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JKNPP blames J&K govt for ‘weakening’ local bodies

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Jammu: Opposing the recent amendments to the Panchayati Raj Act in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Panthers Party (NPP) on Monday said the newly-incorporated provisions would have the effect of disempowering the entire edifice of the existing Panchayati Raj and municipal structure in the Union Territory.

NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh also said it seems that the only objective of the government in bringing the amendment is to avoid the Assembly election and to further make way for outsiders to contest the polls for local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union Territory government amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act on Saturday to provide for the setting up of a district development council (DDC) in each district, which will have directly-elected members.

The DDCs shall have 14 constituencies after their delimitation by the deputy commissioners concerned, an official spokesperson had said, asserting that the move marked the implementation of the entire 73rd Amendment Act in the Union Territory.

“It was dumbfounding to note that rather than holding elections to the District Planning and Development Board as repeatedly announced by the government, it has chosen to split the board into two and create a divide between the urban and rural local bodies,” Singh told reporters here.

He said while the rural local bodies would be part of the DDCs, headed by a member to be chosen by the members elected from 14 territorial constituencies, the urban local bodies would be part of the District Planning Committee, to be headed by the concerned Member of Parliament, according to the newly-amended Act.

“The elected chairmen of the BDCs and presidents of municipal bodies have been divested of their rights to elect the chairman of the district board concerned, which were conferred upon them under the existing Act. And by announcing to create 14 territorial constituencies in each district so as to elect new members of the newly-proposed DDCs, the government has sought to denigrate and downplay the role and significance of the existing panchayats and BDCs,” Singh said.

The NPP leader claimed that the government proposition had not only evoked cynicism, but also triggered outrage among the existing municipal bodies that were being rendered irrelevant.

“It is shocking, however, that the babus and clerks in the Union home ministry are on a legislation spree with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, having enacted and amended hundreds of laws post the state’s reorganisation without any legislative endorsement,” he said.

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