Noida: The voting for the third phase of the panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh has begun at 7 am on Monday morning with over 3.52 lakh candidates in the fray in over 2.14 lakh seats across 20 districts of the state. As per the State Election Commission (SEC), voting will be held till 6pm in the districts— Shamli, Meerut, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Kasganj, Firozabad, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Fatehpur, Unnao, Amethi, Barabanki, Balrampur, Siddharthanagar, Deoria, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Ballia. In the first two phase of the polls, which was held on April 15 and April 19, an average polling percentage of 71 was recorded in both the phases.Also Read - UP Panchayat Polls End, 75 Per Cent Voter Turnout Recorded in Final Phase

For the posts of 746 members of zila panchayats, there are 10,627 candidates in the fray, for the 18,530 posts of members of kshetra panchayats, there are 89,188 candidates, nearly 1,177,89 candidates in the poll arena for 14,397 village panchayats and for 1,80,473 village panchayat wards, there are 1,34,510 candidates contesting the polls. The candidates are contesting on “free symbols” given by the State Election Commission (SEC). Also Read - UP Panchayat Election 2021: Voting Across 17 Districts Underway For 4th & Final Phase

In view of the coronavirus situation, the SEC had said last month said that not more than five people would be allowed to accompany a candidate during the door-to-door campaigning for the panchayat elections. Additional Election Commissioner Ved Prakash Verma said three-member teams were formed under the additional district magistrates to ensure that directives issued by the SEC were being followed. At the district level, the chief medical officers have been made nodal officers and stress has been laid on COVID-19 prevention. Also Read - UP Panchayat Chunav 2021: After Facing Backlash, BJP Cancels Ticket of Kuldeep Singh Sengar's Wife

Voters will mandatorily have to wear masks and maintain social distancing at polling booths. Instructions have also been issued to make circles maintaining a distance of six feet between voters standing in the queue. Verma said COVID-19 norms would also be followed during the counting of votes and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits would be arranged according to requirements.