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Union Cabinet approves adoption of J&K Panchayati Raj Act

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LG terms its watershed moment; thanks PM, Cabinet 

New Delhi/Srinagar: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the adoption of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, a government spokesperson said.

Briefing the press after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the move will help establish all the three tiers of grassroots-level democracy in Jammu and Kashmir like in other parts of the country.

The three-tier system was not available in Jammu and Kashmir in the “pre-370 period”, Javadekar said, referring to Article 370 of the Constitution that was abrogated last year. The article gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jammu and Kashmir and Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament now stands redeemed, he said.

This will help the people of Jammu and Kashmir elect their representatives at the village, block and district levels, he said.

According to the minister, the process for local body polls would start soon.

Meanwhile, terming the Union Cabinet’s approval of adaptation of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 as a “watershed moment” in the history of Union territory of J&K, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for paving way for the establishment of all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutions and strengthening the grassroots democracy thereby giving further fillip to the developmental agenda centered around peoples’ welfare, an official press release said here.

It said the LG observed that “a major and final legal requirement towards strengthening the grass-root democracy and the bottom-up approach towards planning and execution has been fulfilled and the historic step shall result in direct representation of people in the district level body through direct elections to 14 seats in the District Development Council.”

“A proper system of checks and balances through membership of directly-elected members, Block Development Council chairpersons and MLAs in the District Development Council which will ensure that the most genuine demands and needs of people are met,” he added.

After the adaptation of J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, every district will have a District Development Council having jurisdiction over the entire district excluding Municipal areas.

Every District Development Council will now have 14 directly elected members — 280 directly elected BDC members in the whole UT. Every District Development Council shall consist of the directly elected members, the Chairpersons of all BDCs and members of the Legislative Assembly from the district.

Moreover, any person whose name is included in the electoral roll of any Halqa Panchayat of the district can nominate himself/herself as a candidate for election to District Development Council.

After this development, every District Development Council will now have a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson who shall be elected by directly elected members of BDC. Further, there shall be reservations for SC/ST amongst the directly elected members on the basis of the proportion of the population. One-third of seats under direct election will be reserved for women.

Further, five Standing Committees, one each for Finance, Development, Public Works, Health and Education, and Welfare will now be constituted in every District Development Council.

The ADDC will be the Chief Executive Officer of the District Development Council. The DDC will be responsible for the formulation of development programmes and speedy development and economic upliftment of the area of the district under its authority.

The DDC will review the progress and achievements of development plans and schemes in the district. Ensuring adequate legal backing to devolution of functions to the DDC, specific functions will be assigned to DDC in Schedule III of the Act. The DDC will also supervise the functioning of Panchayat Halqas and BDC and will receive and consolidate their plans at the district level, the press release said.

Pertinently, the Government of J&K has also notified the rules for the constitution of the DDC and the process of delimitation of constituencies for DDC has already been set in motion in all the 20 districts, the press release said.

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