The stage is set for first phase of General Elections in Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Ganjam and Kalahandi. Amid heightened Maoist threat following the Dantewada attack on a BJP convoy on Tuesday, security in the bordering districts of Rayagada, Koraput and Malkangiri has been stepped up.
Rayagada Collector and District Election Officer (DEO) Pramod Behera said booths in areas like Kalyansinghpur, Muniguda, Bissamcuttack, Kashipur, Chandrapur and Gudari are sensitive and to tackle any Maoist violence adequate armed forces have been deployed.
As many as 1,400 police personnel, 11 platoons of security forces, two platoons of BSF, CRPF, SOG and DVF have been deployed in these areas. With the focus being on barrier-free elections for differently abled voters, ramps have been set up in polling booths and volunteers deployed to help this section of voters in exercising their franchise. Provision has also been made to bring them to booths in vehicles and drop them back home after voting.
The Rayagada Assembly constituency has 2,33, 547 and Bissamcuttack constituency has 2,17,652 voters while in Gunupur Assembly segment there are 2,08,223 voters. The three Assembly segments have 184 other voters and 23,521 differently abled voters. As many as 5,748 government employees and nine zonal magistrates have been engaged in polling duty in the constituencies. Flying squads have been positioned in all the entry points of the district. There are 871 booths in the district.
In Malkangiri, 60 personnel for 10 polling booths in Swabhiman Anchala under Chitrakonda Assembly constituency were airlifted from MV-3 here in an IAF chopper and dropped at Kunturpadar BSF camp. Along with election materials, they were sent to Jodamba, JodambaII, Andrapalli, Jantri, Sanyasiguda, Handikhal, Panasput, Signoi, Gurasetu and Gajalmamudi polling stations in the Swabhiman Anchala under the supervision of DEO Manish Agarwal and SP Jagmohan Meena. The Maoists have urged people of Swabhiman Anchala to boycott the elections. In the other areas under Malkangiri and Chitrakonda segments, polling officials were sent to their booths in air-conditioned buses.
In Koraput, 27 companies of security forces along with 2,000 district police and home guards have been deployed in 1,141 booths. Additional security arrangements have been made in 198 sensitive booths. There are 9,48,663 voters including 20,865 differently-abled voters. As many as 6,846 polling officials have been assigned with election work.
Election in Maoist-hit areas of Nabarangpur will be stopped at 4 pm and in other booths, it will continue till 6 pm. Of the 983 booths that have come up in the district, 76 are sensitive where additional security arrangements have been made.
To make voting transparent and free from rigging, webcasting or live recording of polling will be done in 98 booths and CCTVs would be installed in 10 more. DEO Ajit Mishra said all measures have been put in place for the election.
Polling will begin in Kalahandi at 7 am and special arrangements have been made for booths in inaccessible and Maoist-affected pockets. Of 1,405 booths in the district 220 are sensitive and 175 in Maoist-hit zones. Voting in 150 booths will be monitored through webcasting. Ramps and other facilities have been set up in 550 booths for differently-abled voters.
In Ganjam district, 10,72,242 voters will exercise their franchise tomorrow to elect one MP and five MLAs. DEO Vijay Amrita Kulange said 1,117 polling booths have been set up. Apart from 10 model booths in each Assembly segment, one pink booth has been set up in each segment that will be managed only by women.
For 20,779 differently-abled voters, 1,117 wheelchairs, 590 Braille ballot papers and 626 vehicles for transportation have been arranged. Kulange said 198 booths are critical of which, webcasting will be done in 102 and CCTVs would be installed in 51.