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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: The preparations for the crucial first phase polling scheduled to be held in four Lok Sabha and 28 Assembly segments in Odisha on April 11 has reached final stages, informed Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar on Tuesday. More than 60 lakh voters comprising 29, 72, 925 male and 30, 30,222 female voters will exercise their franchise in the first phase.

The polling in four Lok Sabha seats - Kalahandi, Nabarangapur, Berhampur and Koraput and 28 Assembly seats coming under these four parliamentary seats will be held April 11. The voters will decide the fate of 217 candidates contesting in the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the first phase in Odisha.

While 28 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections, 191 candidates are fighting the Assembly polls, official sources said.

"Nearly 47,805 polling personnel will be deployed to conduct the first phase polls and this time women personnel have been deployed in 30 booths in the State," said Kumar.

Kumar further informed that special arrangements have been made for the elections in 2,375 critical and sensitive booths while satellite phones have been provided at 810 booths where there are no mobile or internet facilities.

As per the instructions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), special arrangements have been made at polling booths so that persons with physical disabilities do not face any problems to exercise their franchise.

As there are 1,03,307 divyang voters, special arrangements including wheelchairs, ramps, drinking water and others have been made at all polling booths.

"We have decided to deploy at least two youths (less than 17 years of age) so assist divyang voters in polling booths so that they do not face any problems in casting votes. Besides, we will also deploy vehicles to bring divyang voters to polling stations," said Kumar.

Official sources said special teams have also been made to ensure free and fair elections in Odisha. So far, flying squads and other teams have seized liquor worth Rs 2 crore and cash worth over Rs 1 crore in different parts of the State, Kumar added.

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