SRINAGAR: Registering a healthy 56.7% overall turnout in the first phase–the red mark being 8.3% turnout in Valley, Jammu and Kashmir will go to the second phase of the urban local bodies (ULB)polls on Wednesday.
The polling will begin 6.00 am on Wednesday at 544 polling stations across the State and will continue till 4.00 pm. In the fray will be 1029 candidates for 263 Municipal Wards.
The first of the four phases of elections on Monday saw threats from militant groups keeping a majority of people away from polling booths in Kashmir Valley where the turnout was a paltry 8.3 per cent, whereas over 65 per cent of the electorate voted in the Jammu and Ladakh divisions of the state.
Officials said Tuesday security arrangements have been put in place for smooth conduct of the second phase elections.
“In the 2nd Phase of Municipal Polls-2018 voting will take place at 544 polling stations across the State on Wednesday,” the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra this evening said, adding 270 polling stations have been designated for voting in Kashmir Division and 274 in Jammu Division.
The CEO said 1029 candidates are in the fray for 263 Municipal Wards including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu, going to polls in Phase-II. He said 881 candidates are in the fray in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division for Phase-II.
Besides these candidates, 65 others, originally scheduled to try their luck on Wednesday, have won the polls uncontested, including 61 from Kashmir Valley.
“In the areas going to polls tomorrow, the total electorate is 346980, with 128104 in Jammu Division belonging to 18 Municipal bodies and 218876 in Kashmir Division of 5 Municipal bodies,”he said and added that Additional poll staff is also being deployed at the polling stations with larger number of electors.
The CEO said that Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for voting. He said Photo Voter Slips have already been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station.
Kabra said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of polls. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates,” he said and added that for the poll day Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive/ hypersensitive.
“Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of polls as well as monitoring the entire process,” CEO said and added that the Deputy Commissioners are undertaking Videography of all critical events related to the poll process.
Kabra said Control Rooms have been established in all the Municipal Bodies across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as also to disseminate information to the public. He said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polling across the State.
He said the government has also declared holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said as per 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- by way of coming late to office / allowed to leave office early / short absence.
The CEO urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address to their local needs.
A police official said security arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls in all the areas were people would vote Wednesday, including in the 20 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) in the city here.
Pertinently, Municipal Elections-2018 are being held in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh. A total of 3372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. Days of poll are 8th, 10th, 13th and 16th October for these four phases.