Heat wave bothers poll panel

May 2nd, 2009 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, May 2 (IANS) The Election Commission now agrees that holding polls in an Indian summer can sometimes be too hot a task to handle.
Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, who was here to review election arrangements in Punjab and Haryana Saturday, said district authorities had been instructed to ensure that facilities are on standby for voters to cast their franchise in the fourth and fifth phase of polling May 7 and 13.

“We have instructed the deputy commissioners and other officials to make arrangements for water, shade and keep ambulances on standby. They have also been asked to provide adequate number of water tankers,” Chawla told the media.

Most places in the plains of northern India have been witnessing a heat wave in recent days with maximum temperatures being steadily over 40 degrees Celsius. At some places, the highs have been over 45 degrees Celsius.

“We will start the polling process in Punjab and Haryana at 7 a.m. and finish by 5 p.m. so that people can vote early when the heat is not much,” Chawla said.

The sizzling heat has not only been a dampener for voting in earlier phases but leading political parties are finding hard to get people to their rallies in such weather.

Chawla said all observers in Punjab and Haryana have been asked to do night patrolling in the last 48 hours before polling begins to ensure that no liquor or money is distributed to voters.

“All officials have to be out throughout the night in their respective areas. We will have to curb liquor and money distribution,” the poll panel chief said.

He said that political meetings were being video recorded to catch surrogate candidates seeking votes for other candidates and also to curb any poll code violation.

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