The Election Commission on Wednesday said it will strictly monitor the elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa to curb black money and assure free and fair polls by curbing muscle power and abuse of money.
To keep a close watch on a candidate's expenditure, the Election Commission has put a cap on cash payments by candidates, mandating them to use cheques for making payments above Rs 20,000.
"There will be strict expenditure monitor mechanism to curb black money. The Election Commission of India will ensure level playing field for inclusive, free and fair elections by curbing muscle power and abuse of money," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said in a press conference.
The EC also limited the expenses for candidates to be spent during the election to Rs 28 lakh in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa.
Zaidi also said there will be complete accountability of photo voter slips and this year colourful voter guides will be distributed to each family.
The posters were a statutory requirement at all polling stations, he said.
A voting assistance booth would also be kept at polling stations.
Polling station-wise mapping of Persons with Disabilities is being done and the Assembly elections will be Persons-with-Disabilities-friendly, Zaidi said.
The Commission, which will launch awareness programme in all five poll-bound states, urged the various parties and candidates to avoid hazardous materials like plastic in their election campaigns.
"As far as sound pollution is concerned, there will be no use of loudspeakers after 10 pm. The police and electoral officers will ensure a clampdown on it," Zaidi said.
He also informed that 1,85,000 polling stations will be covered and nearly 160 million voters will participate in the polls.
In wake of the complaint received earlier, the Election Commission has also raised the height of voting compartments to 30-inch for maintaining secrecy.
A separate polling station for women will be introduced in some places which will be managed by women.
The Election Commission (EC) also said that the defence personnel and central para-military forces personnel posted away from their homes can cast their votes through one-way electronic transmission in the upcoming state polls.
"We have decided to allow the defence personnel and central para-military forces personnel to cast their votes through one-way electronic transmission system," Zaidi said.
He added that the initiative was first attempted in Puducherry in August 2016.
Around 690 legislative Assemblies will go to polls, of which 133 are reserved for Schedule Caste and 23 are reserved of Schedule Tribe as per the delimitation order of 2008.
There will be seven-phase polling for 403 Assembly constituencies in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, two-phase polling in Manipur and one-phase polling each in the states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa respectively.
Zaidi said that the counting of votes in all the five states will take place on 11 March.
-with ANI inputs