayats under various schemes such as MGNERGA, PMAY, ICDS, Mid-Day meal etc," the MHA said. In addition to the selection of eligible beneficiaries for various schemes, panchayats will also be involved in the implementations of key national schemes such as National Health Mission, Samagraha Siksha, and Mission for development of Horticulture, ATMA, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) etc. On an average, every panchayat will now get around Rs. 50-80 Lakhs per year at its disposal for implementation of such schemes. To further strengthen the panchayats, additional posts are being sanctioned for Accountant, Data Entry Operator, Block Panchayat Inspector etc. The Leh and Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Councils (LAHDC and KAHDC) have been strengthened and empowered to become the most autonomous councils in the country to address various issues being faced by people living in the remote areas of Ladakh region. The LAHDC and KAHDC have been given more powers to levy and collect local taxes. Control has been given over the functioning of various departments as well as the Government employees working for the subjects that are transferred to them. All such properties like public buildings, public roads constructed by LAHDC and KAHDC shall now belong to the council. Funds allocated to these councils from the State Budget can now be carried forward for the next year. The Panchayats in Kargil and Leh will also follow the directions of these councils. Chief Executive Councillor will also be the Chairman of all Tourism Development Authorities. These Councils will also have a Deputy Chairman for better functioning. Considering the crucial role being played by the Special Police Officers in anti-militancy operations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MHA) has enhanced their honorarium from existing Rs 6,000 per month to 9,000 on completion of five years and Rs 12,000 on completion of 15 years. The MHA has also approved a scheme of Rs 5.5 Lakh financial assistance to nearly 5,764 West Pakistan Refugees settled in Jammu and Kashmir. Amounts due to the eligible beneficiaries will be transferred in their bank accounts. The State Government has designated Divisional Commissioner Jammu as the nodal officer for effective and speedy disbursement of the amount to all eligible beneficiaries. (ANI)
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