KC NEWS DESK
Jammu: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Tuesday announced that the elections for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) would be held after the completion of delimitation exercise and reservation of wards for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
He said that the elections could not be held due to constitutional impediments. The Lieutenant Governor asserted that after addressing these (constitutional) requirements (delimitation and OBC reservation) and getting the assent of Parliament, elections would be held at the earliest possible as the Centre also wanted it to happen “as soon as possible.”
He was addressing the gathering after felicitating the Councillors of Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), whose tenure ended today.
“I will directly come to the question, which is naturally the main concern and bothering one and all, for obvious reasons. When will the elections be held? Elections will definitely be held. There were constitutional impediments due to which they could not be held. When J&K Reorganisation Act was implemented here after October 31, 2019, reservation for Other Backward Classes, which earlier was not there in J&K, became a constitutional imperative,” he explained the constitutional impediments.
“For this, you all are aware that we need to have the assent of the Parliament of India. The Government of India also wants to complete this exercise as early as possible. As soon as this exercise gets completed, the election will be conducted so that the elected representatives can address the grievances of people using their wisdom and contribute for the development of Jammu city judiciously and efficiently as per their capabilities,” the Lieutenant Governor remarked.
He also asserted that the local bodies should work to raise and enhance their resources. “Generally, what happens is that we easily get influenced by public perception. But I believe, if the service-delivery is efficient, the people never object or protest to the decisions taken. For the welfare of people, if we need to take some harsh measures at times, we should not hesitate. There are few people who object to such rational decisions because they never like to see the system work in perfect order or appreciate good governance,” the Lieutenant Governor said.
He said that harsh decisions aimed at public-welfare were imperative for good governance. “They are taken and implemented across the country. In the country, there are several Municipal Corporations, which have budgets that exceed even that of some smaller states, as pointed out by the Chief Secretary. So we need to remember that this cannot go on for longer, that we can avail services for free; without paying anything. This is not possible for any country, state or Union Territory,” LG Sinha asserted.
He emphasised that the generation of resources was important and development would be possible only if there was an increase in capital expenditure. “So be it Jammu Municipal Corporation or any department of J&K government, if the money is spent on salaries and GP Fund only, capital expenditure will not register an increase and there can be no development in this scenario,” he said.
“People and their elected representatives will have to work and walk together to put this system in place (to ensure resource generation for development). In case of differences, deliberations can be the ideal medium to reconcile differences. But for inflated ego or vested interests, not to allow the system to function – is not a good approach,” LG Sinha cautioned.
“I extend my gratitude to the Councillors for confronting challenges posed by COVID with great courage. The elected representatives bear the responsibility to enhance the prestige of J&K; maintain and strengthen grassroot democracy (both through local bodies and Panchayats). You all have accomplished it to a great extent in the Jammu Municipal Corporation with great efficacy, despite different political ideologies, to ensure development. This is a heartening aspect,” he said while greeting them.
Rajinder Sharma, Mayor JMC; Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Ramesh Kumar, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Anand Jain, IGP Jammu; Rahul Yadav, Commissioner JMC; Baldev Singh Billawaria, Deputy Mayor, Councillors, former Mayors and chairpersons of various committees of Jammu Municipal Corporation were present.
Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta too lauded the functioning of JMC councillors in the past five years and appreciated their efforts to improve work culture. “Many milestones have been touched; several goals have yet to be achieved. I believe that in the times to come Jammu itself will emerge as a separate tourist destination after the completion of ongoing development and tourism related projects, including Smart City projects,” Mehta said, while reiterating the resolve of the government led by LG Manoj Sinha to ensure growth of “…Khush-haal Jammu.”
“I want to see Jammu to figure in the first 10 cities in the ranking of cities across India,” he said.
Mayor Rajinder Sharma, while enlisting the achievements, mentioned a quantum jump in the budget of JMC from Rs 25 Cr in 2018 to Rs 162 in 2023; thereby spending around 1.50 Cr for the development of each ward. He also highlighted that Rs 450 Cr were expended under the smart city project under the visionary leadership of LG Sinha aimed at making “Khush-haal J&K.”
A government spokesperson said that the Lieutenant Governor commended all the Councillors for selflessly serving people, fighting COVID pandemic and ensuring municipal services in respective areas and extended his best wishes to them for their future endeavours.
He shared the efforts of the government, under the guidance of the Prime Minister, to empower the grassroots democratic setup in Jammu Kashmir.
“Despite delayed implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments in J&K, the UT administration has ensured basic principles of decentralization of decision making and development by transferring more departments and works to elected representatives after August 2019,” LG Sinha said.
He said, “The Municipal Corporation is a symbol of the aspirations of the citizens in the 21st century. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Urban Local Bodies of J&K are provided with greater financial resources for strong and accountable self-government and to ensure holistic ecosystem for last-mile access to services.”
He called upon the common public and elected representatives to work in synergy and focus on resource generation.
“Urban governance inculcates the spirit of cooperation among the citizens with the ultimate aim of bringing transformation in the urban development paradigm to fulfill the aspirations of the people. Efforts have been made to improve urban planning, strengthen green infrastructure and enhance the ease of living,” he added.