Panchayat Elections In Odisha Likely To Be Delayed

The three-tier panchayat elections in Odisha is likely to be delayed as the State government is yet to complete the ward delimitation exercise and reservation of seats. The polls were originally scheduled to be held in February 2022.

SEC Secretary Rabindra Nath Sahu informed the media that the commission will begin the groundwork for holding elections as soon as the delimitation and reservation exercises are over – delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the tenure of elected representatives of rural bodies is set to end on March 10, 2022.

The reservation and delimitation work will have to be carried out as per a Supreme Court order which says the State has to ensure 50 per cent reservation in panchayat elections. Interestingly, the reservation of seats was more than 50 per cent in the 2017 panchayat elections.

Reports in the media suggest that the government has to amend provisions in the existing panchayat laws to comply with the Supreme Court order. The same issue has led to a delay in elections of various urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha. The reservation of seats for SC, ST and OBC in the ULB polls can only be introduced after amendments are made to the existing Orissa Municipal Act-1950 and Orissa Municipal Corporation Act-2003.

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