An average 63.76% polling was recorded in the Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies in Rajasthan, where byelections were held on Monday. At Mandalgarh, 76.57% of the electorate exercised their franchise for the byelection to the Assembly seat in Bhilwara district. No major untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State during the polling.The counting of votes will take place on February 1. The three constituencies had a total 39 lakh voters. The polling in Alwar, with 11 candidates in the race, was recorded at 62.12%. In Ajmer, 65.41% of the electorate votes for 23 candidates. The Mandalgarh Assembly bypoll saw eight contestants. Electronic voting machines were used with the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and the candidates’ photographs for the first time in the State. Technical failures were reported at several polling booths in Ajmer, where EVMs stopped working. Voting resumed after the snags were rectified.
With snakebites emerging as the leading cause of natural disaster deaths in Odisha, the State government has decided to ensure deployment of doctors at primary health centres in snakebite-prone areas and make ambulances available for swift transfer of patients to hospitals.As many as 1,716 people lost their lives due to snakebites during the past three years. The number of casualties due to snakebite, highest among all disasters, accounts for about 37% of the total disaster deaths (4,689) during the period.“We have asked the Health and Family Welfare Department to ensure availability of medical officers at primary health centres in snakebite-prone areas. Besides, required number of 108 ambulances will be made available in blocks for shifting snakebite patients to the nearest health institution,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Managing Director of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority.The State government is working on a plan to bring all snakebite victims to the nearest health institution at the earliest for medical examination and administering anti-venom. Highest deaths The highest of 164 deaths has been reported from Balasore district, followed by 147 in Ganjam and 145 in both Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj during the period.