Carrying bedding, warm clothes and polling material, a team of election officials in East Sikkim would make way to Gnathang Valley to set up two poll booths - for the least number of voters and one at the highest altitude. A total of 180 registered voters from 21-Gnathang Machong assembly constituency will cast their votes when the state goes to poll on April 11, 201,9 for both assembly and general elections.
Situated close to the Indo-China border at an altitude of 13,500 feet, Gnathang Valley now remains covered with almost an inch of sleet and snow. The weather forecast predicts rains and scattered thunderstorms in the next 48 hours. Poll officials would be working here at sub-zero temperatures, and will be assisted by sector magistrates and booth level officers to help them with basic minimum facilities including drinking water, lavatory and electricity.
“The polling parties are adequately equipped to deal with situations. In Gnathang, where we have the smallest number of voters, all authorities including BRO, army and paramilitary forces are kept on standby to assist them when needed,” said Kapil Meena, District Election Officer(East).
According to the DEO, a team of 8-9 polling personnel who are well acquainted with local conditions would be dispatched from Ranipool near Gangtok on Wednesday, and would be travelling 84 km to reach Gnathang. Another poll booth would be set up at Kupup which is located nearby at 13,100 feet above sea level.
“They would be provided with warm clothing locally arranged . We are also keeping rescue vehicles for such locations so that transit can be done and they are not stuck in the night due to snowfall, rains or road blockades,” said Meena.
The teams are carrying EVMs and VVPATs, an awareness programme for which was held recently at the constituency. Besides Gnathang, there are 11 assembly constituencies in East Sikkim with 214 polling stations and a total of 1, 90,135 voters.