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Pradeep Pattanayak

As 107 municipalities and notified area councils (NACs), besides Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Berhampur municipal corporations are likely to go for polls by the end of April or beginning of May, the State government is working overtime complete the necessary exercises, like Ward delimitations. 

In the midst of the preparations for the upcoming three-tier Panchayat elections, the State government has started working on the elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). 

It has to submit the final reports on Ward delimitation and seat reservations as well as the reservation for the posts of Mayor and Chairman to the State Election Commission (SEC) by the end of January. While the draft reservation lists of Wards have already been released, hearing of objections thereof is currently underway. 

Meanwhile, the SEC recently held a meeting with the district Collectors through video conferencing. Various topics featured in the meeting. Apart from this, the SEC has also written to the district Collectors, asking them to identify booths and prepare Ward-wise voter lists. 

As per the booth identification guidelines, there will be a booth for every 1,000 voters. In case the number of voters crosses 1,200, a separate booth will be formed. Similarly, the Collectors have been directed not to set up booths in places like police stations, hospitals, religious institutions and private clubs. 

“The SEC has directed us to take all the necessary steps with regard to the coming elections to ULBs. Accordingly, we have started the process in our district. In addition to the existing ones, two new municipalities have come up in our district. So we are on the job to identify the booths and prepare the voter list,” said Bhadrak Collector Trilochan Majhi.

The elections to the ULBs have been delayed by three years as it was to be conducted in September 2018. However, following the declaration that the Chairmen to the municipalities and Mayors to the corporations will be elected directly, a kind of excitement has been seen among the to-be aspirants and people as well. 

So, this time, voters will be electing corporators, councilors, Mayors and Chairmen directly. In order to facilitate the voters to cast their votes, there will be two EVMs in each ward. Therefore, around 11,000 EVMs for 5,000 wards are being sent to the districts. 

When asked about the number of Wards emerging after delimitation, Nayagarh Municipality executive officer Santosh Kumar Jena said three Wards have been added to the existing 13. “The Chairman post is reserved for women. And we are taking steps as per the direction of the SEC,” Jena added. 

No new ward has been created in Umerkote Municipality and the number stands at the same 14. Regarding the ongoing process, Umerkote Municipality executive officer Ramachandra Majhi said the Chairman post has been reserved for woman. "On the reservation, we had received three complaints. A hearing was recently conducted in which the complaints have been disposed off," informed Majhi.

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