BLOs demand 1-month additional salary for poll duties

Booth level officers (BLOs) Wednesday urged authorities to make them eligible for an additional month’s salary at par with other government employees who attended poll duties.

The government had announced a month’s additional salaries to employees sent for election duties during the recently concluded general elections, but BLOs were left out from this benefit.

A group of BLOs under the banner of Booth Level Officers Association, led by its chairman Fayaz Ahmad Rather said that each and every BLO is always put under strict instructions by election commission to remain present in their assigned polling booths on the day of voting.

BLOs are government employees working in different departments. In addition to their own duties at parent departments, they are responsible for electoral registration process and of the electoral rolls in areas assigned to them.

A BLO is a local government or semi-government official, familiar with the local electors and generally a voter in the same polling area who assists in updating the electoral roll using his local knowledge.

BLOs are also representatives of the Election Commission of India (ECI) at the grass-root level who play a pivotal role in the process of roll revision and collecting actual field information from their respective polling areas.

“During the last year’s Panchayat and Municipal Elections, BLOs, apart from performing electoral registration process in their respective areas, were directed by election authorities to remain present at polling booths and establish BLO’s help desk there. We did that,” said Fayaz Ahmad Rather, chairman of the BLOs association.

He added that their demand for eligibility for additional one month salary is genuine and based on justice, arguing: “Under the provisions of section 13C of Representation of People Act 1950, District Election Commissioner (deputy commissioners), assistant electoral registration officer (tehsildars), and electoral registration officer (SDM), all are deemed to be on deputation to election commission and have been eligible for one month’s additional salary which has been paid to them.

BLOs are part and parcel of this whole process but have been left out.”

Rather rued that leaving BLOs out is sheer injustice to their hard work and dignity.

The association appealed authorities to make them eligible for a month’s additional salary.