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Panchayat elections:Phase II today, 4014 candidates in fray

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 19: Polling for Phase-II of Panchayat Polls-2018 will be held Tuesday at 2179 polling stations across the state, including 828 in Kashmir and 1351 in Jammu Division.

In a statement, Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra said that 4,014 candidates are in the fray for 281 Sarpanch and 1286 Panch seats in Phase-II.

He said 90 Sarpanchs and 1069 Panchs have already been elected unopposed in Phase-II.

Kabra said 601 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive including 490 in Kashmir Division and 196 in Jammu Division.

He said in the areas going to polls in the Phase-II, electorate of 3,29, 818 will be voting for Sarpanch constituencies, 207796 for Panch constituencies.

Polling will be held from 8 am to 2 pm while counting of the votes will be taken up immediately after the voting is over.

The polls will be held in the border areas of Kupwara district like Kalaroos, Machil, and Rajwar. Similarly, the polls will be held in two Panchayat constituencies of Bandipora-Ganstan, Nowgam.

In Baramulla, the elections will be held at Wagoora and Sangrama.

In central Kashmir’s Budgam and Ganderbal districts, polls will be held at Kangan, Rathsun, and Budgam panchayat constituencies.

At the same time, most of the areas where there is a larger presence of militancy will face elections in the last phases.

However, two Panchayat constituencies of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Bijbehara and Anantnag will witness polling.

However, there will be no elections in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts, and in summer capital Srinagar in the second phase.

Bhambatt, Karsha, Sankoo, Shaker, Chaktan,  Shargol, Lotchum of Kargil district and Khaltsi,  Skurbuchan,  Turtuk, and Panamik panchayat constituencies of Leh district too will face polls.

Polling will also take place in various constituencies of Jammu region.

In the phase I, Kashmir saw a 64 per cent voter turnout while nearly 75 per cent electorate exercised their right to franchise in Jammu region of panchayat elections on Saturday.

The first phase of the panchayat polls in the Valley was held in the traditionally high voter turnout belts along the Line of Control.

The polling in next eight phases will be held on November 24, 27, 29, December 1, December 4, December 8, and December 11.

The panchayat elections are being held in J&K after a gap of seven years. The last elections were conducted in 2011 and the panchayats had completed their five-year term in 2016.

The nine-phase panchayat polls are being held in the state to 316 blocks in 4,483 Panchayat Halqas comprising 35,029 Panch.


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Corruption is J&K’s biggest problem: Governor

Releases compendium of dev, admin works

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 12: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said on Wednesday that corruption is the single biggest problem that has retarded economic development in the state.
Addressing the media after releasing a compendium of developmental and administrative works done in the state during Governor’s rule, Malik said: “Corruption is the single biggest problem of the state.
“Those in power here, be it political, administrative or business power, live like Mughal emperor Jahangir.
“The poor youths who go with their ponies to earn a living during the Amarnath Yatra do so without even wearing warm clothes.
“When I said the state’s biggest single problem was corruption, a senior politician said I was bringing a bad name to the state.
“It is in fact the rampart corruption that brings a bad name to the state and it needs to be weeded out.”
Malik said his administration had pro-actively been pursuing an anti-corruption agenda.
“The state vigilance organization has been given more powers by converting it into the state Anti-Corruption Bureau.
“This empowerment has already started showing results. We recently had a Commissioner level bureaucrat in our net.
“More punitive action against corrupt officials is going to be taken in the days to come,” Malik said.
Calling “successful” conduct of civic polls a “landmark achievement”, Governor, Satya Pal Malik, on Wednesday said the bodies would get Rs 1,200 crore and Rs 2,300 crore per annum, respectively.
Announcing the achievements of governor-led administration, Malik said conducting of civic polls was for empowering of people and devolution of power.
He said the elections conducted in a span of three months were “free and fair”.
“Transfer of funds, functions and functionaries to the local bodies has been approved. Sarpanchs will get Rs 2,500 honorarium per head per month, while Panchs will get Rs 1,000,” he said.
“The total funds for civic bodies would be Rs 3,500 crore annually.”
The government has termed the initiatives of the governor as ‘Mission Delivering Development’ and ‘Mission Good Governance’.
For devolution of powers, the government approved Jammu & Kashmir Municipal Laws (Amendment) Bill-2018, he said.
“Mayors/Deputy Mayors of Municipal Corporations and Presidents/Vice-Presidents of Municipal Councils/Municipal Committees elected through secret ballot Amendments made in the Panchayati Raj Act-1989 to devolve powers to Panchayats, ensure participative decision-making functioning and monitoring of 19 Departments devolved to Panchayats. Social audit of government schemes and programs to be conducted by Panchayats,” he announced.
He said bottlenecks have been removed for implementation of Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
“Long pending state level issues have been resolved. Land for two new AIIMS, IIT, IIM have been handed over. Work started on Ring Road Jammu. Land for IIM out-campus identified in Kashmir.”
“Final instalment of Rs 110.74 cr released by the Govt of India under PMDP for upgrading the healthcare infrastructure in JK ensuring full release of the allocation of Rs 900 crore under this sector.”
He said Jammu & Kashmir Infrastructure Development Corporation (JKIDFC) was constituted to raise Rs 8,000 crore for development.
“Major thrust to infrastructure, particularly languishing projects, some of which have waited for over 20 years.”
He said 559 water supply schemes, costing Rs 965 crore approved to ensure assured drinking water supply
“Discussion initiated with Asian Development Bank for $150 million fresh loan for new development projects.”
MoU has been signed between J&K and Punjab government for execution of Shahpur-Kandi Dam Project, he said.
“J&K will also get 20% electricity from Shahpur-Kandi, Thein Dams.”
He said that Ratle Hydroelectric project has been cleared for implementation, which was hanging for over 5 years
He said J&K would get its first-ever Gas Pipeline
He said 175 declarations/notifications involving 8770 Kanals of land for various important developmental projects like roads, bridges, and transmission lines have been issued.
Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Act was amended to further empower the Council, he said.
Funds earmarked for development works Ladakh region to be released through the Councils, the governor announced.
For administrative reforms, he said fact-finding committees have been constituted to go into areas suspected of having transparency issues.
For reformation in recruitments, he said, interviews have been abolished for many posts, as selection would be made only through common merit-based exam
“Selection of 958 Medical Officers was the fastest ever selection process completed by JKPSC in just 42 days. Selection process for 3,700 medicos and paramedical staff for five New Medical Colleges on fast-track basis,” he said.
He said a high-level committee headed by Advisor to Governor has been constituted to address service-related grievances of government employees.

Major initiatives taken by Guv during past five months
* Rs 80000 crores PMDP fast-tracked
* J&K to get first-ever Gas Pipeline
* New Power Corridor to J&K
* New rail link from Baramulla to Kupwara
* J&K Municipal Laws (Amendment) Bill-2018 approved
* Generating Employment – 42211 New Posts Created
* Power to every home
* Housing for All
* Ease of Doing Business
* J&K Trade & Export Policy

 

‘No political agenda, aim is development of entire J&K’

Jammu, Dec 12: Governor, Satya Pal Malik, on Wednesday said he does not have any political agenda and was working strictly within the ambit of the constitution.
Interacting with media at a press conference here, Malik said he was not trying to encroach upon the political space in Kashmir.
He was replying to a question about the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti accusing him of encroaching upon the political space in the state.
Malik said he was in J&K not to make the political parties happy but to accelerate the development of the state and remove “genuine grievances” of the common people.
He said he endeavour was to reach the common people and ensure a “balanced development” of the state’s three regions.
Governor said, “I tried to streamline the issuance of the bona fide resident certificates to permanent residents of J&K but had to shelve the process because of the hue and cry raised by certain political parties. Complaints of inordinate delay in issuance of these certificates had been received from the affected people.”
Malik said corruption in J&K was more than in any other state and tackling the menace was a challenge before him.
Development of the state has been hurdled due to corrupt practices and it was an “opportune time” for the political leadership and bureaucracy to introspect, he said.
“The influential people have become rich whereas the common people have been suffering because of the malice,” he said.
He said that among the major initiatives of his administration towards good governance was the establishment of the first ever Anti-Corruption Bureau, making amendments to make the J&K Vigilance Commission Act 2011 more vibrant and effective and amendment of the Prevention of Corruption Act to provide it more teeth.

Malik was hopeful that a new leadership would be churned out of the Panchayat and municipal elections that have successfully been completed in the state after a gap of several years. These elections were held to empower the people and not to tinker with the Article 35A as was alleged by some political parties.

He regretted that J&K was not being projected in the right perspective by the national media and at times the reports were “distorted” without bringing out the truth.
Bottlenecks have been removed and 1296 development projects languishing for as long as 20 years have been approved for completion with an investment of Rs 2700 crore. Projects worth about Rs 6000 crores will be sanctioned in the next two months.
Malik said that in an effort to introduce transparency, the interview system for recruitment process has been abolished and 1000 doctors have been recruited through the fast-track system within 42 days.
He said that work on building bunkers for residents of areas near the Line of Control (LoC) in the Rajouri and Poonch districts will be taken in hand soon.

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Congress sees itself emerging single-largest party in JK Assembly

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, Dec 12: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) on Wednesday claimed that it would emerge as the single largest party in the upcoming Assembly polls.

Addressing media persons at the party headquarters on the sidelines of a function organised to felicitate the newly-elected councilors, President JKPCC G A Mir, said they were sure about their party doing “good in the Urban Local Body (ULB) and Panchayat elections”.

“We emerged as a big unit. In Kashmir, we got a good number of seats. The decision to contest the elections yielded results. In Jammu, we didn’t score much seats,” said Mir, who was flanked by senior Congress leader Usman Majeed.

Referring to the results of Assembly elections of five states including Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh (MP), he said that “divisive and hate politics” have been rejected by the people.

“Hate and bifurcation has been rejected. People have given a befitting reply. In 2019 also, people will vote for congress,” he said.
Mir said congress believed in taking everyone along.

“For the time being, we are working in all the regions on our own. At an appropriate time, we will decide whether to contest the elections independently or in alliance. Politically, people are mature now,” he said.

He out-rightly gave the credit for the win in the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh to Rahul Gandhi.

“So many issues surfaced in the last four and a half months, may it be mob lynching or injustice with women and youth,” he said.

To the reports that governor administration was considering to grant divisional status to Ladakh, he said it should be left to the elected government.
“Ladakhis have been demanding it for a long time. The demand is genuine, as the region remains cut off for six months,” he said.

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Online fund-raising is new saviour in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Dec 12: From helping in fund raising for medical treatment or education, the valley-based online platforms are turning out to be the real friends of those in need.

The online crowd-funding for social causes is growing in the valley, aiming to raise money for the worthy causes.

One such initiative is ‘Pledge”, a platform to help the downtrodden, overlooked and victimised sections of society.

The giving platform recently helped a female hailing from Bandipora.

Her husband had a meager salary of Rs 4,000 per month and she required Rs 2.5 lakh for a heart dual valve replacement.

Similarly, the platform also intervened in case of a young female patient in SMHS whose family could hardly afford food and she had her daily medical expenses amounting to Rs 3,000.

One of the co-founders of the group, Khawar Khan Achakzai, recalls, “It was when we were campaigning in favour of an unfortunate minor who was raped and murdered that I met a few people who had a zeal for social activism. We somehow kept in touch, most of us. One of them once called me that they were organizing a health camp in a Leprosarium in Srinagar, an area which has been left in the dungeons of indifference and oblivion.”

This was the trigger for Khawar to become a social worker. At the camp, they finally came up with the idea of creating an open platform for social work.

“I was stunned at how interested the youth were ready to donate in their time, talents and money to help towards envisaging the downtrodden and poorer sections of the society, but what lacked was proper channelizing of the resources they had,” says Khawar, a doctor by profession.

The group currently has 30 professionals and students as volunteers or support persons.

The group members raise funds by writing a profile of the potential beneficiary and publicising it on their online pages.

Alternatively, those in need approach Pledge to promote their request through established social media networks.

A major challenge faced by the group is sustained support.“We raise funds for a particular case, but we need people helping us in the long run,” explains the 30-year-old doctor.

“There is a village languishing in abject poverty and unemployment. We are looking forward to intervene. We are also planning to help some psychiatric patients abandoned by their families, with medications and other stuff. For next year we have planned to highlight the growing incidence of sexual abuse among children in Kashmir,” informs Khawar.

Another anonymous group on social media recently helped raise Rs 84,000 in 72 hours for a person belonging to a poor family.

He needed money to clear the loan he had taken for his sister’s marriage. “The smile on his face after clearing the debts is expressible,” says the co-founder of the group, wishing anonymity.

“It would have taken him more than 5 years to achieve the target and with the grace of Almighty Allah and the esteemed donors we were able to do it in just 72 hours, hereby relieving him from immense trauma and struggle.”

Similarly, the online crowd-funding initiative raised money for a woman with two young children.

The female was abandoned by her husband and had no money to sustain on her own.“Today, she makes different products of yarn wool which are promoted on our social media pages. Those who want to place an order can do it through the platform,” says the founder.

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