Itanagar: Voting for panchayat and two urban local bodies is underway in Arunachal Pradesh. Also Read - China Attempts to Reinforce Territorial Claims, Constructs 3 Villages Near Arunachal Pradesh: Report
Polling began at 7 am on Tuesday with election officials and voters adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Also Read - Assam Rifles Jawan Killed in Ambush by Militants in Arunachal Pradesh
However, the voter turnout was moderate in early hours as chilly weather conditions kept most people indoors, State Election Commission (SEC) Deputy Secretary Habung Lampung said. Also Read - 'Ladakh Union Territory, Arunachal Pradesh Illegally Set up by India,' Claims China Amid Border Standoff
A total of 4,89,423 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 1,472 polling stations to elect members for 141 Zilla Parishad seats and 1,702 gram panchayat segments and 23 councillors for two urban local bodies- Itanagar Municipal Corporation (IMC) and Pasighat Municipal Council (PMC).
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used for polls for the two civic bodies and ballot papers for panchayats.
Safety protocols like wearing masks, maintaining social distancing inside the polling booths and sanitisation are being followed, the State Eelection Commission (SEC) official said.
More than 8,000 security personnel, including nine companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), besides 7,517 state policemen have been deployed for the elections.
A total of 258 polling stations have been identified as hyper-sensitive, and 536 as sensitive.
Polling will end at 4 pm.
Altogether 6,500 candidates in 99 Zilla Parishad seats and 6,401 gram panchayats have already won without any contest, the official said.
Of the 20 seats of IMC, five candidates from the ruling BJP have been elected unopposed.
Voters will decide the fate of 36 candidates- 15 from BJP, 14 from Janata Dal United, four from National Peoples Party (NPP) and three from the Congress- for remaining 15 wards of IMC, he said.
Seventeen candidates are in the fray for eight seats of PMC, where the BJP and the Congress are contesting in all the wards and the NPP in one.
Polls are not being held in Dibang Valley district as all the segments in Zilla Parishad and gram panchayat have been won by the ruling party unopposed, State Election Commissioner Hage Kojeen said.
East Siang is the only district where elections are being held in all the 120 polling stations, he said.
At least 110 gram panchayat segments in the state have fallen vacant due to various reasons. The SEC will take a final call on conducting by-elections to these seats after the current electoral process is over, the official said.
As the state administration has declared a holiday on Tuesday, all government offices, banks and commercial establishments, besides educational institutions, remained closed.
Counting of votes will take place on December 26.
(With inputs from PTI)