Coronavirus: WB to defer municipal polls

West Bengal defers municipal elections; Epidemic Diseases Act to be invoked

Mamata said that the reason behind invoking the Act was to ensure public health and safety. PTI

The West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) on Monday deferred that Municipal elections in the state due to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision was announced following an all party meeting held by WBSEC where all the stakeholders urged the poll panel to postpone the civic polls.

“We are postponing the Municipal elections because of the coronavirus outbreak . Depending on the situation of the coronavirus outbreak we will review it after around 15 days,” State Election Commissioner Sourav Das told journalists.

He also said that although the civic polls has been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak but WBSEC was fully prepared to hold the polls.

“The Municipal elections has been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak. But our preparedness and related process have not been delayed,” said Das.

Although the WBSEC is yet to officially announce the date of the Municipal elections 107 municipalities were expected to go to polls in mid-April. The  civic polls covering 60% area of the state are being considered as the “semi-final” to the 2021 Assembly elections.

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday announced that it will urge the stat poll panel to defer the Municipal elections in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Opposition parties such the Left, Congress and BJP made it clear earlier that if the state government wants the civic polls to be deferred they will not oppose the decision.

Earlier in the day West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her government has decided to invoke Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 in the state in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

“So far 13 state governments has invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. We did nit invoke it but today morning 10 persons who were kept in isolation got annoyed with it and kept asking the district magistrate of North 24 Paraganas why they were kept in isolation and they also refused to be there,” said Banerjee.

The Chief Minister announced that the state government has decided to set up a Rs. 200 crore fund to beef up arrangements for tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

She also extended the closure of all educational institutions till April 15. Earlier the state government ordered closure of all educational institutions till March 30.

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