Urban polls in Odisha to be held without Covid curbs


Urban polls in Odisha to be held without Covid curbs

With continuous decline in daily Covid-19 cases in Odisha, the State Election Commission (SEC) has decided not to impose any health restrictions during the ensuing urban election in the state.

“The daily Covid-19 count has come down to below 200 and the test positivity rate (TPR) has also remained between 0.25 and 0.3 per cent in the state, during the past few days. So, the Commission has decided that there will be no Covid-19 restriction during the voting and campaigning for the urban election in the state,” State Election Commissioner, AP Padhi told reporters here on Monday.

However, if the cases increase in the coming days, the Commission will take a call, he said.

Notably, the Commission had imposed certain restrictions on campaigning and voting during the recently concluded Panchayat elections.

For the first time, there will be direct election to the post of chairperson and mayor in the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). So, two EVMs will be deployed in each booth, one for the chairperson/mayor and another for the councillor/corporator, informed Padhi.

He said one presiding officer and four polling officers will be engaged in each booth for smooth conduct of the election. Unlike the Panchayat polls, the polling officials can cast their vote, if he/she is a voter of the concerned ULB. The Commission will issue a certificate for this purpose, he said.

Informing about the setting up of the strong room to store the EVMs, Padhi said, the SEC has issued a detailed SOP for this purpose. There will be three strong rooms in each ULB; one is for storage of EVMs meant for councillor/corporator, another for chairperson/ mayor and the third one for the reserve EVMs.

For safety of the EVMs, the strong rooms will have a double lock system with keys of each lock with two separate officers. Armed police will be deployed for 24X7 and CCTV cameras with digital video recorder (DVR) will be installed from date of commissioning till completion of counting, he added.

The election for 47 municipalities, 59 Notified Area Councils (NACs) and three municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur, will be held on March 24 and results will be declared on March 26. Over 41 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes in the urban poll.

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