Arunachal Pradesh: The State Election Commission of Arunachal Pradesh has decided to temporarily put on hold the municipal and panchayat elections in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, an official said on Saturday.
The commission had announced that the elections would be held in April-May this year but the dates were not finalised.
"Conducting of elections will entail a large number of public gatherings, campaigns and rallies at various locations in the state," State Election Commissioner Hage Kojeen said.
"It will be detrimental and harmful for the public health due to the possible spread of COVID-19," he said.
Also, the state government issued a notification on March 16, banning public gatherings and congregations till April 5 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Kojeen said.
The decision was taken here on Friday in response to the state government's plea, besides requests from various political parties, to hold elections only after a thorough assessment of the prevailing situation arising out of the coronavirus scare, the commissioner said.
Kojeen said the state's Health department and several political parties have already requested the poll panel to consider postponing the elections to the urban civic bodies and the panchayats until the situation improves.
"The commission will make further assessment in consultation with the stakeholders, especially the Health department, for taking a decision on the matter," Kojeen said.
The panchayat elections, along with the polls to the Itanagar and Pasighat municipal councils, are due since May, 2018.
Amid the growing coronavirus scare, the state government had announced closure of schools and educational institutions, cinema halls, night clubs and weekly markets till April 5, and appealed to the people to avoid any gathering and congregation.
The government has also stopped issuing inner line permits (ILPs) and Protected Area Permits (PAP) to foreign tourists till further notice as part of its measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Governor Brig (retd) Dr B D Mishra has appealed to the people of the state not to panic, but take precautions.
"Let all my fellow Arunachalis rest assured that our state government has fully stocked the essential supplies in the state. All anti-coronavirus measures are also in place.
"All necessary preventive measures are being progressively taken for stopping the spread of Covid-19," the governor said in a message.
"I appeal to every citizen of that it is important that we observe the 'Janta Curfew' on March 22, as appealed and asked for by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Let us also abide by the prime minister's call for thanking and appreciating the effort of essential services workers...," he added.
A total of 68,172 passengers have been screened at various check posts in the state by health workers in coordination with police and administrative officers till Friday, officials said. No COVID-19 positive case has so far been detected in the state, they said.