Covid expertise: Bihar to guide poll-bound states on conducting elections amid pandemic

By: |
January 27, 2021 5:48 PM

Accepting the Assam government's request, a Bihar Health Department team will visit the northeastern state soon to give a detailed presentation on how the assembly elections were conducted with adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines, Principal Secretary, Health, Pratyaya Amrit told PTI.

The Bihar administration had made arrangements for the 7.3 crore voters to exercise their franchise at over 1.06 lakh polling stations.

The Bihar government will guide four poll-bound states and a Union territory on conducting elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said on Wednesday. The state’s Health Department had won accolades for conducting the elections to the 243-member assembly amid the coronavirus surge last year. Officials from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, where elections are lined up this year, are dialling the Bihar Health Department for tips to accomplish the gigantic task without causing a surge in coronavirus cases, they said.

Accepting the Assam government’s request, a Bihar Health Department team will visit the northeastern state soon to give a detailed presentation on how the assembly elections were conducted with adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines, Principal Secretary, Health, Pratyaya Amrit told PTI.

“Bihar has received similar requests from West Bengal and other states and we will share our experiences with them,” the official, credited with leading his team to successfully conduct the Bihar elections in October-November last year, said. On conducting the polls amid the coronavirus surge, he said, “It was a big challenge before us. We could accomplish the task due to the hard work of all the staffers and support from the Election Commission of India and the state government.”

The Bihar administration had made arrangements for the 7.3 crore voters to exercise their franchise at over 1.06 lakh polling stations. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had lauded the manner in which the elections were conducted. Around 57.34 per cent (over four crore) of the 7.3 crore voters exercised their franchise, which was higher than the previous assembly election’s voting percentage of 56.8 per cent.

The ECI had procured 18 lakh face shields, 70 lakh masks, 5.4 lakh single-use rubber gloves for polling and security personnel and 7.21 crore one hand single-use polythene gloves for voters to press the EVM button and sign the register at the polling stations. Keeping paucity of time in mind, the orders were placed by the Bihar Medical Services and Infrastructure Corporation Ltd through the Government e-Marketplace portal.

Teams were then sent to the production and supply centres at Agra, Ajmer, Dehradun and New Delhi to ensure timely delivery of items. Over 10 lakh ASHA workers and Jeevika didis (members of SHGs) were mobilised at three nodal centres Patna, Muzaffarpur and Purnia for packaging the procured items into kits, Health Department sources said. Buses were arranged for the women to and from the centres, which were sanitised thrice a day, they said. The kits were then packed and handed over to district magistrates and superintendents of police for booth-wise distribution.

ANMs, paramedics and ASHA workers were trained for thermal scanning at polling stations. Lists of COVID-19 positive electors were provided beforehand to polling officials and special training was imparted to handle them. The supply of such a large quantity of safety kits also necessitated effective bio-medical waste management. Every polling station had yellow bags and bins for the collection of waste.

Trucks were arranged for collecting the waste twice on the day of polling. The waste items were deposited at the nearest assigned healthcare facility and later disposed of as per standard protocol.

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