Mrunal Manmay Dash

The State Election Commission began preparations for the upcoming Odisha Municipal Polls with the despatch of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to 15 districts on Thursday.

As Odisha heads towards the Panchayat polls early next year, the elections for the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) including three Municipal Corporations and 107 Municipalities will be held after that.

It is pertinent to mention here that the civic bodies have been running without public representatives since 2018 when the tenure of the last elected corporators and councillors got over. The State government cleared the decks for the elections after a gap of three years un October this year.

This time around, the rules of election have been tweaked a bit. The voters will be electing the Mayors and Municipal Chairmans directly. So, there will be requirement of two EVMs in each booth; one for electing corporators/councillors and the other one for electing Mayors/Municipal Chairmans. So, at least 11000 EVMs will be required for conducting polls in approximately 5000 booths.

Speaking about the initial despatch of EVMs and other relevant documents, Rajendra Kumar Sahu, the Store Incharge of the State Election Commission said, “We are sending all types of statutory and non-statutory forms and the required EVMs to the districts. 10pc EVMs will be reserved for each district in case of malfunction or other technical disruptions.”

The Assistant Collector of Koraput, Madhav Pangi who was at the Election Commission’s office in Bhubaneswar said, “We have come here to receive the forms and EVMs after verifying all the documents.”

Meanwhile, even before the final list of reservation is published, disputes have already cropped up over delimitation of wards and seat reservations.

Debi Prasad Nanda, a former Corporator of Ward number 67 under the BMC was particularly unhappy over the decision to change the category of the ward from ‘unreserved’ to ‘reserved for women’.

“I had won from this ward as an independent candidate and supported the ruling BJD afterwards. I am really disheartened this time after the party did not provide me a chance to serve again,” said Nanda.

“I will discuss it with the authorities and move court if the discussion was rendered fruitless,” he added.

Similarly, a former Corporator from Cuttack Municipal Corporation, Vikash Behera said, “As per the rule, Ward number 6 should have been reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates and ward number 7, a general category. But the categories have been altered smacking of malafide intentions and vested interests by the authorities.”

The receipt of grievances for 107 Municipalities ended on December 13, while the last date for receiving objections and grievances in Municipal Corporations is December 19.

As per the reports, the final draft of ward delimitation and reservation list will be published after January 10, 2022. However, election in the Rourkela and Sambalpur Municipal Corporations and the Odagaon Municipality will not be held this time as there are cases pending in the court.

Similarly, the tenures of Attabira and Hindol Notified Area Councils (NACs) are yet to get over. So, there will not be any elections in these NACs either.

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