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Conducive atmosphere created to boost electors’ participation: RO Srinagar

02:41 AM May 13, 2024 IST | GK NEWS SERVICE
conducive atmosphere created to boost electors’ participation  ro srinagar
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Srinagar, May 12: Returning Officer for Srinagar parliamentary constituency, Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat Sunday said that a conducive atmosphere had been created for electors to exercise their franchise during polls in the summer capital on Monday.

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Bhat, who is also District Election Officer (DEO), Srinagar, said the Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme had been successful in creating awareness about the importance of voting.

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He said targeted SVEEP campaigns were organised across Srinagar, especially at prominent public places and institutions.

“We aimed to educate people about the importance of exercising their franchise. SVEEP campaigns which drew a large number of people were Nukkad Natak at historic Lal Chowk, the shikara rally in Dal Lake and the musical event at Polo View.  We were successful in reaching the target groups with messages on the importance of elections,” Bhat said.

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He said a special SVEEP plan was drawn based on previous electoral data.

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Bhat, who is also Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, said that demographic and social pockets had been identified and micro sub-plans formulated to address factors for low voter turnout in previous elections.

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He said educational institutions were engaged besides cultural and public places were used as live platforms to reach out to tentative voters with a special focus on women, youth, and marginalised sections of society.

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Bhat said he used various modes of communication to dispel notions or inhibitions about elections and said that the campaign had been successful.

He said nearly 1.5 lakh voters had been added after delimitation of which 50,000 are 18 years old.

Bhat said the elector-population ratio had increased from 47 percent to 58 percent post delimitation.

“We achieved the feat due to SVEEP campaigns in Srinagar besides enrolment drives,” he said.

On the importance of youth, Bhat described them as “demographic dividends”.

“Participation of youth in the electoral process is vital to enable and empower them to reflect their aspirations for the nation,” he said.

Bhat said Srinagar City witnessed low voting percentages in previous elections.

He said there was a voter turnout of 25 percent in the 2009 and 2014 elections.

“Subsequently, there was more drop with a single-digit voter turnout percentage in the 2017 bye-election and 14.43 percent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” Bhat said.

“Now Srinagar is witnessing peace and negligible militancy incidents,” he said. “There is a significant improvement in law and order and security scenario, a conducive atmosphere has been created for electors to exercise their franchise without any fear.”

Bhat said that based on the Election Commission of India’s parameters, vulnerability mapping of all the polling stations in the Srinagar constituency was done.

“Srinagar is all set to go on polls on Monday in 929 polling stations spread across 423 locations across the district. “We haven’t clubbed any polling station,” he said.

Bhat exuded happiness on receiving a record 39 nominations. “This is the highest so far for Srinagar constituency. After withdrawals and rejections, there are 24 contesting candidates in the fray,” he said.

Bhat said a mechanism was created to expedite permission for rallies and campaigning events in Srinagar. “There was been immense change after the abrogation of Article 370. We have been able to create more and importantly safer spaces for all stakeholders including political parties and candidates,” he said.

Bhat said special arrangements had been made for 40,000 migrant electors.

“More than 25 polling stations have been set up in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi for migrant electors to exercise their franchise besides the postal ballot facility,” he said. “Postal ballot and Election Duty Certificate (EDC) facility has been provided to employees of essential services and on election duty to enable them to exercise their franchise.”

Bhat said that to deal with inclement weather, Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) were in place in all the 929 polling stations of district Srinagar.

“The plan includes a scientific drainage management plan. Besides, there are 16 model polling stations, eight pink polling stations, eight youth, eight green and four unique polling stations to make polling inclusive and accessible,” he said. Bhat said that for the ‘vote-from-home’ facility would be provided to Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and senior citizens aged 85 and above.

“By this initiative, voters with disabilities and support needs can be benefitted in Srinagar,” he said.

In his message, Bhat said, “Your vote is not just a mark on the ballot paper. It is a testament to your commitment to our democracy, to the values, we hold dear and to the aspirations we collectively strive for. I appeal to every voter of our constituency to come out and exercise your right.”

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