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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

In view of the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in Odisha, conducting the forthcoming Panchayat elections in the State in a free and fair manner will be a unique challenge, said police DG Sunil Bansal on Saturday.

Bansal spoke in the aftermath of a virtual meeting with State Chief Election Commission Aditya Prasad Padhi and Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra convened to discuss the preparations for the smooth conduct of the forthcoming Panchayat polls. Among others, Collectors and SPs of all the districts also took part in the virtual meeting.

The forthcoming Panchayat elections in Odisha will be conducted amid strict enforcement of the election code of conduct and adherence to the Covid-19 guidelines, said Bansal.

"All kinds of arrangements are in place to conduct the elections across the State in a disciplined manner. Nodal officers will be appointed in all the districts to enforce the Covid-19 guidelines at all polling stations," said the top police official.

"Considering the surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in Odisha, conducting the upcoming Panchayat elections will be a unique challenge for the State administration. Odisha police will ensure the conduct of a free, fair and neutral election," said Bansal.

Earlier on January 11, State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi had announced the dates for the three-tier Panchayat elections in Odisha to be held in five phases starting from February 16, 2022. As per the detailed schedule, the voting will be held on February 16, 18, 20, 22 and February 24, 2022. The polling will begin at 7 am and continue till 1 pm.

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