Staff Correspondent

Madikeri: Kodagu district administration will ensure free and fair local bodies elections scheduled to be held on December 18, Deputy Commissioner K.H. Ashwatha Narayana Gowda said on Wednesday.

He was addressing presspersons here. Poll officials would take steps to arrange for secret ballot and no mobile phones would be allowed inside the polling booths, Mr. Gowda, who is also the District Election Officer, said.

Ballot papers, after votes are cast, would not be allowed to be taken out but would have to be inserted into the ballot box instantly. Booth officials in every booth would supervise the process personally, he said.

There would be 1,390 voters exercising franchise in 96 booths set up in the district.

At the Madikeri City Municipal Council (CMC) booth here, members from the zilla panchayat, city municipal council, Madikeri Taluk Panchayat, two MLAs and three MLCs would cast votes, Mr. Gowda said. There were 29 members in the zilla panchayat, 31 in the city municipal council, 49 in the three taluk panchayats, 43 in the three town panchayats and 1,233 in the gram panchayats in the district.

Mr. Gowda said that 12 special teams would be on patrol on the day of polling to detect irregularities. There would be 102 booth officers, apart from 20 in the reserve list. As many as 230 policemen would be deployed.

Mustering would take place at the Old Assembly Hall here at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Elections would be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. Counting would be taken up on December 21.