Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said Centre is providing all possible support including central forces for smooth conduct of the local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir. Singh asserted the polls in the state will be of historic significance in many ways and help re-establish the long overdue grassroots democracy.

The elections of the local bodies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are due in October.

In a chain of tweets, Singh said the elections will pave the way for making available nearly Rs 4,335 crore of 14th Finance Commission Central grants to the duly constituted local bodies and added if not for these elections, the people of the state would have been deprived of these funds meant for their welfare.

Stressing on the importance of the elections, the union minister said 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 the state including institutions like PHCs,  Primary Schools, Aganwadi Centers, etc.

He also added that the financial powers of Panchayats are being enhanced 10 times from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh for Panchayats and from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 Lakhs for Block Councils.

In a crucial announcement, the union minister said that considering the crucial role being played by the Special Police Officers (SPOs) in anti-militancy operations, the home ministry has enhanced their honorarium from existing Rs 6,000 per month to 9,000 on completion of 5 years and Rs 12,000 on completion of 15 years. “MHA has approved a scheme of Rs 5.5 Lakh financial assistance to nearly 5,764 West Pakistan Refugees settled in J&K.  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.”

He tweeted, “Jammu & Kashmir Government has taken a number of decisions pursuant to the review meeting on 4-5 July 2018 during my visit to the state. Most significant of these is the conduct of Local Body Elections that are currently underway. Central Government is providing all possible support to the State Government for smooth conduct of these elections including the deployment of Central forces in sufficient numbers.”

He further said, “These Local Body elections will have a historic significance in many aspects. The local bodies elections in J&K will re-establish the long overdue grassroots level democracy in J&K. Urban Local Body elections are being held after 2005 and Panchayat Elections after 2011. Provision of Direct elections for Sarpanches of the Panchayats has also been restored to ensure accountability.”

“Powers for “Own fund generation” are being given to Panchayats.  These will include Building Permission Fee, Taxes on entertainment, advertisement, hoardings, various kinds of businesses & profession etc. Financial Powers of Panchayats are being enhanced 10 times from Rs 10 thousand to Rs 1 Lakh for Panchayats.  Similarly, from Rs 25 Thousand to Rs 2.5 Lakhs for Block Councils. 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 J&K including institutions like PHCs,  Primary Schools, Aganwadi Centers to name a few,” tweeted Singh.

“Local Bodies are also being vested with significantly enhanced devolution of powers in line with best practices in the country.  This will enable them to address most of the local issues in their jurisdictions. These elections will also pave the way for making available nearly Rs. 4,335 Crs of 14th Finance Commission Central grants to the duly constituted local bodies. But for these elections, people of J&K would have been deprived of these funds meant for their welfare,” said the union minister.

The minister said on an average every Panchayat will now get around Rs 50 to 80 Lakhs per year at its disposal for implementation of such schemes.

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