Polling officials visiting houses sans COVID protective gear

GHMC teams formed to take ballot to voters do not wear masks or carry sanitisers

‘Dawai bhi aur kadai bhi’ might continue to be the hello tune of lakhs of citizens, alerting callers not to let their guard down despite COVID vaccination, but the GHMC staff deployed on election duty do not seem to bother much with the caution.

Teams constituted by GHMC to take the ballot to voters, who are incapacitated to come to the polling stations to cast their vote in the upcoming elections for Mahabubnagar-RangaReddy-Hyderabad Graduates’ constituency, do not as much care to wear masks, let alone carry sanitisers with them.

The process, which had begun two days ago, is continuing in the city without any precautions being observed.

Postal ballot

As per the directions of the Election Commission, the ballot at doorstep, referred in official release as ‘postal ballot’, is being offered to the disabled, geriatric voters above 80 years of age, and COVID patients.

The geriatric and physically challenged patients are being covered for the past two days, with COVID-19 positive patients left till the last so that the last of them is covered.

Ballot boxes deployed for the task are being checked and sealed at GHMC circle offices in the presence of political party representatives, after which they are being accompanied by teams headed by higher officials to the voter’s residence.

As on Wednesday, a total of 179 such voters have been registered in the city to avail the facility of ballot at doorstep, informed officials. As the number of COVID-19 patients adds up, the number could dynamically be updated. As the teams were set to visit vulnerable people, including senior citizens over 80 years, and the disabled, the staff should have been ideally provided with PPE gear and sanitisers.

During the thick of the COVID pandemic, PPE kits were provided for all employees coming in direct contact with COVID patients, and also those covering the containment zones for disinfection.

However, on the current election duty, several team members visiting homes with ballot boxes are not even wearing basic protective gear such as masks or gloves.

When inquired, officials informed that no such instructions have been issued nor PPE suits supplied. While visits to COVID-19 patients are due from Thursday, three days ahead of the actual polling day, the staff are left to their own means to avoid contracting the dreaded infection.

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