New polling stations would be set up if the number of voters was more than 1200 in rural areas and 1400 in urban areas. (Representational Image)
Voters in Punjab will not have to travel more than 2 km to cast their ballots after new norms fixed for rationalisation of polling stations in the state were approved by the Election Commission ahead of the 2017 assembly polls.
"The program is primarily aimed at removing deficiency in any polling station regarding the building, location or convenience of voters," Punjab Chief Electoral Officer VK Singh said on Wednesday.
Detailing the norms, Mr Singh said polling stations should be located in schools, government or semi-government buildings. All existing auxiliary polling stations are to be converted into main polling stations, he said.
Basic minimum facilities, such as electricity connection, ramps, toilet, drinking water, sheds to shelter the voters, telephone connection etc, should be available in the polling station building.
"A voter should not travel more than 2 km for casting his or her vote. Polling station should not be set up in the first floor and above," he said.
The Chief Electoral Officer also said a maximum of two polling stations in a building would be allowed if it was a rural area, while up to 4 would be permitted if it was an urban area. New polling stations would be set up if the number of voters was more than 1200 in rural areas and 1400 in urban areas.
He said no polling station should be located in police stations, hospitals, temples or places having religious significance.
Political party office should not within 200 metres of the polling stations. The minimum area of polling room must be 20 sq m, Mr Singh said.
A meeting was held with all recognised national and state political parties and they have been asked to submit their suggestions to the returning officer of the assembly constituency or to the district election officer concerned, he said. Similar meetings were also being held at district and assembly level, he added.
Publication of the draft lists of polling stations would be made on April 8 Mr Singh said, adding that the copies of the proposals of polling stations after doing the modifications would be distributed to local branches of all recognised political parties on April 23.
After that the draft lists would be put on public domain on April 30 for inviting further suggestions. On the basis of the suggestions made by the public, decision would be taken on May 5.
A meeting consisting of the representatives of the recognised political parties, state lawmakers and lawmakers would be held on May 12 to discuss the draft list of polling stations. A decision would be taken on May 21 on their suggestions after physical verification of the suggested locations.
Mr Singh said under the National Electoral Roll Purification (NERP) programme, Booth Level Officers (BLO) were visiting door to door from April 4 to May 4 to verify voters' photographs and particulars entered in the electoral rolls.
During this period, the BLOs would also verify the errors, duplicate entries, repeated EPIC Numbers and dead voters, so that wrong entries may be deleted from the electoral rolls, he said.