The die has been cast for the second election to the Baldia ever since the State of Telangana was formed, with the first official meeting on the polls being held by the State Election Commission here on Friday.

The term of the current elected body of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), which was elected in February 2016, ends on February 10, 2021. State Election Commissioner C. Parthasarathi, convening the review meeting on the preparation of the GHMC for the polls, discussed issues and challenges likely to be faced, including those posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with GHMC Commissioner DS Lokesh Kumar and other officials.

Officials discussed pre-election activities, and decided to make a plan of action. This would include programmes to train all GHMC officials, including the Circle level, to acquaint them with software applications in the Te-Poll application, developed by the Centre for Good Governance for preparation and publication of Electoral Rolls, randomisation of polling and counting personnel and election process etc.

The SEC said it should be aimed at using maximum technology for expeditious, error-free and transparent election processes with the help of the CGG team, including certain innovations like Face Recognition Software and other pilots, after thorough scrutiny.

Pointing out that in the 2016 GHMC elections, the poll percent was 45.29 per cent, the Commissioner asked officials to prepare an action plan to improve the poll percentage and organise intensive Voters’ Awareness Campaigns for improving the voter percentage, by involving NGOs, RWAs and other civil society organisations.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, all the precautionary guidelines would have to be followed during the elections on par with the guidelines issued by ECI. Considering the challenges in view of the pandemic, officials elaborately discussed on whether to hold elections by using EVMs or Ballot Boxes. A decision on this was yet to be taken.

The meeting however decided to fix a voter strength of 800 per polling station to ensure physical distancing norms. Advance action would be initiated for accessing and obtaining employees information in advance from GHMC area as well as surrounding districts, to draft them as polling personnel and also for building the employee database.

It was also decided to hold another meeting in the second week of October with all Zonal Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners on the preparedness and to chalk out a plan of action. District Collectors, District Election Officers and EROs concerned would be asked for quick disposal of inclusions, deletions and transpositions, if any, under continuous updation in the Assembly Electoral Rolls till issue of election notification by the State Election Commission, according to a press release.

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