Srinagar, Aug 15: After years of delay, Governor N N Vohra Wednesday said that urban local bodies and panchayat polls would be held from September this year.
“Elections to urban local bodies and panchayats have been pending for long. The prolonged delay in the establishment of democratically-elected self-governing bodies at the grassroots level in urban and rural areas has resulted in the loss of considerable funds, which would have become available if elections had been held,” Vohra said in his Independence Day address at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here.
According to this Kashmir News service (KNS) correspondent, Governor said that necessary amendments to the existing laws have already been made and speedy action is underway to gear-up the administrative and logistical arrangements for undertaking both these elections.
“Elections to urban local bodies will take place in September-October while the phased panchayat polls will be held in October-December,” he said.
Vohra said his administration was taking action to ensure that adequate funds, delegation of administrative and financial authority, deployment of required staff and logistical support is provided to municipalities and panchayats, as soon as they are established.
“I would appeal to the leaders of all political parties in the state to provide full support to the administration to improve efficiency and accountability in every arena of functioning and to lend their valuable support towards engendering an environment in which the forthcoming elections to municipalities and panchayats produce a positive outcome.”
He asserted that only dialogue and discussion can solve problems faced by the state as a confrontational approach will never lead to any resolution and said that “pursuit of divisive and confrontationist” approaches can never lead to the resolution of any of the problems.
He said, “To pull the state out of the prevailing environment of suspicion, fear, distrust and growing cynicism, all stakeholders have to shun their ideological differences and have to accept that our problems can be resolved only through dialogue and discussion and by making sustained sincere efforts towards promoting reconciliation and communal harmony.”
“I appeal to all the political parties in our state and to all those at the helm of various social, cultural, religious and other influential organisations, to ponder most seriously over what exactly has been gained from the endless turmoil,” he said.
The Governor said that people in the Valley have been facing continuing “difficulties and sufferings” on account of the recurring disturbances.
“Every call for a Hartal affects the functioning of public delivery systems, stoppage of transport, tourism, trade and business and closure of all educational institutions,” he said. “The recurring unrest has most seriously affected the academic schedules and the future careers of our youth,” he said in his address to the gathering. It was also attended by former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and Speaker Legislative Assembly Nirmal Singh besides advisors to Governor, and senior officers.
The Governor, who took the reins of Jammu and Kashmir following the fall of the PDP-BJP government on June 19, said, “It also needs being recognized that the activities of all those whose sole objective has been to stoke unrest have resulted only in branding our state with a negative profile which has discouraged tourism, external investments and adversely affected the economic advancement of the state.”
He said that JK suffers disadvantages on account of long distances from the major markets, difficult geographical, and climatic conditions and inadequate connectivity.
He claimed that state suffered most because of Pakistan’s “continuing proxy war”.
“It’s unceasing campaigns for the past nearly three decades now to perpetrate violence and destabilize JK. In the past one year our western neighbor attempted to infiltrate an unusually large number of militants across the International Border and Line of Control,” he claimed.
In the past four years, he said that the various initiatives have been taken Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “secure amicable relations” with neighbour have not so far encouraged any result”.
“Elections have been just been concluded in Pakistan and a new Prime Minister shall be soon taking over. I very much hope that the new leadership in Islamabad will recognize the futility of continuing with its terrorist agenda in JK and accept that peace between the two countries will contribute towards the establishment of fruitful relations, growing trade, prosperity, and all around mutual benefits,” he claimed.
During this year he said that there has been an increase in the attempts at infiltration across the LOC.
“Till June this year there were repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan, which caused manifold sufferings for our people living in the villages along the LOC.”
For resolving outstanding issues delaying the implementation of development works and delivery of welfare programmes, the Governor’s administration has been continuously engaged in reviewing the functioning of every department, he said.
He also appealed the youth to shun the path of violence. “It is extremely important that the anger of our youth, from whatever reasons it may arise, must not lead to their getting involved in violent activities,” he said.
In the past year, he said a number of our youth, some of whom were pursuing professional studies, were “influenced to pick up the gun and join groups which perpetrate violence”.
“It is gratifying that some of these young men have sincere returned to their families,” he said, while appealing people to use their “influence to get all the young men who have deviated from the path to return home and pursue their studies”.
“Whenever I have had the opportunity of visiting any educational institution I have been appealing to teachers, parents and the community leaders to take every possible step for protecting the interests of the younger generation.”
“The first priority of the Governor’s administration is to ensure the maintenance of public order and to see that the entire administrative apparatus functions with speed and efficiency. Among the many problems facing us, there is a huge requirement of funds for securing the completion of scores of projects all over the state,” he said.
He said the administration was working assiduously to ensure that the resources available under the Prime Minister’s Development Package of Rs 80,000 crore for the state and under the various pan-India flagship schemes were efficiently utilised.
“My three advisers, the chief secretary and I have been working to infuse the governmental machinery with the required zeal to perform effectively and deliver efficient services to all the people in our state,” Vohra added. (KNS)