From forests to small islands, special polling stations set up in Gujarat’s remote areas


PTI, Apr 10, 2024, 8:55 AM IST

Ahmedabad: Election authorities in Gujarat have set up special polling stations in 11 remote and difficult-to-access places, including deep forests and small islands, to ensure no eligible person is deprived of voting in the Lok Sabha polls.

All the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will go to polls in a single phase on May 7.

The Election Commission has already erected necessary infrastructure for the special polling stations.

One such remote area is Banej, situated deep inside the protected Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, where a polling booth has been set up for a lone voter, Mahant Haridasji, who is the priest of a Lord Shiva temple there, a release from the office of the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer said.

The nearest human-populated area from Banej is several kilometers away, as per the release.

While the area falls under the jurisdiction of Gir Somnath district, Banej booth comes under Junagadh Lok Sabha seat.

“A special polling booth has been set up for this single voter during every election since 2007. The booth has been set up in the forest (department) office near the temple. A dedicated polling team has been appointed to make necessary arrangements on the polling day for the single voter,” the release said.

Gir Somnath Collector and District Election Officer DD Jadeja recently visited the Banej polling booth and gave necessary instructions to his staff, it said.

Another special booth has been set up in Gir Somnath district’s ‘Sap Nes Billia’, a small area inside the Gir forest with no other human habitation nearby.

Since 2007, there are 23 male and 19 female voters residing there and a special polling booth in a tent has been created for them so that they do not have to travel long distances to exercise their franchise, the release said.

Similarly, five polling booths have been set up for 5,048 voters in Shiyalbet, a small island off the coast of Amreli district, where most of the residents are fishermen, it said.

The island has a total geographical area of 75.32 hectares and has 832 houses.

The island is not connected to the mainland with any bridge or road and the only way to travel to the mainland is by boat. In every election, a polling team travels to the island by boat.

A similar arrangement has been made for 254 voters in Aliabet, an island in the Narmada river delta in Bharuch district, the release said.

Rathda Bet is another island in the Kadana reservoir waters in Mahisagar district where poll officials reach by boat in every election. This time, too, a special polling booth has been set up for 725 voters residing on the island-village, the release said.

Other such polling stations include at Satvirda Nes, Bhukhbara Nes and Kharavira Nes inside the forest of Barda mountain in Porbandar, Ajad island in the Arabian Sea close to Devbhumi Dwarka district and Kankai polling station situated deep inside a forest in Junagadh district, where the only medium of communication is a wireless set, said the release.

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