Srinagar: The formation of Panchayats in Jammu & Kashmir is not as easy as claimed by the Jammu &Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Despite the public enthusiasm shown in the recent Panchayat elections which was conducted in 16 phases, seats for Panchs and Sarpanchs have been lying vacant in one thousand Panchayats.

The J&K Government is not only pondering over to hold elections in these Panchayats again, but also ready to go to the extent of amending its Panchayati Raj Act to sort out the problem.

According to the officials of J&K Election Office and Rural Development Department, the seats of Panchs and Sarpanchs in those thousand Panchayats remained vacant as not a single candidate appeared to contest the elections.

Going by the gravity of situation, the government intends to bring reforms in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 following the model of Himachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act. It is also thinking over to bring a proposal in the Cabinet to strengthen state Panchayats.

A senior official of Rural Development Department said that following the Himachal Pradesh model of Panchayat, the state government is seriously considering to provide some financial helps apart from allowing Rs 500-1000 monthly incentive to Panchs and Sarpanchs. He said that a proposal for this is almost ready.

On the issue, Chief Electoral Officer B R Sharma said, “Yes, it is true that Panchs and Sarpanchs could not be elected in many Panchayats. For this, we have many other options and we are thinking over them seriously. The process would be completed in the next fifteen days.” However, he did not say anything about the process.

Notably, Panchayat elections were held in J&K after ten years. At present there are only 4,130 Sarpanchs for 29,719 Panchayat constituencies.