Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With first phase three-tier panchayat polls ending today, 71 percent voters turned up to exercise franchise even as incidents of poll violence including looting of ballot boxes were reported at some places.

“Elaborate arrangements were made for 58,28446 voters to exercise franchise for 189 Zilla Parishad zones,1506 gram panchayats and 20369 wards under 65 blocks in 29 district during the first phase of the three-tier panchayat elections today. Barring some stray incidents of violence, polling passed peacefully with 71% turnout”, State Election Commission (SEC) RN Senapati said.

Sonepur district recorded highest 84.3% polling while Bolangir witnessed lowest turnout of 60%, the SEC added.

“Incidents of violence and looting ballot box were reported at some places following which polls have not been carried out. The Collectors of the concerned districts have been asked for report. We will take decision on conducting re-poll at these places after examining the reports of the district administration”, he pointed out.

Polling completed at 12 noon and the counting began at 1 pm. Fate of 716 candidates contesting from 189 Zilla Parishad zones are sealed in the ballot boxes. Similarly, Sarpanch and Samiti member candidates of 1,506 panchayats and 20,369 Ward member candidates are eagerly waiting for the results.

Even though elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure a smooth conduct of elections, violence is reported from some places including Khurdha, Kendrapara, Boudh and Puri districts.

Around 1.10 lakh police personnel and government officials were deployed to avoid any possible eventuality.