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Plan for ST sub-quota in Sikkim

Gangtok, Aug. 30: The cabinet has approved a sub-quota for Limboos and Tamangs within the 33 per reservation for Scheduled Tribes that include the two tribes as well as Bhutias and Lepchas.

The rural development management department had proposed the sub-quota.The panchayat polls are scheduled for October-November.

Allowing such a provision would require an amendment to the Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993. This would be placed before the next Assembly session, which is likely to be held in the second week of September.

In the 2007 panchayat elections, the Limboo and the Tamang communities, recognised as Scheduled Tribes in 2003, were included in the ST reservation pattern along with the Bhutias and the Lepchas.

“In the 2007 rural polls, the reservation of the Schedule Tribe was 33 per cent. The Limboos and the Tamangs also contested under same category. This time, there will be a segregation for the two communities. The reservation will be done according to the latest census. The discussion and the voting on reservation will be held during the Assembly session,” said Bimal Dawadi, the zilla adakshya (East district).

Rural development secretary D.R. Nepal said the amendment was required to specify the reserved seats as ST (BL), for Bhutias and Lepchas, ST (Tamang) and ST (Limboo).

The panchayat polls for 989 rural wards and 102 zilla panchayat seats would be held in October.

Fifty per cent of the panchayat and the zilla panchayat seats in Sikkim are reserved for women.

If the bill is passed in the Assembly, it would be forwarded to the governor for his assent.

The state election commission is gearing up for the rural polls.

“Nearly 95 per cent of work is over and we are waiting for a notification on the reservation. Once we get the notification (after the governor’s assent), the election dates will be declared,” said election commissioner S.K. Gautam.

Sources in the election commission said the panchayat polls have to be conducted before November 5.

“The election must be conducted before the date of the first meeting of the panchayats that were elected in October 2007. The first meeting of the panchayats was held on November 5, 2007,” said an official.

Commission secretary Geeta Bhutia said appointment of the returning and the assistant returning officers would be done soon.

A total of 2,65,396 people are eligible to take part in the panchayat elections, sources said.