Elected J&K Sarpanchs Await Official Approval Even Nine Months After Election
It may have been none months since they were voted to power , but even now 730 elected sarpanchs await official notifications to take charge.
According to a recent report, a total of 730 people are still waiting to get notified as sarpanch of their respective villages, even after being elected during the J&K Panchayat polls held in November-December 2018. All sarpanchs, about 2,182 in number, from Kashmir along with others elected across the state, were trained and also given a certificate from the Election Commission of India acknowledging their new positionsBut until they are notified, they cannot either officially hold the post of a sarpanch, start work, receive government funds or even get their monthly salary of Rs 2,500.
The order to notify sarpanchs had come in December, soon after the poll results were announced. But according to some unnotified sarpanchs 730 names were missing from the list.
The panchayat elections were held across Jammu and Kashmir from 17 November 2018 to 11 December 2018.
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According to the government officials, sarpanchs can’t be notified until their panchayats elect panchs.
In a traditional panchayat set-up, the sarpanch is the mukhiya (head). There are 5 to 11 panchs — who are heads of wards — and work in association with the sarpanch in running the panchayat administration. A village is generally divided into 5-11 wards, each headed by a panch.
The 730 sarpanchs who await official notification of their posts, apparently, represent their wards alone with no panch to assist them. Hence, government official argue, the process to notify them as sarpanch could not be executed. The solution to this problem, they added, calls for re-elections to appoint panchs. However, that can only be held after the polls to block development councils gets over which is by the end of October 2019.
The sarpanchs call this reasoning “delaying tactics” and ask for a quick solution to their problem.
Sarpanchs had earlier threatened to approach J&K High Court as well.
The sarpanchs had protested against an order issued by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, on 20 June, wherein the department decided to appoint government employees from the social welfare, agriculture, revenue, education, handloom, forest and horticulture departments to look after work usually handled by elected sarpanchs and panchs. Elected officials argued that government employees cannot replace elected representatives.
The administration however cited the lack of quorum in 390 panchayat bodies across the state, of which 368 were in the Kashmir division, for its decision.