No panchayats, no funds for Jammu and Kashmir

March 28th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by admin  

Jammu, March 28 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir cannot get central funds for rural development because it has not held panchayat elections. The central government turned down a request for rural development funds by the state government, saying the state had not held panchayat (village council) elections and hence did not qualify for the funds, officials said here.

The state rural development department had sought over Rs.2 billion for panchayats and upliftment of rural areas, according to the officials.

The state has 2,701 panchayats out of which elections were held in about 1,900 in 2001. Panchayats in Kupwara and Baramulla did not go to the polls due to militancy.

The 2001 polls, held when Farooq Abdullah was chief minister, took place after a gap of over 20 years.

But the panchayats formed through the 2001 polls ended their five-year terms in 2006, and no poll has been held since then, on the ground that the situation was not conducive to hold panchayat elections. They were to be held in 2007 but were put off.

Rural development schemes have been hit hard by lack of funds.

Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections are also due this year. The new assembly is to be constituted before Nov 20. The state government and parties in the ruling coalition government have repeatedly said the security situation in the state has improved remarkably and all is set for tourist season as well as elections.

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