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All set for local body polls today

Special Correspondent
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Polls to be held in Thrissur, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Idukki districts

Local bodies in Thrissur district go to the polls on Monday. The polling will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Elections are being held in 55 divisions in Thrissur Corporation, 29 divisions in the District Panchayat, 233 wards in six municipalities, 213 wards in 16 block panchayats and 1,501 wards in 88 grama panchayats.

In all, 2,031 people will be elected. The district has 23,24,939 voters. Of them, 12,32,603 are women.

The district has 3,463 polling stations -- Thrissur Corporation: 212; Chalakudy municipality: 36; Irinjalakuda: 41; Kodungallur: 46;

Chavakkad: 32; Guruvayur: 43; Kunnamkulam: 37.

Voting machines will be used in the Corporation and municipalities and ballot papers in block and grama panchayats.

Security in the district has been beefed up. Police personnel have been deployed in large numbers in sensitive areas.

VIPs to vote

Our Staff Reporter writes from Alappuzha: Polling equipment, including ballot boxes and electronic voting machines, were on Sunday dispatched to the 2,572 polling booths in the district for the election on Monday.

The process, which began at 8 a.m. in 17 centres across the district, 12 at the block panchayat-level and five at the municipality level, was over by 5 p.m. with the polling officials heading to their respective booths. District Collector P. Venugopal, who visited the distribution centres at the Government Girls' Higher Secondary School, Alappuzha, the Kalavoor Government Higher Secondary School and the St. Michael's College at Cherthala, said all arrangements were in place for the smooth conduct of the polls. District Superintendent of Police A. Akbar, who visited various sensitive booths in the district, including the one at Vezhapra Government Upper Primary School and another one at the Ramankary NSS Higher Secondary School, said the entire police force deputed for the security arrangements were already in position. There would 131 patrol groups moving around in specified distances to ensure that not more that 15 minutes would be required to reach any polling booth in case of any untoward incident, he said.

Meanwhile, the district's voters' list for Monday will have some of the most known names in the State, starting from Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan. Mr. Achuthanandan, who has his name in the electoral lists of Ward 8 of the Punnapra North panchayat, will cast his vote in the polling booth at the Punnapra Panchayat Community Hall at 10 a.m..

Union Minister for Indian Affairs Overseas Vayalar Ravi, will vote at the St. Sebastian's School of Ward 8 of the Vayalar grama panchayat. Coir and Cooperation Minister G.Sudhakaran, who will vote at the Chinmaya School close to his residence in the Punnapra North panchayat, and Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, who will vote at the Kalavoor NSS Karayogam Hall, are also among the ‘VIP' voters in the district.

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, veteran politician K.R. Gouri and SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan also will be among Monday's voters here.

In Kottayam

Our Staff Reporter writes from Kottayam: The arrangements for the smooth conduct of the Panchayati-Raj elections in the district have been complete, according to election authorities.

The election materials were distributed to the 18,569 officials who had gathered at the 11 block level centres and the four municipalities. This include the materials for the more than half-a-dozen centres in remote areas.

As per the latest figures released, there are 14,72,660 voters in the district. The district, which has recorded a sex ratio positive to women for the past two census periods, has more women voters than men. According to the statistics released on Sunday, there are 7,45,433 women voters against the 7,27,227 male voters.

The 73 grama panchayts account for 12,97,591 voters while the four municipalities account for the rest 1,75,069 voters. According to the figures, women have dominance among the voters both at the grama panchayat level and the municipalities.

Meanwhile, on the basis of the High court directive, the District Collector, who is also the district electoral officer, has allowed videography in a few more polling stations where candidates had called for surveillance. This in addition to the surveillance in the 139 ‘sensitive' polling stations spread over 53 centres in the district.

The cost for videography will be borne by the respective candidates. The videographed images should be handed over to the district electoral officer through the concerned presiding officer or returning officer by the evening of October 25. Special security pass and identity card would be issued to the videographers being recruited for the purpose.

Remote areas

A Correspondent writes from Kattappana: All preparations for the local bodies election in Idukki district on Monday are complete. The election is being held for 53 grama panchayats, eight block panchayats and the district panchayat in addition to the lone municipality of Thodupuzha. The election will also be held for the first tribal grama panchayat in the State, Edamalakkudy, carved out of Munnar grama panchayat.

The remotest tribal settlement of Edamalakkudy -Nooradikudy-_is near Pollachi in Tamil Nadu and officials have to walk a two kilometre stretch inside the forest to reach there. The other settlements in the grama panchayat will be reached from Munnar. At some places the officials have to walk 18 kms through forests to reach the booths.. The election details will be available at the collectorate through from Ham radio and operators have moved along with the officials to reach a day in advance. An official at the Election office in the collectorate told The Hindu on Sunday that all preparations had been completed and the election officials will reach Edamalakkudy by evening.

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