Ready for the Rs 40-crore polls?

That's how much the civic agency is likely to spend on organising polling centres, open pandals for voters

If you needed one, here's another reason why your vote matters. The election department of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) would be spending Rs 40 crore to conduct the elections on Thursday, officials say.
The civic agency would incur costs of several lakhs for erecting open pandals at polling centres, which has resulted in an escalation of expenditure.

The corporation would be setting up 1,000 pandals at open places for Election Day where the polling machines would be placed. Additional Municipal Commissioner Aseem Gupta, who is in charge of the elections, said, "Each pandal is costing us Rs 17,000-Rs 18,000, wherein the speakers, electricity meters etc have to be set up as well. Cloth, bamboo and other materials used for the purpose are also raising the expenses." He added that the 2007 polls cost BMC Rs 19 crore. But this time the spending would go above Rs 35 crore and may touch the Rs 40-crore mark. BMC had planned to spend Rs 35 per voter for the polls as against Rs 17 in the previous edition.

Last week, the authority sanctioned Rs 18 crore for materials and things required at polling centres.

Breaking the code
The civic authority has removed 4,207 political banners, 3,857 boards and 550 posters during the code of conduct days, along with 3,198 flags and 405 wall defacements from Jan 3-23, informed Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani. Also, the authority received 70 complaints against candidates and political parties for violating the code of conduct, for which 20 FIRs have been lodged, while five cases have been sent to the election commission for further inquiry. 30 instances were declared as no violations, while inquiry is still going on 15 complaints in BMC. FIRs have been lodged against SP's Ashraf Azmi, Arshad Azmi, corporator Shazia Azmi, Aslam Azmi and BSP's Vishnu Jadhav. Cases have also been filed against Mohan Mahajan, president of ward no 100, Mangesh Bansod, two against Tripti Kanavje, all of NCP. FIRs have been registered against Sagar R Singh and the Shramik Seva Sangh. Amit Satam, Gopal Shetty, Manoj Kotak, Yashwant Shinde of BJP and Dr Shubha Raul, Anil Kokil, Pradeep Arondekar of Shiv Sena.

Cautious approach
BMC has demarcated four centres as 'very sensitive areas' wherein they would be appointing extra officials along with CCTV cameras to keep a tab on activities. These include wards 90, 91 with areas like National Girls High School, Bahiram Nagar, Arna Court Hotel in Bandra (E), Kutchi Visa Oswal Devadasi Jain High School, 84 Samuel Street, Dawood Miya Fazalmiya Laboratory and 235 Mohammad Amar Kokil Marg in ward no 222.
8,326 polling booths have been set up wherein 41,000 municipal staff would be deployed.

Also 24,000 police officers would be deployed at the centres. Total number of eligible voters is 1,02,79,377 of which 57,17,972 are male and 45,61,405 female.

Vital stats
Total no. of candidates: 2,233
Male: 1252, female: 980
Ward with maximum candidates: 138 (no. 33)
There are 19 wards with just 3 candidates for each

BSP: 133
BJP: 63
CPI: 16
CPI(M): 5
Congress: 170
NCP: 57
Shiv Sena: 135
MNS: 223
Janata Dal: 13
SP: 115
Independents: 970
Others: 333

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