Srinagar: Security beefed up during a shutdown called by separatist leaders, in Srinagar on Jan 26, 2019. Separatist leaders have called for a shutdown in the Valley on Saturday and appealed to people to observe Republic Day as a "black day".(Photo: . Image Source: IANS News

Srinagar, Aug 24 : The J&K government said on Saturday that preparations are underway to hold elections for the block development councils in Jammu and Kashmir by the end of September.

"Elections will be held in 316 block development councils (BDC) across the state," said Rural Development Secretary Sheetal Nanda in a joint press conference with J&K government spokesman Rohit Kansal, Information Director Sehrish Asgar and Horticulture Director Ajaz Bhat here on Saturday.

"The first step is to complete the reservations across the Valley and the Jammu division," Nanda said, adding: "We are getting everything ready and hope to hold the elections by the end of September." Kansal said that day-time restrictions have now been lifted from 69 police stations across the Valley. "This is up from 50 police stations where relaxations had been lifted earlier," he said.

He said the threat of cross-border terrorism still existed and the relevant security forces were in a state of high alert to deal with any challenge.

Kansal said the process of restoring communication lines was also underway and the pace of restoration of landlines was constantly being reviewed with the BSNL.

"One of the reasons for the slow pace of restoration of landlines is that manual intervention is required in some exchanges. We have now been informed that eight exchanges comprising 5,300 phone lines are likely to be restored over the weakened," Kansal said.

The government spokesperson added that landlines in 69 police stations where curbs have been lifted would be restored as quickly as possible.

He also said that so far 1.20 metric tonnes of fruit have been dispatched from the Valley as against 89 metric tonnes in the corresponding period of last year.

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