District Development Councils (DDC)

#GS2 #Polity #LocalGovernance 

 

Union Cabinet Wednesday approved an amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 clearing the decks for the introduction of a three-tier system of local body governance in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

  • The amendment to the law, effected by the Ministry of Home Affairs on October 16, will lead to the establishment of District Development Councils (DDC), members of which will be directly elected by voters of the Union Territory. The DDCs will be the third-tier — at the district level, over the block and village levels.

 

What are DDCs?

  • DDCs structure will include a DDC and a District Planning Committee (DPC).
  • The J&K administration has also amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, to provide for the establishment of elected District Development Councils in J&K.
  • This system effectively replaces the District Planning and Development Boards in all districts and will prepare and approve district plans and capital expenditure.

 

Composition of DDCs

  • Their key feature, however, is that the DDCs will have elected representatives from each district.
  • Their number has been specified at 14 elected members per district representing its rural areas, alongside the Members of
  • Legislative Assembly chairpersons of all Block Development Councils within the district.

 

Term of reference

  • The term of the DDC will be five years, and the electoral process will allow for reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.
  • The Additional District Development Commissioner (or the Additional DC) of the district shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the District Development Council.
  • The council, as stated in the Act, will hold at least four “general meetings” in a year, one in each quarter.

 

What will be the process here onward?

  • The 14 constituencies for electing representatives to the DDC will have to be delimited.
  • These constituencies will be carved out of the rural areas of the district, and elected members will subsequently elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson of the DDC from among themselves.

 

Within the third tier, where do the DDCs fit in?

  • The DDCs replace the District Planning and Development Boards (DDBs) that were headed by a cabinet minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • For Jammu and Srinagar districts, as winter and summer capitals, the DDBs was headed by the Chief Minister.
  • However, for Leh and Kargil districts, the Autonomous Hill Development Councils performed the functions designated for the DDBs.

 

How will DPC work, then?

  • For every district, there will be DPC comprising MPs representing the area, Members of the State Legislature representing the areas within the District etc. among others.
  • The MP will function as the chairperson of this committee.
  • The committee will “consider and guide” the formulation of development programmes for the district.
  • It would indicate priorities for various schemes and consider issues relating to the speedy development and economic uplift of the district.
  • It would function as a working group for the formulation of periodic and annual plans for the district, and formulate and finalise the plan and non-plan budget for the district.

 

Centre’s objective behind this new structure

  • The J&K administration in a statement said that the move to have an elected third tier of the Panchayati Raj institution marks the implementation of the entire 73rd Amendment Act in J&K.
  • The idea is that systems that had been made defunct by earlier J&K governments such as the Panchayati raj system are being revived under the Centre’s rule in the state through the Lieutenant Governor’s administration.
  • In the absence of elected representatives in the UT, senior government officials argue that DDCs will effectively become representative bodies for development at the grassroots in the 20 districts of the UT.
  • They hope that this may draw some former legislators in as well.
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