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Poll officials cross mountains, rivers in Arunachal Pradesh - 2 min read

Roing (Arunachal Pradesh), April 12 (IANS) Crossing the turbulent Dibang river by boat, wading across some tributaries with waist-high water and trudging for miles along mountainous pathways – polling officials literally left no stone unturned as they helped voters in Lower Dibang Valley district of eastern Arunachal Pradesh to vote.

The northeastern state saw over 70 percent turnout for the two Lok Sabha seats and 49 assembly seats, which were held simultaneously, on April 9, in phase two of the elections.

With some polling stations in Lower Dibang Valley located in inaccessible areas, with no motorable road, the polling teams had to trudge on foot, cross rivers and hilly terrain to ensure the people could vote.

Dopowa polling station is a case in point. The polling team had to walk 46 km to reach the polling station, taking at least three days, for an electorate of 18 people. After the voting, they had to walk back the entire stretch.

A polling team comprises 4-5 presiding and polling officers, police personnel, one attendant and a porter. They carried polling material with them, including four sets of EVMs – two sets each for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha election – as well as light bedding and other material like battery lamps, torch and water filer.

“With the Election Commission mandating that a polling station should be present within two km of every voter, polling teams are required to traverse jungles, deserts, glaciers and sea to fulfil the mandate. In some polling stations, these efforts are undertaken to serve relatively few number of electors,” said an official.

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The Lower Dibang Valley, with its headquarter at Roing, is one of the 17 districts of Arunachal Pradesh. It is named after the river Dibang – one of the important tributaries of the Brahmaputra.

To reach Hukani polling station, from the polling headquarters at Desali Circle, the polling team had to trudge 22 km over two days for an electorate of 22 voters. For the 33-strong electorate in Mitake, the polling team walked for 44 km over three days. Desali has the highest number of electorate at 238. To reach Desali, the team walked 33 km for two days.

Likewise Donli is 40 km away and required three days of walking to ensure the electorate of 100 people got to vote.

“In the nine polling stations in this district, polling parties walked between 10 km and 46 km on foot to conduct polls,” the official said.

From Roing, the district headquarters of Lower Dibang Valley, the polling officials were ferried by Tata Sumos to Desali. They were also provided with raincoats as it was raining in the area.


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