UN team lauds poll management in Himachal Pradesh

UN team lauds poll management in Himachal Pradesh

UN team lauds poll management in Himachal Pradesh

Election management in the snow-covered Himalayan hills has immensely impressed a team from the United Nations (UN), which visited Himachal Pradesh on May 7, the polling day for the eighth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

The team, consisting of delegates from 12 countries, was all applause for what they perceived as taking care of even a small group of voters residing on inaccessibly high hills.

The UN delegates took note of “the efforts taken by the Election Commission to move material and personnel to the remote, snow-bound reaches of the state, even if it was only to enable just a few people to vote”.

“Over 7,000 polling stations had been set up, over 100 of which were located above 10,000 feet,” said the team at the end of the visit, jointly organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the EC.

Releasing details of the visit, UNDP India revealed on Friday that it was organised to showcase India’s expertise in electoral management.

The team consisted of delegates from eight countries of the League of Arab Nations, as well as from the countries of Bhutan, Kenya, Myanmar and Uganda.

Incidentally, Shimla, known as the “Queen of the Hills”, is marking its 150th anniversary as the summer capital of British India.

The team was also impressed by the widespread use of information technology in conducting elections in these areas, where communication is very difficult.

Technological efficiency

The team took note of the efficient use of mobile telephony, the Internet and IT applications to manage the electoral process and disperse relevant election information to the public.

The live webcast of polls and real-time monitoring of activities in poll booths through the Poll Day Management System were particularly noted, said the team. 

The delegates witnessed with great appreciation the handling of electoral logistics in terrains as difficult as the remote districts of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, high up in the Himalayas.

The team has also cited the state’s most remote polling station in Bara Bhangal in Kangra, which caters to only 33 voters.

“An Indian Air Force helicopter flew in the polling officials. Similarly, at Hikkam in Lahaul-Spiti—the world's highest polling station, situated at an altitude of 14,567 ft—333 voters were assured of the right to exercise their franchise,” said members of the UN team.

The team has also expressed great appreciation for the participation of women in the electoral process in the hilly state.