The Odisha government has asked its employees to maintain strict neutrality during the upcoming urban elections in the state.

Chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra has written to all secretaries in the government, DGP, revenue divisional commissioners, heads of department and collectors on this.

The State Election Commission (SEC) of Odisha had notified the elections to 109 urban local bodies (ULBs).

"It is of utmost importance that government officials, including police, at all levels should maintain strict neutrality in the discharge of their duties and do not act in any manner in the furtherance of the prospects of election of any particular candidate/party," Mahapatra said in the letter.

The government servants should remain absolutely impartial during the ULB elections and he/she shall not indulge in any campaigning activities for or against any contesting candidate or any political party, he said.

The chief secretary said official vehicles, machinery and personnel belonging to the government, PSUs, cooperatives, local bodies and panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) should not be used in electioneering work in any manner in the ULBs.

He also directed the officials not to allow publication of any advertisement at the cost of the public exchequer portraying the achievements of the government until completion of elections.

Stating the Model Code of Conduct is also applicable for the government servants, Mahapatra warned, "Violation of the code of conduct by any public servant will make him/her liable for disciplinary proceedings as per rules."

Issuing another order, the chief secretary banned the transfer of government employees connected with the urban election work. The ban will remain in force till March 26.

Grant of leave of the officers connected with the conduct of elections will not be allowed without reference to the SEC, he said.

As per schedule, elections to 47 municipalities, 59 Notified Area Councils (NACs) and three municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur will be held on March 24. The election results will be declared on March 26.