SEC Advisory on Covid protocol for UP Panchayat polls

SEC advisory on Covid protocol for UP Panchayat polls

Lucknow: The state election commission (SEC) has issued a detailed advisory amid the surge in coronavirus cases, seeking strict adherence to pandemic protocol while conducting the Panchayat polls, due next month.

According to the guidelines, the voters would not be allowed to enter the polling centers without wearing a mask.

The polling official, however, can ask the voters to remove the mask in case of any suspicion.

All the polling booths and centers will have to arrange thermal scanners to keep a vigil on the entry of infected persons.

Police/home guard/gram chowkidars deployed at the polling centers will ensure that the voters maintain social distance while queuing up for voting.

The poll panel has also restricted the contesting candidates from taking along more than five persons while carrying out door-to-door campaigns.

The candidates will be required to adhere to the Central and state government guidelines in case they want to hold a public meeting or a small gathering.

The advisory further states that the contesting candidates cannot enter the room of the returning officers without wearing a mask and getting their hands sanitized.

The commission said that the polling centers will have to be sanitized ahead of the voting.

The poll officials would be required to wear masks and download the Aarogya Setu application in their mobile phones.

The administration will have to ensure that the polling officials and agents maintain the requisite social distancing norms during voting.

The SEC has also issued instructions to the district authorities to appoint nodal officers from the health department to get the Covid-19 protocols enforced.

Under the arrangement, the chief medical officer (CMO) or an official nominated by him/her would be appointed as a nodal officer.

At the development block level, it will be the medical officer-in-charge who will work as a nodal officer.

During the counting of votes, the officials and candidates will have to wear masks.

The commission has asked the district authorities to choose a spacious counting centre to ensure norms of social distancing.

Additional Election Commissioner, Ved Prakash Verma, said a three-member team will be formed under the additional district magistrates to ensure the directives issued by the SEC are being followed.

The SEC has also emphasized on the provision of sanitizer, soaps and water for the candidates while they come to file their nomination papers.

It has also been decided that only one candidate will be allowed to enter the room of the election officer.

Instructions have also been issued to make circles at a distance of six feet at the polling centers.

Verma said that PPE kits will also be arranged as per requirement.

The Allahabad High Court had recently asked the state government to complete the Panchayat election process by May 25.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh reported 542 fresh Covid-19 cases on Monday, taking the infection tally in the state to 6,08,076, the Uttar Pradesh government said in a statement.