Gangtok, 31 Aug:

The dates for the two-tier Panchayat elections in the State are expected to be announced in the third week of September as the process of delimitation of territorial and Gram Panchayats is over. The process of seat reservation will be notified by first week of September.

The Panchayat ward-wise voter’s lists have also been compiled by the State Election Commission based on the voters list updated till January earlier this year.

The tenure of the sitting Panchayats will be over by 10 Nov.

The Panchayat polls could possibly be held around mid-October, informed Panchayat Director, M N Dhakal further adding that the final call has to be taken by the State Election Commission after due consultation with all political parties and Rural Management and Development Department, which is the nodal department for the Gram Panchayats.

He said that the delimitation of Ward Panchayats [WP], Gram Panchayat Units [GPU] and Territorial wards for Zilla Panchayat [ZP] are over and same have been notified with slight increase in numbers compared to 2012 as per the mandate of Sikkim Panchayati Raj Act, 1992.

The Territorial wards for Zilla Panchayat have been increased to 113 from 110 [32 for East, 28 for South and 31 for West and 22 for North District]. In comparison to the 2012 list of territorial wards, 3 more seats have been added only for West district.

Similarly, 09 new Gram Panchayat Units have been created in the new delimitation process. The 174 Gram Panchayat Units in 2012 have been increased to 183 in 2017 [increased from 50 to 51 in East District, 47 to 48 in South District, 55 to 61 in West and 22 to 23 in North district] excluding the two Dzumsas of North Sikkim for which elections are held every year as per the tradition.

The three new territorial wards for Zilla Panchayat and 9 new Gram Panchayat Units will mean an additional budgetary burden of almost more than Rs. 1 crore for the Department of Rural Management & Development. The annual budgetary enhancement of Rs.1 crore will be invested for payment of honorarium to Panchayats, Zilla Panchayats and Panchayat Assistants. The additional budget of Rs. 3.50 crore is expected to be invested for administrative and office expenses during the next five years, the Director Panchayat told SummitTimes.

The State Election Commission has completed all the formalities for the upcoming elections but in view of the monsoons that might cause problems in transportation, which is important for holding elections and for other security concerns, the polling dates are still to be confirmed, an Election Commission source informed.