EC to deploy 102 companies of central forces for second phase of polls in Odisha

PTI, May 18, 2024, 4:00 PM IST

Bhubaneswar: The Election Commission of India (ECI) will deploy 102 companies of central armed police forces (CAPFs) for the second phase of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Odisha on May 20, an official said on Saturday.

Incidents of violence have been reported from Ganjam and Bolangir districts ahead of voting.

Voting will be held in Aska, Bargarh, Bolangir, Kandhamal and Sundargarh Lok Sabha seats and 35 assembly constituencies falling under these parliamentary seats on Monday.

State Chief Electoral Officer Nikunja Bihari Dhal said that the highest of 22 companies of central forces would be deployed in Maoist-affected Kandhamal district, followed by Ganjam (20), Sundargarh (16), 14 each in Bargarh and Bolangir, five each in Jharsuguda and Boudh, four in Sonepur and two in Nayagarh.

One company of CAPF comprises around 100 personnel. So, 102 companies would amount to 10,200 personnel.

A total of 79.69 lakh voters, including 39.35 lakh women and 851 transgender persons, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 9,162 polling stations.

Of the total electorate, nearly 24 per cent are aged below 30 years, he said, adding there were 975 women for every 1,000 men.

Out of the 9,162 polling stations, 1,541 will be model polling stations, while 1,041 will be managed by all-woman personnel while 25 will be run by PwD officials.

Nearly 20 per cent of the 9,162 polling stations have been identified as critical, including those in Maoist-hit areas, he said.

A total of 265 MLA and 40 MP aspirants are in the fray, the CEO said, adding the EC has appointed 10 general observers, 15 expenditure observers and three police observers for this phase of the polls.

In 2019, Bargarh Lok Sabha seat had recorded 77.87 per cent turnout, followed by Sundargarh (71.67), Bolangir (74.75), Kandhamal (72.90) and Aska (65.53), he said.

“With the Met department predicting heatwave conditions on May 20, adequate drinking water, ORS and essential medicines will be made available at each polling station. Besides, paramedical staffers, ASHA workers, ambulances and mobile health units will also be deployed,” he said.

An air ambulance will be kept on standby at Bolangir for exigencies, he said.

For any security-related emergency, one Indian Air Force helicopter will also be kept on standby, Dhal said.

On pre-poll violence in Khallikote area of Ganjam district, where one BJP worker was killed, the CEO said, “It is a matter of concern. The police have registered a case and arrested some accused persons. They have launched a manhunt to nab the remaining accused.”

“The EC had taken a serious note of the violence and sought a report from the DGP, who has submitted it. I had called for a meeting with representatives of all the recognised political parties and informed them about the concern expressed by the EC, which has zero tolerance towards violence,” he said.

An additional DGP-rank officer has been deployed to look after the law and order situation in Aska Lok Sabha seat, under which Khallikote falls.

The EC hopes that the election will be conducted peacefully in Aska, Dhal said.

The EC has, so far, seized cash, liquor, drugs and valuable materials worth Rs 254 crore across Odisha during the polls, he added.

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