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Friday, February 3, 2012

Poor poll planning blamed for low turnout in hill areas

Nainital, February 1
Lack of proper planning on the part of the elections authorities had an adverse impact on polling in some parts of the state. The election authorities failed to analyse the distinct climatic, geographical and topographical features of the state and issued instructions that prevented voters from exercising their right to franchise.
Observers say a large number of people in towns like Nainital migrate to plains or go on a vacation in January due to severe cold conditions there. This has been the yardstick for holding elections for decades. This time also a large number of local residents had gone out of the town with their families and could not cast vote in the Assembly elections. The low voter turnout in Nainital is a testimony to this fact.
Second, restrictions on the movement of even private vehicles in the areas where the elections were being held led to a lot of hardship to common people. It also prevented a large number of people from casting vote.
This correspondent came across people who were not able to reach polling booths in Nainital because they lived in Haldwani and Bhawali during the winter. Though they had valid voter cards they chose not to go out to vote as they suspected the police may not allow them to travel by their vehicles to reach polling booths.
A similar order for the closure of markets, including eating joints, also caused hardships to the people who usually had their meals outside.
The poor planning resulting from lack of proper knowledge about the topography of the state also impacted polling. For example, though some booths were located within a radius of 2 km, they were inaccessible as the voters had to travel tough terrain to reach there.
One such case is of Dabhar village in Betalghat. Reports said barely 10 per cent of the total voters cast vote in Dabhar village as they could not travel 2 km of tough terrain to reach the polling booth.

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