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Polls not to affect relief in flood-hit J&K: CEC

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Srinagar, Oct 18 :

State assembly elections, if held on time, will not affect the ongoing relief and rehabilitation exercise in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said here Saturday.

“If the elections are announced on schedule, we have made it clear the poll will not be allowed to interfere with the relief and rehabilitation process,” Sampath said.

VS Sampath CEC
VS Sampath CEC

The chief election commissioner (CEC) also said the state administration is thoroughly prepared to hold the assembly election.

Sampath along with two election commissioners H.S. Brahma and Naseem Zaida addressed a media conference here after their daylong visit to the Valley.

Earlier, the full member commission met representatives of recognised political parties, had a video conference with the district magistrates and a separate meeting with the state chief secretary, home commissioner, director general of police, principal secretary relief and rehabilitation and other top officials.

“When we met to announce elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, we mentioned at that time that we will make an assessment of the situation and then we will decide on the election schedule in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We had deputed the deputy election commissioner to make an assessment and after that, the full election commission today (Saturday) visited the state. We have had daylong discussions and deliberations,” Sampath said.

“We had discussions with all recognised political parties in the state. We started our discussions with a briefing by the principal secretary revenue and also principal secretary power development department.

“We had a meeting with the chief secretary, DGP and other senior officers to assess the flood situation in the state,” he said.

“The political parties gave very clear views. We have noted those down. We cannot give you details of their stand on the elections, but we can say quite a few of them said elections should be held on schedule.

“While some others said holding of elections will interfere with the relief and rehabilitation in the state. We will be getting back to Delhi. We have to make separate consultations before we come to a final conclusion about scheduling of the elections,” Sampath said.

“We will go back and we will be announcing it after we make up our mind. We also had a video conference with all district collectors and superintendents of police and the divisional commissioners.

“We ascertained from each one of the districts about status of flood damage and how much infrastructure restored and how much needs to be restored. What is the status of polling stations which are damaged. Which are the places where we are going to have alternate arrangements,” the CEC said.

Besides, he said superintendents of police have given their assessment of the security situation.

More than 1.5 million people have been directly affected by the worst floods in 50 years in Jammu and Kashmir that caused havoc to public and private property, commercial establishments and infrastructure, besides killing 281 civilians in the state.

A new government has to be formed in Jammu and Kashmir before Jan 19, when the six-year term of the state assembly ends.

(IANS)