Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission on Monday set in motion the process for holding 3-tier, much-awaited, panchayat polls in the state by issuing notification of the schedule for elections.
The 16 phases of panchayat polls will be held on non-party basis. The first phase polling will be held on April 13. As many as 33,130 polling stations have been set up across the state and ballot boxes will be used for polling. The state's Panchayat Raj Act does not allow the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The entire process, including the compilation and notification of names of all the sarpanchs and the panchs elected in accordance with the provisions of the J&K Panchayati Raj Act 1989, will be completed by June 30.
The last general elections for the panchayats were held in the year 2000-01, after a gap of 23 years through a secret ballot. The panchayats elected had completed their tenure in June 2006.
Out of total 2700 sarpanch segments in 2001, the elections on 1900 constituencies were held in 2001 due to terror threats and hostile conditions in Kashmir. The state has already lost Rs 269 crore as central funds due to delay in elections.
The panchayat polls have become a political debate in the state with PDP, BJP, Congress and Panthers Party demanding implementation of 73 rd amendment in the State Panchayat Raj Act.
As per the fresh delimitation of panch and sarpanch constituencies, over 50 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in the panchayat polls. The number of sarpanch constituencies has gone up to 4130 from 2702 in 2001, while there will be 29719 panch constituencies. The number of panch constituencies in 2001 was 20559.
"The 2001 General Elections of the Panchayats were held on hand-written electoral rolls but this time we have prepared computerized panchayat rolls," Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), B R Sharma told reporters.
Sharma said the Election Authority after taking into account all the relevant factors, has finalized the schedule for conducting the General Elections of the panchayats.
"Keeping in view the availability vis-à-vis the requirement of government functionaries as well as security forces the General Elections to Panchayats is scheduled to be held over 16 phases," the CEO maintained.
He informed the number of blocks have gone up from 121 in 2001 to 143 in 2011 while the number of electorates will be 50,68,975.
"Ballot boxes would be used during the forthcoming General Elections to the panchayats. 14000 ballot boxes will be required for smooth conduct of the elections. Since 6000 ballot boxes are already available within the State, approximately 8000 will be taken from Punjab at Rs 10 per day per ballot box," he said, adding the results will be announced on the polling day.