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GoI to release funds to JK before municipal polls

Srinagar, Aug 19: As Jammu and Kashmir has begun considering municipal elections, the Government of India (GoI) has agreed to release funds to the state before the polls.

The state has sped up the process for holding panchayat and urban local body polls since the imposition of Governor’s Rule in the state. Governor N N Vohra said these polls would be held from September this year.

Over the years, the state has lost crores of rupees of grant to be paid by the government of India if only the Panchayats and Municipal bodies would have been in place.

An official of Housing and Urban Development Department said the state had requested New Delhi to release the funds by considering J&K an “exceptional case” in view of its situation.

An official of Housing and Urban Development Department said the state had requested New Delhi to release the funds by considering J&K an “exceptional case” in view of its situation.

 

“As the exercise has started for the elections, New Delhi has agreed to release the funds to the state even before the panchayat and civic bodies are in place,” the official said.

The centre has allotted around Rs 1,300 crore to the state as per the 14th Finance Commission Awards from 2015-2020 for civic bodies.

The ULBs were entitled for Rs 350 crore during 2016-2017. These funds were not provided to the state in absence of elected municipalities.

Similarly, the state lost Rs over 250 crore during 2017-2018.The central finance commission devolves funds to local bodies across the country every year.

These funds are to be spent on water, electricity, road infrastructure, and other civic amenities.

The ULB polls were held in J&K after a span of 23-years in January 2005. However, the civic polls could not be held since 2011 despite the successive governments set up several deadlines about holding the elections.

Similarly, the state has lost huge Centre funding due to non-holding of panchayat polls.

“J&K will lose over Rs 4,000 crore from 2015-2020 in case the panchayat polls do not take place,” a source in Rural Development Department said.

The state is scheduled to get around Rs 700 crore to Panchayats and Rs 300 crore to ULB during the current financial year.

The panchayats completed their term in July 2016. Elections to panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years.

The government in the last three years postponed these polls several times.