Zonal officers now given wider responsibility and bigger powers

Zonal officers have been re-designated as “sectoral officers” and their role broadbased, according to P. Seetharaman, District Collector.

He told presspersons that earlier the zonal officers were assigned the duty of handling polling materials and keeping a watch on polling stations under their control.

As per the new guidelines, they were now given wider responsibility and bigger powers. For instance, they would have to draw the “election plan” (that was earlier the prerogative of the District Electoral Officer) for the 10 to 12 polling stations under their jurisdiction. This would mean that they would have to take care of the requirements of polling stations such as ramps, shade shelter, drinking water, availability of polling materials, etc.

It is the duty of the sectoral officers to compile the list of anti-social elements by gathering information from dossiers of the Police Department, neutral persons and social activists.

They would also have to classify the troublesome persons based on poll-related offences and non-poll releated issues. The sectoral officers would have to keep a vigil on the movement of such persons so they would not cause any disturbance to polling process.

The Central paramilitary personnel would also be led by the respective sectoral officers and this had been done to improve the response time of the security personnel. The Collector further said that the sectoral officers should also move around to find out where the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd microwave towers were weak in signals and initiate action to rectify the shortcomings.

Asked whether assigning more responsibilities to sectoral officers was an effort to decentralise the power structure, Mr. Seetharaman said it was an endeavour to empower the officials at the grassroots level.

The Collector further said that there would be 9,458 polling officials in the district. All 5,447 electronic voting machines would be properly checked by technical experts. The polling materials had arrived and sorting was under progress, Mr. Seetharaman added.