Jammu, Dec 3 (PTI):-
All arrangements have been put in place to ensure peaceful and free and fair polling in the seventh phase of the ongoing panchayat elections across Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, state chief electoral officer said.
The voting will be held at 2,714 polling stations, including 2,138 in Jammu division and 576 in Kashmir division, he said.
State chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra said 892 polling stations have been categorised as hypersensitive in this phase, including 428 in Kashmir division and 464 in Jammu division.
The polling, scheduled to start at 8 am and end at 2 pm, will decide the fate of 5,575 candidates for 341 sarpanch constituencies and 1,798 panch seats, Kabra said, adding that 85 sarpanchs and 912 panchs have been elected unopposed in this phase.
He said an electorate of 4,75,865 will be voting for sarpanch constituencies and 3,45,880 for panch constituencies.
“Photo Voter Slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station,” he said.
The nine-phased panchayat elections commenced on November 17 and are scheduled to end on December 11.
The CEO said at the end of six phases of panchayat polls, overall voter turnout of 73.6 per cent has been recorded across the state, with a poll percentage of 46.1 per cent in Kashmir division and 82.8 per cent in Jammu division.
In the sixth phase of panchayat polls held on December 1, overall poll percentage of 76.9 per cent — highest in all phases so far — was witnessed across the state, including 84.6 per cent in Jammu division and 17.3 per cent in Kashmir division.
In the fifth phase which went to polls on November 29, the state witnessed a poll percentage of 71.1 per cent, including 33.7 per cent in Kashmir division and 85.2 per cent in Jammu division.
The state witnessed a poll percentage of 71.3 per cent, including 82.4 per cent in Jammu division and 32.3 per cent in Kashmir division in the fourth phase.
In the third phase, the state witnessed a poll percentage of 75.2 per cent which includes 55.7 per cent in Kashmir division and 83.0 per cent in Jammu division.
In the second phase, overall 71.1 per cent polling was witnessed across the state with 80.4 per cent polling in Jammu division and 52.2 per cent in Kashmir division.
Similarly, in the first phase, 74.1 per cent polling was recorded across J-K, including 64.5 per cent in Kashmir division and 79.4 per cent in Jammu division.
Kabra said results have been announced for all these phases by the respective returning officers.
He said Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the state for the seventh phase.
Senior government officers have been appointed as general observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of the polling, he said.
Also, expenditure observers are keeping a watch on the money spent by the candidates, he said, adding that for the poll day, micro observers have been placed in polling stations, particularly those considered hypersensitive.
Besides, the zonal and sector magistrates too have been deployed, he said.
The CEO said control rooms have been established in all the districts across the state to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the model code of conduct as also to disseminate information to the public.
Security arrangements have been made, including deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), Kabra said.
He said the government has declared holiday on the day of polling in the panchayat areas going to polls to enable the voters to cast their vote.
Special casual leave will also be granted to employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise, he said.
As per the standing guidelines, the central government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility to do so, he said.