Kashmir plans village council polls in September

Srinagar, May 13 (Inditop.com) In a step that will usher in devolution of administrative powers to village council level, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday announced the government’s decision to hold panchayat polls in the state in September-October this year.

Addressing a meeting of some 5,000 villagers organised by the rural development department, Abdullah said: “I believe in devolution of powers to village level. You must actively take part in the forthcoming elections to various panchayats in the state which will be held in September-October this year.”

He said after the polls, all development works at village level would be executed and supervised by village panchayats (councils).

Abdullah castigated separatist leaders for prompting local young men to violence.

“They want to give stones in the hands of youth while we believe in giving them administrative jobs and other gainful avenues of employment,” the chief minister said.

Abdullah also took a dig at the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose leaders have been critcising the ruling National Conference for the Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan.

However, Abdullah denied his grandfather and late chief minister Sheikh Abdullah had any role in the controversial water sharing treaty that is mainly blamed for power paucity in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The treaty was signed in 1960 when Sheikh Abdullah was in jail. Had he been in power, he would have never allowed the signing of the treaty between India and Pakistan,” Abdullah asserted.

As per the terms of the treaty, Pakistan has exclusive rights over waters of three rivers Chenab, Jhelum and Indus flowing through Jammu and Kashmir, while India has exclusive rights over waters rivers Ravi, Satluj and Beas in Punjab.

The treaty bans construction of water storage dams on any of these rivers.

The chief minister’s father and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah also attended the meeting and vowed to make the state self-sufficient in energy needs.

“When I was given this portfolio, my opponents said I was given a worthless portfolio. I will prove them wrong by making the state self-sufficient in energy requirements by tapping new and non-conventional sources of energy,” the elder Abdullah said.