Elections in Himachal Pradesh an 'uphill' task for polling officials

Elections in Himachal Pradesh an 'uphill' task for polling officials

The picturesque landscape of the hills in Himachal Pradesh and the meandering rivers are a delight for all. But this topography turns into a nightmare for polling officials during elections.

At 17 places where the Election Commission has set up polling stations, officials will have to walk distances of up to 19 km to deliver electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ensure fair polling.

Trekking this distance on foot takes over 10 hours and  the movement will begin at least a day or two prior to the election date, officials say.

Moreover, there are 54 other polling booths in the state where the walking distance is up to 10 km.

A tall order by any standard, it even requires climbing slippery mountainous areas and crossing forested terrains.

The silver lining, though, is that elections in Himachal have often been peaceful, and thus law and order in these far-off areas will not be a bother for the poll panel.

A far-flung polling booth in Bada Bhaghal village in Kangra district will require officials to reach by helicopter. And multiple such trips will be undertaken for the elections.

The booth caters to 43 voters and it normally takes four days for outsiders to reach the village on foot.

Even today, there is no road that connects this village. In fact, as per data, 74 polling booths in Himachal still lack road connectivity, making the elections an arduous challenge for polling officials here.

For another polling booth, which has been set up on an island, boats will have to be deployed to carry the EVMs.

Situated close to Pong Dam, the Sach Kuther booth has only 94 voters.

In the Rampur constituency in Shimla district, polling staff will have to walk a distance of 18 km on foot to reach the Kasha polling booth. In Kullu district’s Shakti village, which has 59 voters, the topography is such that election staff will be forced to walk 20 km to conduct polling.

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