With a week to go before General Elections begin on April 11, four polling teams in Arunachal Pradesh have set out on a lengthy journey involving a helicopter ride and a long walk to set up their voting booths in the state, the Election Commission of India said in a press release on Thursday.
This is the first set of polling teams in the country to make their way to their stations.
Arunachal Pradesh has two Lok Sabha seats and will vote on April 11 in the first phase of the General Elections. Assembly elections are being held simultaneously in the state.
Teams for four polling stations – Ramnagar, Gandhigram, Vijoynagar and Two Hut – were airlifted in an Indian Air Force Mi-17 from Miao in the Changlang district and taken to the remotely located Vijoynagar, which is near the border with Mynamar. Miao and Vijoynagar are about 163 km apart with no road connectivity and the journey takes six days by foot. The four polling stations fall under the Miao Assembly Constituency and the Arunachal East Parliamentary Constituency.
Three of these teams will stay in Vijoynagar till April 10 and then leave on foot for their respective polling stations, which are between one and three hours away, the Election Commission note said. The team bound for Gandhigram will need to leave on April 9, and embark on an eight-hour journey by foot. The teams comprise one presiding officer, four polling officers, one attendant and two policemen.
Eight polling teams, from the Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency, were also to begin their journey on Thursday but were thwarted by weather conditions. Another attempt to airlift them will be made on Friday and if that fails, they will have to walk for three to four days to get to their polling booths, the Election Commission said.
India has more than 10 lakh polling stations and nearly five million personnel are involved in the democratic effort, according to the Election Commission of India’s 2016 annual report. Most of these are not permanent election commission employees but temporary staff sourced from various government departments including teachers, security personnel, engineers, clerks, accountants bus drivers, railway staff and anganwadi workers, among others.