Jammu and Kashmir will for the first time have block development councils (BDCs), with the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik clearing the way for it. The SAC, in its meeting on Friday evening, approved holding of BDC elections to constitute the councils.

While elections for panchayats were introduced about 33 years ago, the state government never approved setting up of BDCs. The 73rd and 74th Amendments that provide decentralisation of powers to BDCs and panchayats have not been made applicable to J&K as a result of which autonomy has not been granted to the panchayats.

An official spokesman said on Saturday the BDC elections would be held in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, and as per dates to be announced by him.

Section 27 of the J&K Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 1989, provides for constitution of a Block Development Council for every block. Every Block Development Council shall be a body headed by a chairperson and other members. Chairperson of the Block Development Council shall be elected by the electoral college comprising panchs and sarpanchs of panchayats within the block.

The object of constituting the block development councils is to establish a second tier of PRI institutions for implementation and monitoring of several centrally sponsored schemes like RGSA, MGNREGA, 14th Finance Commission and others transferred to panchayats; preparation and implementation of schemes of inter-panchayats; consolidation of action plans of panchayats and their submission to the district planning and development board and ensuring the inter-departmental coordination at the block level for the implementation of various schemes.