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How Kolkata is gearing up to conduct crucial Bhabanipur bypolls tomorrow amid heavy rain

As many as 15 companies of central forces have been deployed in Bhabanipur, with Section 144 of CrPC imposed within 200m of polling centres in the south Kolkata area.
The results of the Bhabanipur bypolls, which TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has to win to remain the chief minister of West Bengal, will be declared on October 3. (PTI Photo)
Published on Sep 29, 2021 10:18 PM IST
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Even as heavy rain batters West Bengal, including its capital Kolkata, Thursday will decide the future of Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s future at the top spot in the state cabinet as Bhabanipur goes to bypolls.

Banerjee will be battling it out against Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Priyanka Tibrewal and CPI(M)’s Srijib Biswas, with Congress not fielding any candidate for the bypolls.

The results of the Bhabanipur bypolls will be declared on October 3.

Meanwhile, West Bengal has been witnessing heavy rain for the past few weeks, which has resulted in severe waterlogging situations in most parts of Kolkata. On Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert for East Medinipur, West Medinipur, and South 24 Parganas. Moreover, over 35,000 people were also evacuated from low-lying areas in South 24 Parganas.

Also Read | IMD alerts: Cyclone Gulab weakened into low-pressure to bring heavy rainfall in 5 states till Sept 30

Earlier in the day, visuals of waterlogged streets in Kolkata and West Medinipur were shared by news agency ANI. The weather department’s regional office in Kolkata’s Alipore recorded nearly 87mm rain till 8.30am on Wednesday since Tuesday morning. Officials told Hindustan Times that more rains could make situations worse after the city received the heaviest rain in September in 14 years. According to the latest IMD bulletin, West Bengal is expected to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on Thursday as well.

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Owing to these conditions, and considering the significance of the Bhabanipur bypolls, several restrictions and stringent security arrangements have been put in place.

Security arrangements made for smooth functioning of Bhabanipur bypolls:

  1. As many as 15 companies of central forces have been dispatched in Bhabanipur ahead of the polls, a senior police official told news agency PTI.
  2. Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed within 200m of the polling centres in south Kolkata’s Bhabanipur. A Kolkata Police order said that gathering of five or more persons within the surrounding of 200m of any polling centre has been banned. “A ban has been imposed on anybody carrying stones, weapons, firecrackers and other explosive materials,” the police order added.
  3. The PTI report states that each of the 287 booths at all the 97 polling centres in the south Kolkata region will have three jawans of the central forces. The outside of these booths will be guarded by Kolkata Police officers.
  4. A total of 38 police pickets have been set up across Bhabanipur, the senior police official added to PTI.
  5. On the occasion of the polling, as many as 13 quick response teams (QRT), nine teams – each of the static surveillance teams, flying squad, and an equal number of striking forces from nearby police stations will also be dispatched for duty, the official told PTI.
  6. Besides, one additional police commissioner, four joint police commissioners, a total of 14 deputy commissioners, and an equal number of assistant commissioners have been dispatched for Bhabanipur bypolls.
  7. An arrangement for 141 special vehicles has been made. Apart from that, the official told PTI, three additional control rooms have also been opened for the bypolls.
  8. A school in south Kolkata’s Lord Sinha Road named Sakhawat Memorial Govt Girls' High School has been utilised for the setting up of two strong rooms to store the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Arrangements made to combat the heavy rainfall:

  1. All Kolkata police personnel have been directed to carry umbrellas and wear raincoats.
  2. The Election Commission (EC) has instructed the state’s irrigation department to remain on alert due to the weather conditions, the PTI report said quoting the senior official.
  3. All polling centres in Bhabanipur have been told to keep pumps in handy in order to drain floodwater out. The official told PTI that besides the irrigation department, the state’s disaster management department has been asked to be on alert if any emergency situation arises.

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