New Delhi: The government has authorised the State Bank of India (SBI) to issue and encash first electoral bonds from March 1 this year, it was announced on Thursday.The bonds can be purchased for 10 days starting March 1 from the four branches of SBI. These include New Delhi main branch, Parliament Street; Chennai main branch, Rajaji Salai; Kolkata main branch, Strand Road; and Mumbai main branch, Horniman Circle, officials said. The Union government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 through a gazette notification on January 2 this year. As per the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by persons who are Indian citizens or entities established or incorporated in India. Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to Parliament or legislative assembly, would be eligible to receive the bonds. The bonds can be encashed by political parties only through a bank account with the authorized bank. The bond deposited by the party to its account shall be credited on the same day.Electoral bonds once purchased would be valid for 15 days from the date of issue and cannot be encashed if deposited after the expiry of the validity period.