By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], Aug 21 (ANI): To keep the election procedure safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all basic protocols set by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health shall be stringently followed for the upcoming bye-/Assembly elections, the Election Commission of India said.
In accordance with maintaining social distancing, hand gloves, PPE kit, use of sanitizers, thermal scanning will play a crucial role.
Thermal checking of voters at the entry point of polling station either by polling staff or paramedical staff or Asha worker is mandatory.
In a significant addition, "if the temperature is above the set norms of MoHFW at first reading, then it will be checked twice and if it remains, then the elector shall be provided
with token/certificate and will be asked to come for voting at the last hour of the poll."
At the last hour of the poll, such electors shall be facilitated voting, strictly following COVID-19-related preventive measures.
These plans will be prepared in consultation with Nodal officer for COVID-19 in their respective states/UTs.
"Nodal Health Officer shall be designated for the State, the District and the Assembly Constituency to oversee COVID-19 related arrangements and preventive measures during the entire electoral process," the release read.
The latest guidelines by ECI have been issued after considering suggestions from political parties (both state and national).
Earlier, the Commission on July 17, 2020, had sought views/suggestions of National/State Political Parties till July 31 which later was further extended till August 11.
After the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in India, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have been issuing guidelines from time to time. In their latest circular dated 29th July 2020, MHA has issued comprehensive guidelines/directives to be followed countywide.
Similarly, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has also issued SOP on disinfection, sanitization, and prevention for containing COVID-19.
Commission has considered the views/suggestions received from various Political Parties and Chief Electoral Officers of States/UTs on the election campaign and public meetings.
The Chief Electoral officers (CEO) of concerned States/UTs, shall make comprehensive state/district and AC election plans regarding the arrangement and preventive measures following guidelines set by ECI taking local conditions into account.
Most likely, Bihar will be the first state to conduct Assembly election in the country in a pandemic situation. (ANI)
By Joymala Bagchi