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Kerala Local Body Polls Likely to be Held by October, Health Dept Give Green Signal amid Covid-19 Crisis

For Representation. Women show their voter identity cards as they stand in a queue before casting their votes during the first phase of the general elections, at a polling station in Agartala, Tripura.  Image: PTI)

For Representation. Women show their voter identity cards as they stand in a queue before casting their votes during the first phase of the general elections, at a polling station in Agartala, Tripura. Image: PTI)

COVID-19 protocols will have to be strictly maintained and the health department will provide separate advisories for officials, political parties and voters.

Health experts in Kerala have given the green signal for holding the local body polls, which are now likely to be held by October end by strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

The new committees will have to assume office by mid November.

"Health department and health experts have given the green signal for holding of the local body polls," State Election Commissioner V Bhaskaran told reporters here.

COVID-19 protocols will have to be strictly maintained and the health department will provide separate advisories for officials, political parties and voters, he said.

The commission has sought Rs 15 crore additional assistance from the government to put in place the facilities advised by the state health department.

Polling will be extended by one hour and each booth will have a maximum of 800 voters.

The extension of polling time would ensure that there is no overcrowding. Physical distancing should be maintained properly.

The commission has held discussions with the Director of Health Services, health department officials and medical experts on holding the polls and they have given the go ahead, provided the health protocol is strictly maintained, he said.

"We held discussions with medical department officials and health experts on whether polls can be held by adhering to COVID-19 protocol.

They took a positive stand", he said, adding the poll schedule and election date would be decided after further consultations with all stakeholders.

There will be more discussions with health experts on each aspect of conduct of the election and a final date would be announced only after that.

The commission will soon call a meeting of all political parties, Bhaskaran said.

For house to house campaigns, political parties should not send more than two to three people.

Meanwhile, the commission has decided to go ahead with training of officials and the second round updation of voters list.

Except in Mattannur Municipality, about 2.62 crore voters will select representatives to 941 village councils, 152 blocks, 14 district panchayats, 85 municipalities and six municipal corporations.

The election process will have to be completed by November 11.

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