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Odisha Rural Polls: SEC Asks DGP To Enforce COVID Norms During Nomination Filing

Odisha's special relief commissioner had issued guidelines for the panchayat polls and prohibited gatherings and public meetings.

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Candidates are holding public gatherings, thus violating the COVID guidelines (Representational Image)

The State Election Commission, Odisha on Thursday instructed Director General of Police S K Bansal to ensure strict enforcement of COVID protocols during campaign and nomination filing by candidates for upcoming panchayat elections.

In a letter to the DGP, SEC Secretary RN Sahu said that people were assembling in large numbers during the nomination filing process that started on January 17. "Candidates are also holding public meetings, violating the COVID guidelines," he said, "adding that many of them are expected to file their nominations on January 21, the last day for the exercise."

"The commission hereby directs that necessary instructions be issued to all SPs, including COVID observers, to ensure large gatherings do not take place for filing nominations and meetings in public places," Sahu said. The poll panel has laid down COVID-19 guidelines, which were discussed in the January 15 meeting with the district collectors and superintendents of police for strict enforcement during elections, he said.

He also stated that DSP level officers have been appointed as COVID-19 observers in each district. Odisha's special relief commissioner had also issued guidelines for the panchayat polls and prohibited gatherings and public meetings.

The coastal state recorded 10,368 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday, raising the tally to 11,77,462, while the single-day death count of seven was the highest in more than three months. The toll mounted to 8,501 with four deaths in Bhubaneswar and one each in Sambalpur, Khurda and Ganjam districts. The rural polls will be held in five phases between February 16 and 24. Counting of votes will be conducted on February 26, 27 and 28.

With PTI Inputs

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