After pulling up the State government for the tardy progress in the distribution of Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC), the Election Commission has asked all the divisional commissioners and district magistrates to certify by February 26 that the EPIC already prepared had been distributed in their respective divisions and districts.
This comes as a warning to divisional commissioners and district magistrates who have failed to expedite the EPIC distribution work. The EC's deadline had a reflection on the meeting of divisional commissioners presided over by the chief secretary in Lucknow on Saturday. The state government also warned them not only to expedite the EPIC distribution but also keep a watch on the law and order situation to ensure that no disturbance took place in the districts under their supervision.
As the EC has decided not to allow anybody to cast votes without the EPIC in the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections, its concern for the EPIC distribution is obvious.
Action would be taken against officers who failed to submit a certificate by the date set by the EC, said a senior official. So far, nearly 72 per cent I-cards have been distributed. The EC has now asked officers to make EPIC available to all the voters by the deadline to ensure that no one is deprived of voting in Uttar Pradesh.
According to sources, the review indicated that the progress of EPIC distribution was not up to the mark in Chitrakoot, Fatehpur and some other districts. The state government has asked the officers to expedite the progress and complete EPIC distribution by the deadline. As elections to Vidhan Sabha inch closer, the EC's directives to meet the deadline are obvious. A special campaign to ensure 100 per cent EPIC distribution will now be launched.
Significantly, the EC had summoned Chief Secretary Naveen Chandra Bajpai and DGP Bua Singh for a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday to review the progress of the distribution of EPIC and poll preparations. The EC had asked the chief secretary to identify those responsible for the tardy progress in distribution work and hold them accountable. So the chief secretary convened a meeting of divisional commissioners on Saturday. He has also convened a meeting of the district magistrates on February 11 to review the situation.
As a question mark hangs on whether the officials would be able to complete the EPIC distribution by the deadline, the chief secretary asked the divisional commissioners to review the situation on a day-to-day basis and send a report regularly to the state government and Chief Election Officer Anuj Kumar Bishnoi. The chief secretary also asked the officers to keep a watch on all the arms license holders and suspend arms licenses of those found disturbing law and order.
The state government has also directed the officers not to issue any new arms' licenses, except in special circumstances.
The officials have also been asked to keep a watch on anti-social elements and take preventive action wherever necessary, as well as to conduct a category-wise review of the arms licenses issued so far and ascertain which category had been given maximum licenses.