Jammu, Dec 19 (PTI) The eighth and final phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections recorded nearly 41 per cent voter turnout till 1 pm across 28 constituencies spread over 18 districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, officials said.
The voting, which started at 7 am and concluded at 2 pm, began on a dull note at various polling stations due to early morning chill as most parts of Kashmir are reeling under sub-zero temperature. It picked up the pace as the winter sun shone and long queues of voters were visible outside almost all polling stations across the Union Territory.
The polling was smooth across the UT and there was no untoward incident reported from anywhere, with Poonch district in Jammu recording the highest voter turnout of 70.09 per cent and Shopian district in south Kashmir registering the lowest at 6.42 per cent till 1 pm, the officials said.
According to the figures released by the office of the State Election Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir recorded a total poll percentage of 40.91 till 1 pm -- the Jammu Division recorded 56.40 per cent while the Kashmir Division 25.90 per cent.
The final figures are yet to be released.
In the Jammu Division, voters thronged the polling stations at various places before the start of the voting at 7 am to exercise their franchise. Poonch district was followed in the voter turnout by Rajouri at 68.57 per cent, Reasi (67.23), Samba (64.56), Ramban (63.48), Doda (61.08), Kathua (59.21), Jammu (58.48), Kishtwar (58.43) and Udhampur (44.48), the officials said.
Similarly, in the Kashmir Division, where most parts are reeling under sub-zero temperatures, Kupwara recorded a voter turnout of 53.61 per cent, followed by Bandipora (49.07), Baramulla (39.26), Budgam (29.78), Pulwama (10.17), Kulgam (8.47), Anantnag (7.58) and Shopian (6.42) till 1 pm, they said.
Over 6.30 lakh electors, including 3,03,275 female voters, were eligible to vote in this phase, the officials said, adding a total of 1,703 polling stations -- 1,028 in the Kashmir Division and 675 in the Jammu Division -- were set up.
The eight-phase maiden DDC elections, the first democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state and divided it into two union territories, commenced on November 28.
While the first phase recorded 51.76 per cent polling, the subsequent phases on December 1, 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16 witnessed 48.62, 50.53, 50.08, 51.20, 51.51 and 57.22 per cent polling, respectively.
The DDC elections recorded a heavy voter turnout in Jammu at 64.2 per cent in the first phase, 65.54 in second, 68.88 in third, 69.31 in fourth, 66.67 in fifth, 68.56 in sixth and the highest 71.93 in the seventh phase.
However, the 10 districts in the Kashmir Division recorded a voter turnout out of 40.65 per cent in the first phase of the DDC elections, followed by 33.34 in second, 31.61 in third, 31.95 in fourth, 33.57 in fifth, 31.55 in sixth and 39.52 per cent in the seventh phase, the officials said.
The counting of votes for the DDC polls, which were held along with by-elections to panchayats, will be held on December 22. PTI TAS CK