Panchayat representatives meet Shah, seek separate Election Commission

Demand hike in honorarium, elections for vacant halqas, Rs 25 lakh a year as CDF
Panchayat representatives meet Shah, seek separate Election Commission

A delegation of Sarpanchs and Panchs met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the SKICC on Thursday and demanded a separate Election Commission for holding Panchayat polls in the state independently.

The Panchayat representatives also demanded hike in theirmonthly honorarium and elections for the areas that are not represented bySarpanchs and Panchs at present.

According to sources, at least 40 Sarpanchs and Panchs underthe banner of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (JKPC) had a discussionwith Shah about the issues confronting them. The delegation submitted amemorandum to the minister.

As per the memorandum, the Sarpanchs and Panchs pressed forholding a three-tier elections of the Panchayats, stating that after successfulpanchayat polls, elections for chairpersons of block-level committees and thedistrict planning and development boards be held at the earliest.

"As had been promised and as per the provisions of theJ&K Panchayati Raj Act, there should be a separate Election Commission forJ&K to ensure uninterrupted and unbiased Panchayat polls withoutinterference of any opposition or ruling party. To ensure this we demandestablishment of State Panchayat Election Commission," the memorandum reads.

It further states that despite threats by militantorganisations in year 2012 and the killing of 15 elected Sarpanchs, no massresignation was witnessed.

"It was JKPC that stood like a rock and persuaded Sarpanchsand Panchs not to resign and kept the momentum going."

The memorandum reads that at present the honorarium paid tothe elected panchs and sarpanchs is negligible as compared to legislatorsdespite the fact that most of Panchs and Sarpanchs come from poor economicbackground.

"The honorarium paid to the Sarpanchs is Rs 2500 a month andRs 1000 a month for Panchs. This honorarium is not sufficient. It should beenhanced from Rs 2500 to 25000 for Sarpanchs and from Rs 1000 to Rs 10000 forPanchs," it adds. 

The delegation also urged the Union Home Minister to raisethe Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for each panchayat to Rs 25 lakh ayear. General Secretary and spokesman of JKPC Altaf Thakur said that the UnionHome Minister gave a patient hearing to them and assured that Panchayat Rajsystem will be strengthened in the state with the active support of the Centre."We urged the Home Minister to pass directions to the state government to holdelections in the areas declared un-notified where there is only one Sarpanchand no Panch or where there is only one Panch and no Sarpanch. We also urgedhim to direct the concerned for holding polls for vacant halqas where there areno Panchs and Sarpanchs at all," Thakur said.

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