Poll body does not spare a thought for the elderly

Aged citizens may have been prevented from arriving at the polling stations during the upcoming GHMC elections in view of the prevalence of COVID-19 pandemic, but the same privilege has not been extended to the election staff.

Employees aged over 60 years too have got orders from the GHMC Commissioner and Election Authority D.S. Lokesh Kumar appointing them for polling duties and asking them to attend the training sessions.

Ironically, several such employees across the departments have already retired and are not in the office to receive the orders or the show cause notices issued for absence from the training session.

Even stranger is the fact that some of the employees who have been sent the orders, cannot receive them as they had already passed away, sources informed.

Senior citizens, who are on contract based employment, however, could not escape the duty.

“Over 60 years of age, and a diabetic, I am terrified about being exposed to hundreds of voters at the polling station, but cannot avoid it as it will attract disciplinary action,” said Sujatha (name changed), a contract employee deployed for the duty as presiding officer.

Sources have informed that the paucity of time between election notification and the polling date has forced the officials to allot election duty to quite a few employees who had worked for previous elections for the Legislative Assembly in 2018.

The usual procedure of approaching through the departmental heads too has been given a go-by in certain instances, and employees received orders directly from the GHMC Commissioner.

The government has decided to exclude teachers from election duty this time round for reasons not specified, though the latter are largely on a hiatus due to closure of schools on account of the pandemic.

Orders were issued by principal secretary, Municipal Administration & Urban Development, Arvind Kumar, to all the district collectors, asking them to send lists of officers and staff other than teaching staff, for drafting their services for the elections.

Orders went from chief secretary Somesh Kumar too, to all the department heads, asking them to send the list of officials and staff, both regular and temporary, to the GHMC Commissioner and Election Authority for polling duty.

Only personnel from the General Administration department, and who are connected with collection of taxes such as those from Registration, Commercial Tax, and Prohibition & Excise, have been exempted from the duty.

For deployment in over 9,101 polling stations in the city, more than 36,000 polling personnel will be required, at the rate of one presiding officer, one assistant presiding officer, and two polling officials to man each station. In addition, about 11,000 personnel will be required to be kept in 30 per cent reserve.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 12:35:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/poll-body-does-not-spare-a-thought-for-the-elderly/article33180263.ece

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