1,500 booths in WB out of network coverage, EC steps in

Sources in EC said that it is not just mobile network coverage, but also the absence of internet connections in about 2,000 booths, which has become a cause of concern for them.

After a recent survey by district officials revealed that about 1,500 polling booths in West Bengal are outside the coverage of mobile networks, the Election Commission (EC) in a bid to ensure smooth operation of its officials in the next Lok Sabha elections, has decided to hold meetings with major mobile service providers in the state.

The initiative has been undertaken by the office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of West Bengal.

Speaking to DH, a senior EC official pointed out that during elections, EC officials including, presiding officers and observers at polling booths send vital updates such as poll percentage or of untoward incidents such as booth jamming through sms to the EC office.

"So without mobile network coverage, our functioning gets severely hampered in such polling booths. We will hold meetings with major service providers soon," the EC official said.

However, the dates of the meeting are yet to be decided.

Sources in EC said that it is not just mobile network coverage, but also the absence of internet connections in about 2,000 booths, which has become a cause of concern for them. Apart from sms, EC officials also use instant messaging platforms to send updates during elections. 

"It is not just poll updates, but webcasting of the poll procedure which also cannot take place in the absence of internet connectivity," sources said.

The meetings with major mobile service providers will not only be held at the state level, but also at the district level. EC officials said that the service providers will be requested to set up mobile towers in areas with no mobile network coverage.

Sources in EC also said that the survey conducted by district officials showed that polling booths with no mobile network coverage are mainly located in the northern districts of Bengal, the Sunderbans in South 24 Paraganas and some areas of West Medinipur and Jhargram districts. 

"The related survey was a preliminary one and a more elaborate survey will soon be undertaken by district officials," said an EC official. There are about 78,000 polling booths in West Bengal.

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1,500 booths in WB out of network coverage, EC steps in

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