JAMMU, NOVEMBER 05, 2020 : State Election Commissioner, K K Sharma, on Wednesday announced the maiden elections to elect District Development Council (DDC) in 20 districts of the J&K Union Territory stating that polls will be held in eight phases from November 28.

He also said that Panchayat by elections for the vacant seats of Sarpanchs and Panchs will also be held simultaneously with the DDC Polls.

Addressing a press conference here, the State Election Commissioner, said that first ever elections for the DDCs will be held from November 28, 2020 in 8 phases which will conclude on December 19, 2020. The counting of the votes for DDCs will be held on December 22.

The SEC also informed that the results of Panchayat by elections will be declared on the polling day itself.

The polling hours will be from 7 am to 2 pm for all the eight phases, The SEC added.

The State Election Commissioner further informed that the DDC elections will be held on party basis, whereas Panchayat by-elections will be held on non-political basis. He said that polling for DDC and Panchayat elections will be held through Ballot Boxes, while postal ballots will be available for Covid-19 patients in isolation, senior citizens and physically unwell patients. He also said that electoral rolls used in Sarpanch and Panch elections that have been updated on January 1, 2020, will be used for the DDC polls.

“With the announcement of DDC polls, the model code of conduct has come in force from today onwards. The first formal notification for the first phase of elections will be issued tomorrow,” Sharma said. He said delimitation has been done and 280 constituencies for DDCs have been identified across the J&K UT. “The term of the DDC will be for five years,” the SEC said.

Responding to media queries, the State Election Commissioner said that West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs), who are Indian citizens and are eligible to vote in Parliamentary elections, will also be entitled to exercise their right to franchise.

The State Election Commissioner said that after taking the feedback from various security agencies, a proper security mechanism will remain in place and “all concerns have been taken into consideration.”

The SEC also informed that the expenditure limit for the DDC polls per candidate is Rs 5 lakh, one lakh for Sarpanch seat and Rs 30,000 for Panch seat.

To ensure free, fair and transparent elections, General observers will be deployed who will keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process. Sharma also informed that sufficient numbers of ballot boxes have been made available for the smooth conduct of elections.

Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer, Hirdesh Kumar said that by-polls for 234 vacant seats of ULBs will also be held simultaneously. He said that elections to ULBs will be held through EVM.