The third phase of Panchayat elections began today in five blocks of the Kashmir Valley with more than 2,500 candidates in the fray.

In central Kashmir’s Budgam district, votes are being cast in Chadoora block to elect 299 Panchs and 40 Sarpanchs.

In this block, 690 candidates are in the fray for the polls.

In Chadoora, 42,719 electorates, including 20,676 female voters, will cast their votes to elect the grass root level representatives, an official spokesman said.

Other blocks in the Valley where elections are being held today include district Kupwara’s Sogam block where 448 candidates are in the contest, central Kashmir’s Ganderbal with 412 candidates, Boniyar in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district where 357 candidates are in the fray and south Kashmir’s Kulgam where 629 candidates are fighting the elections.

Official sources said that a total of 2,526 candidates are in the fray for the third phase of the panchayat election.

The first leg of the 16-phase polls was held in eight blocks of the State on April 13.

The elections for the fourth phase will be held on April 25, fifth phase on April 30, sixth phase on May 4, seventh phase on May 8, eighth phase on May 12, ninth phase on May 16, tenth phase on May 21.

Last six phases will be held on May 25, May 29, June 2, June 6, June 11 and June 16.

Panchayat elections being held in the State after a gap of ten years.