Wednesday, 2 April 2014

On Foot for Democracy Polling Parties Walk Up to 46 Kms in Lower Dibang Valley

The General Elections of 2009 was the world’s largest democratic exercise so far. More than 8.3 lakh polling stations, one crore personnel on poll duty (including police personnel), 46.9 lakh polling staff and 20.9 lakh electronic voting machines were deployed to enable more than 71.7 crore registered electors to elect 543 representatives from among 8,070 candidates belonging to 363 political parties at a cost of 846.6 crore rupees to the central Government. These statistics will increase further in the 2014 General Elections, with more than 81.4 crore registered electors, 9.19 lakh polling stations and 35.98 lakh electronic voting machines.
No doubt that these figures inspire awe and wonder about the phenomenon and conduct of parliamentary elections of India. But they do not reveal the magnitude of the efforts undertaken by the election machinery to ensure free, fair and peaceful conduct of polls in every nook and corner of the vast country that is India, a country that is marked by huge geographic, climatic as well as demographic diversity. With the Election Commission required to have a polling station within 2 km of every voter, polling party consisting of at least five election workers must traverse jungles, deserts, glaciers and sea to fulfil their mandate. Further, in some polling stations, these efforts are undertaken to serve relatively few number of electors.
A case in point is Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh. In nine polling stations in this district, polling parties walk between 10 kms and 46 kms on foot to conduct polls.
S. No.
Name of Polling Station
Total No. of Electors
Distance travelled by  the Polling Party
on foot (in kilometres,
2-way)
No. of days taken by
Polling parties to
reach PS from HQ
Person-kilometres (2-way)
Person-kilometres per elector
(2-way)
1
Eyanli
67
20
1
100
1.5
2
New Aloni
51
24
1
120
2.4
3
Desali
238
66
2
330
1.4
4
Churoni
26
46
2
230
8.8
5
Jambupani
32
30
2
150
4.7
6
Hukani
22
44
2
220
10.0
7
Donli
100
80
3
400
4.0
8
Mitaka
33
88
3
440
13.3
9
Dopowa
18
92
3
460
25.6

Thus, polling personnel expend the effort of travelling up to 25.6 person-kilometres for one elector in Dopowa polling station. Such is the effort put in by the administration to enable every eligible elector to exercise his/her democratic right to vote.

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