COVID-19 measures enforcement is the duty assigned to SDMA: EC

Mukesh Ranjan

Today News Online Service

New Delhi, April 27

The Election Commission on Tuesday asserted that the enforcement of COVID-19 protocol measures is the responsibility assigned to the State Disaster Management Authority (like lockdown, restriction/curtailment on public gatherings, etc.) and its officers under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

“The State Disaster Management Authority didn’t stop public gatherings under the DM Act during this period. Whatever was prescribed, the EC directed all to adhere to it and in case of violation to book under the DM Act 2005. EC continuously directed the State/District authorities to enforce the extant instructions of the NDMA/SDMA,” the poll panel said.

The Commission referred to Bihar polls saying, “In 2020, amidst the NDMA/SDMA prescribed lockdown and other enforcement measures under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Commission completed electoral exercise in Bihar. The enforcement under 2005 Act has to be ensured by the concerned SDMA and notified authorities under the Act. The Commission has emphasised in its August 2, 2020 order and all subsequent instructions that the State authorities shall ensure COVID compliance in the matter of public gatherings etc. for campaign purposes. At no occasion, the Commission takes over the task of SDMA for enforcement of COVID-19 instructions.”

The poll body said it reiterated its instructions on February 26, 2021 while announcing the poll in five States and UT, including Tamil Nadu, and the campaign ended on April 4.

“Fortunately, the second wave of COVID-19 was yet to be visible fully by that time. Polling was conducted following all prescribed COVID appropriate measures on April 6, 2021, which witnessed good electoral participation with full compliance of norms by all,” it said.

The Commission has been regularly interacting with State/UT chief secretaries and health secretaries concerned and the Chief Electoral Officers to ensure that all COVID-19 measures “shall be ensured at all counting centres without exceptions for counting on May 2,” it said.

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