Two relatively small and unassuming departments have suddenly become the focal point with elections to local self-government bodies less than three weeks away.

Printing and stationery departments in the district had gone into overdrive with its employees working round the clock to complete the printing and distribution of ballot papers to be used for the election. Since the staff strength of these departments was low, the available employees were working in shifts to complete the work within the set time period.

Printing of ballot papers for Ernakulam and Thrissur districts had started in right earnest at the Government Press at Kakkanad. In addition to ballots for village and block panchayats, ballot papers to be loaded into voting machines in municipalities in these two districts were also being printed here.

The press had undertaken the assignment to print about one crore ballots for 220 local bodies spread over two districts, press superintendent C.A. Ibrahim said.

With the returning officers providing the model of ballot, 260 employees had started work on a war footing. Printing had started only after returning officers cleared the proof of the ballot.

Mr. Ibrahim said that employees will work on two shifts round the clock to complete the work. Printing equipment and 3,000 reams of paper had already been brought to the press, he said. The printing of ballots for both the districts will be completed within the next ten days.

Meanwhile, ballots to be used for the district panchayat were being printed at Thiruvananthapuram. Ballot papers for grama panchayats and municipalities were being printed in white and pink colours respectively.

Stationery department provides all materials needed for election to the district administration and printing presses. As many as 76 items from paper, seal, and cardboard to pen, and pencil had already been provided under the guidance of the stationery controller to all 14 district collectorates and government presses.

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