70% turnout for panchayat polls in LWE-affected areas of Visakhapatnam district

The third phase of gram panchayat elections, being held in 11 mandals of Paderu Revenue Division in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam district, reported 69.28% polling, here on Wednesday.

Despite calls given by the banned CPI (Maoist) to boycott the elections, there was a sizable turnout for the polls, and it was conducted peacefully with no untoward incident reported from any of the mandals, said Superintendent of Police B. Krishna Rao.

Out of 4.36 lakh voters in 237 gram panchayats, as many as 3.02 lakh voters came forward to cast their votes. Though the polling percentage was just 43.33% by the end of 10.30 a.m., it had gradually increased.

Being a Maoist-affected area, polling came to end by 1.30 p.m. By the end of polling, among the 11 mandals, Dumbriguda reported the highest polling percentage of 81.13%, followed by Hukumpeta with 78% and Araku Valley with 76.24%. Paderu mandal reported 73.42% voting. G.K Veedhi mandal witnessed the least voting percentage of 56.09 among the other mandals.

The district administration had appointed 6,029 staff, 198 micro-observers and 82 videographers for the polls.

Being an Agency area, the officials have arranged 543 vehicles which include 237 four-wheel drives and 17 RTC buses. Keeping in mind the call given by the left-wing extremists to boycott the elections, the district police provided tight police security at all the revenue divisions.

There were about 197 problematic areas in the revenue division. Polling centres in 10 problematic areas were shifted to safer places. To bring people living in interior areas of those problematic areas to the polling centres, the officials had arranged 10 additional vehicles.

Sarpanch results in as many as 233 gram panchayats out of total 237 were declared by the district administration after counting, according to an update. Results of all the ward member posts (1,465) were also announced. Counting is still on for just four sarpanch posts — two in Araku Valley, one in Paderu and one in Chintapalle.

Collector V. Vinay Chand along with ITDA Project Officer, Paderu, S. Venkateswar had inspected the election process at Vantlamamidi in Paderu mandal.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Vinay Chand said that compared to 2014, the voting percentage has increased in the Agency. He said that no untoward incidents were reported from any of the mandals. He said that a large number of people including senior citizens actively took part in the elections. He also added that all arrangements were made for the peaceful conduct of the elections.

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