Himansu Shekhar Rout

Hours after the notification was issued for the fourth phase of elections in the country including four parliamentary seats in Odisha on Thursday, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha, Nikunja Dhal, in an exclusive interview with OTV, said “Conducting elections in four phases in the state is definitely challenging amid the prevailing heat wave, but we are fully prepared.”

“It is a big challenge to conduct polls smoothly amid the prevailing heat wave,” he observed.

As for holding violence-free elections in Naxal-affected areas, Dhal said, "The situation in the Naxal-infested areas has been reviewed and our priority is to ensure safety for voters, polling parties and the EVMs in strong rooms. For that,  security personnel will be deployed.”

He added that in some areas, polling hours have been advanced and polling will be completed by 4 pm and 5 pm.

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After the anti-Naxal operation in Kanker of neighbouring Chhattisgarh, the threat has increased in bordering areas of Odisha.

Commenting on the development, Dhal said, "The Odisha-Chhattisgarh border points have been sealed and there is no chance of incursion of Naxals from the other side and vice versa. We have taken steps to check the movement of cash, liquor, and narcotics. With the cooperation of administrations of both the states, strict vigilance is maintained on the border areas.”

Nearly 20 enforcement agencies including state police, state Excise, state GST, Central GST, IT, and DRI have been engaged to carry out seizures while the air intelligence wing is keeping a close watch on cash and valuables at airports, he added.

“From March till date, we have seized nearly Rs 120 crore. Most seizures are in the form of liquor, drugs, narcotics and precious metals. We have kept a sharp vigil on the movement of cash and narcotics,” he added. 

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As for the violation of MCC, he said that common people have brought more allegations via the C-Vigil platform. “We have received 3,800 complaints via C-Vigil from common citizens,” he said.

He also stated that 83 companies of security force are in the state while 63 companies have been deployed and Odisha has got 15 companies of CAPF from other states.

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