Odisha urban polls in progress

Bhubaneswar: Polling for 66 urban local bodies (ULBs), including a municipal corporation at Berhampur was under way in Odisha on Thursday amidst tight security, particularly in Maoist-hit and sensitive areas.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Maoist-affected areas like Malkangiri, Gudari, Gunupur, Kashipur and Rayagada ULBs to prevent any untoward incident and ensure peaceful polling, official sources said.
An estimated 18 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 1,968 booths to elect 1,103 ward members in 66 ULBs where voting is being held.
"All arrangements for conducting smooth polls have been made in 66 ULBs spread over 20 districts of Odisha. Adequate security arrangements have been made in Maoist-hit districts," according to State Election Commissioner (SEC) Ajit Kumar Tripathy.
Polling has been by and large peaceful with no major incident reported from any place, an official said.
Of the total 1,968 polling booths, 561 booths have been identified as sensitive and 108 hyper-sensitive category, Tripathy said adding superintendents of police of respective districts have been directed to take all possible steps for conducting elections in a peaceful manner.
As many as 11 platoons (330 personnel) of CRPF, DVF and SOG jawans have been deployed in the 108 hyper-sensitive booths including 28 in Rayagada and 14 in Gunpur.
Additional security arrangements were also being made in the ULBs in southern Odisha where Maoists were having a strong presence, sources said.
Altogether 3893 candidates are in the fray in the 66 ULBs going to the polls. SEC had taken a series of measures to ensure free and fair poll in all the ULBs. Special squads had been deployed to prevent violation of model code of conduct.
Tripathy said 2240 EVMs are put in 1968 booths and qualified engineers have been hired to meet requirement if any during the polling.
"CCTV cameras are fitted in some hyper sensitive booths," sources said.
Notably, election has been stopped in 25 ULBs spread over nine districts in western Odisha after the poll process was affected due to the agitation demanding establishment of a permanent High Court bench in the region.