The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the adoption of a Home Ministry order modifying the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, that will strengthen local bodies with a three-tier power structure that will be directly elected by the people in the UT as in other parts of the country.
"There will be early elections in Jammu and Kashmir in all the three tiers of panchayat, block and district level and people will elect their representatives soon. They did not have the opportunity to elect their local representatives. The power to elect will now be with the people," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said while briefing the press after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The three-tier system was not available in Jammu and Kashmir in the "pre-370 period" but now it will be established in the Union Territory like in other parts of the country, Javadekar said, referring to Article 370 of the Constitution that was abrogated last year.
The article gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Home Ministry had issued the executive order under which District Development Councils (DDC) will be set up. The DDC along with the other two bodies -- the Halqa Panchayats and the Block Development Councils (BDCs) -- will complete the three-tier structure in Jammu and Kashmir.
'Halqa' means the area comprising a village or contiguous number of villages determined by the government.
"After the abolition of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, various laws are being implemented there. The three-tier Panchayat system is now operative in Jammu and Kashmir, which was not there earlier," Javadekar said.
He said the power to manage local bodies will go to the people, who will now elect their local representatives and will be able to do district and block level planning, besides implementing various welfare schemes.
The promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jammu and Kashmir and Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament now stands redeemed, he told reporters at a press conference.
The minister also said that planning at the district level and economic relief would be provided in Jammu and Kashmir.
As per the executive order, every DDC shall consist of the directly elected members from territorial constituencies in the district and chairpersons of all Block Development Councils of the district. Once assembly elections are held, members of the Legislative Assembly whose constituencies lie within the district will also be DDC members.