Lok Sabha elections, Kolkata: Three-tier security system for counting of votes

At the counting station in Hasting House Wednesday. (Express photo: Partha Paul)

Elaborate administrative and security arrangements, including a three-tier security system, have been made for the counting of votes of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections in Bengal. The first layer of security will be maintained by State Armed Police (SAP) and local police force, while strongrooms will be manned by the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).

Counting centres have been pided into three zones. The first zone will be pedestrian zone where no vehicles will be allowed. Police will cordon off the area and the next boundary wall will be 100 metres away. Second zone will have media centre, mobile storage and a locker room. Officials entering the second zone will be frisked and will have to pass through a metal detector. The third zone will have counting halls, which will be manned by CAPF personnel. The counting centre for Kolkata North is at Netaji Indoor Stadium while for Kolkata Dakshin (South), there are seven counting centres.

The first layer will be maintained by the local police to keep people away from the counting centres. The second layer will be managed by SAP, while the third layer – in and around the counting halls – will be maintained by the central forces, Election Commission officials said in Kolkata.

As per EC sources, all the halls will be under CCTV surveillance. Those who enter the counting halls will be closely frisked. Sources said vehicles carrying electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be GPS-enabled so that their movement can be tracked. The counting process may take 14 hours or more.

As per sources, 25,000 officials will be involved in counting. They will be deployed at 58 different counting locations in 379 counting halls. As many as 82 companies of Central Armed Forces will be deployed to manage the counting centres.

There will be a total of 379 counting halls and 4,668 counting tables. For postal ballot, there are 64 halls and 382 counting tables, said an EC official. Polling was conducted in 42 parliamentary constituencies with 294 assembly segments. There were 78,799 polling stations in the state.

The ECI had directed the deployment of 200 companies of central forces in addition to 82 companies, which have already been deployed for strong room and counting centres. Murshidabad, Nadia and Kolkata police will have the maximum number of central forces personnel. Ten companies of CAPF will be deployed under the jurisdiction of each of these three.

Each counting centres in Kolkata will have 150 police officers, manned by two officers of Deputy Commissioner rank and one officer of Assistant Commissioner rank.

No-entry rule and one way vehicular movement will be enforced on several roads. As per a circular issued by the Kolkata Police, vehicles other than those on poll duty will not be allowed to be parked near the vicinity of any counting centre on Thursday.

Judges Court Road will remain closed to traffic from Gopal Nagar More to Judges Court Road. Vehicles may be perted from any of the major, minor, arterial roads and feeder roads by the traffic police as and when required. According to the circular, West-bound small vehicles, except vehicles of Calcutta High Court and Election Commission (EC), on Auckland Road will be perted further north from All India Radio (AIR) along Govt. Place (West) and buses will be perted further west from Chittaranjan Das s Statue along Kingsway (Maidan).

West-bound vehicles along Judges Court Road will be perted towards North along Baker Road from Gopal Nagar Crossing after making Baker Road both way, whereas West-bound vehicles along Hazra Road will also be perted from Hazra Crossing and Harish Mukherjee Road.