CHANDIGARH: The world's highest polling station is now in the sleepy hamlet of Tashigang in the Buddhist-dominated Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 15,256 feet.
This polling station falls in one of the 17 assembly segments that form the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, the second largest constituency in the country.
Located around 29 km from the India-China border, this polling station covers two villages of Tashigang and Gete. As per the revised electoral rolls, the two villages have 48 voters, of which 30 are men and 18 women. Seventy-eight-year-old Rigjin is the oldest voter at this polling station.
The State Chief Electoral Officer has appointed 68 senior citizens aged over 100 years as the brand ambassadors to educate the young voters about their right to vote.
Initially, state election officials wanted to set up the polling booth at Gete village, but shifted it to Tashigang as the government school building there was found unsafe.
Also, Tashigang is connected with a road which is currently closed for traffic due to snowfall. This polling station, however, lacks mobile connectivity and election officials will use a satellite phone during polls on May 19.
Earlier the tiny settlement of Hikkim in the same district located at an altitude of about 14,400 feet was the highest polling station in the country. It covered Komic and Hikkim villages which together had 194 voters – 101 males and 93 females and in the 2017 assembly elections had a turnout of 83.5 per cent.
At 102, Shyam Saran Negi the first voter of independent India who is now hard of hearing and lives with his youngest son Chander Parkash in Kalpa village in Kinnaur district has been appointed as brand ambassador by the State Chief Electoral Officer for its SVEEP (Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation) campaign.
Meanwhile, the Una district election authorities in the hill state have appointed centenarians as ambassadors to educate the young voters about the significance of exercising their franchise. The 109-year old Likhu Ram of Nandgram village, Brahmi Devi (108) of Bhalaun village and Dhani Ram (105) from Dhussara village. All of them are eager to vote.
Of the 51, 59,000 registered voters in the state, 1,011 are more than 100 years old.