SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kasmir’s Delimitation Commission Friday said the exercise to re-draw boundaries of assembly constituencies of the union territory is a “very complex issue and not a mere athematic.”
The commission, however, said that the process will be completed in a very transparent manner and the draft prepared by it will be put in a public domain for objections and queries after which associate members of the commission will also be consulted for preparing the final draft.
While addressing the press in Jammu on the last day of the four-day long visit, the members of the commission, said a due representation to the people belonging to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Cast groups in the UT will be given.
Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner of India, who is the Ex-officio member of J&K Delimitation Commission said, “In the past four days, the commission met 290 groups in Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu. There was an overwhelming response and people travelled from long distances to meet us. We listened to every delegation patiently.”
He said that the delimitation process “in J&K is a very complex issue and not just mere athematic.”
“There is an overlapping of districts and the tehsils in Constituencies,” Chandra said, adding that the public has faced inconvenience due to such anomalies.
The final draft would be prepared after taking all the demands and recommendations into account, the CEC said.
“A draft will be prepared and put in the public domain for their comments. After seeing all the comments, the final draft (on Delimitation exercise) will be prepared,” he said.
Chandra said the J&K officials provided them with the details of the last available census that is — 2011, patwar halqas and the district areas, population figures etc. “In the last census done in 2001, there were only 12 districts and the number of districts has now gone up to 20. Similarly, there were only 58 tehsils, which at present are 270. We could observe that there is a huge administrative overlapping of patwari halqas due to which people are facing huge inconvenience,” he said.
He added that they did not just meet the leaders from the political parties, but civil society groups, lawyers, individuals, tribals, local bodies leaders and heads of NGOs too.
“We are quite happy to see great participation in the process. I would say that difficult terrain wasn’t acknowledged in the earlier delimitation done in 1995. The population has to be the main criteria for delimitation but priority will be also the area, geography, topography and also the communication facilities of the areas,” he said.
“We will keep in mind the census of 2011. As per the delimitation act, we have to go by the latest census available,” he said, adding that the act guarantees due representation to the SC and ST categories.
While answering a query about PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti who alleged that “delimitation was already a pre-planned exercise and the final report was already ready”, Commission head Retd. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said that she assures that the exercise will be transparent in nature and there should be no fears and doubts.
Asked how she views the PDP chief’s decision of boycotting the meeting with the commission, the commission chief said, “We can only talk to those who want to participate in the process. Those who don’t want to have their own choice.”
About when would the commission be able to prepare the final report, the Ex officio member of the commission Sushil Chander said that they have got the feedback and a draft will be prepared and the same will be put in the public domain. “We will also consult the associate members of the commission to get their views after which a final draft will also be prepared and the same will be put in the public domain too for objections and queries,” he further said.
Further details awaited.