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No drastic increase in sensitive zones for state, says ECI report

Kolkata: In a stark contrast to the allegations of deteriorating law and order in the state raised by the Opposition, the number of vulnerable zones didn't increase drastically as per the latest findings of the vulnerability mapping exercise of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

As per the findings, 18,800 hamlets were identified as vulnerable in the state. The figure is slightly more than the number of vulnerable zones earmarked by the Commission during 2016 Assembly polls.

According to sources in the Commission during the 2016 Assembly polls the number of vulnerable hamlets was 17,341. "This rise is nothing unusual considering the fact that there has been a reasonable increase in the number of booths this year. In 2016, the number of booths were 78,903 which has plummeted to 101,790 (an addition of 22,887 booths) to ensure COVID health parameters during the elections. There are several parameters that are taken into account while determining the vulnerability of an area. But, the number of booths contribute significantly in assessing the sensitivity of an area," an EC official said.

Interestingly, there has been a noticeable change in the demography in the mapping of vulnerability this time. In 2016, the districts that were considered to be majorly sensitive were South 24-Parganas, Burdwan (both the districts together), Nadia, Murshidabad and Kolkata.

This time, new districts like North 24-Parganas, Nadia, West Midnapore, Hooghly and Murshidabad have featured on the list of vulnerability mapping. However, Commission officials reiterated that the vulnerability mapping is a dynamic figure and it may change according to the situation. The Commission has also earmarked nearly 50 per cent of the booths as critical, requiring special security arrangement. Such exercise of demographic mapping of the sensitive pockets of the state is essential for effective deployment of forces and better security management.

The important parameters that are looked at during the findings include reports of past incidents, the number of non-bailable warrants issued in the area, the number of trouble mongers, seizure of illicit liquor and arms.

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