Panchayat polls begin today

2800 Candidates In Fray For Phase-I

RAJEEV SHARMA

Jammu, Apr 12: Amid the boycott call by separatists, Jammu and Kashmir is all set to go for the first phase of much-awaited Panchayat polls on Wednesday. The elections, which are to be completed in 16 phases on non-party basis, are being held after a gap of 10 years.
State administration has put in place all necessary arrangements including upgrading the security to ensure “free and fair” elections. As many as 33,130 polling stations have been set up across the state for the polls.
Panchayat polls are being held through ballot boxes as the State Panchayat Raj Act does not allow the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) in these polls.
The last general elections to the Panchayats were held in the year 2000-01 after a gap of 23 years through secret ballot and the next edition was due in 2006 but could not be held due to various reasons, especially the fragile security situation.
The second phase of polling will be held on April 17, third on April 21, fourth on April 25, fifth on April 30, sixth on May 4, seventh on May 8, eighth on May 12, ninth on May 16 and the 10th to 16th phases will be held on May 21, May 25, May 29, June 2, June 6, June 11 and June 18 respectively.
Over 2,800 candidates, including Sarpanchs and Panchs are in the fray for the first phase of the Panchayat elections in Kupwara, Kangan, Budgam and Qaimoh blocks.
The officials said the election authority has decided that compulsory identification of voters will be made in these elections. Electors who have been provided with elector photo identity cards (EPIC) shall be identified through those cards only.
However, the election authority has also notified a list of 19 alternative documents which can used for identification of the electors who are yet to be provided with EPICs, they said.
The counting of votes will be taken up immediately after the polling process is over and the results will be announced immediately thereafter.
A total of 50.68 lakh voters will exercise their right to franchise to elect 4130 Sarpanchs (2164 in Kashmir and 1966 in Jammu) and 29,719 Panchs (15,959 in Kashmir and 13,760 in Jammu).
There are a total of 143 blocks in 22 districts of the State, which would go to polls (77 in Kashmir and 66 in Jammu). The figures of Ladakh region have been included in Kashmir. In Ladakh region Leh has 62,606 voters and Kargil 71,765.
In Jammu region, Kishtwar district has 1.23 lakh voters, Doda 2.13 lakh, Ramban 1.38 lakh, Reasi 1.61 lakh, Udhampur 2.79 lakh, Kathua 3.27 lakh, Samba 1.76 lakh, Jammu 5.66 lakh, Rajouri 3.16 lakh and Poonch 2.47 lakh.
In Kashmir region, Anantnag district has 4.01 lakh voters, Kulgam 1.93 lakh, Shopian 1.34 lakh, Pulwama 2.63 lakh, Budgam 3.35 lakh, Srinagar 15061, Ganderbal 1.21 lakh, Bandipora 1.51 lakh, Baramulla 4.37 lakh and Kupwara 3.3 lakh.
During the last Panchayat polls in 2001, elections were held for only 1600 Panchayats. Prior to that, the Panchayat elections were held in the state only three times in 1969, 1972 and 1978 while Panchayat elections in most of the other States of the country have been held 13 times.
The number of blocks has gone up from 121 in 2001 to 143 in 2011 while the number of electorates will be 50, 68,975.
For smooth conduct of the polls across the state, the State election authorities require 14000 ballot boxes. Since 6000 ballot boxes are already available within the State, approximately 8000 have been hired from Punjab at the cost of Rs 10 per day per ballot box.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST




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