Srinagar, Sep 22: As the process for vacant Panchayat seats has begun in Jammu and Kashmir, the authorities have directed officials to maintain transparency in funds meant for Panchayats in Kashmir.
The administration has constituted 14- member apex level and two divisional level committees for holding elections in the union territory. The Apex Committee will be headed by the Principal Secretary to the government, home department. It will draw a roadmap and detailed schedule for the conduct of Panchayat and BDC elections with a special focus on security, logistics, and other aspects.
An official of Rural Development Department said that the Centre has decided to release huge amounts for Panchayats.
“There had been complaints in the past that funds meant for Panchayats were not reaching the grassroots. There were also reports about misappropriation of funds while officials had not maintained proper records. The government does not want misuse of funds which are meant for development of rural areas,” an official told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service.
The official said it is mandatory to ensure that the funds in the account of the Halqa Panchayat are properly used and that the funds balance available in these Halqa Panchayat account prior to the notification of constituted Panchayats or appointment of administers are in order and every transaction in the said Halqa Panchayat account accounts is as per the financial rules.
Officials have been directed to maintain records whether these transactions have been made after proper sanction and that the financial propriety has been maintained.
The Centre, as part of its initiative to empower around 40,000 elected local representatives in JK, had earlier enhanced the financial powers of panchayats 10-fold from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh, and that of block councils from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration held Panchayat elections in November 2018 after delaying it for more than two years. The election, which saw a voter turnout of 74 percent, left 11639 Panch and 1,011 Sarpanch seats vacant in Jammu and Kashmir.
As many as 22,214 Panches and 3,459 Sarpanches were elected.
The National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the Panchayat elections.
Earlier this year, Jammu and Kashmir administration had announced that the elections to vacant seats in the newly-formed Union territory of J&K would be held from March 5 this year.
However, the polls were postponed citing security reasons.